OMAHA, Neb. — A late Carl Hagelin goal was enough to allow No. 3 Michigan to steal a 3-2 win over Nebraska-Omaha, despite the Wolverines sometimes erratic play in the offensive zone.
Hagelin’s marker 17:07 into the third period lifted Michigan’s record to 7-1-0 (4-0-0 CCHA), as UNO dropped to 1-4-0 overall and 0-4-0 in the league.
Michigan continued the first-period dominance that they had enjoyed Friday night, earning the lion’s share of the possession. Wolverine goaltender Billy Sauer was actually busier than his UNO counterpart, stopping all nine shots faced, but saw nearly every shot cleanly as the defense in front of him allowed the Mavericks very little sustained pressure.
The Mavericks’ inability to create many good scoring chances came back to bite them early when Kevin Porter scored past an outstretched Jerad Kaufmann at 5:38 of the period to give Michigan the lead.
Porter found himself with an open goal after a pass from Chad Langlais led Kaufmann high and dry as Porter scored his eighth goal of the season and his fourth goal of the weekend.
UNO’s fortunes went from bad to worse at 8:13 of the period when Michigan freshman Louie Caporusso slotted past Kaufmann to double the Wolverines’ lead. The power play goal gave Caporusso his third goal of the year and ensured the Wolverines’ fourth line a goal and an assist in the opening twenty minutes.
Just like in Friday night’s matchup, UNO finally seemed to find their bearings in the second period. The Michigan offense looked just as disjointed and sloppy as the Mavericks had in the previous stanza, and this allowed the Mavericks to get back into the game.
UNO drew a goal back at 1:25 of the second period with a goal from senior winger Mick Lawrence, with assists from Bryan Marshall and Alain Goulet. At 10:12 of the period, freshman forward Blake Martin equalized for the Mavericks, picking up a rebound off a Rich Purslow shot and firing past Sauer.
The Mavericks looked the antithesis to Michigan’s poor showing in the period both on offense and defense, throwing 14 shots on net as compared to the Wolverines’ three.
In the third period, however, Michigan would score a late goal to effectively steal two points from UNO. Late on, however, Michigan would score a goal that seemed to have come from nothing that would ensure maximum points on the weekend. Hagelin scored his fourth goal of the season, beating Kaufmann to put the Wolverines in the lead for good, leaving most of the 8,047 in attendance at Qwest Center Omaha searching for answers.
“Obviously, you look at overcoming adversity and growing up as a hockey team, and we made those kind of strides tonight,” UNO coach Mike Kemp said. “I’m real pleased with a lot of the elements of what happened on that ice. I’m frustrated and disappointed with the result again.
“We certainly had chances; we had power plays in the third period, but we didn’t capitalize. We had shots that were right there, even with the goaltender pulled at the end, but we don’t quite have the experience to get over the hump.”
Michigan coach Red Berenson was happy to come away with a positive result, but was aware that his Wolverines had not outclassed UNO the way they did on Friday night.
“They had the best chances, but we scored the goal,” he said. “I thought our team battled hard. You’re not always going to be on you’re A-game, but we found a way to win the game.”
Michigan now heads home for a two-game slate against Alaska, while UNO heads to Columbus for a showdown of two struggling teams against Ohio State.