ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Both Michigan and Nebraska-Omaha needed this weekend, as each team teeters at the edge
of second-place in the CCHA, and as each eyes the NCAA Tournament. But the Wolverines proved they had just a little more desperation Friday night.
Freshman Eric Nystrom scored the game-winner 39 seconds into overtime on a nice feed from John Shouneyia, giving the Wolverines to a 2-1 victory at Yost Ice Arena and snapping UNO’s eight-game win streak.
All three of the teams’ meetings this season have gone into the extra stanza, and Michigan is now 2-0-1 over UNO for the series.
“It’s frustrating for us,” Nebraska-Omaha head coach Mike Kemp said. “We knew they have an excellent forecheck, and they had it in their zone for most of the game. We need to get some more quality shots.”
The Wolverines controlled most of the tempo and outshot the Mavericks 34-16, including 16-6 in the first period, but it was the Mavericks who struck first, as Jeff Hoggan scored four-on-four from Brett Davis. Hoggan now has points in 11 of the past 12 games, and moved into the leading scorer’s spot on the team with 37 points.
Freshman Dwight Helminen got Michigan on the board in the second period, but gritty Michigan forward J.J. Swistak deserved much of the credit. Swistak dove and stole the puck from Davis at the Nebraska-Omaha blue line and found Helminen coming off a line change. Swistak held Davis out of the play, which allowed Helminen a one-on-one with Mavericks’ goaltender Dan
Ellis. Helminen went top shelf to tie the game at 1-1.
“Goals aren’t coming easy for us,” Michigan head coach Red Berenson said. “J.J. made a great second.”
After a slow third period, Michigan quickly ended the game in overtime. Nystrom’s game-winner was his third goal in four games, and second overtime game-winner against the Mavericks this season. He’s regained his scoring touch after going through a four-game goal
drought through which he suffered with an ankle injury.
“It still bothers me, but I just have to play through it,” Nystrom said. “This could have been the season tonight. We had the intensity. We were all over them.”
Nystrom’s goal ended Nebraska-Omaha’s eight-game winning streak. The Mavericks hadn’t lost since Jan. 4 at Northern Michigan. Michigan has won four in a row.
With the victory, the Wolverines (17-8-5, 14-5-4 CCHA) kept within two points of first-place Michigan State, which beat Notre Dame Friday night. Nebraska-Omaha (18-10-3, 12-8-3 CCHA) played without defenseman Zach Scribner, who suffered a concussion last Friday against Miami. Kemp said he would return next weekend. The Mavericks also didn’t have forward Aaron Smith, who is out for the season with a torn ACL.
Ellis made 32 saves in the contest.