DETROIT — The Michigan Wolverines took a big step into the second half of their season by peppering Michigan Tech with 48 shots and putting six goals on the board. When the dust settled UM skated off with a 6-2 victory.
Red Berenson and Michigan looked at Sunday afternoon’s Great Lakes Invitational third-place game not as a consolation, but as an important step forward on the season.
“We knew we had to play better than we played last night, it was a game that could really cost you down the road. If you have any thought of being a [national] tournament participant you can’t lose a game like this,” said Berenson. “To us it was a very important game.”
The Wolverines special teams came alive against the Huskies after being noticeably absent in the tournament’s opening game. The Wolverines scored two goals on the power play in the first period, while successfully defending six Husky man-advantage opportunities on the day.
“Special teams played a big part, our power play finally clicked and put the puck in the net,” said Berenson.
Not to mention the added benefit of defenseman Eric Werner’s first career hat trick.
“We just wanted to step up our game plan, and the goals just kept going in,” said Werner.
The Huskies contested the Wolverines for the 207th time in school history, the 25th in the GLI. History was not on the side of those wearing the black and gold. Michigan improved 15-10 all-time against MTU in the GLI, 4-0 in a third-place contest.
“After watching the film against Michigan State I though we played pretty well,” said MTU head coach Jaime Russell. “I thought tonight we took a step backwards.
“Certainly the results were not what we were looking for, but I think it’s a great tournament to be a part of.”
The Wolverines’ six goals tied a season high, while Werner’s two first-period power-play tallies marked the first time this season that UM has totaled two power-play goals in a single period.
If it’s possible for the Huskies to find a positive from the weekend it has to be the continued performance of Chris Conner. Conner provided the best highlight for the Huskies when he split two UM defenders and beat Noah Ruden glove side, shorthanded.
The goal was Conner’s fourth shorthander of the season, tying him for first in the nation. It was the sixth shorthanded goal of the year against the Wolverines.
Ruden turned in a solid performance for the Wolverines in just his second career start, and earned his first career victory. Mike Mayhew also appeared for the Wolverines, making his career debut in a Michigan uniform, allowing one goal.
Cam Ellsworth was the man under fire for the Huskies, surrendering all six goals. To Ellsworth’s credit, it could have been 20-2, had many of his 42 saves not been of the spectacular variety.