Maybe the playoffs are truly another season.
The Michigan hockey team finally put its bout of inconsistency behind it this weekend with a 5-3 win over Michigan State Saturday night after a 5-1 victory the night before over the Spartans to advance to the CCHA semifinals.
The parade to the net returned for a second night early in the first period. Eight minutes into the game, junior Matt Rust let go of a slap shot on the power play. Aided by a screen in front of the net, the puck found its way by Michigan State goaltender Drew Palmisano.
Twenty-six seconds later, junior A.J. Treais took a pass right in front of the net and buried it as well, sending the Wolverines up 2-0 less than midway through the first period. The goal ended Palmisano’s night, as backup goaltender Bobby Jarosz came in for the Spartans.
But as the period wore on, the only parade that Michigan was a part of was one to the penalty box. Two successive penalties forced the Wolverines into a 5-on-3 penalty kill. Even without their star forward, Corey Tropp, who was injured during warmups, the Spartans not only took advantage of a the five-on-three, but also scored on the remaining time of their five-on-four.
Junior Tristin Llewellyn then took his second penalty of the game with 21 seconds remaining in the period. After the Spartans passed into the slot from behind the net, Michigan State’s Andrew Rowe beat junior goalie Shawn Hunwick on the far side with 00.7 seconds showing on the Munn scoreboard.
Early in the second period, the Wolverines converted on a power play of their own. Junior Ben Winnett made a quick move to get into the slot and let go of a wristshot that Jarosz never saw because of a screen by freshman Kevin Lynch.
For the rest of the second the two teams, and their respective crowds, fought to a stalemate despite Michigan’s 16-1 shot advantage in the period. But early in the third freshman Chris Brown, stationed on the side of the net, hacked away at the puck until it went past Jarosz putting Michigan up one.
That remained the difference when junior Luke Glendening took a penalty with eight minutes left in the game. The Spartans barraged Hunwick with shots, forcing him to make five stops including one after a puck went off the back glass and came back out in front after going off the cross-bar.
Michigan killed the penalty off and all but sealed the game. The Wolverines added an empty netter to advance to Joe Louis Arena for the CCHA semifinals on Friday, with the finals being on Saturday.