Michigan figured six goals a game would be enough to beat Western Michigan and they were right...barely.
The Wolverines took a home-and-home set last weekend with the Broncos with a 6-4 win at home Friday and then a 6-5 squeaker Saturday night in Kalamazoo.
Friday, sophomore T.J. Hensick and junior Jeff Tambellini scored twice to go along with singles from seniors Milan Gajic (two assists) and David Moss. Tambellini also had an assist for a three-point night.
Junior goalie Al Montoya stopped 33 shots. Paul Szczechura, Mike Erickson, Brent Walton and Ryan Mahrle scored for WMU, who got a 33-save performance from goalie Daniel Bellissimo.
"It's a tough series, for sure, as we saw last year it got out of control," said Tambellini. "But we know we have to respond; it's always rough. It's always going to be rough, and we want to control that and do what we can."
At Lawson Ice Arena on Saturday, junior Brandon Kaleniecki completed his hat trick with 53 seconds left in the third period to allow U of M to escape with the victory. Gajic, Tambellini and freshman Chad Kolarik also scored to back Montoya's 30 saves in net.
"T.J. just started walking out with it and that's been our power-play setup," explained Kaleniecki of his power-play game-winner. "Yesterday, they moved me down to the side of the net, luckily we did that. T.J. was walking around and with the passive penalty kill he was able to get three guys coming with him and then he faked the shot and basically got the four guys on the ice going towards him. He passed it back to Gajic, who was all alone. The goalie did a good job, I don't know if he stopped the first one or not, but somehow Gajic tipped it through. I was actually just swinging my stick and I was on the outside and I just saw the puck coming across and I took a whack at it and I got it."
Mahrle, Vince Bellissimo, Jonathan Lupa, Erickson and Jim McNamara netted WMU's goals. Bellissimo stopped 21 shots in defeat.
"It's easy to win at home, but tonight we showed that we had character and the whole team pulled through no matter what time in the game it was," said Montoya. "We came out and finished the game out right."
The Wolverines return home for a two-game set against Alaska Fairbanks this weekend. Both games are 7:35 p.m. starts.