A slow start on Friday for the No. 6 Michigan hockey team turned into two third-period goals and a 4-2 victory over No. 5 Miami. The Wolverines didn’t have the same late-game magic on Saturday — the RedHawks tallied three third-period goals of their own in just two minutes and 41 seconds to win 4-3.
During the third period of Friday night’s victory, Michigan looked like a different team from the first period. The Wolverines passes were crisper, the hits were a little edgier, and the offense looked more in sync.
On Saturday, Michigan had an equally slow start, but the difference was Miami had an answer of its own. Senior defenseman Mac Bennett attributed the Wolverines inability to close out the game to a lack of intensity.
“I think we brought the same intensity as last night and that’s a bad thing because we beat them last night, so obviously they’re going to pick it up,” he said.
Before Miami’s flurry of goals on Saturday night, the third period had a similar feeling. But one goal turned into two, and two turned into three. Instead of dominating the play late like Friday night, Saturday’s third period turned into the Wolverines just trying to not let the score get too out of hand.
In Friday’s contest, the shots on goal in the first period were about even. The RedHawks tallied 12 versus Michigan’s 11 and both teams found the back of the net once.
Despite the level of intensity that the Wolverines came out with Saturday, the result of the first period was the same — tied at one-a-piece and Miami notching the first goal of the game less than five minutes in.
Michigan coach Red Berenson wasn’t dissatisfied with his team’s performance in the first period on Friday though. He said it was the second period that was Miami’s “period,” and not the first.
“Maybe our (defense) wasn’t making good plays and maybe our forwards weren’t giving them targets,” Berenson said on Friday. “It was a combination of errors. It was really sloppy hockey. In the third period the hockey game started again.”
The Wolverines looked better early on Saturday, but that changed midway through the third period. The wheels came off and it was a combination of poor defensive play and a young-inexperienced goalie in freshman Jared Rutledge.
Bennett had similar a similar sentiment about Saturday’s third period that Berenson said about Friday’s second.
“When we came out tonight we seemed kind of slow,” Bennett said. “Just kind of off, and I think they kind of dominated us in terms of getting pucks in deep and getting shots on net. … (The third period) was sloppy hockey on our part, and we need to clean it up.”
The final period making or breaking Michigan wasn’t a new theme during the Miami series. The Wolverines tallied four third-period goals during its Oct. 12 victory over the Rochester Institute of Technology and three when it beat Bentley on Oct. 19. However, the good comes with the bad. In the Wolverines only other loss of the season they allowed three goals in a similarly frustrating third period against RIT in the first game of the series on Oct. 11.
Berenson said that the Wolverines can’t expect to win a game when allowing three third-period goals. Despite the series split with Miami, Michigan will need to find a medium between the good and the bad types of third periods they’ve had.