ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan has been near-flawless at home in the first round of the CCHA tournament since 1982. Despite a late scare, the Wolverines continued their first-round dominance Saturday night.
No. 2 seeded Michigan, which is now 29-4 at Yost Ice Arena in the opening weekend of tournament action, took advantage of a strong first period and held off a late Bowling Green surge as it completed the sweep of the 11th-seeded Falcons with a 4-3 victory. Michigan beat Bowling Green 3-1 Friday.
“We needed to get a good start and I thought we did. We didn’t put our chances in and they were always in the game,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson, who is looking to capture his sixth tournament title in 19 seasons with the Wolverines. “I can’t say we got better as the game went on, I thought we got worse. We’re not feeling like we’re the conquering heroes, exactly, after this weekend.”
Michigan (26-9-3) gets a bye into the semifinals of the Super Six championship, which will be played next Friday at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The Wolverines are trying to become the ninth team in league history to win the Mason Cup two straight years.
“We want to bury a team when we got them down, but if you get a win at this point of the season that’s all that matters because after your first loss you’re done,” said Michigan senior captain Jed Ortmeyer. “Anytime you can move on that’s a blessing.”
Michigan used two power-play goals and a 16-6 shot advantage in the first period to jump out to a 3-1 lead. Ortmeyer scored with the extra attacker off a pass from John Shouneyia to give the Wolverines an early 1-0 edge.
Following a goal by the Falcons’ Brett Pilkington, Michigan regained the lead as Milan Gajic knocked in the puck after it was deflected by a BG defender midway through the Wolverines’ second power play. Gajic then set up the third goal as he found David Moss open in front of the net with 1:03 left.
The Falcons (8-25-3) made the game interesting in the closing minutes. After Michigan took a 4-1 lead on a Dwight Helminen empty-netter with 1:20 remaining, Bowling Green scored twice in the final 1:09. Tyler Knight made it 4-3 with 12.1 seconds left.
“They got two goals when we had our best defensive guys out there,” said Gajic. “They were going hard and it was their last breath. You wish you could stop them all, but sometimes that doesn’t happen.”
Michigan goalie Al Montoya finished with 28 saves and the Falcons’ Tyler Masters recorded 32. Bowling Green outshot the Wolverines 8-7 in the second period and 17-13 in the third.