ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Yost Ice Arena was primed for a classic — a matchup between two top-ten teams — and the Wolverines and Wildcats didn’t disappoint. No. 7 New Hampshire traveled to Ann Arbor for No. 3 Michigan’s home opener and walked away with a 4-4 tie after a back-and-forth matchup.
With New Hampshire leading 3-2 at the start of the third period, Michigan senior captain Eric Nystrom, playing in his first game this season, tied the game at three at the 4:36 mark. Jason Ryznar emerged from the back of the net and threaded a pass through the crease to Nystrom, who easily put it away.
Less than two minutes later, UNH’s Josh Ciocco found himself all alone in front of the Michigan goal when the puck took an awkward bounce off the boards. He put the Wildcats up 4-3 with a backhand over Wolverine netminder Al Montoya’s stick side.
But Michigan freshman Kevin Porter tied the contest at four by crashing the net and knocking in a rebound off a Jeff Tambellini shot from the right point at 12:19 in the third. The goal came on the power play, the first of the year for the Wolverines.
“We needed a power-play goal when we needed it and finally it went in for us,” said Michigan head coach Red Berenson. “I thought we did some good things on the power play but we weren’t getting it through. We couldn’t seem to penetrate them. We had some chances.
As has been the case early this year, the officials called a tight game, blowing the whistle 13 times in the first two periods. That number dropped to three in the third, and, bowing to custom, the referees kept their whistles in their pockets for the overtime.
“That was an exciting hockey game — good chances for and against,” said Berenson. “I think everyone here will agree that rules interpretation is helping the game. There’s a flow to it — there’s speed and a lot of end-to-end transition. Both teams had their hands full at times.”
The Wolverines jumped out to an early lead on Tambellini’s first goal of the season, just 1:40 into the game.
Michigan dominated the first period, moving freely through the Wildcat defense to create opportunities and draw penalties, but Michigan finished the period with only a 2-1 lead after the teams traded goals within a nine-second span.
On the power play, New Hampshire’s Sean Collins sneaked the puck between Montoya’s left pad and the post on a severe angle shot from the right circle.
Nine seconds later, Nick Martens intercepted a dump-in off the faceoff and passed up the center of the ice to David Rohlfs. Rohlfs made a nifty pass along the blue line to Ryznar, streaking up the left side. Ryznar took the puck unabated to the top of the left circle and fired a wrist shot past junior netminder Jeff Pietrasiak.
The Wildcats returned the favor in the second period, outshooting Michigan 14-6 and netting two goals to take a 3-2 lead on the road.
“Obviously I was pleased, especially after the first period because they had us going pretty good.” New Hampshire head coach Dick Umile said. “They could either blow us out of here or we could hang in here, and I thought the guys responded very well in the second period and got it back to a hockey game.”
The Wildcats kept the pressure in the Michigan end, forcing several turnovers. Ciocco took advantage of a missed clearing attempt, taking the puck from behind defenseman Eric Werner and circling to the right side of Montoya.
Ciocco unleashed a wrist shot from the left circle that trickled through Montoya’s pads to tie the game at two.
It’s tough to talk about a goalie that gave up a couple of soft goals,” Berenson said. “He didn’t have a lot of work in the first period, really, I think he had three shots. Whether or not it keeps you in the game, I’m sure he’ll be the first to tell you those goals shouldn’t have gone in.”
New Hampshire took the lead on a goal by sophomore Daniel Winnik at 7:42 in the second. Winnik collected the rebound of his own shot from the right circle, walked across the crease and slipped the puck past a sprawling Montoya.
“We were playing pretty good,” Umile said. “We had some chances. I know they had chances, too, in the third period. They had a couple of power plays and they really got us going and obviously they tied it up. I though we really had some chances to go up by two. [Preston] Callander went in and [Justin] Aikins had one.
“Montoya came up with a couple of big saves and obviously Pietrasiak had some big saves too. Both goalies played well in the third period.”
Neither team scored in overtime, with Michigan dominating play and garnering most of the chances.
“College hockey is a game of momentum and tonight’s game was a game of momentum,” Berenson said. “At times they had the momentum and at times we had the momentum. Most of the overtime we had the momentum. The onus was on us. They might feel good about tying the game. We don’t feel good about it.”
The Wolverines will turn around for a 7:35 p.m. game against St. Lawrence at Yost on Saturday night while the Wildcats travel to Michigan State for a match with the Spartans Sunday at 2 p.m.