ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Surviving a frenzied final two minutes, Michigan freshman netminder Bryan Hogan won the battle of freshman goaltenders, edging his Bowling Green freshman counterpart, Nick Eno, Saturday night in the Wolverine’s 3-2 win over the Falcons at Yost Arena.
Not only did Hogan turn aside 20 Falcons’ shots, he nearly found the empty Bowling Green net with a rink-long shot of his own while Michigan was killing off a Chad Kolarik minor penalty during the final two minutes of the game. Hogan’s shot ricocheted off the side of the empty Falcon net. For his part, Eno blocked 25 Michigan shots.
Of his near goal, Hogan said, “I was just thinking about clearing the puck. The only lane I saw was down the middle.”
“Well…yeah, I was thinking, ‘Oh, my god, I have a chance here,” continued Hogan. “But, it is what it is. I will remember that for the rest of my life.”
Bowling Green pulled Eno to gain a sixth attacker in an attempt to even the game in the closing seconds, but couldn’t solve Hogan and the Michigan defense.
Jacob Cepis provided all of the Falcons’ firepower on the night, scoring his fifth and sixth goals of the season in the second period.
Brandon Naurato’s goal with only six seconds remaining in the second period held up through the scoreless third period, proving to be the difference in the game.
“The player on Bowling Green just tried icing the puck at the end of the period and (Steve) Kampfer kept it in and passed to Carl (Hagelin),” said Naurato of the game-winner. “Carl dropped it back to me. I just put it on net and it went in.”
“I think we were lucky,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “We had good goaltending, but, it is not the kind of hockey we want to play. We have to give Bowling green credit. They were probably the better team on the ice tonight.”
“It’s frustrating in the fact that we come away empty when I think we had two really good games,” said Bowling Green coach Scott Paluch. “It was very closely contested. I was proud of the way our team was able to come back after being down 2-0 early, but, we gave up the late goal (in the second period) and it proved to be the difference.”
“We’re right there,” said a frustrated Cepis of the two close losses in successive nights. “We’re competing with the best teams and we’re right there.”
The Wolverines jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period despite being outshot by Bowling Green 9-7.
While playing shorthanded, Matt Rust tipped a blue line cross-ice pass to center ice. The Michigan freshman chased the puck down, sped down the left side alone, cut in on Eno and flipped a backhand into the upper right corner of the net at 3:42.
Michigan upped their lead to two on a power play at 12:31. Kevin Porter’s one-time snap shot from the right half-boards whistled over Eno’s outstretched glove.
The Falcons fought right back in the second period on the two Cepis goals.
Capitalizing on a two-man advantage just over two minutes into the period, Cepis’ shot from the left point traveled through a maze of players, clanked off the post to Hogan’s right and deflected into the net.
Cepis hopped on a Hogan rebound at 12:10 and roofed the tying score over the Michigan netminder.
The Wolverines were fortunate to escape the period with the lead. With only six seconds remaining in the period, a failed Falcons attempt to clear their defensive zone bounced onto Naurato’s stick. Naurato’s shot found its way past Eno to salvage the period and the game for Michigan.
Both the Falcons (8-6-0, 5-5-0 CCHA) and the Wolverines (16-2-0, 11-1-0 CCHA) get a three-week break from game action until after Christmas. Each team will hit the ice again on December 28; Michigan will meet Providence at the Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit while Bowling Green will face Northeastern at the Badger Classic in Madison.