SAULT STE. MARIE – The streak is still on. Behind a three-goal second period and another strong performance from goalie Billy Sauer (24 saves), the Michigan hockey team (7-0 CCHA, 10-1 overall) is off to its best start since the 1999-2000 season.
The top Wolverine line found the back of the net on three occasions and captain Kevin Porter notched his 10th and 11th goals of the year in the 5-1 win over Lake Superior State to silence the press-box shaking cheers.
The first period got off to a slow start for both offenses. In the first nine minutes, Michigan dominated possession, but managed just three shots despite two power-play opportunities. Porter missed a one-timer slapshot left of the net in the first man-advantage situation, but Michigan was unable to muster much more than that.
Lake Superior didn’t manage its first shot until almost halfway through the opening frame. And after Sauer made his first save, the Lakers were left with a wide-open net, but Sauer, sprawled alongside the goal’s left, managed to knock away the subsequent shot.
But once the shots started coming, they came in droves, and Lake Superior’s Rick Schofield was able to capitalize on a pad-save rebound to the right side of the net. Former Wolverine Zac MacVoy notched an assist on the goal.
Ignoring the shot-on-goal comparison (12-6, Michigan), the Wolverines were physically outplayed in the opening 20 minutes. Both sophomore Chris Summers and alternate captain Chad Kolarik left the ice hunched over in pain (both returned).
But just four minutes into the second period, Michigan’s shot advantage paid off, and the Laker goalie was caught out of position. Porter passed the puck cross-ice to Mark Mitera, who then found Max Pacioretty on the opposite side in front of the crease.
The zig-zag passes set up the Michigan tying score, and the same line put the Wolverines ahead a couple of minutes later. Pacioretty wristed a shot on goal from the top of the left circle for an easy stick save, but Porter simultaneously crashed the net and chipped the puck over Lake Superior goalie’s stick and into the net. The goal was the senior’s 10th of the season.
But the high-scoring Wolverine period didn’t end there.
Twenty seconds after the building’s fire alarm was turned off from its accidentally triggering, junior Travis Turnbull got behind of defense’s left side and skated across the crease to backhand the puck past the goalie for Michigan’s third score of the frame.
In the third period, the Wolverines registered their first power-play goal of the weekend. Michigan’s first two opportunities led to just one shot, but the third time was the charm.
Porter’s slapshot from the point flew between the Laker goalie’s pads for his 11th score this year.
Freshman Aaron Palushaj, who had the second assist on Porter’s goal, scored one of his own after breaking free and for a one-on-one with the goalie, who got beat top-right shelf.
Michigan faces off against Lake Superior once again tomorrow night for the second and final game of the series. If the Wolverines win, they will be off to their best start since Michigan coach Red Berenson was a senior donning the maize and blue.