Michigan sophomore Jeff Tambellini established himself last
season as one of the premier goal scorers in the country, notching
26 goals in his freshman campaign. Tambellini entered the season
right where he left off — leading the team in goals —
scoring nine goals in his first 10 games this season, including a
hat trick against Quinnipiac on Oct. 18. At that point, it looked
as if he could challenge the single-season goal record held by
current coach Red Berenson — who scored 43 goals in the
1961-62 season.

Then came the well-documented dry spell of 16 straight games
without lighting the lamp. On several occasions, Tambellini refused
to call his drought a “slump,” as he continued to take
good shots, but just couldn’t find the back of the net.

Finally, he snapped his dubious streak and scored a powerplay
goal against Bowling Green on Feb. 20. Since then, he has exploded
for five more goals in the past seven games, including two in last
night’s 5-2 clincher against Nebraska-Omaha.

Berenson held a meeting before yesterday’s game and called
on the players to turn up the intensity. He called for all his
players to take their respective games to the next level.

“He confronted us and told us to step up,”
Tambellini said. “We were not playing well. (Saturday) was an
embarrassment, and that should never happen to Michigan.”

Tambellini especially seemed to take the talk to heart, as he
notched his first multi-goal game since Nov. 7.

Tambellini’s recent success could be attributed to his
return to the powerplay unit. With one of the hardest shots on the
team, the Port Moody, B.C., native has always been seen as a sniper
who could rip shots from the blueline with the man advantage. But
for most of this season, he was taken off the powerplay unit in
favor of Andrew Ebbett. Since Berenson mixed up his lines two weeks
ago, Michigan has had one of its best weapons back on the man
advantage.

Tambellini finally got the chance to break last night’s
game wide open on a powerplay in the third period. He faked his
initial shot, and it froze the Nebraska-Omaha defense just enough
to get a clean shot through the slot and past the Mavericks’
netminder Chris Holt.

“That was something we were working on in the pregame
skate, being able to take a step,” Tambellini said.
“The defense bit on the first shot, and (I) took one step by
them to get it through. I got lucky enough that it didn’t hit
a couple of sticks.”

Mighty Mavericks: Despite finishing last in the CCHA with
just five conference wins, Nebraska-Omaha gave Michigan a run for
its money. Saturday’s 3-1 loss was Michigan’s first
defeat of the Mavericks in Ann Arbor, and evens the two
teams’ playoff record at 2-2. This was also Michigan’s
first loss in the second game of a first round series in the CCHA
Tournament since 1988.

“I still can’t believe that they finished last place
in our league — they’re not a last-place team,”
Berenson said. “Their forwards were quick, they had some
isolated great chances to score and they didn’t go
in.”

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