ANN ARBOR, Mich. — One night after David Moss set up each one Jeff Tambellini’s three goals, the duo added another five points for a weekend total of 11 in Michigan’s 5-3 home victory over Miami.
After Miami clawed its way back from a 3-0 deficit to make it a one-goal game in the third period, Tambellini secured the sweep by putting the puck over Miami goalie Brandon Crawford-West with only 2:38 remaining in the game.
Miami answered with an extra attacker on the ice when Chris Michael buried Matt Christie’s rebound with 36 seconds to play. But Tambellini was quick to rebut with an empty-net goal just 18 seconds later.
“It was one of those games where you just had to keep them at bay because they never gave up,” Michigan head coach Red Berenson said. “You have to give them credit. They’re a team with some injuries, some players out and they just kept coming.
“Tambellini’s goal was a big goal, obviously, off that faceoff. (That) and the empty net goal were huge goals. You shouldn’t need those goals at home in the third period, but that was how the game was played.”
For Miami, Yost Ice Arena just wasn’t the place to snap the four-game losing streak the RedHawks brought into the weekend. The RedHawks haven’t won at Yost since 1994, and have won only two of 41 games in their program’s history at the storied building.
“I thought Brandon Crawford-West played extremely well tonight,” Miami head coach Enrico Blasi said. “He gave us a chance to come back in the game. We fought our way back, but they were just a better team this weekend — no question about it.”
Crawford-West had to play nearly perfectly in the second period to keep the Wolverines within reach. He did it long enough for freshman Nino Musitelli to narrow the score to 3-1 with a little over six minutes left in the second.
Miami used a goal from senior Joe Pomoranski to get within one just 4:57 into the third period. After both teams where unable to cash in on their opportunities, Moss found Tambellini for the fourth time this weekend.
“There’s nothing like scoring to get a goal-scorer going,” Berenson said. “He really had his nose to the grindstone. I thought he worked harder. He paid more attention to getting his shots on the net he wasn’t just shooting anymore he was shooting to score. You could see that last goal was goal-scorer’s goal.”
As per usual, Moss delivered the puck to his left winger on what ended up being the game winner.
But, to open the game, Tambellini returned the favor to Moss. The two jumped on a Miami turnover, then sprinted up the left wing to create a two-on-one breakaway. Moss dumped the puck off to Tambellini just outside the blue line, and then spaced out to the right, where he waited for the return pass. It was a textbook play that gave Moss most of the net to shoot at and he didn’t miss.
“He deserves a few more,” Tambellini said of Moss’ goal. “He played unbelievable this weekend. He made passes that were just phenomenal — he sees the ice so well. He deserves more than just one.”
Although Crawford-West turned in an admirable performance, he just saw too many shots from open Wolverines.
“To look back at it right now, I know I made some pretty good saves, but I’d like to have the fourth goal back,” Crawford-West said. “That ended up making the difference in the game. Right after the game, that’s the only goal I can think about. It’s the only shot I can think about and it’s not a good feeling.”
Crawford-West will have hold on to that feeling as both teams have two weeks off before returning to the ice.
“We definitely need to get healthy,” Blasi said. “We need to refocus ourselves and look at the big picture get back to playing better hockey. Hopefully, that will be with a full roster.”
The Wolverines played without captain Eric Nystrom, who was disqualified at the end of Friday night’s game when he came out of the penalty box after the two teams fought behind Miami’s net. On Saturday night, the officials controlled the emotion with quick whistles and a warning to both teams before the contest began.
Michigan will look forward to a home-and-home series with Michigan State while Miami will try to snap its now six-game losing streak on the road at Western Michigan.