ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Senior Michigan center T.J. Hensick put both his Hobey Baker aspirations and his Wolverine teammates on his back Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, netting two goals to lead Michigan to a 3-1 win over Lake Superior.
Hensick’s 15th and 16th goals of the campaign, sandwiched around Matt Hunwick’s conversion of an Andrew Cogliano centering pass, gave Michigan a measure of revenge after its playoff march was halted by the Lakers Friday night in the Soo.
“You’re going to get puck luck if you work hard, and I thought our team worked,” said Hensick.
“(Jeff) Jakaitis is so quick that you’ve got to get him moving and you’ve got to get people in front of him,” said Hensick of the Lakers’ goaltender. “Luckily, I was able to get him moving side-to-side on the second goal. I thought it wouldn’t go in, but it trickled through. I’ve been struggling a little lately. It’s just good to help this team get a win”
“Our best players were our best players,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “T.J. stepped up and made a great individual effort on the first goal and battled hard on the other one. I thought our penalty killing was better, so a little bit of everything was better — our power play, penalty killing, goalkeeping, our best players. When you circle through the lineup, it’s hard to find a player who didn’t have a good game. That’s when you’re playing pretty well.”
Despite having nine opportunities to score on the power play, Lake Superior’s only goal came midway through the final period when Dan Eves beat Michigan netminder Billy Sauer.
“The penalty kill was huge tonight,” said Michigan senior captain Hunwick. “I don’t know if we took a lot of penalties, but we were called for a lot of penalties tonight. Billy Sauer played great, and he’s probably our biggest penalty killer out there. He did a great job, and our other guys stepped up too. That was the difference.”
Sauer turned away 35 Laker shots, many of them on the power play. Jakaitis, who had stymied the Wolverines repeatedly Friday night, turned away 23 Michigan shots.
Sauer’s biggest save of the game came moments after Eves had narrowed the Michigan lead to two goals. The Wolverine freshman stopped Laker forward Nik Seller’s breakaway attempt to pull Lake Superior even closer.
“After they got that goal and (Sellers) got a breakaway right after, that was probably one of the biggest plays of the day just because we’ve got to keep them off the board, especially when it’s 3-1,” said Sauer. “The next goal is huge for them.”
The victory boosted Michigan into second place in the CCHA standings, one point clear of Miami heading into the season’s final weekend. The Lakers remain in eighth position in the conference, three points behind both Ohio State and Nebraska-Omaha, and three points ahead of ninth-place Ferris State.
“We were a desperate team, especially after last weekend and Friday night — what happened up there in Sault Ste. Marie,” said Hunwick. “We had to come back with a lot better game tonight. I’m not sure if we were that much better, but we were a little bit better. We got the win, which is the most important thing right now.”
Lake Superior (16-15-3, 10-13-3 CCHA) wraps up the regular season next weekend with a home two-game set against streaking Western Michigan.
The Wolverines (22-11-1, 17-8-1 CCHA) take their bid for second place in the conference to Columbus next weekend for a pair of games against Ohio State.