If there’s any good that came from Michigan’s two
losses at the hands of Notre Dame this past weekend, it’s
this: The CCHA regular-season title will be at stake this weekend
when the Wolverines face their arch rival, Michigan State.

Beth Dykstra
Michigan dominated Bowling Green two weeks ago, only to drop two games at Notre Dame last weekend. (TONY DING/Daily)

Had Michigan pulled out just one win in South Bend, it would
have clinched at least a share of the CCHA regular-season crown.
That would have made this weekend more important for the Spartans,
who are on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Miami, two points behind
Michigan and two points ahead of Michigan State, also aims for the
top of the conference standings heading into the final
regular-season weekend.

The Wolverines, noting that they’re still in first place,
have not lost any confidence. Although they had won four straight
and 12 of 13 entering their series with the Irish, the
Wolverines’ most recent wins had not come in the same
convincing fashion that earlier triumphs had.

In its last five games, Michigan has allowed 19 goals. Michigan
associate coach Mel Pearson had a feeling that some of its offense
— which had been the catalyst in its wins — had come
from lucky bounces that were bound to disappear.

“As coaches, we could see some things creeping into their
game,” Pearson said. “We knew when we played a good,
solid defensive team, we weren’t going to get away with
them.”

Even though the coaches sensed the team had plenty of work to
do, they had a hard time convincing the players, who were enjoying
each and every win.

“When you’re winning so much and things are going so
well, it’s hard to get through to your team,” Pearson
said. “(The players say), ‘Hey coach, what’s the
problem? We’re rolling. We’re winning games.
We’re scoring a bunch of goals. Everything’s
great.’ ”

Now that they’ve lost a pair, the coaches won’t have
this problem.

“Sometimes you need a wakeup call, and we got one this
weekend,” Pearson said. “Hopefully there will be a lot
more focus this week.”

Montoya update: Sophomore goaltender Al Montoya, who
pulled his left hamstring in Friday’s loss to Notre Dame, was
held out of Saturday’s game so that he could have a full week
to rest before playing another game.

He was willing to play at less than full strength Saturday, but
opted not to risk further injury. Had Montoya skated in pre-game
warm-ups, he would have not been able to play, according to CCHA
rules. Michigan would not have had a backup for Noah Ruden. Only
two goalies can dress and be on the ice before the game, and only
those two can play in the contest.

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