By Matt Mackinder/Michigan Beat Writer
The Michigan Wolverines are going to the CCHA semifinals after sweeping Nebraska-Omaha last weekend at Yost Ice Arena.
Saturday's 2-1 win had an electric atmosphere that saw a UNO parent get ejected from the arena.
"It was great," said goalie Billy Sauer. "After the mêlée in the second period, it was fun. You see one of (Nebraska-Omaha's) parents getting thrown out and that is the fun of college hockey. That is why the crowd is there."
Michigan jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first period with goals by Brandon Naurato and Carl Hagelin and held off a late-charging Maverick team to advance to Joe Louis Arena this weekend.
"Billy had to come up big," U-M head coach Red Berenson said. "It was not an easy weekend for a goalie. There were times he didn't get many shots, and then there were times when he got many quick shots and point-blank shots. I thought he was definitely a factor. When you only give up one goal against, you are in all the games -- whether the puck is going in for you or not, you have a chance. We got the goals we needed, and he gave us the goalkeeping we needed. "
Sauer made 26 saves in the series clincher, but just 12 in a 10-1 rout Friday night.
Led by Chad Kolarik's third hat trick of the season and Mark Mitera's three-point (goal, two assists) output, 16 of 18 Wolverines tallied points on the night, including seven with multi-point efforts.
Kolarik had missed four games with an injury, but didn't appear to miss a beat.
"It felt like it was my first game at Yost again," Kolarik said. "It was pretty exciting. I was waiting four weeks for this day, so I had all my energy in this one. I definitely couldn't have imagined I was going to get a hat trick. I was hoping to get maybe three shots on goal. It was good. I didn't expect anything. I was hoping to get maybe a couple of assists and that (Kevin) Porter would put a few in for me."
Porter, Hagelin, Naurato, Travis Turnbull, Danny Fardig and Louie Caporusso also scored for Michigan, while Aaron Palushaj and Max Pacioretty each had two assists.
"We got the bounces tonight," Berenson said. "I cannot remember a game this year where the puck was going in like it did tonight. We know UNO is a much better team than the score. We were opportunistic tonight and we didn't give them a lot. They have some top players who were on their heels and we got the early goals."
Shawn Hunwick played the final 2:52 of the game and stopped both shots he faced.
Michigan (29-5-4) will travel to Joe Louis Arena next weekend for the CCHA Tournament Championship this weekend. Their semifinal game on Friday against the upset-minded Northern Michigan Wildcats will begin at 4:30 p.m.