By virtue of their 5-3 win over Ferris State Friday night in Ann Arbor, Michigan claimed the CCHA regular season championship.
Michigan head coach Red Berenson was philosophical after the game, however.
"It isn't hard to believe, but it is hard to enjoy coming off the latter part of the game when we seemed to be on our heels," Berenson said. "But looking at the season in perspective, no one thought that Michigan would be a first-place team. And it is not like the other teams have had bad years. Notre Dame, Michigan State and Miami are all powerhouse teams, but this young team has found a way to win games night after night, home and away, close games, games that we played really well, games that we didn't play so well.
"So, it is a tribute to those guys in the locker room, the captains, the defensemen, the goalies, and all the freshmen and how well they have played. So, it has been a total team effort."
Brandon Naurato, Brian Lebler, senior captain Kevin Porter, Louie Caporusso and Max Pacioretty scored in the win. Mark Mitera tacked on three helpers and Billy Sauer made 28 saves in net.
"I don't think anyone, including the guys in the locker room, thought this would be possible," Porter said. "Then after the first few weekends we started to believe and gain confidence and here we are today."
Brendan Connolly, Blair Riley and Mike Fillinger recorded goals for the Bulldogs. Pat Nagle started and made 17 saves in 42:56, getting pulled after Caporusso's goal early in the third period. Derek MacIntyre made four saves on four shots the rest of the way.
Scott Wietecha added two assists for FSU.
By finishing first in the conference, Michigan (27-5-4, 20-4-4 CCHA) has earned a bye through the first round of the CCHA Tournament (March 7-9) and will face a yet-to-be-determined opponent in a three-game quarterfinal series the weekend of March 14-16 at Yost Ice Arena.
Ferris State (15-14-5, 12-12-4 CCHA) hosts Western Michigan this weekend in a first-round matchup.
Photo courtesy U-M Photo Services