ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Nebraska-Omaha extended their season-opening win streak to five games, stifling the Michigan offense, capitalizing early on their own chances and riding John Faulkner’s superb goaltending to a 4-2 win over the Wolverines Friday night at Yost Ice Arena.
The first 54 minutes of the game belonged to Nebraska-Omaha.
The Mavericks steadily built a 4-0 lead over the first two periods and they protected that lead until Michigan finally scored with six minutes left in the contest and furiously battled to get back into the game.
Michigan scored again a minute later to pull within two, 4-2, with five minutes remaining. Faulkner stepped up and held Michigan at bay for the remaining minutes to seal the win for Nebraska Omaha.
The early season battle of former CCHA foes matched undefeated teams both ranked in the top ten nationally.
Fourth-ranked Michigan enjoyed the cozy comfort of their home rink, Yost Ice Arena, after a road trip to New Hampshire the previous Saturday produced a tie result.
Tenth-ranked Nebraska-Omaha, boasting wins in their first four contests, traveled to Ann Arbor fresh off a road two-game sweep of traditional WCHA stalwart Minnesota.
Four of the five Maverick wins in their opening stretch of victories were earned on the road..
Especially winning at Minnesota and Michigan, you can’t find two tougher places to play with half your team as freshmen, said Nebraska-Omaha head coach Dean Blais,
It was a tough start for us, said Michigan head coach Red Berenson. We were just out of synch with our passing. We just didn’t generate many chances. They played harder than we did and they were the more determined team. Shawn Hunwick had to play well to keep it at four.
Faulkner finished the game with 34 saves while his Michigan counterpart, Hunwick, turned aside 22 Nebraska-Omaha shots.
Ryan Walters opened the scoring for Nebraska-Omaha at 16:13 of the opening period, banking a shot from the left corner off Hunwick’s shoulder. The puck then bounced of the top of the Michigan netminder’s head and trickled down his back into the goal, giving the Maverick’s a 1-0 lead after the first period.
Regarding Walters’ game-opening goal, Blais said It’s important. We found a way to do it in all three road games we’ve played. That was the story of the game. It kept the crowd out of it.
The Mavericks added a trio of goals in the second period to extend their lead to 4-0 after the second stanza. Terry Broadhurst, Brock Montpetit and Matt White each notched a goal to create the commanding lead for Nebraska-Omaha.
Broadhurst banged a rebound past Hunwick at 3:40 of the second period
Montpetit used a teammate as a decoy on a two-on-one break, beating both a Michigan defender and Hunwick, both between their legs, on the power play at 9:03.
White’s fifth marker of the season gave the Mavericks a four-goal bulge at 15:22 of the middle period.
Finally late in the third period, Kevin Lynch scored his second of the season for Michigan at 13:59 and the Wolverines awakened for their final last gasp surge.
David Wohlberg tightened things uncomfortably for Nebraska-Omaha at 14:58, beating Faulkner bybreaking in on his off-wing down the right side.
A late Michigan power play was stymied by Faulkner and the Mavericks penalty killing unit to preserve the victory.
The penalty kill was good for us and the best penalty killer is your goaltender, said Blais. He (Faulkner) made a couple of great saves.
Michigan (2-1-2 overall, 2-0-0-0 in the CCHA) and Nebraska-Omaha (5-0-0, 2-0-0 in the WCHA) complete the two-game series Saturday night back at Yost Arena.