ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan coach Red Berenson often calls scoring on the power play luck.
If so, the Wolverines had plenty of it on Saturday night.
Combine the Wolverines’ good luck on special teams with the poor luck of the Bulldogs on their scoring chances and it added up to a 6-1 Michigan blowout victory over Ferris State. Despite being outshot 36-28, Michigan (8-5-2 overall, 6-3-2 CCHA) swept the two-game series and has won four straight against the Bulldogs (7-7-1, 5-7-1).
“We wanted to send a message to the league,” freshman Eric Werner said.
The Wolverines have been sending a message lately. After dipping to eight in the CCHA, Michigan is now just one point behind Michigan State for first place pending the outcome of the Spartans’ game against Alaska-Fairbanks.
The Wolverines finished the game with four power-play goals on the night and have eight in the past three games. Michigan’s special teams started quickly in the first, as Michigan scored three first-period goals, two on the power play.
First off, Mike Cammalleri from the top of the zone sent a shot towards the net. He then split two defenders and got a stick on the rebound to send it over to freshman Dwight Helminen in the left slot. Helminen shot it past Ferris State freshman goaltender Mike Brown to give the Wolverines a 1-0 advantage.
Out of 11 freshmen, Helminen leads the pack in goal-scoring with six tallies this season.
Michigan made it 2-0, on a 4-on-3 advantage when Berenson used a four-forward attack. His strategy worked, as Cammalleri one-timed a shot of a pass from captain Jed Ortmeyer. Cammalleri’s goal gave him five points on the weekend. He leads the team in scoring with 11-9-20.
Cammalleri may not be having any problems scoring, but highly touted freshman Milan Gajic is a different story. Gajic came in as a highly touted scorer, but had just one goal and two assists in 11 games. Saturday night, he broke a six-game scoreless streak and doubled his goal production with two scores and an assist.
His first goal came on a rebound off a Mike Komisarek point shot to give the Wolverines a 3-0 lead after the first. He then scored early in the third period.
“Entering the season I thought he would be an impact player,” Berenson said. “It hasn’t happened yet. You have to be patient.”
But despite the blowout score, the Wolverines continue to struggle on the defensive end. Numerous odd-man rushes almost allowed Ferris State to pull off a miracle comeback. Ferris State got their lone goal on the breakaway, junior Phil Lewandowski score that almost was called off. Lewandowski’s shot went under Michigan goaltender Josh Blackburn’s pads, but at the same time, Komisarek came crashing into Blackburn and the net, knocking it off. The referees still gave the Bulldogs the goal.
“It seemed the net was off the same time the puck went in,” said Berenson, who thought it shouldn’t have been called a goal.
Derrick McIver had another clear breakaway but was pulled down by Eric Werner for a penalty. Luckily for the Wolverines, they had Josh Blackburn in net to keep the Bulldogs from scoring with the man advantage.
In the third period, Ferris State lit the lamp on a two on one, but the goal was called off after a Bulldog kicked the puck into the net.
“We had some opportunities,” Ferris State coach Bob Daniels said. “Offensively we played well, but obviously, defensively we didn’t play as well.”
The Wolverines can also give some rarely seen faces on the scoreboard credit for the blowout. Senior forward Craig Murray and freshman Eric Werner scored their first goals of the season — both in the second period — to give Michigan a 5-1 lead. Blackburn (26 saves) was relieved by senior backup Kevin O’Malley with 13:30 remaining in the third.
NOTEBOOK: Michigan defenseman Mike Roemensky sat out with an injured ankle. … Freshman defenseman Brandon Rogers started for Brad Fraser. … Ferris State leading scorers Chris Kunitz (18 points) and Rob Collins (26 points) were held to one point on the weekend.