Miami boasts potent first and second lines made up of mostly upperclassmen. But while the RedHawks’ big guns were held to just three points this weekend, it was Michigan’s third line of freshmen Brandon Kaleniecki and Andrew Ebbett and senior Mark Mink that anchored the Wolverines offense.
“It was as good a line as we had,” coach Red Berenson said. The Redhawks “put a lot of pressure on us, and I thought Ebbett’s line really held up well.”
Kaleniecki tallied two goals on the weekend to give him nine for the season, two behind leading-goal-scorer Jeff Tambellini. Ebbett fed Kaleniecki on a break Saturday night, and netted his fifth marker yesterday.
Ebbett said the senior on his right wing has been a steadying influence on the two youngsters.
“I think Mink has just kind of taught us both – me and Kal – just to be kind of like a spark plug line and not play too much in our end,” Ebbett said. “I think every time we get out there and something’s going back the other way, we talk to each other, we set the tone and get back in their end and get the team going again.”
Good calls: Going into the series opener, both Michigan and Miami were among the CCHA leaders in penalty minutes per game, each averaging more than 17. Yet the game ended with just four penalties called, and none in the third or overtime periods.
The teams were showing holiday cheer for one another this weekend either. There were several instances where players could have been sent to the penalty box, but were not.
“I think it was a clean game and the referee, he could have called some picky penalties,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “But it was a big game, both teams were playing well … and I thought it was well refereed.”
Michigan’s improvement in drawing penalties came to a quick end yesterday when it finished with seven – one of which led to a Miami goal.
Improving: After three losses in its last four games, defense had been an obvious concern – Michigan allowed 14 goals in the three losses to Northern Michigan and Boston University.
It would have been easy to blame goaltender Al Montoya, but the Wolverines knew that they were all at fault, not just the freshman goalie. On Saturday night the defensive healing began as the forwards stepped up play, not allowing rebounds to doom the Wolverines’ as they had against the Wildcats and Terriers.
“We had been standing up watching more than we had been down in our stance ready to go, looking for guys,” Ebbett said.