Senior captain Mark Mitera couldn’t have written a better script for his Senior Night.
After four and half months spent rehabilitating a knee injury sustained in the season-opening game, Mitera skated at Yost Ice Arena in his final regular season game tonight — a goal he’s had throughout the rehab process.
The announcer barely finished introducing the senior defenseman by name when the Yost faithful welcomed him back with some of its loudest cheers of the night.
The crowd roared louder just once in the remainder of the game against Ferris State — after Mitera flicked a shot from the left point past Bulldog goalie Taylor Nelson with exactly three minutes remaining in the second frame.
Mitera’s tally brought the Michigan hockey team lead to 3-0, which proved to be more than enough for the Wolverines to sweep their final series of the regular season. A late third period goal by senior Brandon Naurato made tonight’s final score 4-0.
The captain also picked up an assist with a beautiful setup pass on Michigan’s first goal, when freshman forward Robbie Czarnik dumped the puck in from just outside of the crease early in the second.
It was also a memorable night for senior goaltender Billy Sauer.
After a well-documented goalie position battle for the first half of the season, Sauer has often been delegated to back-up duty in the second half.
But not on Senior Night.
Sauer got the start and though he didn’t face many shots — just 14 in total — he earned the win in perhaps his final game as a Wolverine. Hogan will likely start all or most of Michigan’s postseason games.
Senior forwards Travis Turnbull and Tim Miller both cut their special night short. At the start of the second intermission, a scuffle broke out between both teams before they retreated to their respective locker rooms. Turnbull and Miller were both ejected, but neither received the more severe punishment of missing the first game of the CCHA Tournament.
With tonight’s victory, the Wolverines finished the regular season 17-3-0 run dating back to the beginning of December. They ended up second in the conference, which gives them a first-round bye in the CCHA Tournament, which begins next weekend.
For a more thorough play-by-play account of tonight’s game, check out The Game.