ANN ARBOR, Mich. — One week away from hosting Colgate, New Hampshire and North Dakota in the Ice Breaker Tournament, the Michigan hockey team brought in Wilfrid Laurier from across the border for an exhibition.
But instead of a nice, friendly, easygoing scrimmage, the Golden Bears gave Michigan a chippy game with 38 penalties called. The Wolverines slapped through the mess, though, notching 54 shots in a 4-1 victory on Saturday.
“We got a lot of work on our penalty kill and power play — a little too much,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said.
Six minutes into the game, Wilfrid Laurier shocked the 5,648 fans at Yost Ice Arena — many of whom were late arriving from the Wolverines’ football game during the day. Junior winger Rick White took a pass off Josh Langfeld’s skate at mid ice, swept down the left side and bounced it off the pad of Michigan goaltender Josh Blackburn to put the Hawks up 1-0.
White’s goal came on Wilfrid Laurier’s first shot of the game. The Hawks would only muster nine more shots on goal over the next 54 minutes.
Meanwhile, Michigan’s speedy forwards had plenty of time to zip and take target practice at Wilfrid Laurier goaltender Chad Mitchell. While the power play didn’t work well in their first game of the season, the Wolverines spurted out three shorthanded goals — two by senior Scott Matzka.
The Wolverines first tied the game at one later in the first thanks to sophomore John Shouneyia, who fetched a nice pass between two defenders from sophomore Jed Ortemeyer and took it top shelf over Mitchell.
Matzka then etched shorthanded goal No. 1 on a give and go with Bill Trainor. He needed no help on the second shorthander, as Matzka intercepted a pass from Jeff Ambrosio off the faceoff and took it uncontested on a breakaway. The tally put the Wolverines up 4-1, seven minutes into the second.
“He put his head down and I knew he was going to pass it,” Matzka said. “It was a nice gift. But I don’t expect that to happen again.”
The next 33 minutes played like the football game Michigan had played earlier in the day — choppy and sloppy.
“Because it was an exhibition, a lot of guys were taking chances, maybe sticking a guy a little bit when they shouldn’t,” Matzka said. “I think we expected it from these guys. They’re chippy and they like to talk a lot.”
One Wilfrid Laurier player, senior Troy Kahler, returned to Yost for a sort of homecoming. Kahler was kicked off the 1997-98 national championship team as a freshman for violating team rules.
Matzka said Kahler had some choice words for him during the game. He committed two penalties and had one assist.
“He left on a bad foot,” Matzka said. “I don’t know if there are any hard feelings. I am sure he just wanted to come in and have a good game.”
Seniors Geoff Koch and Mark Kosick sat out Saturday’s game with groin injuries. They should be available for next week.