DETROIT — It seemed that Michigan had locked up the Mason
Cup even before it took the ice Friday night. With a bye on
Thursday and No. 2 seed Miami and No. 3 seed Michigan State
eliminated, the top-seeded Wolverines could thank their opponents
for taking out the supposedly harder teams. But Michigan still came
up short in the CCHA Tournament final, as No. 4 seed Ohio State
held on to win 4-2 when a desperate comeback attempt came up
short.

Ice Hockey
Michigan defensemen Brandon Rogers, right, and Jason Dest return to the bench after allowing Ohio State a powerplay goal to make it 3-0 on Saturday. (DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily)

“If we went into that game thinking that (we were going to
win), we deserved what we got,” said sophomore Brandon
Kaliencki, the hero of Friday’s 5-1 win over Northern
Michigan. “I can’t say we did, but something
wasn’t right in the locker room before the game.”

Michigan was never in danger of losing its bid to the NCAA
Tournament, but its résumé was dealt a severe blow by
failing to win its conference tournament. Had Michigan won its
third-consecutive Mason Cup this weekend, the Wolverines would have
made a strong argument to play in the Midwest Region in Grand
Rapids. But the loss sends Michigan packing, heading to the
Northeast Region in Manchester, N.H., with a first-round date
against New Hampshire. This is a reversal of fortune for Michigan,
who basically will play a road contest rather than a neutral-site
game. The Wolverines advanced to the Frozen Four both times in the
past two seasons, after winning the regional held at Yost Ice
Arena.

“It’s a little déjà vu,”
Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “We hosted the regional for
two years, and it’s difficult to understand the logistics of
travel (in the tournament).”

Right from the opening faceoff, the Buckeyes came out of the
gates firing, outshooting the Wolverines 8-2 in the first 10
minutes and 17-5 at the end of the initial period.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a worse start on
faceoffs this season, being outplayed and being outshot and
out-chanced,” Berenson said. “They thought they were
playing hard but … playing desperate hockey and playing hard
are two different things and we didn’t do either until late
in the game.”

Down 3-0 after two periods, it seemed that Michigan still had
yet to play to its potential. But coming out of the dressing room
to start the third, Michigan looked like the team that won the CCHA
regular-season title. Junior Milan Gajic began to lead the Michigan
comeback attempt, as he produced Michigan’s best scoring
attempt of the game up to that point by ringing a slapshot off the
post early in the period.

On his next shift, defenseman Nick Martens received a one-time
pass from junior David Moss along the blueline and ripped a rocket
toward Ohio State netminder Dave Caruso. Gajic put his stick down
and redirected the shot into the net.

Less than three minutes later, sophomore

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