Thirteen minutes into the second period of Saturday’s 5-2
win over St. Lawrence, Yost Ice Arena erupted in anticipation for
what it was about to see. Everyone in the arena knew what was about
to happen — except senior winger Jason Ryznar.

Ice Hockey
Junior Al Montoya was magnificent at times, but allowed two soft goals Saturday. (Ryan Weiner/Daily)
Ice Hockey
Michigan forward Jason Ryznar controls the puck against New Hampshire on Friday. (RYAN WEINER/Daily)

After jumping out of the penalty box, Ryznar took what was a
clearing attempt that would give him the net all to himself. As
Ryznar crashed the net, he was hooked down from behind by a
defender. Ryznar assumed it was going to be a simple two-minute
penalty, but much to the delight of the 6,500-plus Michigan
faithful on hand, the referee pointed to center ice, indicating a
penalty shot.

“I thought it was going to be a hooking call, and I
thought, ‘Oh well,’ ” the senior forward said.
“I looked to the bench and everyone’s cheering. And
I’m like, ‘Wow! I got a penalty shot.’

Despite being up 2-1, No. 3 Michigan needed to build up a lead
to protect against its chronic inconsistency. As the Yost crowd
began to simmer over, Ryznar took off from center ice on the first
penalty shot of his life. He juked slightly to the left before
ripping a shot under St. Lawrence goalie Mike McKenna’s
blocker, sending Yost into another frenzy.

“Ryznar’s penalty shot was — that was a real
one on one — that was huge.” Michigan coach Red
Berenson said. “I thought it was the turning point in the
game. He went in and beat the goalie with a clean shot.”

Before Ryznar’s goal, senior Andrew Ebbett got Michigan on
the board half-way through the first when he poked home a puck
sitting in the crease. Senior Milan Gajic fed a wide-open sophomore
T.J. Hensick from the corner to expand the lead to two before St.
Lawrence answered with a goal of its own.

The penalty shot goal turned out to be the game-winner, as St.
Lawrence could put just one more past junior goalie Al Montoya. In
the third frame, eight seconds after Montoya was pegged with a
slashing penalty, Saints defenseman Kyle Rank fired a shot from the
point that ping-ponged off two St. Lawrence defenders before
landing in the net.

But Michigan defenseman Eric Werner put the game away for the
Wolverines when the senior slipped the puck between Mike
McKenna’s legs. The goal was Werner’s third point of
the day, a stark contrast from his abysmal game the night
before.

“Certainly, we expect a better game from Eric Werner than
we saw last night,” Berenson said after Saturday
night’s game. “I told him that in no uncertain terms,
(that) he’s a senior and he should be one of the best
defenseman in this league.”

Werner struggled mightily in Friday’s 4-4 tie with No. 7
New Hampshire. Despite having a plus/minus rating of just
minus-one, Werner led Michigan’s turnover-laden defensive
effort.

“We started playing the puck more than the man and we
started giving up the puck more,” Berenson said.

Michigan came out flying in the first period when junior Jeff
Tambellini shelved a pass from sophomore David Rohlfs just 1:40
in.

Sophomore Jason Dest and senior Michael Woodford helped Michigan
establish a physical style of play, as the Wolverines controlled
the pace of the game.

New Hampshire managed to tie it up in the last three minutes of
the first period on the power play. Wildcats forward Sean Collins
scored when he threw an errant pass from the corner that found a
small hole between Montoya and the post.

The tie was short-lived, as Ryznar took the lead right back just
nine seconds later.

“I thought we had a pretty good first period, we kept them
on their heels,” Berenson said. “After that, they took
it to us pretty good. I feel fortunate that we got back in this
game.”

In the second period, a flat Michigan team couldn’t expand
its lead against a focused New Hampshire squad. The Wolverines
began struggling to clear the zone, a problem that plagued them in
their first loss of the year against Northeastern. Three minutes
into the second, a puck got caught in Werner’s skates in the
Michigan zone, New Hampshire sophomore Josh Ciocco took it and put
a shot that snuck between Montoya’s pads and slowly trickled
past the helpless goalie.

“(Michigan) can blow you out of here,” New Hampshire
coach Richard Umile said. “After (Michigan’s) second
goal, our guys stayed with it and found a way to score a goal and
come right back.”

In the third period, the Wildcats dominated play with the help
of frequent Michigan turnovers. Luckily for the Wolverines, Montoya
was solid in the third, keeping New Hampshire at bay.

“We can’t be happy playing 40-minutes of
hockey,” senior captain Eric Nystrom said. “We
can’t have lulls like we did in the second period because
that’s when they came and took the game back from
us.”

Despite the strong third, Berenson wasn’t quick to hand
out the praises to his junior goalie. Montoya looked shaky the
first two periods, especially in a pair of incidents that nearly
became disasters when he went to play a puck away from his
crease.

“It’s tough to talk about a goalie who gave up a
couple soft goals,” Berenson said Friday.

As regulation came to a close, Michigan felt lucky to have
survived but also was determined to put up a goal in overtime for
the win.

“The onus was on us,” Berenson said. “They
might feel good about a tie, but we’re trying to win the
game.”

As the puck dropped on the overtime frame, the Michigan team
from the first period returned. The pace picked up for the
Wolverines as they outshot New Hampshire 4-1. But, as he had
throughout the game, New Hampshire goalie Jeff Pietrasaik stood on
his head and kept the game knotted at four.

“We had some good chances and he made some big
saves,” Berenson said. “When there are loose pucks
around the net you have to find a way to get them in.”

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