ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan forwards David Rohlfs and Chad Kolarik notched two goals apiece and goaltender Billy Sauer recorded his second career shutout in the Wolverines’ 5-0 victory over Bowling Green Tuesday night at Yost Arena.
Rohlfs’ pair of goals marked his first career multi-goal game and brought his season goal total to 12, while Kolarik’s deuce moved his season total to 15.
Sophomore netminder Sauer’s shutout was his career second, the first coming over a year ago on his birthday on Jan. 6, 2006, against Alaska.
The win leapfrogged Michigan over Lake Superior, Michigan State, and Ohio State to sole possession of third place in the CCHA standings with 18 points, one more than the trio of teams the Wolverines passed.
“I thought we started well,” said Michigan head coach Red Berenson. “We did a lot of good things in the first period. Bowling Green was always dangerous, but they didn’t quite get the puck at the net in the first period. I thought it was a good team effort to keep the goals against down. It’s not often I can say we got a shutout, and it’s nice to say.
“These players are proud,” added Berenson. “They have a lot of desire. They have a lot of passion to play. I think our team is like a big family in that locker room. They have a great time together and I hear them hooting and hollering everyday. I want to see that translating at the bottom of the stairs (leading onto the ice). We saw a little bit of that tonight.”
“It gives us a nice little boost, a little bit of confidence going,” said Rohlfs of the victory. “We didn’t finish the first half how we would like to and then guys (Jack Johnson and Andrew Cogliano) left for the World Juniors. But, to come back together and get a strong performance like we did tonight was a good way to start the second half.”
The shutout marked the second straight whitewash recorded against Bowling Green. The Falcons continued their goal drought, having only scored once in their last three games.
“We had a team feeling that wasn’t too bad going into the second period and actually increased our game, but unfortunately our scoring woes right now are a big part of our game,” said Bowling Green head coach Scott Paluch.
“Our inability to score goals has really hurt our confidence,” continued Paluch. “I thought Michigan did a good job of capitalizing on their chances. We just didn’t give ourselves a chance to win.”
Michigan outshot the Falcons 13-1 in the opening period with the only Bowling Green shot coming on Tommy Dee’s flip shot late in the period.
Despite the imbalance in shots, the Wolverines only solved Falcon netminder Jimmy Spratt once to carry a 1-0 lead into the second period.
Kolarik deflected T.J. Hensick’s shot from the top of the left circle by Spratt for the lone Wolverine tally, a power-play goal at 2:43. The goal was the Wolverine junior’s 100th career point.
“It was great to finally have my linemate (Cogliano) back,” said Kolarik. “It is a new year, so hopefully we can get on a roll here and make a run for the playoffs.”
Michigan’s offensive pressure finally paid off in the second period with two more markers.
Rohlfs’ shot from the blueline eluded an unscreened Spratt, bouncing off the Falson netminder’s glove and finding the net behind him at 1:53.
Kevin Porter and Hensick worked a pretty give-and-go play to pot Michigan’s third goal midway through the second period. Porter passed to Hensick at the side of the Falcon net, broke toward the goal and received Hensick’s pass back, depositing the puck in the open net.
Rohlfs and Kolarik both struck again with a goal each in the third period as Michigan extended their lead and managed to protect Sauer’s shutout bid.
Kolarik and Cogliano broke in on Spratt two-on-on while short-handed early in the period. Using Cogliano as a decoy, Kolarik rifled a shot over Spratt’s shoulder at 2:19.
With the teams playing four-on-four, Rohlfs completed the night’s scoring at 8:05 when he took a feed from defenseman Jason Dest at the blueline, skated in alone and found an opening under Spratt’s glove.
“I was just looking at the clock wondering when this period was going to end,” said Sauer of the final few minutes. “It is hard to keep yourself in the game. Bowling Green was getting good shots, but none of them was on net, so it was real frustrating. I just wanted a little bit of work.”
Michigan (14-8-0, 9-5-0 CCHA) faces off Friday and Saturday in a two-game home stand against Northern Michigan. The Falcons (5-17-1, 3-12-0 CCHA) travel to Nebraska-Omaha those same nights to take on the Mavericks.