Entering Friday night”s game at Ferris State, the Michigan hockey team was floundering in a tie for sixth place in the CCHA.
But a little more than 24 hours after the weekend”s opening faceoff, the Wolverines were completing a two-game sweep of the Bulldogs. All of a sudden, first-place Michigan State is now looking over its shoulders at No. 13 Michigan (6-3-2 CCHA, 8-5-2 overall) as the Wolverines find themselves in a second-place tie with Nebraska-Omaha.
The Wolverines rallied with two goals in the final three minutes of play for a 5-4 comeback win on Friday night in Big Rapids, and then thumped Ferris State, 6-1, on Saturday at Yost Ice Arena. Michigan is now 5-0-1 in its last six conference games, including a 4-0-1 mark on the road.
“It was a good weekend for the Michigan hockey program,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “We”re trying to move up in the league and this was a weekend that we needed to move up.”
The Wolverines” special teams dominated Saturday”s action. Michigan tallied goals on four of nine powerplay opportunities and held Ferris State (5-7-1, 7-7-1) to 1-for-8 on its powerplay chances.
Freshman center Dwight Helminen and junior Mike Cammalleri tallied first period powerplay goals while freshman Milan Gajic added a goal with 1:16 to go in the stanza to put Michigan ahead, 3-0 at the intermission.
Ferris State”s Phil Lewandowski notched the Bulldogs” lone goal with 13:17 left in the second period. After splitting the Michigan defense, Lewandowski was caught from behind by a sliding Mike Komisarek but the sophomore defenseman slid into goalie Josh Blackburn, knocking Blackburn and the puck into the net.
The Bulldogs kept the pressure on the Wolverines immediately after the goal. Ferris State received a powerplay as Derrick McIver was tripped up by defenseman Eric Werner following a turnover by Werner.
But Blackburn made two big saves on that powerplay, and another man-advantage opportunity that Ferris State had was wiped out when McIver took a penalty to set up a 4-on-4 situation.
The Wolverines took the wind out of Ferris State”s sails during the 4-on-4 as senior Craig Murray scored his first goal of the year. Werner matched Murray when he lit the lamp for the first time, on a powerplay with 4:38 to go in the second period.
Gajic finished the game”s scoring with 14:20 left in the third period Michigan”s fourth powerplay goal, and Gajic”s second goal of the night.
“I thought I was seeing the ice pretty well, it”s kind of helped me along,” Gajic said. ” At the beginning of the season I”d grab a puck and there”d be a 250-pounder all over me. I”m more patient now than I was.”
Friday night”s contest turned out to be a back-and-forth struggle. Ferris State jumped out to a 1-0 lead, but Michigan responded on goals by junior John Shouneyia, Helminen and Cammalleri to take a 3-2 lead into the third period.
The Bulldogs tied the game with 7:39 left in the third, and then took the lead on a McIver goal with 6:50 remaining.
But Michigan managed to sneak away victorious as Komisarek tied the game with 2:28 left on a wrist shot from the point, and Cammalleri followed up with the game-winner with just 1:41 left in regulation.