DAYTON, Ohio — Michigan probably won’t be the top-ranked team in the nation when the USCHO.com poll comes out Monday, but they certainly looked out for No. 1 in today’s game.
Coming off a disappointing effort on Friday, when the Wolverines were toppled by Northeastern, Michigan reminded the college hockey world that they are still likely to be a powerhouse this season. The Wolverines scored four goals in the first 7:20 and went on to clobber Boston University, 7-2, in second-day action at the Lefty McFadden Invitational.
Junior Jeff Tambellini led the way with a goal and two assists for the Wolverines, while senior Milan Gajic added a pair of second-period goals for the victors. Freshman Peter MacArthur scored his first two collegiate goals for the Terriers.
For Michigan coach Red Berenson, his team’s return to form was a result of the reality check provided by the Huskies on Friday.
“I think when you go through the summer and you’re being told how good you are and how good you’re going to be, you forget how hard you have to compete when you get on the ice,” Berenson said. “I think we tightened up in a lot of areas tonight; we competed harder; we played better without the puck. The result, when you do that, is that the puck goes in more for you, and you get more scoring chances.”
“We were way too overconfident last night,” agreed Tambellini. “We were too used to playing [crappy] hockey, as Coach was saying: Not playing the body, not being feisty with the puck. We knew tonight we had to bounce back and show the country that we’re a No. 1 team. Of course it’s not going to show [in the rankings] next week, but we had to show it.
“When you get the No. 1 ranking, you think that wins are just going to happen, that teams are just going to roll over,” added Tambellini. “And it’s the opposite — teams are going to come at you with everything they have, knowing it’s one of their biggest games of the year.”
Although the play of the Terrier rookies garnered praise, BU coach Jack Parker was disgusted by the play of his six defensemen. “Positives: I would say the freshman class, especially Boomer Ewing and MacArthur and Bourque,” Parker said. “That was it. I was absolutely flabbergasted at how poorly our defense played this weekend. I thought it would be the best part of our game, and we were absolutely inept in every phase: killing penalties, on the point on the power play.
“We put freshman Chris Bourque on the point on the power play, and he had more poise than all of the upperclassmen combined.” Parker added. ” The six of them had an awful weekend. You can’t win hockey games when six of what I thought would be our most important guys are out to lunch.”
The first eight minutes were brutal for BU. On a power play at 1:54, Matt Hunwick carried the puck out of the Michigan zone, crossing the puck across the ice to David Moss breaking in on the right wing. Terrier freshman goaltender Karson Gillespie made the initial save on Moss’s shot, but the rebound kicked out to Wolverine freshman Chad Kolarik, unmarked in the left-wing circle. Gillespie looked to be in good position, but Kolarik pinpointed a high shot to make it 1-0.
The bleeding had just begun for the scarlet-and-white. Sixty-two seconds later, with the teams playing four on four, Michigan’s other freshman forward, Kevin Porter, crossed the puck from the right wing to Hunwick breaking in from the left point. Enjoying a clear view of the net, Hunwick fired a wrister to make it 2-0.
Two and a half minutes later, the Wolverines struck again. From behind the Terrier goal line, D-man Nick Martens passed the puck out into the slot. Michael Woodford Jr. got a piece of the puck before Tambellini banged it past Gillespie, who appeared to never see the shot.
At 7:20, Michigan made it 4-0. Breaking in on the right-wing side, Brandon Rogers received a pass and slipped a low shot past Gillespie.
BU managed to turn the tide for the rest of the period, eventually catching up in shots after being down 8-0 at one point. For the second night in a row, Terrier freshman Brian “Boomer” Ewing looked good, getting some scoring chances. He was rewarded with some time on the first power-play unit.
Michigan resumed the scoring pace in period two, starting at 3:42. After Gillespie stopped a Tambellini shot, Gajic slipped the puck through the netminder’s five-hole to make it 5-0. Less than a minute later, Martens banked a long cross-ice pass off the neutral-zone boards. David Rohlfs collected the puck and went in to beat Gillespie.
A few minutes later, the Terrier defense allowed Gajic to go mano-a-mano with Gillespie, and the right winger effortlessly beat the freshman with a little move, allowing Michigan to add an extra point to its touchdown.
The Terriers’ listless play from an experienced blueline corps particularly aggravated Parker because it happened in a game when Gillespie could have used a confidence-building collegiate debut.
“That’s what I was most upset about,” Parker said. “Here’s a freshman playing his first game against the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, and our six defensemen hung him out to dry … . Just bad reads.
“One of them was a two-on-one, one of them was a bad backcheck — Zancanaro didn’t backcheck his guy, just watched the puck. Guy went right by him, got the rebound, put it in. Just a combination of absolutely horrible defensive decisions or non-decisions.”
Shortly thereafter, the shellshocked goaltender’s night came to end, as third-string netminder John Curry got the call for the first time. Within seconds, his teammates hung him out as well, allowing Mike Brown to go at him unmolested, but Curry made the save when Brown failed to get a great shot off.
“They certainly lived up to expectations,” Parker said of Michigan. “It was four-nothing before we put our skates on, but I think that the Belmont Bantams could’ve gotten a few against us early on.”
With the exception of a Kenny Roche breakaway after a nice touchdown pass from Bryan Miller — and a good effort by Brad Zancanaro in one sequence — the Terriers didn’t seriously threaten to end Montoya’s shutout through 40 minutes.
With the game in hand going into the final 20 minutes, the third period was generally uneventful. At 14:11, though, the Terriers avoided the shutout when Peter MacArthur picked up the puck behind the Wolverine goal line and tucked it into the short side of the net. With three minutes left, MacArthur buried his second collegiate goal on a nice 15-foot wrister that beat Montoya on the glove side.
Michigan (1-1-0) resumes action next weekend, hosting New Hampshire on Friday and St. Lawrence on Saturday. BU (0-2-0) hosts Vermont in its home opener on Saturday.