When Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik returned for their senior seasons, they knew it would make a huge impact on the Michigan hockey team.
But no one expected anything like this.
Porter, the team’s captain, and Kolarik, Michigan’s assistant captain, combined to tally six of the Wolverines’ eight total goals this weekend. Their lights-out performance helped guide Michigan to two of its biggest victories so far this season, as the Wolverines toppled Wisconsin and Minnesota, both ranked opponents.
“We’re playing at home,” Berenson said. “We’re playing with a team that is being led by you, the senior. You’re trying to make a difference, and you’ve gotta do it out on the ice. You can’t just talk about it, and (Porter and Kolarik) did that tonight, both of them. They put everything on the line, and we got some breaks, but I thought they were terrific. They were the difference.”
Saturday night against the Golden Gophers, the duo recorded one of the most special performances in Michigan hockey history.
Facing off against a Minnesota team that had beaten Michigan six straight times, Porter and Kolarik sliced through the usually stout Minnesota defense all night to the tune of two goals a piece and seven total points. The duo accounted for more than 50 percent of the Wolverines’ point total.
The two seniors tallied Michigan’s first four goals, three of which were assisted by the other, and put Michigan far enough ahead snap the streak to the Gophers.
“I think with two seniors on the line, I’ve said all along that, we’ve got to be the line that comes out every night and sets the tempo and has a good game every night,” Porter said.
“Those other lines might not score every night, but they’re working hard and doing the little things, and if they’re not scoring, then our line has to, so I think we did a good job of that.”
Michigan benefited this weekend from more than just Porter and Kolarik’s goal-scoring abilities, too.
When the Wolverines were on the penalty kill, the potent pair saw more ice time this weekend than in games prior. The duo’s speed and skating ability put the it in prime position to block shot after shot in five-on-four situations.
Both also created turnovers that led to shorthanded goals.
“Even if we’re on the penalty kill, I see them out there, and it’s a great feeling just to know we have those leaders out there,” goalie Billy Sauer said. “They can make a difference all the time.”
With 12 freshmen on roster, Porter and Kolarik were expected to become the main sources of leadership for the Wolverines.
The duo has risen to the challenge so far, realizing the importance of having two experience-laden seniors showing the way for the new talent.
“(We’re) not only seniors, but he’s the captain, and I’m one of the assistants,” Kolarik said. “So it’s huge, leading by example and vocally too, getting these guys going and getting these guys ready. If we’re leading by example, they’ve got to follow.”
Although praise is raining down upon the two seniors – Porter skated off the ice to “Hobey Baker!” chants – no one is giving more credit to the Wolverines’ successes to Porter and Kolarik than Berenson.
“Let’s face it, if you ask me who sang, who led the song tonight, I’ll tell you it was our two seniors,” Berenson said.