MADISON — In the opening game of the 18th and final College Hockey Showcase for the Michigan hockey team, everybody on the ice wanted to get on the score sheet to make history. And by calling penalties, the referees gave everybody ample opportunity.
In the eighth-ranked Wolverines’ 4-4 overtime tie to Wisconsin in the Kohl Center, the officials called a total of 28 penalty minutes. In those short two-minute intervals, the game was decided: five of the game’s eight goals with one team on the man advantage.
The most important of those came 49 seconds into the third period. Wisconsin’s Mark Zengerle picked came into the zone and toe-dragged around the Michigan defenseman, setting up a back door play for Badger defenseman Jake Gardiner that senior goaltender Shawn Hunwick had no chance to stop. The goal was Gardiner’s third of the game.
The Badgers trailed the whole game, but their 3-for-6 power play performance kept them from getting too far behind. After every power play goal Michigan scored, Wisconsin responded with their own.
After freshman Luke Moffatt scored the first goal of the game, the Wolverines started off the special teams scoring. After not converting on their first power play, Carl Hagelin got the puck midway through Michigan’s second man advantage just outside of the Badger crease and whacked at the puck until it went through Wisconsin goalie Brett Bennett’s pads. It was the Wolverines’ first power play goal in 26 attempts.
After Wisconsin (3-5-2-0 WCHA, 6-6-2 overall) tied it up even on an even strength goal, the teams traded power play goals in the second period. Eventually senior Louie Caporusso broke the tie with an even strength goal with just over two minutes left in the second period — until Gardiner’s final goal tied it up again.
Michigan (7-2-1-0 CCHA, 8-3-3 overall) never trailed in the game, but could never put the game away, mostly due to Gardiner. His hat trick was the first Michigan had given up since T.J. Oshie’s in the 2007 NCAA tournament.
Both teams had their chances to win in regulation. With three and a half minutes left in the game David Wohlberg grabbed his own rebound after a shot on a two-on-one. With Bennett sprawled on the ice, Wohlberg couldn’t convert as his stick was lifted.
After the Wohlberg play Wisconsin controlled the final minutes. And in the final 12 seconds Hunwick was forced to make three stops on point-blank chances to earn the point for Michigan.
The only golden opportunity in overtime after freshman Jon Merrill’s shot was tipped in front. Bennett was able to dive back and make the stop to effectively end the game in a tie.
With the teams tied and the penalty minutes flowing towards both teams throughout the 65 minutes, there looked like only one winner Friday: the referees.