ANN ARBOR, Mich. — For the second straight night, No. 5 Michigan shut down the top-ranked St. Lawrence power play and capitalized on the Saints’ mistakes to earn a 6-2 victory and a sweep of the weekend series.
“I was a little disappointed on the power play,” said St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh, whose team finished 1-of-12 with the man advantage over the weekend series. “We made a lot of unforced errors and turnovers.”
The Wolverines (13-3-3, 7-3-1 CCHA) began their rout when a puck rolled out of a jumbled mess at the St. Lawrence blue line six minutes into the game.
Michigan captain Geoff Koch picked up the puck along the left boards and drew defensemen Jeremy Cormier and Rich Peverley to him, leaving the Wolverines’ Andy Hilbert wide open in the middle.
Hilbert took the pass and was all alone to slap the puck over St. Lawrence goaltender Sean Coakley, who replaced Jeremy Symington after Friday night.
Hilbert didn’t stop there; the sophomore notched his first hat trick of his career, tallying his third of the game and 14th goal of the season unassisted at the start of the third period.
“It was nice to get [the hat trick] at home,” Hilbert said. “The puck seemed to be going in tonight. I finally hit the net a few times instead of missing it.”
By the third Hilbert tally, the Wolverines had built a 5-1 lead, thanks in most part to outshooting the Saints 30-18 in the first two periods. Michigan once again received goals from its second, third and fourth lines, as Scott Matzka, Mark Mink and Bill Trainor all scored, caused in part by St. Lawrence turnovers.
“It’s good to get everyone participating,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said of the good weekend his latter three lines gave.
St. Lawrence junior Russ Bartlett was one highlight for the Saints. Bartlett scored two goals, and finished the weekend with three points.
“He’s been playing well for us,” Marsh said. “He is the type of player that can score points, and he’s been getting points.”
The Saints finished 3-7-3 overall in their first half, but played one grueling schedule. The defending ECAC champions’ poor overall record reflects tough losses to several nationally-ranked teams. St. Lawrence has already lost at No. 11 Maine, twice at No. 2 North Dakota and now a series against the fifth-ranked Wolverines at Yost Ice Arena.
“We’ve been in the lion’s den,” said Marsh, whose team’s ECAC record (2-1-2) looks a lot more inviting. “A lot of people looked and the schedule and thought I was nuts. But we’re not about beating [our] guys up. We can put this into perspective. This is good experience for the players, especially going into [the conference].”
Both teams will have non-conference tournaments to worry about later in the month. But for now, both coaches feel their teams went into the winter break with something to take out of it.
“I think it’s really good to go into the break now,” Berenson said. “I feel a lot better about our team than I did three, four weeks ago.”
“You can take some positives out of it,” Marsh said. “We see what the slightest margin of error is. These guys are cognizant of those things and that’s half of it there.”