BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The Michigan Wolverines picked up a pair of late goals along with an empty-netter to upend the Bowling Green Falcons, 4-2, at the BG Ice Arena on Friday night.
Sophomore Chris Summers moved up to the forward position from the blue line for tonights game. He netted the game winner — his first goal of the year- with 1:23 left in the game, to complete a come-from-behind victory for the Wolverines.
The Milan, Michigan native was camped out just outside the Falcon crease when the puck bounced off the backboards, over the left leg of BG goaltender Jimmy Spratt, and onto his stick. He flipped the puck into the twine, giving Michigan their first win in Bowling Green since March of 2005.
It felt good, said Summers of his game winner. A lot of the guys on the team were really happy for me.
It was a great forecheck shift. [Tim] Miller and [Travis] Turnbull were really working down low. Miller made a good pass to Turnbull. He tried to put it away. The puck kind of popped free, and I thought, why not try to score?
Summers gives you that speed, said Michigan coach Red Berenson. He was trying to get in on the forecheck, and he was the one that created that game-winning goal late in the third. He gives you the speed, and he likes to battle. He gave us a good game. He killed penalties, and ends up scoring the winning goal. How can you not like that?
The Wolverines, not used to playing from behind so late in the game, eventually broke through a Bowling Green defense that had given them fits all night. Part of their defensive play rested on the shoulders of junior goaltender Jimmy Spratt. He battled a vaunted Michigan offense, averaging over four goals a game, good for second in the nation. Spratt made 27 saves on the night, equaling Billy Sauer, who also made 27 stops.
You try to get good chances, and then the other teams goalie just stones you, said Berenson. Thats what goalies can do, and that can be the difference in the game. I thought both of them gave their team a chance to win tonight.
Our team played a pretty good hockey game, said Bowling Green boss Scott Paluch. We had our chances early in the third to extend the lead to 3-1. We got ourselves down, at crunch time, we were trying to make plays defensively, and unfortunately, Michigan made the key plays down the stretch.
[Late in the third, Michigan] started playing with a little more urgency and started getting the puck a little quicker up the ice. We got some good saves from Jimmy [Spratt], but they got their opportunities and buried their chances.
The Bowling Green power play, ranked second in the nation coming into tonights game, tallied one power play marker in six tries, although they had numerous close calls.
In the first period, Michigan did a pretty good job on their penalty kill, remarked Paluch. But our power play in the second period and early in the third was a terrific one for us. We had some really good chances that could have made the game 3-1, but Billy [Sauer] made the saves. But, our power play was solid against a real good penalty-killing team.
Michigan (15-2-0; 10-1-0 CCHA) got on the board late in the opening period of play. Right winger Chad Kolarik dumped the puck behind the BG net, where Max Pacioretty picked up the puck and fed it to Kevin Porter, waiting in the right circle. He buried a wrist shot top shelf for his 17th goal of the year.
The second period belonged to Bowling Green. Freshman Dan Sexton tied the game at 12:50 of the middle period with a power play goal, his third tally of the year. The Apple Valley, Minnesota native picked up a rebound off a Derek Whitmore shot and slid it through the five-hole of Billy Sauer to knot the game at one. Kevin Schmidt — the nations leading defenseman in points per game — added an assist.
The Falcons would take the lead at 16:21, coming off a power play. James Perkin drove a shot toward the net from the far boards that freshman David Solway was able to get a stick on and deflect into the net for his 4th goal of the season. Mike Nesdill assisted on the goal.
We were frustrated with the way some things werent clicking for us [in the second period], but you have to give Bowling Green some credit for that, said Berenson. They disrupted play and played a good game. We have to hang in there, youre not always going to be ahead.
A trio of Wolverine freshman would be responsible for tying the score with under five minutes left in the game. Carl Hagelin scored his sixth goal of the season as he chipped the puck into the net after getting a nifty pass from Aaron Palushaj behind the net. Matt Rust added the assist.
After Summers scored the game winner, Chad Kolarik would ice the game with an empty netter, netting his twelfth goal of the season at 19:53 of the closing period.
The two teams will close out the series tomorrow night at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor.