By Karl Henkel/Special to MiCHO
Being the nation's top-ranked team and riding a seven game win streak, the Michigan Wolverines probably expected more of a fight from No. 8 Notre Dame than they got a week ago against Western Michigan.
While Friday night they got such a test, Michigan cruised in Saturday night's game at the Palace of Auburn Hills to extend their winning streak to nine games.
In the opener, the Fighting Irish led twice before the six-minute mark of the opening frame with tallies from Kevin Deeth and Justin White.
U-M got down to business in the second period, however, with Perani Cup leader and national scoring leader Kevin Porter notching a power-play goal 21 seconds in. Matt Rust tied the game at 12:05.
With regulation winding down, Louie Caporusso scored the game-winner, beating goalie Jordan Pearce with 21 seconds to go.
Billy Sauer stopped 24 shots in the victory.
Saturday's contest proved to be much easier as the Wolverines carried the play throughout, despite horrid ice conditions at the Palace.
“The ice was not good at all,” Michigan forward Tim Miller said after the game. “It was like playing pond hockey, but it was kind of fun."
Chad Kolarik got the scoring started, wristing a shot through the legs of goalie Brad Phillips for a shorthanded goal and the early lead.
After goals from Porter, Caporusso and Rust, Phillips was pulled in favor of Pearce, who shutout Michigan the rest of the way.
Travis Turnbull added an empty-net goal with three minutes remaining.
Sauer was a huge factor in the win, making 32 saves, many from point-blank range.
“I like the work, but at times we're giving up too many (scoring chances), and there are times we aren't giving up any,” Sauer said. “We just need to be a little more consistent.”
The sweep puts Michigan at 22-2-0 (13-1-0 CCHA), which is their best start since 1993-94 when they started 21-1-1.
“We're finding ways to win games and I can't tell you that it was a thing of beauty,” Michigan head coach Red Berenson said. “I can't tell you that we outplayed them, but we made our chances count.”
Next weekend, Michigan hosts Michigan State (16-5-4, 12-2-2 CCHA), coming off a sweep of the Ohio State Buckeyes. MSU is currently third in the CCHA, behind Miami and first-place Michigan.