ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan burst out for six unanswered goals over the final two periods against Michigan State Friday night and coasted to a 6-1 win over the Spartans at Yost Ice Arena in the 270th renewal of their bitter interstate rivalry.
Freshman David Wohlberg led the offensive charge for the Wolverines with his seventh and eighth goals of the season, all eight of which have been scored in the last ten games.
“(Wohlberg) fit in well tonight,” said Michigan head coach Red Berenson. “I think he will add something. He’s a good player. He’s like Carl Hagelin. They add something to any line they play on. The good thing about Wohlberg is that he played well on the fourth line. He scored on that line. He played well on (Travis) Turnbull’s line. He played well on (Matt) Rust’s line and now he’s playing well on (Louie) Caporusso’s line. That is the sign of a good player.”
The Wohlberg/Caporusso/Aaron Palushaj line contributed three goals and six assists to the Wolverine cause.
Berenson had played senior goaltender Billy Sauer as his Friday night goaltender through the early part of the season, but made the switch to sophomore Bryan Hogan for the initial game of the two-game set against the Spartans. Hogan rewarded his coach with a solid 18-save performance. Senior Michigan State netminder Jeff Lerg made 21 saves before being pulled midway in the third period for Drew Palmisano who added four more saves for the Spartans.
Chippy play started from nearly the opening faceoff and led to the game’s opening goal, although in a round-about way.
At 4:13 of the first period, Spartan defenseman Brandon Gentile dumped Wolverine forward Caporusso from behind triggering a 10-player scrum and earning Gentile a two-minute minor, a five-minute major for checking from behind and a game misconduct.
Michigan sputtered on the resulting power play and with just over a minute remaining in the Wolverine man advantage, Michigan State struck shorthanded.
Michigan defenseman Tristin Llewellyn lost a bouncing puck just outside his offensive blueline and Spartan penalty killers Matt Schepke and Corey Tropp broke into the Wolverine zone two-on-one. Schepke used Tropp as a decoy as he broke down the right wing, moved in on Hogan and buried a shot between the Wolverine netminder’s legs at 9:09 for a 1-0 Spartan lead.
Michigan came out flying in the second period, scoring three unanswered goals to take a 3-1 lead after two periods.
“The bar is high and obviously we’re excited about playing at home,” said Berenson. “But, the fans can’t go on the ice and play for you. The players have to do it and we know we didn’t do it in the first period. We are what we are and I thought the second period was our best period.”
Matching the Spartans initial short-handed tally, Chris Summers converted Rust’s pass on a two-on-one break for his first career shorthanded goal at 1:57 of the second period.
Wolverine leading goal scorer Caporusso outmuscled a Spartan forward in the slot for a pass directly onto Wohlberg’s stick. Wohlberg easily one-timed the puck into the empty side of the Spartan cage past Lerg at 8:44.
Sustained pressure from Caporusso, Wohlberg and Palushaj pinned the Spartans in their own zone and resulted in Palushaj finally finding the upper corner of the Michigan State net at 12:19 with a backhand flick over Lerg’s glove hand.
Wohlberg, Brandon Naurato and freshman Brandon Burlon scored third period goals as the Wolverines extended their lead. Burlon’s goal was his career first.
“They cranked it up for sure,” said Michigan State head coach Rick Comley. “Their speed and work effort just overwhelmed our defense. We’ve got to grow and give ourselves a chance.”
Comley’s Spartans get that opportunity Saturday night as Michigan (10-7-0, 6-5-0 CCHA) and Michigan State (4-10-3, 2-6-2-2 CCHA) take the battle west to Munn Arena in East Lansing.