ST. LOUIS — The overtime goal Friday that sent Michigan into the West Regional final with a 3-2 victory over Nebraska-Omaha felt eerily familiar.
In the 2010 Midwest Regional championship last March in Fort Wayne, Ind., between the Wolverines and Miami, Kevin Lynch appeared to have scored the winning goal at 2:37 in overtime. That goal was disallowed after a brief review, however, because the whistle had blown to assess a high-sticking penalty to Miami’s Joe Hartman.
Michigan coach Red Berenson called that one “a tough one to swallow” after the game. Matt Rust hit the crossbar at 12:38 in OT for the Wolverines and the score remained tied, 2-2, until Alden Hirschfeld scored at 1:54 in the second overtime to send Miami to the Frozen Four.
That ended a miracle run for Michigan, which finished sixth in the CCHA and needed the league’s postseason title just to qualify for the NCAA tournament. The Wolverines won six in a row in CCHA playoff action before beating Bemidji State for the chance to play Miami, prompting Berenson to say that his team had made “believers out of everyone that wouldn’t have given us a hope in heck of making” it to the NCAA tourney.
Friday, there was no lack of belief among the Wolverines. The longer the play was reviewed — 10 minutes, 21 seconds — the more confident Michigan was that the call would go its way. In the end, it was Lynch who scored, touching Greg Pateryn’s shot after it rebounded off the back boards to send the Wolverines to another regional title contest.
“I went out there and I was trying to win the faceoff to get it to Greg,” said Lynch. “He made a nice shot off the boards and I was just trying to get a stick on it and I think it may have gone off of a defenseman. I knew it was in.
“It took a while for them to call it a goal so I figured … it was a goal.”
“Because when they call a goal a no-goal,” added Berenson, “it has to be conclusive that they change the call.”
“The longer it took, the more comfortable we felt,” said Louie Caporusso, who had the first Wolverines goal of the game. “We still had to stay focused, and coach was trying to keep us in the game, regardless of whether it was a goal or not.”
Belief had to play a big role for the Wolverines, who were down 2-0 after one period but didn’t panic.
“We had to play with resolve, with an unlimited amount of persistence and patience,” said Caporusso. “I think that’s what paid off. We didn’t get down on ourselves. We just stuck with it and stuck with the game plan. We knew things would turn in our favor eventually.”