BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — With a 5-1 victory Saturday night, Michigan accomplished its mission of taking both games at Ferris State.
David Rohlfs scored the eventual game winning goal in the final minute of play of the first period. Matt Hunwick passed the puck over to Rohlfs, who put the puck into the open side of the net to make it 2-1 at 19:55.
“I thought we came through with a much better effort tonight,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “We really played from start to finish, which is what I wanted to see and stressed after the game last night. Ferris had some chances in the second period, and [netminder] Billy Sauer had to be sharp. However, it was a total team effort and I feel fortunate that we got out with two wins this weekend.”
“Our inability to score really has hurt us lately,” Ferris State coach Bob Daniels said. “We just can’t put the puck in the net. That in turn puts pressure on everyone else from the coaching staff on down. There really isn’t a magic pill that fixes our woes. The only thing that fixes things is to win and that’s what we are going to work on.”
Ferris State looked like a much different team from Friday night, thanks to more accurate passing. But the Wolverines picked up right where they left off with excellent puck control and passing of their own. With the referees letting the players play, the result was end-to-end action.
Early in the first period, the shots were even, but the scoring chances were on the Wolverines side. Each shot by the Bulldogs was easily turned aside by Sauer, while Bulldogs goaltender Mitch O’Keefe had a tougher time. Many of the shots he faced were in the slot or on the weak side, and O’Keefe was forced to make tough saves early and often.
Unlike Friday, the Wolverines got on the board first at 12:53 of the first period. Mark Mitera’s shot went off the right pad of O’Keefe, but the rebound came right out onto the stick of Andrew Cogliano, who put the puck into the net to make it 1-0.
In the waning moments of the period, Adam Miller got the equalizing goal at 19:20 while on the power play. Matt Verdone got the puck on net, but the save was made by Sauer. Miller picked up the rebound and floated a shot past the sprawling goaltender.
The second period featured more of the same: a frustrated Bulldog offense on one end, and timely scoring by the Wolverines on the other.
Travis Turnbull got his first goal of the season when he scored on a three-on-one that looked offside at first glance. Michigan caught a break, though, when T.J. Hensick put a shot on net which O’Keefe dove over to make the save — but Turnbull found the far side on the rebound to make it 3-1 at 6:27.
“I won’t criticize the officials because they have such a hard job,” Daniels said. “The play looked offside by a good three feet, and it wasn’t one goal that killed us in a 5-1 loss. However, that was a backbreaking goal for us to take. A bitter pill to swallow.”
Chad Kolarik tallied his 11th of the season off a five-on-three opportunity at 19:35. The goal was much like the five-on-three Friday as Hensick quarterbacked the play from the side of the net and fed Kolarik, who made no mistake, burying the puck to give the Wolverines a three-goal lead.
The third period looked more like going through the motions. On Friday, Berenson had said he wanted to keep the tempo up, and Michigan did not let up for a second. The Wolverines turned up their forechecking to put the Bulldogs back on their heels, and Brian Labler tallied his fourth goal of the year at 8:30 to complete the scoring.
“I thought our defense really came through tonight as well as our penalty killing,” Berenson said. “We kept a majority of the shots to the outside and kept the scoring chances down.”
With the Bulldogs coming into their next game on Tuesday without a win in their last seven games, Daniels was not panicking.
“We all have a job to do from the coaching staff on down,” he said. “We cannot get discouraged and we can’t dwell on what has happened in the past. What we have to do is get back to work on Monday and prepare for Tuesday.”