ANN ARBOR, Mich — T.J. Hensick didn’t waste anytime hitting the score sheet in his senior season.
The Michigan forward sandwiched two nearly identical early first period goals around a power play marker by freshman Brian Lebler to lead Michigan to an 8-1 season-opening win over Alabama-Huntsville Friday night at Yost Arena.
In just the first minute of the game, senior David Rohlfs found Hensick breaking open between two Alabama-Huntsville defenders. Hensick took Rohlfs’ pass, skated in alone and slipped the puck under the glove of Charger goaltender Marc Narduzzi.
After Lebler tipped a pass from junior Chad Kolarik between the legs of Narduzzi at the 6:33 mark of the period causing Alabama-Huntsville coach Doug Ross to make a change in goal to sophomore Jordan Erickson, Rohlfs and Hensick again teamed up for a near-instant replay of their opening goal collaboration.
On the second Hensick tally, Rohlfs’ pass came from a little deeper in the neutral zone, but found Hensick alone again and he skated in again slipping the puck between Erickson’s legs to extend the Wolverine lead to 3-0 at the end of the first period.
“It was huge for the confidence for the first game of the season,” said Hensick of the quick start. “We wanted to set the tone. No matter where you’re playing, you want to
get on the board early to get some confidence and get things going in the right direction.”
“It was exactly the same play,” said Rohlfs of the two early Hensick goals. “It was like dj vu.”
Wolverine coach Red Berenson noted the play of Hensick, pointing out that “one of T.J.’s goals is to be an every shift, every game player this year. He’s working harder for it and you can see the difference. He’s dangerous every time he’s on the ice and around the net. It’s not a surprise that he’s more consistent.”
Michigan came out just as quickly in the second period with junior Kolarik and
sophomore Andrew Cogliano teaming up on a nifty passing play. Only 52 seconds into the period, Kolarik faked a circling move behind the net and centered the puck to Cogliano, who buried his shot after racing in on the right side of goaltender Erickson.
Rohlfs added a goal of his own only a few minutes later, sliding a backhand past Erickson off a scramble in front of the net to make the Wolverine lead 5-0.
Sophomore goaltender Billy Sauer held the Michigan lead through the first two periods despite the fact that the Wolverines incurred eight minor penalties over that span.
“I thought Billy played well,” said Berenson. “He kept them from getting a life. They had some good scoring chances in the first two periods.”
Alabama-Huntsville nearly converted only four minutes into the second stanza but Sauer managed to thwart senior forward Dominik Rozman on a clear break from the blueline.
The penalties finally caught up with the Wolverine midway through the second period.
With Wolverine Jason Bailey off for checking from behind, senior Steve Canter got the Chargers on the board, directing a pass from senior Grant Sellinger between Sauer’s legs at 10:13 of the period.
Michigan added a pair of power play goals of their own by freshman defenseman Steve Kampfer and junior Chad Kolarik in the third period.
Kampfer drove a shot from the center of the blue line on a feed from sophomore Mark Mitera. Kolarik’s marker came on a blast from the slot with assists from Jack Johnson and Cogliano.
Johnson finished the night’s scoring with a blast past Erickson from the goalie’s right side with only 21 seconds left in the game.
Even though he gave up six goals after replacing Narduzzi, Erickson made 27 stops for Alabama-Huntsville.
Sauer stopped 24 of the 25 Charger shots he faced before yielding to freshman Steve Jakiel for the final 15 minutes of the third period.
Michigan gets right back into action Saturday night hosting Connecticut while Alabama-Huntsville will take Saturday off before heading an hour south of Ann Arbor on Sunday to take on Bowling Green in an afternoon contest.