ANN ARBOR, Mich. — All week, the Michigan coaches stressed that to succeed come playoff time, their players would have to perform better in two ways — defensively and on special teams.
The sixth-ranked Wolverines answered that call this weekend, completing a two-game sweep of Ferris State with a 3-0 victory Saturday night at Yost Ice Arena.
Michigan connected on two of its five power-play chances, and after the first 10 minutes put a stranglehold on the Bulldogs defensively.
“Our special teams played well tonight,” senior captain Geoff Koch said. “The work this week made a difference.”
Ferris State coach Bob Daniels told his team before the game to forget about the previous night’s 8-3 drubbing — a game that the coach couldn’t remember the last time his team played so poorly.
And for the first half of the first period, the Bulldogs did just that, notching a nine-to-five shot advantage and getting several good scoring chances by centering the puck.
“They had us on our heels,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “We were tentative.”
But Michigan goaltender Josh Blackburn (18 saves) halted the Ferris State attack for the first half.
“We had a hard time trying to solve Josh Blackburn,” Daniels said. “He played well.”
And Blackburn’s defense took over the rest of the game en route to the shutout.
“Great effort by the guys tonight,” said Blackburn, who earned his fifth blanking of a team this season. “A couple of saves and I didn’t really have to do much — it was a great defensive performance. I felt relieved out there.
“That’s a good feeling for me.”
Two power-play goals by senior Josh Langfeld and sophomore Mike Cammalleri gave the Wolverines a 2-0 advantage. Langfeld, who returned this weekend from injury, tallied his 15th of the season thanks to a feed from senior Mark Kosick. Langfeld took the puck in front of the right circle where he got it under Ferris State goaltender Phil Osaer.
Cammalleri notched his 25th of the year by himself. After winning a faceoff, Cammalleri fired a bullet that flew over Osaer’s shoulder.
The Wolverines then fought off a Ferris State rally, especially on the penalty kill. Ferris State went 0-for-5 with the man advantage.
“That was the difference in the game.” Daniels said. “Not only didn’t we score any goals, we didn’t threaten them. We were playing better five-on-five.”
The Wolverines outshot the Bulldogs 28-18, including 14-3 in the second period.
Michigan defenseman Dave Huntzicker did not play, nursing an injured shoulder. Berenson said he would have used Huntzicker in a bind.
With a series sweep, Hutzicker can rest, and the Wolverines can prepare for their next opponent, which could be Western Michigan, Nebraska-Omaha, Northern Michigan or Ohio State.