Friday: Ohio State 3 – Michigan 2

Saturday: Michigan 4 — Ohio State 2

Jessica Boullion
Goalie Bryan Hogan makes the save on a Tommy Goebel penalty shot in the first period. (ZACHARY MEISNER/Daily)

Just 10 minutes into freshman Bryan Hogan’s first start as a Wolverine, he found himself watching Ohio State senior Tommy Goebel prepare for a penalty shot.

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me,” he thought.

He stood, frozen, in front of the net.

Michigan senior Chad Kolarik skated over.

“It doesn’t get any better than this,” Kolarik told him.

Goebel skated in, faked right and shot low left. Hogan wasn’t fooled. The 6,700 fans at Yost Ice Arena roared.

Kolarik was right – for a freshman’s debut in net, it doesn’t get better than that.

“He sees a million reps with us,” freshman Matt Rust said. “We stay on the ice for 30, 40 minutes after practice, just doing straight penalty shots. I was pretty confident he was going to be able to stop it.”

Hogan’s belated Wolverine debut, a 4-2 win Saturday, was his first game in six months after a bout with mononucleosis left him off the ice for four weeks. He returned to practice on Oct. 29 and traveled with the team for the first time in mid-November but wasn’t expecting to play until after Winter Break.

Michigan coach Red Berenson told Hogan he was starting after the Wolverines’ pregame skate Saturday.

“There were some jitters in the beginning,” Hogan said. “I wasn’t playing the puck very well and you could hear the crowd going crazy, like, ‘What is he doing?’ Once I calmed down, I started playing the puck better.”

Hogan had 10 saves in the first period, but the Buckeyes took just two shots in the second stanza – one of which was Hogan’s first goal allowed. Ohio State forward John Dingle skated in on Hogan and faked a shot before stuffing the puck between Hogan’s legs.

Ohio State outshot Michigan 16-10 in the third period, but Hogan stood up against the barrage of Buckeye shots, allowing just one goal in the period.

Michigan goalie coach Josh Blackburn said Hogan’s biggest asset Saturday was his speed and “ability to find a fifth gear” while in the middle of a fast-paced game. Hogan played high in the crease and often left the net to clear pucks.

“We were working on the fundamentals . when he first got here, and then he got mono and, basically, we had to start all over,” Blackburn said. “But he caught on quickly, worked really hard in practice, and I think it paid off tonight. He had a great game. I’m sure he was pretty nervous. So was I. But he was awesome.”

Hogan said he needed to communicate better with the defense, an understandable concern considering how sparingly he’s played with the team to date. But Hogan and sophomore defenseman Steve Kampfer especially seemed in tune. After Hogan lost his stick in a scuffle near the net late in the first period, Kampfer passed his stick to Hogan and helped block shots until Hogan could clear the puck.

In all, Hogan’s 26-save performance was enough to impress the Michigan coaching staff and reopen the inevitable question of more playing time for the freshman.

Berenson said before the season the starting goalie position was up for grabs. Even though Hogan’s illness eliminated any competition with Sauer in the season’s first two months, Berenson didn’t rule out the prospect of Sauer and Hogan splitting time during future series.

“I think we’ll have to evaluate our goalie situation, because it’s obviously different than it was a week ago,” Berenson said. “Hogan’s had a game and looked like he’s ready to play and ready to battle, so it’ll be good for Billy and that’ll be good for our team.”

But Kolarik dismissed talk of potential competition for the starting goalie spot and said the reason Hogan made his debut Saturday was because Sauer told the Michigan coaches he was getting tired.

“I don’t think it’s a two-goalie team,” Kolarik said. “Bill’s our goalie, and we’re going to ride him out as long as he’s playing well. He’s playing great, so I think he just took the night off.”

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