ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Louie Caporusso’s two goals and Bryan Hogan’s shutout goaltending were enough to earn Michigan an important 4-0 win at Yost Arena in a rare Tuesday night CCHA game.
With a snowstorm raging outside of Yost and coming off the emotional rollercoaster of their late game loss to Wisconsin at the Camp Randall Classic on Saturday, Michigan struggled early, but found just enough energy to pull away from the Falcons with two additional third period goals by Brian Lebler and Brandon Burlon. Those two goals supplemented the two-goal margin created by the Caporusso markers.
“It was busy hockey,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “They are a hard team to play against. At the ice level, it was a hard, competitive game. They never got us out-numbered and that was important in the game. Our forwards did a good job and our defense played defense. You rarely saw us trapped.”
“A disappointing evening,” said Bowling Green coach Dennis Williams. “We came in with intentions of winning the game. We hung in there. I thought in the first period, we were very average. I thought we got better as the game went on. Against a very good hockey team like Michigan, we can’t afford giving up power plays.”
Caporusso’s two goals were the eight and ninth of the season for the struggling Wolverines’ forward.
“Louie battled hard,” said Berenson. “He has played really hard in recent games, I would say he has played well since Christmas or even before Christmas. He is trying hard and not getting the bounces. Now, you can see that he is getting the bounces to go his way.”
“I think it’s just being in the right spot at every moment,” said Caporusso. “Some games you are in the right spot at the right time.”
The game’s importance to Michigan was directly tied to the games in hand they’ve retained in the CCHA standings through the 2010 portion of the conference schedule.
With only seven points separating seven teams in a tight bubble in the middle of the CCHA standings, and each game worth three points, Michigan needed to use every game opportunity available to feed their climb toward a top four finish and a first round CCHA playoff bye. The match up with the Falcons represented one of those cherished games in hand held by the Wolverines.
“It feels great,” said Caporusso of the Wolverine’s move up in the CCHA standing. “We know this is such a tight race. You can move from ninth to second with a couple of big wins. Second place is still within our reach. We have to take every game seriously and move forward from here.”
Bowling Green sought its second win in the ’09-’10 season on Yost Arena ice. Since their upset 4-2 win over Michigan on November 20, the Falcons had only won two of their sixteen contests.
“We thought about it,” said Williams of the Falcons November win at Yost. “Going into the third tonight, we were down, 1-0. We were down 2-1 after two in here last time. It was a scenario that we had seen before. Unfortunately, I didn’t work out for us this time.”
In the scoreless first period, neither team generated exceptional scoring chances, despite the 15 shots on goal, nine for Michigan and six for Bowling Green.
Caporusso’s individual effort gave Michigan a slim 1-0 after two periods. The Wolverines’ junior center bagged his eighth goal of the season at 7:13 when he walked out of the right corner, beat a Falcons’ defender and found just enough room between Bowling Green freshman goaltender Andrew Hammond’s pads for the goal. Hammond had replace Nick Eno in the Falcons’ goal just four minutes earlier when Eno left the game with an apparent minor injury.
“I thought Andrew played very well,” said Williams of his freshman netminder. “He’s been off the last two days sick with the flu. He wasn’t going to make the trip. I was told this afternoon he’d be making it. I thought he stepped in and did a very nice job for us out there.”
Caporusso struck again early in the third period for his second goal of the night. Chad Langlais’ pinpoint pass found Caporusso at the corner of the Falcons’ net and the Toronto native calmly deposited the puck past Hammond at 3:17
Late goals by Lebler and Burlon in the game’s final minutes iced the victory for the Wolverines.
Michigan (17-13-1, 12-9-1-0 CCHA) continues its quest for a first-round CCHA playoff bye this weekend, traveling to Omaha for a key two-game series with Nebraska-Omaha. Bowling Green (4-20-4, 3-15-4-3 CCHA) faces the unenviable task of hosting conference leading, No. 1 Miami for a pair of games Friday and Saturday.