DETROIT — Eighteen games into the season, the Michigan hockey team was still looking for stability after a rollercoaster 9-9-0 start heading into the Great Lakes Invitational.

The only constant for the Wolverines has been a top-five penalty killing unit.

But instead of steadying Michigan’s play at the GLI, the unit only added to Michigan’s up-and-down campaign.

Just two minutes into their first game of the tournament against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, an Engineer wrist shot from the top of the left circle was deflected past junior goalie Bryan Hogan. RPI added another power play marker late in the first and finished the game two-for-four on the power play.

Despite giving up just two shots with a man-down, the two goals allowed was a low-point for a team that had a stellar 91-percent conversion rate coming into the game.

“Maybe with the break, we took a couple steps back with the penalty kill,” junior Carl Hagelin said. “We’re one of the better units in the nation and we’ve got to stay stronger and not give up more than one goal a game.”

With a disappointing lose in the opening round, Hagelin and the rest of the unit did exactly what they wanted to do as they gave up only one power play goal in the consolation game against Michigan Tech earlier today. Halting their penalty kill rut wasn’t easy as they were forced to contend with five straight minutes of penalties and over two and a half minutes of a two-man disadvantage at one point in the game.

All four penalties came from defensemen, and despite the relative success of just one goal allowed, Michigan coach Red Berenson pointed to one thing his defensemen gave up that his penalty killers couldn’t salvage.

“The penalties in the second period kind of changed the momentum of the game, but nevertheless we got through it,” Berenson said. “We took the poor penalties and we paid for it. We were lucky, our penalty killers did a great job of just giving up one goal.”

The special teams made the difference in both games as RPI’s two power play goals to Michigan’s one was equal to the game’s single-goal differential. Michigan didn’t take a penalty after the beginning of the second period and outscored the Engineers 3-2 during that time.

It was the same situation in the final game as Michigan’s 5-3 victory over Michigan Tech came with the Wolverines notching three power play goals to one for the Huskies.

Michigan went over the halfway mark of the season at the GLI and two games into the second half, it doesn’t look like the Wolverines will get off the rollercoaster anytime soon. But Berenson is just glad his team was able to rebound with today’s win.

“There’s a lot at stake in these games,” Berenson said. “Whether it’s the big picture, if you have any chance at making the tournament what you do during the year in these non-conference games is important but to walk out of here with two losses would be a tough week for Michigan.”

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