By Bob Miller/Michigan Beat Writer
DETROIT - Michigan learned what Northern Michigan and Ferris State had already found out, but survived to tell the story, unlike the Wildcats and the Bulldogs.
In their semi-final match of the CCHA playoffs, the Wolverines had to climb back from a two-goal deficit and then play into a second overtime period before Luke Moffatt scored the overtime-ending goal to eliminate the improbable run that Bowling Green had made through the tournament as the 11th and lowest-ranked seed in the post-season playoffs.
After eliminating higher ranked Northern Michigan and Ferris State in successive weekends, Bowling Green carried a 2-0 lead late into the second period against Michigan. Then, the puck that had bounced so fortuitously for the Bulldogs took a bounce the other way.
Michigan defenseman Jon Merrill threw a looping shot from the right point toward Bowling Green netminder Andrew Hammond with only 10 seconds left in the second period. Hammond, who later admitted he didn't see the shot until it bounced, failed to corral the slowly bouncing puck and the Bowling green lead was narrowed to 2-1.
Michigan used the late second period goal to fuel their offense and pressed the Falcons without success in the third period until David Wohlberg converted Derek DeBlois' backhand pass from behind the Falcon net at 17:15 to send the game to overtime.
In the first overtime period, the announced crowd of 7,823 was treated to pure hockey excitement: end-to-end rushes by both teams, pucks clanking off goalposts on both ends of the ice, all without resolution of the tied score.
Moffatt finally ended the game 1:04 into the second overtime following a hard-working set-up by linemate A.J. Treais and the tired Wolverines could finally look ahead to Saturday night's 7:35 pm playoff final game against Western Michigan.
"We knew it was going to be an ugly goal," said Moffatt. "At that point in the game, shots are coming on the net and you've got to drive the net hard and hopefully get a rebound. Fortunately, it came right to me and I was able to get it in."
"Obviously, fatigue sets in at some point, but we train all year, all summer, for games like this," said Wohlberg. "We had a game like this against Notre Dame and we were able to fight through it mentally and physically and that paid off for us."
"You have to give Bowling Green a ton of credit for the season they had, particularly the last month," Michigan coach Red Berenson said post-game. "They were the real deal, and we saw it again tonight. It was anyone's game. We were able to get back into the game after a two-goal deficit. I thought that goal near the end of the (second) period was a huge goal and then obviously in overtime anything can happen. We've been in a few of these, but you've got be lucky, too."