DETROIT — With the University’s winter break during the Great Lakes Invitational, students aren’t setting many early alarms on game day. So on Wednesday, in the No. 10 Michigan hockey team’s 4-2 win over Michigan Tech, the teams provided the wakeup calls.
After two periods of defensive hockey that only saw one goal scored and a host of weak and bad-angle shots, many of the fans here in the relatively full Joe Louis Arena were lulled to sleep. That is until four obnoxiously loud goal horns and a continuous flickering of the red goal lights, which are stationed on the top and bottom of the video board, restored consciousness.
In the third period, the teams exploded for a combined five goals — four of which lit the lamp in a span of four minutes and six seconds.
But it was the Huskies (1-10-1 WCHA, 3-12-2 overall) who provided a wakeup call to the Wolverines in the third period. After garnering few quality scoring chances in the first two periods, Michigan Tech broke through in the third, tying the game seven minutes in.
Just 42 seconds later, junior defenseman Brandon Burlon jumped into the rush to create a two-on-one. After a pass to sophomore Jeff Rohrkemper and a quick shot, Michigan regained the lead. But it didn’t last.
The Huskies scored two minutes after that to tie the game once again. After the Wolverines had two weeks off — their last game was on Dec. 11 against Michigan State in the Big House — Michigan Tech forced them back into high-pressure hockey.
“(The Huskies) hang around,” said Michigan associate head coach Mel Pearson, who filled in for Red Berenson — who was reportedly ill — at the post game press conference. “They hang around, and they have all year, and (they are) in a lot of close games and sometimes they break down. But obviously they got a big goal when they needed one so it opened things up both ways a little.”
And the Wolverines woke up. Capping the four-minute goal barrage was sophomore forward A.J. Treais.
With nine minutes left, junior defenseman Greg Pateryn’s shot was stopped in front by a Michigan Tech defenseman. After a clearing swipe only ousted snow from the front of the net, Treais picked up the puck and flicked it past Michigan Tech goaltender Josh Robinson’s left arm.
The goal set into motion a celebration that rid any doubts about the emotion that was in the game.
“(Pateryn) just threw it at a guy, it hit him and I put it post in,” Treais said. “And then I don’t know what happened after that — a few windmills and a jump into the glass.”
Treais’s goal, a timely save from senior goalie Shawn Hunwick with a minute left and an empty netter allowed Michigan to salvage an even third period in a game that was anything but even through the first 40 minutes. The Wolverines (9-3-1 CCHA, 11-5-4) outshot the Huskies 31-13 through two periods, but they held just a one-shot advantage in the third.
It was enough to send Michigan to Thursday’s championship game after a one-year absence. And for its contest against Colorado College, there are no reminders required.
“The GLI is something we strive for all season long,” Hunwick said. “Also, you want to get in shape for big games so hopefully down the stretch in March you get that experience of playing in the championship game and a tight hockey game.”