ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Breaking out their alternate maize sweaters for their CCHA home opener against the Bulldogs, the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines broke a scoreless tie in the second period on freshman Kevin Porter’s third goal of the season. Michigan senior Milan Gajic added another goal in the second and Michigan went on to win 3-0.
Junior goalie Al Montoya staved off any comeback attempts by Ferris State to record his first shutout of the season.
After a scoreless first period that saw chances for both squads, Michigan dominated the second period, outshooting the Bulldogs 22-6. Porter found himself in front of an empty net after junior Andrew Ebbett raced up the ice, drew two defenders and laced a perfect pass across the ice. Ferris State goalie Mike Brown was unable to react in time and Porter easily found the back of the net.
“I think that (goal) boosted us a lot,” Porter said. “It was the first goal and their goalie was playing great. I think after that we just got rolling.”
Gajic gave Michigan a two-goal lead when he crashed the net and poked in a rebound off a shot by Ebbett that stalled just outside the goal line. With a defender on his back, Gajic took two whacks at the puck before it went the last few inches into the goal.
Brown played brilliantly but simply faced too much pressure and too many shots. Brown stood on his head to keep the Bulldogs within two goals as Ferris State committed four consecutive penalties and gave the Wolverines three five-on-three power plays in the last five and a half minutes of the second period.
Michigan could not capitalize on any of its scoring chances and had to settle for a 2-0 lead after two periods.
“You have to give the official the credit for calling the penalties,” Michigan head coach Red Berenson said. “Because that’s what happens. You take a penalty, you’re desperate, you’re tired in your own zone and you take another penalty.
“We had a few good chances on it. They do a good job on their (penalty kill). We had a couple of good chances and the puck didn’t go in. And you have to give Brown credit he kept them in the game.”
Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels was unhappy about how his team got outplayed in the second, but happy that they only surrendered two goals.
“In the first period, I was real happy with how we played,” Daniels said. “I felt we didn’t get a lot of chances but, the ones we got we needed to cash in on. Al Montoya did a nice job in net and I knew Mike Brown was playing extremely well for us.
“What I was really happy with was we were able to kill about six minutes of five-on-three, and that was big. It was a combination of the guys doing a good job and Mike Brown was very strong.”
Ferris State had a chance to get back in the game with a 4-3 power play to start the third period but, Montoya turned the Bulldogs away.
“The problem was I thought we sapped our energy,” Daniels said. “When we went into the third and we needed to generate offense, I had used Legue, Nesbitt, York and a lot of the guys we use to generate offense on the penalty kill. We really sapped our energy at the end of the second trying to kill those penalties off.”
With play settled down in the middle of the third period, Michigan forward Mike Brown took a pass from senior Eric Nystrom on the right side of the Ferris blue line and fired a shot from the top of the circle that beat Brown between his pads. With a 3-0 lead, the Wolverines stayed back to ensure Montoya would get his shutout.
“I just played my game,” Montoya said. “I just went out there and tried to get back into the groove of things. I just went out there, played a simple game, didn’t worry about the things I can’t control and just do what I do best stop the puck.”
Despite a high number of penalties, one saw glimpses of the game that recent rule changes have tried to bring about.
“It was good hockey,” Berenson said. “I think you saw a good flow. You saw good two-way hockey. You saw good skating, puck handling, and some good scoring chances. I think that’s the kind of hockey were expecting to see more of.”
The two teams head to Big Rapids for the second game of their home-and-home series at 7:05 Saturday night.