ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Everyone seemed to want No. 1 North Dakota and No. 2 Michigan go at it in this weekend’s Ice Breaker Cup.
Well, the two WILL play Saturday, but not at the time everyone thought they would.
Two shootouts, two underdogs advance. First, New Hampshire beats North Dakota on a shootout, then Michigan loses out the same way to Colgate. Both games will count as 2-2 ties in the record books, but the Wolverines and Fighting Sioux will play at 5:05 p.m. Eastern Time in the consolation game. The Wildcats and Red Raiders will battle for the championship at 8:35 p.m.
For Colgate, it was due process carried over from the 4-3 overtime loss to Michigan that knocked the Red Raiders out of last year’s NCAA tournament.
“We remember what happened last year,” said Colgate forward Sean Nolan, who scored two goals on the night. “What we took from that game is that we could play with them.”
Meanwhile, host Michigan let down the 6,131 fans, 95 percent pro-Michigan, at Yost Ice Arena by again letting its opponent score first and then failing on its numerous chances, especially with the man advantage.
“It does feel like a loss,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “Even a tie at home doesn’t feel good. We had a lot of scoring chances and shots. On the power play, we’re just not producing.”
The Red Raiders got the upper hand early on Nolan’s first goal, which he notched thanks to a pass from P.J. Yedon on the power play.
Michigan’s Josh Langfeld, who opened last season with a hat trick against Umass-Lowell, started off strong again. The senior just knows where to find a loose puck. He sniffed out one when Scott Matzka pushed hard for a rebound attempt on Colgate goaltender Jason Lefevre. Matzka’s shot deflected to the left of the goal, where Langfeld slapped it into an open net.
That’s “just standard for me – being in the right spot,” Langfeld said. “I know when the puck is going to be loose.”
Nolan’s skate gave Colgate a 2-1 lead, as captain Cory Murphy’s shot deflected off his footwear into the net.
Then Langfeld notched his second goal of the night when Michigan defenseman Jeff Jillson bounced a shot off the wall just to the left of the Colgate net. The puck ricocheted right to a waiting Langfeld, who promptly slapped the rebound past Lefevre to knot the game at 2.
But Langfeld couldn’t muster a hat trick this season-opener, as Lefevre and the Colgate penalty kill fought off a brutal 15-minute stretch that included almost eight minutes of Michigan power-play time.
The toughest moments for the Red Raiders came in overtime, when they were down two men for 17 seconds and one man for 3:43.
Lefevre, who’s had a difficult time the past few months after his father died in the Spring, would have given his late father something to cheer about. The junior stopped 30 of 32 shots on the night, plus five more in the shootout.
“He’s a gamer,” Colgate coach Don Vaughan said of Lefevre. “The way he played tonight — it was really great for him.”
When it came down to the shootout, a fan treat but a goalie’s nightmare, Colgate jumped out to a quick 2-0 advantage and never looked back. Lefevre slid a bunch of the wet snow from the poor ice conditions in front of the crease and around the slots, a move that Langfeld said “didn’t show a lot of class.”
But unlike winter traffic, the snow helped Friday night, as Michigan put
up a goose egg in the shootout.
“I thought we were trying to be a little too cute,” Berenson said. “The ice was bad and the goalie was pushing up snow. It was the first time I’ve been in a shootout and I can’t tell you I like it.”
Michigan outshot Colgate 32-21 for the game, although the Wolverines were only 1-of-12 on the power play.
Mark Francescutti is the sports editor of the Michigan Daily.