ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A three goal burst by Michigan in the first half of the second period proved sufficient cushion for the top-ranked Wolverines in their 6-1 win over Western Michigan at Yost Ice Arena on Friday night.
The Wolverines’ two Hobey Baker candidates, Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik, continued to play dominating offense, each contributing a goal and two assists to the Wolverine cause.
“The second period was our period,” said Michigan Head Coach Red Berenson. “The third period was not strong for either team. We had the lead, but we were sloppy. Our team has to play better.”
Michigan goaltender Billy Sauer’s streak of scoreless minutes was finally halted at just over 206 minutes by Bronco Steve Silver’s early third period shot from the point. While Sauer wasn’t tested often in the game, he came up with several key point-blank third period saves to help maintain the edge the Wolverines had built.
“Western generated some scoring chances and Billy Sauer had to be sharp in the first period,” said Berenson of his junior goaltender. “Billy had four point-blank saves in the third, which is good for him, but our team has to play better with the lead at home in the third period.”
“I like the fact that he is aggressive in the sense that he makes a decision and goes after loose pucks,” said Berenson of Sauer’s frequent forays out of his net during the game.
Sauer’s streak extended back through the Great Lakes Invitational Tournament to the Wolverines’ December 7 game at Bowling Green.
The Wolverines three goal second period started early in the stanza. Freshman defenseman Kevin Quick’s first career goal and an additional pair by Travis Turnbull and Kolarik came from among the 16 shots they poured at Western Michigan netminder Riley Gill to take a commanding 4-0 two-period lead.
Only 36 second into the period, Kolarik found Quick alone in the slot and the Michigan blueliner ripped a shot under Gill’s stick.
“Chad (Kolarik) passed me the puck and it was a great pass,” said Quick. “I kind of froze. I wanted to pass, but I saw an opening so I shot it.”
Exactly one minute later, Chris Summers’ pass from behind the Western Michigan net bounced onto Turnbull’s stick in the slot. Turnbull banked his shot into the net off Gill, who still had his head turned looking behind the net for the puck.
Kolarik was again the catalyst on the final Michigan goal of the period putting the Wolverines up 4-0 after two frames. The Pennsylvania native stripped a Bronco of the puck on a Western Michigan break out attempt and snapped the puck by a surprised Gill at 8:10.
Porter’s goal at 13:29 of the first period, number 20 on the season, opened the 2008 portion of the schedule for the Wolverines and turned out to be the period’s only tally.
Max Pacioretty’s left circle to right circle pass on the power play found the Wolverine captain completely open for an easy one-time snap shot into the open side of the Bronco net.
Carl Hagelin and Summers added third period tallies for the Wolverines after Silver ended Sauer’s shutout streak only seven minutes into the period. The final Michigan goals came against Bronco Jerry Kuhn, who replaced Gill in the final period.
“I tipped that one, so I apologized to Billy,” said Porter of Silver’s shot from the point that ended the streak. “But, he said he should have had it anyway.”
“They are a physical team and they took it to us pretty hard,” continued Porter. “But, we came right back at them and we were physical with them. I think tomorrow is going to be the same thing.”
The Broncos (6-14-1, 2-11-0 CCHA) and Wolverines (19-2-0, 12-1-0 CCHA) make the short trip down I-94 for their Saturday night re-match at Lawson Ice Arena in Kalamazoo.