ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Wolverine Aaron Palushaj’s highlight reel goal, his second of the game, broke a 3-3 tie and capped a wild third period in Michigan’s 5-3 win over St. Lawrence at Yost Ice Arena on Saturday night.
Michigan entered the third period with what appeared to be a relatively comfortable 2-0 lead, but Mike McKenzie’s goal for the Saints at 5:38 gave the St. Lawrence the spark they needed to mount a comeback.
The Wolverines appeared to have thwarted that comeback when Louie Caporusso beat Saints’ netminder Robby Moss from the slot, but St. Lawrence senior center Brock McBride answered Caporusso’s mid-period goal with one of his own at 11:47 of the final period, just 21 seconds after Caporusso’s marker gave Michigan a 3-1 lead.
St. Lawrence completed their third period comeback at 15:01 when Zach Miskovic’s blind centering pass from the left corner bounced off the leg of Michigan defenseman Chris Summers past a stunned Bryan Hogan in the Wolverines’ net.
Miskovic’s tying goal set the stage for Palushaj’s game-clinching heroics.
Just inside the Saints’ blue line, Palushaj faced two St. Lawrence defenders. He pulled the puck into his own skates, then kicked the puck ahead to himself chasing it down between the two surprised Saints. The effort to split the two defenders brought Palushaj to his knees just in front of the net, a position Palushaj used to roof the deciding goal over Moss’ outstretched glove hand.
“I picked the puck up at center ice when I had some speed and I just put it under the defenseman’s stick,” said Palushaj. “I was going to take him wide, but he just stepped up, so I just put it back through his legs. He tried to trip me, so I used a bit of my soccer skills and picked it back up with my stick. Then, I somehow just put it into the net.”
Brian Lebler iced the game for Michigan on a power-play goal with only nine seconds remaining in the contest.
Tristan Llewellyn had given the Wolverines a 1-0 first period lead and Palushaj scored his first of the game in the second stanza to stake Michigan to the 2-0 lead they carried into the third period.
“You have a 2-0 lead and then, all of a sudden, it’s a 3-3 game,” said Michigan Coach Red Berenson. “Then, we went ahead and found a way to win in the third period. That is good for our team. I definitely think we were humbled.”
The win gave the No. 2 Wolverines a sweep of the weekend series with St. Lawrence, but Michigan knew they were lucky to walk away with wins in both games.
“From a goalie’s perspective, we would say that we gave up too many goals,” said Berenson of the second Wolverines’ victory of the weekend. “From a coach’s perspective, we are glad we found a way to win with talented players and just staying in the game.. From a player’s perspective, the third period was a roller coaster. But, they (St. Lawrence) are a tough team and they played hard all night. Actually, I thought we got lucky in the third period. Palushaj made that unbelievable individual move that made the difference in the game.”
Kain Tisi opened for the Saints in goal and held the Wolverines to just two goals on 15 shots through two periods. His replacement, Moss, allowed the three Michigan third period tallies. Sophomore Hogan held the Saints off the scoreboard until their third period comeback, stopping 15 of the 18 shots he faced.
“I know he will be frustrated about some of the goals,” said Berenson of Hogan’s play. “A couple of the goals were not even scoring chances but they found their way in. It is tough for a goalie when you give up those types of goals. Otherwise, I liked his poise. I liked his game.”
Michigan takes their 2-0 record to Northern Michigan next weekend to take on the Wildcats, while St. Lawrence remains on the road at Niagara and RIT.