ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Bowling Green walked into Yost Ice Arena Friday night with a 5-1-1 road record and went to the locker room with a 3-0 lead after the first period.
That was as good as it would get for the Falcons, as Michigan stormed back with three goals in the second and five more in the third to earn an 8-3 victory. The win put the Wolverines atop the CCHA standings, with Ohio State in nonconference play this weekend.
Michigan’s scoring barrage included defenseman’s Matt Hunwick’s first career hat trick and three-point nights from both T.J. Hensick (two goals, one assist) and Milan Gajic (one goal, two assists).
“We dug ourselves a hole,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “We stuck together. It was probably fortunate that we had the (first) intermission.”
Berenson has stressed the importance of momentum all year, and told his team to stick together during that first intermission.
Michigan looked like a different team in the second, and 5:43 into the period, Gajic found Brandon Kaleniecki in the slot to get the Wolverines on the board.
“The (first) goal really became huge and I think that really helped us,” Berenson said. “Then the momentum of college hockey started to happen. So, (it was) good for our team. We’re a veteran team — we didn’t panic, didn’t start falling apart and didn’t start pointing fingers. We just hung in there and played hard. And we got some breaks.”
Hunwick’s first goal of the night brought Michigan within one goal at 8:40 in the second. Freshman Chad Kolarik was denied twice by Bowling Green goalie Jordan Sigalet at point-blank range, but Hunwick collected the puck after the ensuing scrum, and gently lifted a wrist shot into the open net.
Less than 30 seconds later, the Yost crowd erupted after Gajic skated in on Sigalet and scored the game-tying goal. Coming from the right side, Gajic crossed to the left side of the crease while making several back-and-forth fakes. Sigalet stayed with him the whole way, but Gajic managed to slip a weak backhander past him that trickled along the goal line until it hit the right post and went in.
Bowling Green head coach Scott Paluch was still pleased with his team’s play during the first and second periods, but was clearly disappointed by the third.
“I thought through first 40 to 42 minutes we made some pretty good plays,” Paluch said. “We didn’t handle the road conditions well in the third period. We let one (goal) become two and two become three against a good team. I think it was discouraging that we played pretty well and to be down three or four goals in the third period.”
Just 1:09 into the last stanza, Hensick snuck behind the Bowling Green defense on a 2-2 breakaway, danced across the crease and deposited a backhand past Sigalet for the game winner.
After that point, the floodgates opened for Michigan.
The Wolverines added goals by Hunwick and freshman Kevin Porter in the next six minutes to give themselves a comfortable 6-3 lead. Hensick got his second goal of the night with five minutes left to play and Hunwick’s slapshot with only 2:23 to play made it 8-3 and brought a shower of hats on to the ice from the student section.
“I don’t know the last time a defenseman had a hat trick at Michigan,” Berenson said. “I was looking at his power-play production and it hasn’t been very significant. The thing that concerned me was that he only had four or five shots in the first 16 games on the power play.
“See what happens when you shoot the puck.”
Bowling Green’s Steve Brudzewski opened the scoring at 4:37 in the first period with a short-angle goal from the bottom of the right circle that crossed and beat Michigan goalie Al Montoya over his right shoulder.
Just three minutes later, Alex Rogosheske gave the Falcons their first shorthanded goal of the year when he broke in alone on Montoya and put a perfect shot in the right upper corner of the net.
Brudzewski made it 3-0 when he deflected a point shot from Jon Sitko that confused Montoya. Bowling Green dropped to 7-1-0 when scoring the first goal.
The win marked the first time Michigan came back from a three-goal deficit to win a game since its 5-3 NCAA East Regional win over Denver on March 26, 1999. Bowling Green will try to turn the tide Saturday night when the two teams meet at BGSU Ice Arena.