ST. PAUL, Minn. — If you blinked, you might have missed it.
A stirring comeback gave way to an improbable finish Friday afternoon in the Ice Breaker Invitational at the Xcel Energy Center, where No. 10 Michigan beat second-ranked Boston College 4-3 in overtime on an own goal by BC that sent the Wolverines into Saturday’s championship game.
On the play, Michigan’s Louie Caporusso poked a puck out from underneath the prone body of BC netminder John Muse. The puck slid slowly to Eagle Dan Bertram, whose clearing attempt hit the skate of linemate Benn Ferriero and banked directly into the net past Muse’s outstretched glove.
“The puck was basically just rolling along [Muse's] pad. It was lucky the ref didn’t blow it dead,” said Caporusso. “I just got a piece of it.”
“Overtime goals are always ugly goals,” said Michigan head coach Red Berenson, whose Wolverines (1-0-0) will play the winner of Friday’s second game between Minnesota and Rensselaer.
BC (0-1-0) takes on the loser of that contest, with game times yet to be determined.
Boston College head coach Jerry York, meanwhile, was philosophical in defeat.
“I thought some pretty positive things came out for us,” said York, citing the Eagles’ late surge and the play of Muse, who made 24 saves in his first collegiate start since replacing the departed Cory Schneider.
“It was just an unfortunate bounce at the end,” York added.
The goal, credited to Caporusso at 2:31 of the extra frame, erased a third-period Eagle rally that was capped, strangely enough, by Ferriero on a play involving Caporusso as well.
Down 3-1 midway through the third, the Eagles struck less than two minutes after Michigan’s third goal.
Defenseman Nick Petrecki’s shot was saved by Michigan’s Billy Sauer (19 saves), but Bertram collected the puck behind the net and attempted to bank it into the goal. It skittered free to Joe Whitney, and the freshman from Reading, Mass., blasted it home at 8:59 to make it 3-2.
The Eagles completed their comeback at 13:43 thanks to Ferriero, who knotted it up with a spectacular one-man effort. The junior center outraced Caporusso to a puck sliding up the right side, shouldered past him and cut into the slot, where he stuffed it past Sauer to tie the game at 3.
Tim Miller did his best to untie it for Michigan with a minute left in regulation, but his backhander went wide of the goalmouth, sending the game to overtime and setting up the unlikely ending and the Michigan win.
Berenson, though, was not about to let his team take too much credit.
“They’re the real deal as a team,” said Berenson of BC, “and we got away with one tonight.”
The Wolverines built an early lead with goals in both the first and second periods before the Eagles pulled within one. Michigan’s Aaron Palushaj generated the first chance of the game three minutes in on a one-on-one with Muse, but Palushaj lifted his wrister over the crossbar.
Nevertheless, Michigan cashed in shortly thereafter on a turnover in the Eagle zone. From the far boards, Caporusso fed his third-line mate, Carl Hagelin, cutting through the slot, and the New York Rangers draftee from Sodertalje, Sweden, lifted a backhander inside the right post at 10:20 to make the score 1-0.
Penalties to BC’s Joe Whitney and Mike Brennan gave Michigan 1:34 of five-on-three power play late in the first period, but the Wolverines could do nothing with the advantage, getting only a couple of harmless shots on goal.
Early in the second period, Sauer kept Michigan in the lead with a blocker save on a power-play one-timer off the stick of Brock Bradford. That, in turn, allowed the Wolverines to double their advantage with another goal from the third line.
Turnbull did the honors unassisted, wheeling out from along the boards with the puck and banking a shot off the inside of the right post at 9:39 to give Michigan a 2-0 lead.
“We weren’t as sharp as I’d like early,” was York’s simple observation.
Boston College did get sharper as the game went on, narrowing the edge when Ben Smith converted a two-on-one with a wrister to Sauer’s right. Tim Filangieri’s lead pass sprang Smith, and the sophomore’s goal made it 2-1 at 15:57 of the second period.
However, fourth-line center Danny Fardig restored the Wolverines’ two-goal advantage early in the third.
Racing up the right side, Travis Turnbull tried to hit Fardig with a centering pass, and despite a deflection by a BC defender, Fardig managed to gather the puck in the high slot before spinning around and whipping the puck past Sauer’s right side at 7:13, giving Michigan the 3-1 lead.