Red Berenson’s 784th win will have to wait.
But the Michigan hockey coach won’t mind staying tied for fourth in all-time NCAA Division I victories after the Wolverines took five of six possible points in their series against No. 9 Wisconsin with a come-from-behind 2-2 tie and shootout victory Saturday night at Yost Ice Arena.
The result moves Michigan into sole possession of second place in the Big Ten.
After a goalless overtime frame, senior forward Luke Moffatt scored the decisive tally in the second round of the penalty shootout, while freshman goaltender Zach Nagelvoort stopped all three Badgers shots to give the 12th-ranked Wolverines the extra conference point.
“This was a sweep for us mentally,” Nagelvoort said. “As soon as Moffatt scored, I knew we were going to win.”
Michigan (5-2-1-1 Big Ten, 13-6-3 overall) never led in regulation, but Moffatt pulled the Wolverines even from a 2-1 deficit in the third period to force the extra frame. Carrying the puck into the slot, the forward feigned a backhand shot before turning to his forehand and firing through traffic. Wisconsin (5-4-1-0, 14-8-2) goaltender Joel Rumpel didn’t appear to see the puck as it found twine.
In an affair that featured ugly hits and scrums after the whistle, the game’s first goal was a thing of beauty. Facing away from the net, Wisconsin forward Michael Mersch tapped the puck between the legs of senior defenseman Kevin Clare, spun the other way to collect his own pass and then slid a shot past Nagelvoort.
Nagelvoort, who finished with 26 saves, said he struggled to maintain his momentum from Friday’s two-goal win.
“Honestly, I felt a little off in the beginning,” the goaltender said.
Freshman forward Tyler Motte tied the game for the Wolverines midway through the second period. Taking advantage of a small rebound off the pads of Rumpel, Motte commanded the crease and poked in the loose puck.
Later in the frame, junior defenseman Andrew Sinelli looked to have given Michigan the lead after streaking into the offensive zone and popping a shot that deflected off a Badger defenseman and into the goal. But after a long review, referees reversed the call for what they deemed to be contact with the netminder prior to the puck crossing the line.
“The puck went in the net before Sinelli made any contact,” Berenson said of the decision to overturn the play. “I’d like to hear the explanation for that.”
Exactly one minute later, senior forward Derek DeBlois took down Wisconsin’s Mark Zengerle on a breakaway. The Badger forward scored easily on the ensuing penalty shot, skating in slowly on Nagelvoort and firing a wrister between the goaltender’s legs to give his team a momentum-building 2-1 lead. But Moffatt’s slapshot goal in the third period shifted control of the game back to Michigan, and Nagelvoort stopped Zengerle in the shootout to seal the win.
After a relatively clean game Friday night, both teams resumed the chippiness displayed during their first series this season in Madison on Jan. 10-11. Moments after a Michigan power play expired in the first period, junior forward Alex Guptill exchanged blows and then tumbled to the ice with Wisconsin’s Sean Little. The Wolverines were given the man advantage, but they couldn’t convert and finished 0-for-6 on the night.
“We’ve been working on the power play a lot, trying to get it back to where it was at the beginning of the year,” Motte said. “I think we took a good step even though we didn’t bury any tonight.”
In a battle of two of the conference’s best goaltenders, Nagelvoort and Rumpel seemed to outdo each other on every shift. Midway through the second period, Rumpel stoned DeBlois on a point-blank slapshot in the slot. Nagelvoort drew an interference penalty in the third period after turning away one of several close-range shots.
But it was following the final frame that Nagelvoort made his biggest saves, and the sellout crowd at Yost chanted his name as Michigan finished the near-sweep.