ANN ARBOR, Mich. — For Lake Superior State, another player was lost. For Michigan, another player returned.
After a 2-0 loss to the Wolverines on Friday night, things got worse for the Lakers as they lost defenseman Ryan Knox for over a month, while Michigan’s top three players returned from the World Junior Championships.
Sophomores Andy Hilbert and Mike Cammalleri and freshman defenseman Mike Komisarek keyed the 5-0 shutout over Lake Superior, the first time Michigan has shut out the same team in consecutive games since the 1926-27 season.
“They’re big pieces,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said of the trio. “It was important to make a statement here because we play them four times.”
All three made quite an impact in their first game back, especially the two forwards. Hilbert and Cammalleri combined for three goals and three assists. Two of the goals by Hilbert, assisted by Cammalleri, helped build a 3-0 lead entering the third period.
Komisarek helped out an aching defensive corps that struggled in last weekend’s Great Lakes Invitational, where Michigan gave up 15 goals.
“Their skill level jumped way up,” Lake Superior coach Scott Borek said. “They played aggressively, we played on our heels.”
Unlike Friday night, the Lakers were unable to come back after struggling in the first period. The Wolverines outshot Lake Superior 19-10 in the final two stanzas.
After a rash of injuries all season, the Lakers still have five key players out with severe injuries.
“I’m very concerned about our team,” Borek said. “We’re fragile. It’s cut our soul with guys like [Jeremy] Bachusz and Knox out of the lineup.”
Borek will have to put something together quickly, as his team faces CCHA-leader Michigan State in the next three games.
Meanwhile, most of the Wolverines ails from a poor GLI weekend seem to be healing.
They should get defensemen Jay Vancik and Dave Huntzicker back in the next few weeks. Josh Blackburn looked at his best this weekend, earning his third shutout and stopping all 49 shots he faced.
On the offensive end, things are looking up for junior Craig Murray, who’s battled injuries in his first two seasons. The forward scored three goals on the weekend.
“[It's] good for Craig,” Berenson said. “He’s been one of the unsung heroes on this team, a guy in the background.”
Berenson rewarded Murray with a second-line spot alongside Scott Matzka and Josh Langfeld. Berenson scratched senior Mark Kosick in favor of freshman Joe Kautz.
“Mark was a healthy scratch,” Berenson said. “We felt in a physical battle that Joe would give us a more physical presence. Right now, things are not going well for Kosick.”
Kosick has struggled all season, with only 14 points in 21 games.
Mark Francescutti is a sports editor for the Michigan Daily.