ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Methodically and workman-like, Michigan won every period against Lake Superior, taking the opening game of their best-of-three CCHA first round playoffs, 5-2, at Yost Ice Arena Friday night.
Both teams played the game shorthanded, especially Lake Superior.
The Lakers took the ice without players who had contributed 37 of their 91 goals in the regular season.
Chad Nehring, Will Acton and Rich Schofield, the only Lakers to hit double figures in goal scoring during the regular season, all failed to dress for the crucial playoff opener due to the flu. Even Lake Superior coach Jim Roque was affected by the same malady, spending the game huddled in an overcoat behind the Laker bench.
The missing trio of Lakers supplied 37 of Lake Superiors 91 regular season goals.
We were surprised to see that three of their top players weren’t dressed, but then we found out later they had the flu, said Michigan head coach Red Berenson. That’s unfortunate, but it’s unfortunate that (Bryan) Hogan’s not playing as our starting goalie. There’s a little bit of a trade-off.
Michigan played without regular goaltender Bryan Hogan, who had started all but the final two of the Wolverines regular season before suffering a serious groin injury.
Shawn Hunwick replaced Hogan in the Michigan net. The Wolverine junior back-up netminder supplied a series of early saves, buoying both his and his teammates confidence.
I thought their team had the better of the play in the first seven minutes, pointed out Berenson. Hunwick had some huge saves. I thought that was a turning point in the game and that kept us in the game. Overall, I thought our team got better as the game went along.
Hunwick turned aside 21 Laker shots and Lake Superior goaltender Brian Mahoney had 38 saves.
Wolverine freshman center A. J. Treais the games opener giving Michigan a 1-0 lead after the first period.
From the crease, Treais flipped the puck into the Laker net at 10:38 of the opening period after linemates David Wohlberg and Luke Glendening were stopped at close range by Mahoney-Wilson.
Wohlberg connected on his seventh goal of the season to stake Michigan to a 2-0 two period lead.
After Louie Caporussos initial attempt was stopped by Mahoney-Wilson, Wohlberg finally capitalized on his own second swipe at the puck at 4:40.
I think it’s a little bit of confidence, said Berenson of Wohlbergs struggles to match the scoring level of his freshman season. He’s feeling better physically. There’s no question that he was handicapped by a sore back or this or that. You could see that he wasn’t 100% in his skating.
“Two Michigan minor penalties on the same play gave the Lakers a huge chance to get back into the game with two full minutes of five-on-three advantage.
Even though the Lakers failed to record a shot on met during that advantage, they found a way to benefit from the situation.
As Michigan scrambled to get their two players back into the play after the concurrent penalties expiration, Lake Superior defenseman Steven Kaunisto took a sharp angled shot that deflected off Treais stick past his own goaltender at 3:58, reducing the Michigan lead to 3-1.
The momentum the Lakers received from Kaunistos goal was stifled only 18 seconds later.
Re-establishing the Wolverine three goal edge, Michigans Brian Lebler circled out of the right corner, used linemate Chris Brown as a screen and connected from the top of the right circle.
At 11:54, Dillin Stonehouse buoyed the Laker hopes with a 30-foot shot that eluded Hunwick.
Michigan senior captain Chris Summer finally iced the game for the Wolverines with an empty netter at 18:56.
Lake Superior must find a way past Michigan Saturday night in the series second game to extend their season to a winner-take-all third game, slated for Sunday night if necessary.
We want to have a good game tomorrow night, a better game than tonight said Berenson. That’s our sense of urgency.