A cheap shot on senior Chad Kolarik left him doubled over on the ice late in Saturday night’s game.
But his two good shots earlier in the weekend knocked the fight out of Alaska. Kolarik notched the Wolverines’ first goal in both games, ensuring the Nanooks never took the lead.
After the hit on Kolarik with less than five minutes remaining in the weekend series, linemate Max Pacioretty defended him by fighting the Nanook aggressor. Pacioretty drew a double minor and game misconduct. The Nanooks’ frustration was understandable, though – Kolarik was the weekend’s top scorer and set the winning pace for the Wolverines.
Kolarik started Michigan’s scoring for the weekend 10-and-a-half minutes into Friday’s game on a cross-crease shot that landed in the back left corner of the net as a Michigan power play expired. Kolarik’s goal was the only scored by either team until the Wolverines scored three in the final six minutes of the game.
“Everybody knows that Chad loves scoring goals,” Pacioretty said. “When he scores a goal, it gets the whole team going because you just see the intensity he has when he puts the puck in the net.”
Less than five minutes into Saturday night’s game, Alaska goalie Wylie Rogers tried to clear the puck but Pacioretty intercepted it in the slot. Pacioretty quickly handed it off to Kolarik, and Kolarik’s shot from the right side put Michigan on the board.
And just in case starting the scoring wasn’t enough, Kolarik tallied what was the eventual game-winner on Saturday. On the power play, Kolarik stole another Alaska clearance attempt and scored unassisted to put the Wolverines up 3-0 in the second period.
After this weekend’s three goals, Kolarik has six for the season and is tied for the points lead with Michigan captain Kevin Porter. Though he has fewer goals and points than last year, when he had eight goals and 15 points through 10 games, he’s taken eight more shots this season than at this point last year. Kolarik led the team this weekend with 12 shots and is the team’s most prolific shooter with 44 for the season, tallying 11 more than Porter.
But Pacioretty said there was no specific strategy this weekend or this season to give Kolarik the puck and let him take shots.
“He had the puck luck,” Pacioretty said after Saturday’s game. “We all had a bunch of shots and he just put his chances in.”
Since getting his first goal against Northern Michigan, Kolarik has scored at least one goal against Michigan’s last four opponents.
His goal-scoring consistency could mark a change in the senior forward’s style from last year, in which he notched back-to-back hat tricks early in October but had two five-game and one eight-game goal-less stretches.
“Kolarik is playing his best hockey right now,” Berenson said. “The line is playing really well, so I wasn’t surprised that one of them got (the first goal of the games). They took advantage of loose pucks and opportunities. Chad Kolarik is an opportunist who’s playing right wing. He’s a playmaker. He’s a goal scorer. He’s a smart player. And I think you saw a lot of that this weekend.”