ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan played a game worthy of their No. 1 ranking, routing Nebraska Omaha 10-1 in the opening contest of their CCHA second round playoff series Friday night at Yost Ice Arena.
Returning after a four week break due to a serious hamstring injury, senior Chad Kolarik paced the Wolverines with his third hat trick of the season prompting a barrage of at least 50 chapeaus thrown onto the ice by the Yost faithful.
Freshman Carl Hagelin’s energetic play from the center position he inherited from injured fellow freshman Matt Rust also highlighted the Michigan one-sided win.
“We got the bounces tonight,” said a satisfied looking Michigan Head Coach Red Berenson. “I can’t remember a game this year where the puck was going in like it did tonight. Let’s be honest. Nebraska Omaha is a better team than the score. I don’t know how they’re looking at it, but whether it was 10-1 or 2-1, they’ll start fresh tomorrow night.”
“We were opportunistic tonight and the good thing was that we didn’t give them a lot,” continued Berenson. “They’ve got a dynamite power play that never got untracked.”
The Wolverines came out strongly right from the opening faceoff defying the conventional wisdom that a team generally starts slowly after a bye week.
“The game went south real quick when we took a penalty in the first period,” Nebraska Omaha Mike Kemp said. “Then it was a steamroll after that. Next thing you know, we’re down 3-0 — and boom, we didn’t know what hit us. Give them credit, they just kept coming at us in waves. That is probably the most dominating performance I’ve seen by a team in an awful long time.”
Berenson made particular note of the contributions of both Kolarik and Hagelin.
“You’re glad to have him back in the lineup and what an impact he makes on the game,” said Berenson of Kolarik. “It’s terrific to get him back.”
“Carl was unbelievable,” Berenson pointed out about Hagelin, the freshman forward from Sweden “He plays hard every night. He’s our hardest working player. I talked to him yesterday about playing center. He was so into it from the get-go.”
Michigan quick jump from the gate resulted in three first period tallies.
Brandon Naurato tipped in Steve Kampfer’s shot from the point at 4:53 on the power play to give the Wolverines a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
At 10:29, Kolarik scored his first of two straight goals in the period. From the left circle, Kolarik pulled the puck back and snapped a shot high over Kaufmann’s stick.
Kolarik then teamed with fellow senior and Hobey Baker candidate, Kevin Porter, to stretch the Michigan lead to 3-0 at 18:05. Porter took Kolarik’s pass breaking in on Kaufmann who made the original save on Porter. Kolarik, standing behind the goal line to Kaufmann’s left, banked the rebound off the goaltender for the score.
The Wolverines added two more goals to their total in the second period with Hagelin and Travis Turnbull doing the damage..
Hagelin scored a total effort shorthanded goal at 10:37 before Turnbull converted Louie Caporusso’s pass on a two-on-one break at 18:47.
Tomas Klempa got the Mavericks onto the score sheet early in the third period with his seventh goal of the season, but Michigan poured on the offense with three more goals before the final twenty minutes concluded.
The Wolverines last scored 10 goals in a 2005-2006 CCHA playoff opening game against Notre Dame and then had to hold on the following night for an overtime 1-0 squeaker to clinch the series.
Both coaches will certainly remind their squads of just such a possibility heading into Saturday night’s second matchup between the Wolverines and the Mavericks, with Michigan looking for a series-clinching victory and Nebraska Omaha hoping to extend their playoff run.