SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — Michigan began the CCHA regular season with a 4-3 decision against Lake Superior State on Thursday (Oct. 21) at Taffy Abel Arena. Michigan scored a season-high three power-play goals as it extended its winning streak over LSSU to nine games. Michigan overcame 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to earn the victory on Milan Gajic’s power-play score in the third period.
The victory gives head coach Red Berenson his 536th career win to tie him for 10th place on the all-time collegiate coaching wins list. Berenson is tied with Don Brose.
Taking a penalty in the opening minute of play, the Wolverines were put on the defensive immediately. Michigan managed to kill the penalty and allowed just two perimeter shots. Michigan earned its first power play of the game shortly after but could not put one past the LSSU netminder, Jeff Jakaitis.
Michigan was whistled for another penalty inside of 13 minutes remaining in the first period to give Lake Superior another chance with the man advantage. This time the Lakers capitalized as Steve McJannet received a pass in the high slot and fired it between the legs of Al Montoya for a 1-0 lead at 7:39. Less than a minute later at 8:25, the Lakers pushed their lead to 2-0 as Michigan was unable to clear the puck from the front of its net and Jon Booras flipped a shot past Montoya.
With 30 seconds left in the first frame and Michigan on its second power play, Matt Hunwick beat the LSSU goalie from the left point but the puck clanged off the crossbar to keep Michigan down by two goals heading into the first intermission.
The Wolverines received a power play just five seconds into the second period. Just over a minute later, T.J. Hensick drew another penalty against the Lakers, giving the Wolverines a 53-second, two-man advantage. David Moss cashed in on the chance at the 1:39 mark by crashing the left post and slamming a crossing pass from Ebbett into the Laker net.
While killing a penalty five minutes into the second stanza, Moss blocked a shot in his own zone and battled through a check to earn a breakaway chance. Unfortunately, his shot toward the left side of the net was knocked away Jakaitis’ blocker.
Lake Superior State made it 3-1 on its second power-play marker of the game at 9:59. Set up inside the blue line, Derek A. Smith put a slap shot between the legs of Montoya with traffic in front.
Minutes later at 13:38 the referee signaled a goal for the Wolverines but later waived it off following a conference with his linesmen. Jeff Tambellini made a hard pass from the left wing into the crease and the puck bounced near the goal line. David Rohlfs and Moss slapped at the puck in front until Jakaitis covered the puck and the whistle was blown.
At 14:36, Kevin Porter notched a goal that did count to cut the Laker lead to 3-2. With the teams skating four-on-four, Porter broke into the zone on the right side, faked a move toward the middle and then sniped a shot into the top right corner of the net past the goalie’s trapper.
Brandon Kaleniecki knotted the game at 3-3 on Michigan’s second power-play tally of the night. Ebbett assisted on the play by picking up a rebound beside the net and coming out the right side to feed Kaleniecki, who got just enough of the puck to knock it over the goal line. The Wolverines outshot LSSU 21-4 in the second frame and had 34 total shots to the Lakers’ 12 for the game.
Lake Superior State inserted goalie Matt Violin into the lineup to begin the third period. Regardless, the Wolverines took their first lead of the contest at 5:20 with a power-play goal from Gajic. Waiting with the puck in the right circle, Hensick found Gajic wide open in the slot for a one-timer into the lower left of the goal.
Montoya withstood pressure from the Lakers in the final minutes to allow the Wolverines to pull out the 4-3 road victory.
Michigan will face Lake Superior State on Saturday (Oct. 23) when the series concludes at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Faceoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.