ANN ARBOR, Mich. — ANN ARBOR, Mich. —
Score a goal and the referee taketh away.
Northern Michigan found out the hard way Friday night, as officials pilfered one of its first-period goals. The tally could have built the surging momentum for the Wildcats, but instead, the fifth-ranked Wolverines controlled the scoreboard in a 3-1 victory.
“We we’re lucky that they didn’t score that goal,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson, who in his 700th career game earned a much-needed home victory.
The referees didn’t get going until after the first goal. Michigan sophomore Mark Mink swooped around the Northern Michigan net near the boards, and swept a shot to the side of Dan Ragusett that trickled into the net for a 1-0 Michigan lead.
About one minute later, the Wildcats appeared to respond with a tally themselves. But referee Marc Wilkins called the tying goal off, saying that Northern Michigan senior Ryan Riipi was in the crease.
Wildcats’ assistant coach Dave Shyiak said that a Northern Michigan official saw the replay of the goal and said Riipi wasn’t at fault.
“It should have been a goal,” Shyiak said. “[Riipi] came out of the crease.”
Shyiak said that Wilkins told the Northern Michigan bench he was “99 percent sure” that Riipi failed to get out of the crease. But even Michigan goaltender Josh Blackburn didn’t see Riipi.
“He wasn’t on me,” Blackburn said. “I didn’t [see him]. I didn’t know why it was called off.”
The goal would have tied the game at one, but Chad Theuer decided to make sure of it. The junior forward scored on a rebound of Bryce Cockburn’s shot two minutes later.
That means the score could have been 2-1 NMU. And Theuer, a few minutes later, had a chance to score another.
“It was a shot to the face,” Theuer said of the missed opportunities.
“He went in all alone and hit the post,” Shyiak said. “A couple breaks and it could have been a 3-1 game at that point.”
But instead, the score remained 1-1 and Michigan added a faceoff goal before the period was over. Andy Hilbert took the pass off Mike Cammalleri’s faceoff win and blasted it past Ragusett for a 2-1 Wolverines’ lead.
Michigan’s Mark Kosick added a power-play tally in the second period off a nice centering pass from John Shouneyia.
“We were fortunate to get the faceoff goal and the power-play goal,” Berenson said.
Michigan was more than fortunate to have a significant portion of the third period on the power play, as the Wolverines enjoyed consecutive two-man advantages.
Michigan didn’t score on the chances, but, significantly, put the brakes on a possible Northern Michigan comeback.
The two-man kills “kind of took us out of it,” Shyiak said. “It tires your best players out.”
Regardless of what the penalty kill did to Northern Michigan lines, Blackburn finished them off. The Michigan goaltender continued his strong play of late, stopping 26 of 27 shots. Ragusett halted 28 of 31.
Both teams failed to improve their playoff possibilities, however. Michigan didn’t pick up any ground on Michigan State, which beat Alaska-Fairbanks, and remains three points behind. The Wildcats remained stuck in seventh place, a point behind Western Michigan.