ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Over the last five weeks, Jack Johnson has made lengthy road trips to both Sweden, for the World Junior Championships, and Alaska, for a regular season CCHA series.
The travel seems to have agreed with the sophomore Michigan defenseman rather than have tired him.
Johnson’s first career hat trick, including two shorthanded goals, jumped his season scoring total to ten and paced the Wolverines to a 9-4 win over Ferris State Friday night at Yost Arena.
The victory catapulted the Wolverines past idle Michigan State into third place in the CCHA standings behind Notre Dame and Miami.
“I should probably fly more often,” said Johnson about the effect of the travel on his game. “Tonight, I got some lucky bounces. I don’t think I’ve ever had a shorthanded goal in my life, and I had two.”
“It is great to see the puck go in when our defenseman are jumping up and getting shots,” said Michigan Coach Red Berenson of Johnson’s performance. “And, Jack scored different types of goals. Our defense can be dangerous, and obviously Johnson can be. Good for him, it’s a good place to have your first hat trick.”
Kevin Porter and T.J. Hensick each added a pair of goals for the Wolverines and Ferris State got scoring punch from a pair of tallies by senior left wing Eric Vesely.
Despite the lopsided final score, Ferris State controlled play for large portions of the second two periods and out shot the Wolverines, 40-30.
“We had a good start and not the best ending,” said Berenson. “I thought that during the first five minutes, we were good, sharp and ready. Maybe, the puck went in too easily and maybe we started playing on the wrong side of the puck. Give Ferris State credit. They came out in the second period and put on a clinic. They out-reached us to the loose pucks. They out-hustled and out-muscled us.”
“We were cheating on the offensive side of the puck and we are lucky we survived the period,” continued Berenson. “The right guys got the puck at the right time and we put our chances in.”
Michigan blasted out of the chute early with two goals in the game’s first three minutes and added two more during the period to carry a commanding 4-0 lead into the locker room at the first intermission.
Sophomore Wolverine forward Travis Turnbull converted linemate Tim Miller’s backhand pass only 1:27 into the period to put Michigan up early, 1-0.
Just over a minute later, Wolverine captain defenseman Matt Hunwick swept behind the Ferris State goal bouncing the puck out to David Rohlfs who shoveled it toward the net where it deflected off a Bulldog defender for the second Wolverine tally at 2:42.
Porter increased the Wolverine lead to 3-0 at 12:29 when he knocked in his own rebound on a power play.
Johnson picked up his first goal of the night and eighth of the season on a bomb from just inside the blueline to finish Michigan’s first period outburst at 17:43
Even though Ferris State carried the play for much of the second period, Michigan still managed to put up three goals to the Bulldog’s two in the second stanza.
Brendan Connolly got the Bulldogs on the scoresheet at 4:31 of the second period smacking a rebound by Michigan netminder Billy Sauer.
Porter and Hensick took turns setting the other up for a pair of mid-period goals that pushed the Wolverine advantage to 6-1. Porter fed Hensick on a two-on-one break at 7:36. Four minutes later, Hensick rifled a pass from his own blueline to Porter at the offensive blueline, sending the Michigan junior in alone to beat MacIntyre.
Johnson’s second of the night, a short-handed goal, extended Michigan’s lead to 7-1 at 15:07
Ferris State left wing Vesely popped in his first goal on a rebound at 17:31 to give the Bulldogs a little life at the end of the second period.
The Bulldogs made things uncomfortable for Michigan on a pair of early third period goals by Mark Bomersback and Vesely, but Michigan iced the game on Johnson’s third marker of the night, his second shorthanded, and then a final power play score by Hensick.
“We are going in the right direction,” said Berenson of the fifth Michigan win in the last six games. “There are a lot of good things happening. We are getting healthy, getting everyone back, getting a little confidence, and our power play is getting better.”
The Wolverines (18-9-0, 13-6-0 CCHA) and the Bulldogs (7-17-3, 4-13-2 CCHA) conclude their two-game series Saturday night at Yost at 7:30 pm.