ANN ARBOR, MICH. — The Northern Michigan Wildcats beat the Michigan Wolverines 5-3 Saturday night, completing their first two-game sweep of Michigan in Yost Ice Arena since 1984.
Wildcat Chad Theuer had four points in the win. Theuer has seven points in his first four games this season.
Northern Michigan won 1-0 Friday night on defenseman Ryan Carrigan’s goal 53 seconds into overtime.
Michigan head coach Red Berenson said last night that his team is “not the dominant team it was in the 1990s,” and Berenson appears to be correct. The Wolverines (2-3-1, 1-2-1 CCHA) are having their worst start since 1986-87.
“They’re young. Who do you go to?” Northern Michigan coach Rick Comley said. “You can’t play Mike Cammalleri every minute. Their talent is very good, [but] you just can’t replace juniors with freshmen.”"We still need to separate ourselves and prove that we are Michigan,”
While Michigan’s teams in the past have been able to hide their freshmen mistakes, this season, with 12 newcomers, the Wolverines can’t hide behind their upperclassmen.
Saturday night, the Wildcats exposed the freshmen, as NMU overwhelmed the Wolverines on special teams, scoring on three of four power-play opportunities.
With the Wildcats leading 2-1 after the first period, Michigan came alive with two consecutive tallies. Freshman Dwight Helminen scored his second of the season on a nice centering feed from fellow frosh David Moss.
Then, with Michigan on the power play, Moss helped Michigan to a 5-on-3 advantage on a smart play. Moss wisely passed the puck to the closest Northern Michigan defender on a delayed penalty call, giving Michigan extra time with a two-man advantage.
The extra time worked, as defenseman Mike Komisarek fed junior forward Mike Cammalleri, who one-timed it past Northern Michigan goaltender Craig Kowalski to take a 3-2 lead.
But Theurer responded just two minutes later on a breakaway, beating Michigan goaltender Josh Blackburn top shelf to knot the game at three goals apiece.
Kevin Gardner added a power play tally to make it 4-3 Wildcats. Bryce Cockburn scored his first goal of the year early in the third period to give Northern Michigan some breathing room.
The Wolverines outshot Northern Michigan 15-4 in the third stanza, but Kowalski (35 saves) held strong. The Wolverines pulled Blackburn with 2:02 remaining. Michigan outshot the Wildcats 38-27 on the night.
The Wolverines were without junior captain Jed Ortmeyer (concussion) and senior forward Craig Murray (separated shoulder), meaning the Wolverines had nine freshmen out of 18 players on the ice.
“The freshman are tired of being called young. We can’t use that as an excuse,” said Cammalleri, who had a goal and an assst. “We all know the adversity and crisis for the team. There has to be a sense of desperation, but panic doesn’t help you.”
The Wolverines, who dropped to eighth place in the CCHA, will need to get desperate with a trip to battle a rising Alaska Fairbanks squad next weekend. Both Berenson and Comley said that the parity in the college hockey is at an all-time high.
“I’ve never seen it this high ever,” Comley said after he learned that Michigan State had just been swept by Nebraska Omaha.
Next up for the Wildcats is a two-game home set against Notre Dame, Nov. 2-3.