ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan senior goaltender Josh Blackburn welcomed the return of former Michigan standout Marty Turco to Yost Ice Arena by tying one of Turco’s illustrious records.
Blackburn etched his 11th career shutout in a 7-0 blowout of Alaska-Fairbanks Friday night. He tied the school record set by Turco, who now plays for the Dallas Stars.
Blackburn had given up an average of three goals in his past four games.
“I was really focused tonight,” Blackburn, who shutout the Nanooks for the second time this season, and the third time in two years. “I followed the puck really well.”
Turco attended the game after the Stars practiced at Yost Ice Arena earlier in the day. Dallas stayed in Ann Arbor Friday night preparing for Saturday’s game against the Red Wings, in which Turco will start in net.
With the victory, the Wolverines (13-6-4, 10-3-3 CCHA) remained tied with Michigan State for the CCHA lead at 23 points.
Michigan forward Mike Cammalleri returned to the lineup after playing five games for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. Michigan won just two of five contests without him.
Defenseman Mike Komisarek and forwards Eric Nystrom and Dwight Helminen also returned for the Wolverines.
Cammalleri had seven goals and three assists in the five games before his trip, and he picked up right where he left off Friday night.
He tallied his 15th goal of the season on the power play with a point shot that got past Alaska-Fairbanks goaltender Preston McKay to give Michigan a 1-0 lead.
The Wolverines went on to score one more goal in the first, two in the second and three in the third. Captain Jed Ortmeyer, who had just one goal in his past 11 contests, notched Michigan’s final two scored. David Moss and Dwight Helminen also scored for the Wolverines.
Michigan freshman Charlie Henderson continues to impress, tallying a goal and two assists. Michigan coach Red Berenson moved the walk-on up to the first line last week, and he played on the second line this weekend.
The promotions have worked.
Henderson didn’t play in Michigan’s first 16-of-17 games, but has scored three goals and four assists in his past six games.
A small brawl broke out at the end of the first period. Referee Duke Shegos threw the entire five-man lines of both teams in the penalty box with hitting after the whistle penalties.
“We were in there laughing,” Henderson said. “I’ve never seen that many people in the penalty box.”
The loss snapped a six-game unbeaten streak for the Nanooks (12-8-1, 8-8-1), who entered Friday’s game in third place, but are still off to their best start in school history.
“We were completely outworked,” assistant coach Tavis MacMillan said. “There are no excuses. It’s very disappointing.”
Alaska-Fairbanks coach Guy Gadowsky did not make the trip to Ann Arbor. He was with his wife, who had a child late Thursday night back in Alaska.
The Wolverines outshot the Nanooks 40-22, but they need to be wary for a letdown in the second game of the series tonight. Last year at Yost, Michigan won the first game 8-0 then lost the second 5-2.
“From a historic standpoint it does (give us some hope),” MacMillan said. “But a loss is a loss.”
Mark Francescutti is a freelance writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.