A dive, a block, a physical sacrifice.
Those efforts usually describe a successful penalty kill.
But on those rare occasions when the defensive stalwarts transform their efforts into offensive glory, the course of the game is inevitably changed.
Those shifts were constant last weekend as Michigan and Western Michigan combined for three shorthanded goals.
The most important man-down goal came courtesy of senior David Rohlfs. On Senior Night, the Northville native dove to knock the puck out of the Michigan zone, then outskated one Bronco, stole the puck from another, before backhanding the puck under the crossbar to give Michigan a 2-1 lead.
“It was sort of a broken play,” Rohlfs said. “Bill (Sauer) was telling us between periods you just gotta get it up, because (Western Michigan goalie Riley Gill) goes down. I got it up, and it went in.”
It was Rohlfs’s second shorthanded goal this season. As a team, Michigan is no stranger to scoring while a man down. The Wolverines lead the CCHA with 12 shorthanded goals this season.
“All we’re talking about is killing that (power play) when it’s 1-1,” sophomore Brandon Naurato said. “Then Rohlfs goes down and gives a second and third effort and buries it. That’s just huge for the team.”
Western Michigan freshman standout Mark Letestu did his best last weekend to give the Broncos momentum.
On both nights, Letestu’s shorthanded goals tied the game and put Michigan back on its heels. With the two tallies, Letestu upped his season total to four, tied for first in the nation.
No goalie, but glory: Two Wolverines broke into the goal column for the first time this season against Western Michigan. And the Bronco goalie never had a chance to make the save, because both times he had left the ice in favor of an extra attacker.
On Friday night, senior Jason Dest scored from the neutral zone to ice away a 7-4 win. It was Dest’s fifth career goal, but first of the season.
Freshman Chris Summers lit the lamp Saturday for the first time as a Wolverine. Summers, who usually skates as a defenseman, played forward in the third period to replace Brian Lebler. Hunkering down to hold off the final Western Michigan attack, Summers received a pass in the neutral zone with nothing but open ice and an empty net in front of him.
After the game, Summers joked that he didn’t even know he had scored until he heard the crowd cheering.
Summers isn’t a newcomer to playing up front.He played forward as a member of the U.S. National Team Development Program last season.
“He’s been anxious to try (forward),” Berenson said. “Now he’s a goal scorer.”
Road tripping: In the last four weeks, Michigan has moved from sixth in the CCHA all the way up to second. But now the Wolverines hit their toughest stretch of the season, with the final six regular-season games away from Yost Ice Arena.
Michigan will travel to Bowling Green Friday, and then will face off against Michigan State at Joe Louis Arena Saturday night. The last two weekends feature travel north to Sault Ste. Marie (Lake Superior State) and south to Columbus (Ohio State).