On Sunday afternoon, just 10 minutes before the Michigan hockey team warmed up for its game against Merrimack, a special delivery arrived in the Wolverine’s locker room.
“I told my parents to bring down my stick from last year,” forward Andrew Cogliano said.
The freshman was hoping the change of sticks would exorcise the bad luck that had been plaguing him for the first three games of the season. The stick did more than help Cogliano. It seemed to help the entire team (4-0-0) roll to a 9-2 victory over the Warriors (0-2-0), bolstered by a seven-goal first period. The win concluded an exciting weekend that began with a huge 3-2 win over No. 5 Boston College. Both wins helped catapult the Wolverines from No. 7 to No. 1 in the nation.
“The importance of the start of the game has a lot to do with the direction in which the goals are scored,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “That gets some momentum going and some confidence. Hopefully our team took a step forward from a week ago.”
Cogliano notched two goals in the period. His first was a power-play goal, which he fired from the right point to beat Merrimack goaltender Jim Healey on his glove side. His second was a shot from the left face-off circle that went top shelf.
“The first three games I had some bad luck scoring and things like that,” Cogliano said. “To get the first goal in the first period and the second one to follow is a good feeling.”
Sophomore forward Kevin Porter also had a big night, notching a hat-trick in the first period. The third and final goal was set up by freshman defenseman Jack Johnson. Johnson skated into the slot and made a few stick fakes before dumping off to Porter, who was able to punch the puck in from the right side.
“I don’t think I have (scored a hat trick in one period),” Porter said. “Not since mini-mites.”
But the big game of the weekend was on Friday night, when Michigan defeated No. 5 Boston College, 3-2. The buzz in Yost was palpable and the early-season game had a late-season playoff feel to it.
The Wolverines came out skating fast and hard while the Eagles (0-2-0) were still acclimating to the hostile atmosphere. It wasn’t long before Michigan took advantage of the situation and scored its first goal.
After Boston College defensemen Mike Brennan and Tim Filangieri were whistled for cross checking one minute apart from each other, the Wolverines had a five-on-three power play. In a set formation, junior defenseman Matt Hunwick passed the puck across ice to Porter, waiting in the lower right corner of the offensive zone. Porter passed the puck back to Hunwick, who quickly sent the puck to the right point. Johnson, waiting patiently, fired a shot over the right shoulder of Eagles’ goaltender Cory Schneider just 1:44 into the game.
Six minutes later, freshman forward Travis Turnbull took a shot from point-blank range on the left side. Hensick picked up the rebound, skated around a Boston College player toward the middle of the slot and flipped it over Schneider’s shoulder for the game’s second goal.
“It was our gameplan from the get-go to get all over those guys,” Johnson said. “Especially with having the home crowd here, we knew we had the advantage.”
Later in the period, the Eagles would cut the lead to one on a power-play goal by Chris Collins.
In the second period, Turnbull added a goal to give Michigan a 3-1 lead. But the Eagles would score one more time to make it a 3-2 game. Boston College forward Brian Boyle had a breakaway and put a shot on Michgian goalie Billy Sauer that appeared to be saved, but sophomore forward Dan Bertram put the puck into the net behind the goalie.
“The puck really just had eyes and went through me,” Sauer said. “And any goal that goes through you you’re going to want back.”
Both teams were visibly worn down by the third period and neither one could gain a considerable advantage. But in the waning moments of the game the Eagles had an opportunity to tie the game. At 18:51, Cogliano was called for charging – which with the goalie pulled, gave Boston College a six-on-four. The call was questionable and the players seemed visibly upset but the Wolverines would benefit from the same call just a few moments later.
With 30 seconds left the Eagles scored what appeared to be the game-tying goal but the referees called it off. Captain Peter Harrold was called for the same penalty that sent Cogliano to the box. The infraction negated the goal.
“If a player doesn’t let up when he’s going to the net, if he hits the goalie and keeps him from making the save, then it’s a penalty,” Berenson said. “I thought Cogliano’s was a questionable call, but from where I was, I couldn’t tell if he was being pushed into (the goalie) or not. Both teams had their chances to separate themselves, but they just didn’t do it.”
The win was the Wolverines’ first over the Eagles since a 3-2 overtime win in the 1998 NCAA National Championship game.