MARQUETTE, Mich. — No. 5 Michigan controlled its Friday night game at No. 14 Northern Michigan, beating the Wildcats 6-2 in front of a sellout crowd at the Berry Events Center.
Mike Cammalleri scored twice for the Wolverines (11-3-2 overall, 7-3-0 CCHA), while NMU’s Bryce Cockburn had both goals for his team.
But perhaps it was Michigan’s quick start that helped the Wolverines take control early on. Michigan jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the game and scored just 15 seconds into the contest after winning the opening faceoff and bringing the puck into the Northern zone.
The Wildcats (7-5-4, 5-5-3) answered after falling down by four, as Cockburn scored twice in six minutes late in the second period, making it 4-2.
But Jed Ortmeyer quickly ended any hope for a Northern Michigan comeback, scoring less than a minute after Cockburn’s second tally to give Michigan a 5-2 advantage.
Wolverine defenseman Jeff Jillson had a goal and an assist in the game, and gave his team the big 1-0 early lead with a shot from the right point just 15 seconds in. Jillson’s shot seemed to surprise NMU goaltender Craig Kowalski, who was eventually pulled after giving up the game’s first four goals.
“Coming into the locker room tonight before the game everyone’s fired up,” NMU center Chris Gobert said. “It’s Michigan — you know the building is going to be full. It’s a great atmosphere to play in. And then to come out and go down by one – they get a quick goal and that kind of takes a lot out of us. We just couldn’t fight back from there.”
Michigan continued its early dominance, however, outshooting the Wildcats 14-7 in the opening stanza. Cammalleri scored his ninth of the season on the power play at 16:23, giving his team a 2-0 lead.
UM’s Geoff Koch made sure the momentum carried over to the second, scoring shorthanded just 50 seconds into the middle period to put the Wolverines up 3-0. Cammilleri added another goal just 45 seconds later to make it 4-0.
At that point — just 1:35 into the second period — NMU coach Rick Comley pulled the freshman Kowalski in favor of senior goalie Dan Ragusett. Kowalski finished with 13 saves, while Ragusett stopped 15 of 17.
Michigan’s Josh Blackburn proved to be a difference in the game, too, stopping 20 of the Wildcats’ 22 opportunities to earn the win.
Trailing by four, Cockburn scored the next two goals, before Ortmeyer made it 5-2 late in the second. Andy Hilbert earned the lone marker of the third period to make it 6-2.
The two-game CCHA “supercluster” series continues at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at NMU’s Berry Events Center.
“We get a fresh start tomorrow,” Cockburn said. “We just have to cut down on the turnovers and give 100 percent — work hard.”