ANN ARBOR, Mich. — In a battle between two struggling perennial powerhouses, Michigan dealt another blow to Minnesotas hopes of finding their way back into the elusive win column Friday night at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines solved Minnesota goaltender Alex Kangas six times and received a flawless performance from their own netminder, Bryan Hogan, en route to a 6-0 win in the 2009 College Hockey Showcase opener.
Michigans win marked the third straight year in which they wrested the Renfrew-Mariucci Trophy — emblematic of the annual winner of the College Hockey Showcase tussle between the two — from the Golden Gophers.
Despite the lopsided result, Michigan head coach Red Berenson thought the difference between the two teams wasnt as significant as the final score indicated.
From my perspective, it wasnt a 6-0 game, said Berenson. It was a game of chances, and whose chances were going in, and who got the bounces.
It was one of those games where even though we were getting some chances and getting pucks to the net that were going in, on another night they wouldnt have gone in. They go down and hit the post and we go down and score. It was that kind of a game.
A three goal outburst in the second period from Wolverines Brandon Burlon, Louie Caporusso, and Carl Hagelin supplemented David Wohlbergs first period goal for Michigan squelching any Minnesota hopes of mounting a comeback.
Hagelin and Ben Winnett added insurance markers in the third period for Michigan.
Hogan turned aside all 24 Minnesota shots, posting his first shutout of the season.
The whitewash was the fourth suffered by the Golden Gophers in 14 games this season.
Berenson credited his teams defensive zone coverage as a major factor in the shutout victory.
We were good in our own zone except they still had a few point-blank shot from the slot in that area thats tough to cover, noted Berenson. Thats where he (Hogan) earned his shutout tonight, with three or four point-blank shots. Bang! He made the save, hes in position and no rebounds.
We’re starting to get a little bit more sharp in practice, so it shows in the games for sure, Hogan said of the Wolverines play in their own zone. The past is the past and it was a little rough back then. Now we’re starting to turn the corner here and look at all the hard work we’re doing in practice.
“We’re starting to get a little bit more sharp in practice, so it shows in the games for sure. The past is the past and it was a little rough back then. Now we’re starting to turn the corner here and look at all the hard work we’re doing in practice.”
I’m disappointed, said Minnesota head coach Don Lucia of the loss. We didn’t give ourselves a chance to win tonight. We looked like we had a plate full of turkey in our bellies. We were sluggish and we’re not a good enough team to come out and play sluggish.
They’re a good team. You can’t get on the road and fall behind by a couple. We had a few chances, hit a few pipes to get ourselves back in it, but Michigan was a better team and deserved to win.
Michigan entered the game with a 5-7-1 overall record, losers of five of their last six contests. Minnesotas 4-7-1 incoming overall record included losses in their last three, including being swept by Minnesota-Duluth last weekend on the Golden Gophers home ice.
The two teams played a brand of hockey typical of struggling teams in the first period. Michigan failed to convert on several odd-man rushes. Minnesota forward Mike Hoeffel rang a shot from the slot directly off the goal post to Hogans left.
The scoreless first period tie was finally broken with the teams playing four on four.
Wolverine junior Caporusso tipped a pass off the right boards from just short of the red line to Wohlberg streaking down his off wing. Wohlberg cut sharply to the net flipped a backhand over the glove hand of a stunned Kangas who clearly thought he had the top corner covered.
Wohlbergs second tally of the season at 18:47 gave Michigan a thin 1-0 edge after 20 minutes despite a15-5 advantage in shots.
Michigan flashed offensive firepower during the second period unlike anything theyve shown at Yost Arena yet this season. Power play goals by Burlon and Caporusso supplemented by an even strength marker from Hagelin extended the Wolverine to a 4-0 two-period lead.
“I felt like we came out right away and were ready to go, said Hagelin. We got the puck deep. We had some good cycles and for once we actually scored on our good chances. We were very efficient around the net.
At 8:52 of the second period, Burlon slapped a shot from the top of the left circle while on the power play. Burlons shot, slightly impeded by Hoeffels stick fluttered by Kangas giving Michigan a two goal bulge.
Again on the power play late in the period, Caporusso took Chad Langlais pass from the right point. From deep in the left corner, Caporusso slung a pass across the crease deflecting by Kangas at 15:25 off the skate of Minnesota defenseman Cade Fairchild.
Wolverine defenseman Lee Moffie led Hagelin through a seam between two Golden Gophers at the blue line. Hagelin streaked in alone a found an opening just under Kangas blocker to further Michigans advantage to 4-0 at 17:45.
Michigan added two more goals in the third period. The first was a shorthanded effort from Hagelin very similar to his late second period score at 6:58. Ben Winnett completed the nights scoring at 11:28 of the final stanza with the unassisted effort roofed over Kangas glove.
Michigan (6-7-1) awaits Wisconsin for a Yost matchup in the weekend finale on Saturday night while Minnesota (4-8-1) makes the trip down I-96 to face Michigan State in their weekend closer.
Hagelin summed up Michigans hopes for the weekend.
“We got a lot of confidence from this win. Two wins in a row is important for us. We haven’t had many of those this year. Any time you can play a solid 60 minute game it’s good for confidence and we should be able to build off of this and have an even better game tomorrow.”