By Bob Miller/Michigan Beat Writer
Michigan overcame a sluggish first period of play against Ohio State on Friday night and put together five straight period of quality play through the rest of their weekend series, topping the Buckeyes in close contests both nights.
Each of the two games came down to Ohio State pulling netminder Cal Heeter late in the third period to try to gain an equalizing goal. Frantic action both nights tipped the Wolverines' way as they managed to hold off the pressing Ohio State offense through each game's frantic final seconds.
The pair of victories solidifies the Wolverines' position in the upper echelon of the CCHA standings, trailing first place Notre Dame by one point and tied with Miami for second spot while holding two games in hand over the RedHawks.
Louie Caporusso put Michigan ahead 3-1 at 7:26 of the third period on friday night, but Peter Boyd pulled Ohio State to within one with a goal at 13:25.
Michigan goaltender Shawn Hunwick made several key saves down the stretch, turning aside 14 Buckeye third period shots in crunch time for the Wolverines.
Michigan pressed Ohio State from the opening faceoff on Saturday, firing 16 first period shots alone at Heeter. For all the offensive pressure they applied, the Wolverines only led, 2-1, entering the decisive 20 minutes.
Early in the third period, Michigan forward Chris Brown received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for hitting from behind, providing the game's key sequence.
On the ensuing five-minute power play, Michigan managed to hold the Buckeyes to only one shot while killing off the dangerous situation.
Like in Friday night's game, Ohio State pulled Heeter for an extra attacker and pressed heavily, but Hunwick stoned the Buckeye shooters to preserve the victory.
“I thought the fact that we kept getting the puck out of our zone (was key),” Michigan head coach Red Berenson said of his Wolverines' five-minute penalty kill. “When you’re killing a penalty and the other team keeps it in, your penalty killers are totally faitgued and they can’t move, compete or win any battles, and the power play takes over. That all just never happened. We cleared the puck really well. Even Hunwick cleared it once or twice. We got the puck out and we were able to change and be fresh.”
Michigan hosts Western Michigan for two games at Yost Ice Arena this coming weekend in their bid to catch Notre Dame atop the CCHA standings.