The Michigan hockey team was watching its season explode before its eyes. After a 3-1 loss last night to Northern Michigan, the Wolverines looked as if they would fall again.

Halfway into the first period, senior defenseman Steve Kampfer shoveled the puck up the boards, right to a Wildcat as everyone in Yost Ice Arena ducked for cover. Northern Michigan’s Gregor Hanson skated in and let go of a wristshot that beat junior goalie Bryan Hogan on the glove side to go up by a goal.

But the grenade was dud, and as the crowd peaked up wearily for their collective fetal position, the Wolverines came back to win 5-4.

Shortly after, it looked like a repeat of last night when Michigan went down 2-0 and never recovered. Northern found a way to get behind the Wolverine defensemen, leaving Hogan all alone. But Hogan stopped the breakaway, to keep the game within reach.

In the second, Michigan finally caught up. Sophomore Luke Glendening skated down the right wing and threw the puck on net. Wildcat goalie Brian Stewart made the save but the rebound deflected off of a Northern defensemen and into the net.

Just ten seconds later, Michigan had another chance. Freshman Kevin Lynch poked the puck away after a Northern Michigan defenseman mishandled the puck on the ensuing faceoff. As Lynch fended off the defenseman, he put the puck to his backhand and around Stewart’s outstretched pad into the net.

But like most Michigan leads this season, it didn’t last long. Northern Michigan tied it up a minute and a half later.

On the power play, without a goal on their first four opportunities, the Wolverines finally broke out of their 0-for-19 slump spanning more than three games. Junior Ben Winnett received a pass on the top of the left circle. Aided by a screen, Winnett’s wrist shot went over Stewart’s blocker and into the net.

Just as the Michigan fans started to think this game was different, that the grenade wasn’t going to explode, it blew up in their face. Northern Michigan, fighting for fourth place in the CCHA and a first-round bye, kept coming. Early in the third, the Wildcats forced a turnover behind Michigan’s net. After throwing it out front, a shot bounced off junior Matt Rust’s stick and past Hogan.

Northern Michigan followed that up, and quickly. A missed shot bounced past behind the Michigan net and came out the other side. Northern’s Jared Brown picked up the puck and let go of an off-angle shot. The shot squeaked through, Hogan’s legs and into the net.

For one of the only times all season, the Wolverines didn’t let the setbacks get to them. On the power play, junior Chad Langlais jumped down from his point position and received a pass from senior Brian Lebler on the back door. All Langlais had to do was tap it into the wide open net to tie the game once again.

Sophomore Greg Pateryn picked the right time to score his first career goal. After a faceoff win by the Wolverines, Pateryn drove to the net and threw it on net. It deflected off Stewart’s pad and into the net for the leading goal with 10:18 left to play.

Pateryn’s goal held up for the rest of the game, by two inches. With a minute left in the game Northern’s Mark Olver had a wide-open net off of a rebound, but hit the post, securing the game for the Wolverines.

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