ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan associate coach Mel Pearson borrowed the reins of the Wolverines Friday night against Ferris State and had plenty of excitement, including a scrum-filled third period that saw four game disqualifications.
But at the end, Pearson and Michigan fans breathed a sigh of relief as the Wolverines (7-1-2 overall, 5-1-0 CCHA) came out of the melee to defeat the Bulldogs 4-1.
Pearson replaced Michigan coach Red Berenson, who was in Toronto for a ceremony at the Hockey Hall of Fame honoring the 1972 Canadian team and its famous summit series.
“I enjoyed it,” Pearson said. “There’s definitely a lot more pressure when you’re the head coach. It’s still early in the year and we’re trying to keep pace with Michigan State. Someday I hope to be a head coach somewhere, and it gives you a taste of what it’s like.”
Michigan fought through the trapping style of the Bulldogs to score three goals by three different players in the first two stanzas.
“I thought the team played hard the first two periods,” Pearson said. “[The Bulldogs] don’t come after you much, so you have to push your way through the neutral zone.”
Scott Matzka started the scoreboard up with his third goal of the season on a nice feed from John Shouneyia. Matzka flew down the left boards around the defenseman and beat Ferris State goaltender Vince Owen.
The Wolverines then caught the Bulldogs on a line change, as Michigan goaltender Josh Blackburn hurried a pass cross-ice to Mike Cammalleri, who slapped the puck through Owen’s five-hole to make it 2-0.
Craig Murray notched the third Wolverine goal, and captain Geoff Koch, who has missed several games this season with an ankle injury, tallied the fourth.
“I was pressing all night, and I was getting a little frustrated,” said Koch, who hadn’t scored since the first weekend of the season. “It was nice to finally put one in. It was good to get back in the flow you know.”
Ferris State’s Chris Kunitz scored the lone goal for the Bulldogs (2-5-1, 0-4-1 CCHA).
The melee started just one minute into the third period. Michigan’s Cammalleri sped towards the crease and was taken down, and scuffles emerged quickly. Four players — Michigan’s Dave Huntzicker and Jed Ortmeyer and Ferris State’s Chad McIver and Jim Dube — received game disqualifications for fighting and will miss Saturday night’s game.
It looked a bit like referee Tony Molina just picked four to throw out, though, puzzling Huntzicker, who didn’t throw a punch.
“I didn’t want to watch it, really,” Pearson said. “I was hoping no one would get thrown out. It’s a tough rule in college hockey and I don’t know how many punches were thrown. I think (Huntzicker) was trying to stay away from it. They definitely got the better as to who got thrown out of the game.”
This isn’t the first time Michigan has had scuffles with Ferris State over the years.
“I don’t know why [it's always Ferris State],” Pearson said. “This will be a chance to get some other guys in the lineup. I really don’t think it will carry over to tomorrow night.”