ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan put up big numbers against Miami on Saturday — eight goals, seven different goal-scorers and 10 guys with at least one point. But it was a little number that probably held the most significance for the Wolverines: one.
With its 8-5 win, Michigan (21-8-1 overall, 16-5-1 CCHA) now sits in the No. 1 spot in the CCHA, one point ahead of the RedHawks, who held that position for more than a month.
“Going into the weekend, we wanted to emphasize that we’re the team to beat in this league, and I think we showed it,” freshman T.J. Hensick said.
Dwight Helminen scored two goals to give him four points in Michigan’s weekend sweep of Miami (18-11-3, 15-7-2). Brandon Rogers and Hensick each notched a goal and two assists, and goaltender Al Montoya made 35 saves.
Defenseman Andy Greene led Miami with three points. Brandon Crawford-West made 15 saves while allowing seven goals just under 34 minutes. He was replaced in the second frame by Nick Petraglia, who stopped eight of nine shots.
After getting off to a slow start Friday, Miami came out hard Saturday, testing Montoya early. The RedHawks struck first, and the Wolverines tied it less than two minutes later.
Then the real fun began. In a frantic three-minute span that Michigan coach Red Berenson described as “heart-attack hockey,” the two teams combined for four goals. Miami went back on top, Michigan tied it up again, and then the Wolverines scored two unanswered goals, the last coming with 2:18 left to in the period.
Michigan kept up its torrid pace for the rest of the period and had several more chances. After goals from Milan Gajic, Brandon Kaleniecki, Helminen and Hensick, the Wolverines went into the first intermission with a 4-2 lead.
“I think we were lucky,” Berenson said. “This was one of those college-hockey, crazy games that you don’t want to get into, but you’re into it whether you like it or not.”
Miami scored early in the second and third periods, but, each time, Michigan answered shortly after, killing any momentum the RedHawks had generated. Michigan didn’t trail after the 15:36 mark of the first period and led by as many as four goals.
The line of Kaleniecki, Hensick and Gajic continued to be Michigan’s offensive catalyst. The unit earned seven points Saturday and has 47 in its 11 games together.
This weekend was the first time Miami has been swept all season. The RedHawks hadn’t dropped two in a row since they lost to St. Lawrence and Ohio State in their first two games.
Miami got production from its top line and scored on the power play (2-for-5) — two things that didn’t happen Friday — but that wasn’t nearly enough.
“Just one of those nights where the puck was going in the net,” RedHawk coach Enrico Blasi said. “They happened to get three more then we did.”
But captain Derek Edwardson, who earned a goal and an assist, had a more precise reason for the loss.
“We had too many defensive lapses,” the senior forward said. “It had nothing to do with goaltending. We had too many lapses, gave them too many good chances.”
Miami has four games to try to regain the CCHA lead, while Michigan has six left, including next weekend’s home series against Bowling Green.