ANN ARBOR, MICH. — In a performance that in no way resembled their 3-1 loss to Western Michigan in Kalamazoo Friday night, the Michigan Wolverines salvaged the second game of the home-and-home series with the Broncos with a 5-3 victory at Yost Arena.
Leading the way for the Wolverines were a couple of their higher-profile players, defenseman Mike Komisarek and center John Shouneyia. The normally bruising Komisarek used different kind of punch — an offensive one — in scoring his first two goals of the season.
Shouneyia, counted on this season to shore up much of the offense lost from the departure of Andy Hilbert, had a goal and an assist in what became for him a break-out game after his slow, two-point start through the first four games.
Both teams flexed their offensive muscles in a wide-open, up-and-down contest littered with odd-man rushes and point-blank opportunities.
Komisarek scored the game’s first goal at the 8:08 mark of the first period. Komisarek found himself all alone with the puck at the bottom of the right faceoff circle and wasted no time. The sophomore top-shelved the puck over Bronco netminder Mike Mantua’s left shoulder, glove side, for the 1-0 Michigan lead.
Western Michigan responded exactly four minutes later on a four-on-four when freshman right winger Pat Dwyer slid the puck past Michigan goalie Josh Blackburn on the stick side for the 1-1 equalizer.
The teams remained deadlocked until nearly six minutes into the second period, when Mike Cammalleri took his own rebound and, much like Komisarek in the first period, flipped the puck past Mantua from the right faceoff circle for the 2-1 advantage.
“We were really stumbling at that point in the game,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said of Cammalleri’s goal, the game’s second four-on-four tally. “They’d gotten back in the game and we needed that lift.”
The Broncos battled back again, tying the score at two when Anthony Battaglia scored unassisted at the 9:47 mark. Falling down, Battaglia shot the loose puck over top of Blackburn.
The game’s turning point came with a little over five minutes left in the second period. This time on the power play, Komisarek took a pass from Shouneyia and fired the puck from the point through a maze of traffic and over top of a handcuffed Mantua for the 3-2 lead. The goal was a momentum killer for the Broncos, who were seconds away from successfully killing off a 5-on-3 Michigan power play.
“That was a huge goal,” Berenson said. “Komisarek has got a rocket of a wrist shot. It’s just a matter of getting it through.”
After assisting on Komisarek’s goal, Shouneyia scored one of his own with 3:30 left in the second, taking a Mark Mink pass on the doorstep and sliding the puck through Mantua’s five hole for the 4-2 Wolverine lead.
Michigan looked like it would cruise to victory until 13:47 in the third period when Battaglia, again centered in front of Blackburn, took a pass from Chad Kline and scored to bring the Broncos to within one.
The Broncos pulled Mantua for the extra attacker at the one-minute mark and came close to tying the game after repeated attempts by Dave Cousineau to stuff the puck past Blackburn, but Michigan captain Jed Ortmeyer put the game away with a little under a minute to go, nailing an empty netter from just outside the blue line for the final 5-3 score.
After the game, much of the buzz centered on Komisarek’s offensive contributions. Known more for his punishing 6-4, 242-pound frame than his two-way ability, Komisarek is expected to contribute more on the other side of the puck this season.
“My job is pretty simple out there,” Komisarek said. “I have to get it through to the net. The guys out front are the ones taking the cross checks. My job is pretty easy.”
Komisarek’s job will get more challenging with the loss of veteran defenseman Mike Roemensky. The junior went down in the second period with what Berenson called “an early prognosis” of a cracked tibia. Roemensky could be out indefinitely.
The Wolverines (3-2-1) host Northern Michigan Oct. 26-27, while Western Michigan (2-2-0) welcomes Maine for two next weekend.