DETROIT — It was a game that neither team wanted to be in, and that showed from the beginning. But the apathy didn’t last long.

After receiving severe thrashings in Friday’s CCHA semifinal games — the No. 5 Michigan hockey team losing 5-2 against Western Michigan and No. 8 Notre Dame dropping a 6-2 final to Miami (Ohio) — the Wolverines and Fighting Irish were destined for a lackluster showing in the consolation game.

In the post-game press conference after losing to the RedHawks on Friday, Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson admitted that no team enjoys returning for a third-place game, and he’s voted for years to eliminate it.

But Michigan was able to shake off early rust and rebound for a 4-2 victory over the Fighting Irish to take third place in the CCHA Tournament.

And it was the Wolverine seniors that got the wheels turning in the first period. Down 1-0 after a bizarre Notre Dame goal that was the result of senior goaltender Shawn Hunwick’s clearing attempt that hit a stanchion on the boards and bounced out front, senior forwards Louie Caporusso and Carl Hagelin rallied the troops.

With just over four minutes remaining in the opening period and on the power play, Caporusso scooped up the puck, carried it through the neutral zone on a 2-on-1 with sophomore forward Chris Brown and flipped the puck behind Fighting Irish netminder Steven Summerhays.

It was Caporusso’s first goal in nearly a month, since he just returned from rehabbing a knee injury suffered against Northern Michigan on Feb. 25.

And 15 seconds later, even before the winger could catch his breath, he found a bouncing puck in the slot and fed it across to Hagelin, who drilled a wrist shot past Summerhays from the left faceoff dot to pull ahead, 2-1. The goal, Hagelin’s team-leading 18th, was the third time this season Michigan has scored goals 15 ticks apart or less.

Focus then turned to the goaltenders, who kept both teams off the scoreboard for the next 25 minutes. Hunwick, who was pulled in the second intermission on Friday after surrendering five goals to the Broncos, rebounded in a big way against Notre Dame, stopping 42 of 44 shots on the night.

In the third period, with Michigan still leading 2-1, one of the Wolverines’ most unlikely goal-scoring candidates broke the silence. Off a slap shot from freshman defenseman Mac Bennett, sophomore forward Jeff Rohrkemper broke free from a Notre Dame defender and chipped the rebound past a sprawling Summerhays on the backhand.

The goal was countered with an extra-attacker goal from Notre Dame with just over a minute remaining, but junior forward Luke Glendening added the insurance marker with an empty-net tally with just 4.3 seconds remaining on the clock.

With the third-place finish in the conference tournament, the Wolverines will await their fate in the NCAA Tournament selection show at 11:30 AM Sunday.

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