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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Wolverines split with Alaska-Fairbanks

Going 0-for-12 on the power play generally doesn't amount to a win and Michigan proved that theory correct Saturday night in a 4-2 loss to Alaska-Fairbanks.

The two teams split their weekend series at Yost Ice Arena as Michigan (13-7-1, 8-4-1 CCHA)blanked the Nanooks, 4-0, Friday night.

"We knew they would come out strong, trying to get some revenge over last night's game," U-M head coach Red Berenson said. "We knew that, and we thought we were ready for them, but we weren't. They scored a goal early and they took advantage of that lead from there on out."

Chad Kolarik and Tim Miller scored Michigan's goals, but UAF raced out to a 3-0 first-period lead in the first eight minutes and never looked back.

Billy Sauer stopped 20 shots in defeat.

"Preparation," said Michigan defenseman Matt Hunwick on what the difference was from Friday. "We weren't ready to play. You could see that right off the bat. They scored three goals and we couldn't recover from that. We couldn't get back into it and that was the story of the game. Their power play outplayed our power play; their penalty kill was better than our penalty kill."

Friday night, Sauer made 26 saves in his first collegiate shutout.

"Our team played a lot of defense," said Sauer. "Honestly, I really didn't have to make too many big saves. Our team kept a lot of them on the outside, so I just had to be there. I knew I had to make some good saves, but I didn't have to do anything too outstanding in the game."

Danny Fardig, Jason Bailey, Kolarik and Hunwick scored for the Wolverines, all at even strength.

Kevin Porter chipped in with two assists.

The Wolverines also received a huge boost when their four World Junior Championship players returned from Vancouver.

"When (Mark) Mitera and (Jack) Johnson came back on defense, all of the sudden our defense looked like a Division I defense again, no question," Berenson said. "When Porter and (Andrew) Cogliano stepped on the ice as solid forwards, our demeanor changed. We were just a better team."

Cogliano won gold as a member of Team Canada.

The Wolverines have just a lone exhibition game next weekend on Friday when the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 Team ventures across Ann Arbor. U-M returns to regular-season play with a road contest at Michigan State on Jan. 17.

Photo by Eric Bronson, © Wolverine Photo

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