ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Carl Hagelin’s second period goal on an odd bounce stood as the difference between Michigan and Ferris State Saturday night, as the Wolverines narrowly edged the Bulldogs, 3-2.
In the very tightly contested game, Ferris State killed off six-of-seven Michigan power play opportunities, but every time the Bulldogs would start to build momentum, they faced another penalty kill.
“I thought the penalties did slow us,” said Ferris State coach Bob Daniels. “I’m going to be polite and say I didn’t see a couple of them. Then, there were a couple that we could eliminate from the game. They were not necessary.”
Michigan jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the first period and Ferris State was faced with fighting from behind all game.
“It was a better start for our team,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson in comparison to Friday night’s series opener at Ferris State,
Michigan scored two goals in the last seven minutes Friday to tie the Bulldogs, 2-2, after regulation time salvaging a point in the CCHA standings. Ferris State picked up the extra point by winning the post-overtime shootout, 2-0.
“We certainly wanted to get off to a better start than last night when we didn’t get a shot on goal until the second half of the first period,” added Berenson. “Tonight, getting the first goal was important, and you could see how close checking the game started out being.
“Even when we had it, 3-1, sure enough, they got back in the game. It was a close-checking game. We were just talking about it in the locker room. This is what we have to expect every night this year in the league and with this team.”
Both coaches were somewhat frustrated with their team’s offensive play.
“I think we will be better with the puck as they year goes on,” Berenson said. “But, you can see right now that a lot of our passes are not sharp and our shots are not sharp. We’re going to have to grind it out because everyone else will make us grind it out.”
Daniels reflected Berenson’s frustration with his own team’s offensive output.
“I think our defensemen played very well this weekend. We’ve got to find a way to get more from our forwards. We’ve got to find a way to generate more opportunities. I think our defensemen are playing as good as any defensive corps in the country. Our goaltending’s playing well. We need to get more from our forwards if we’re going to be a good team.”
Berenson singled out the play of senior defenseman Chad Langlais as a key component in the Wolverines victory.
“I thought he was outstanding,” said Berenson of the senior rearguard. “They came at our defense hard. He carried the puck up and made some good plays. He showed why he is maybe our top defenseman for ice time.”
After a fairly even first few minutes of the game, Michigan parlayed a strong effort by freshman forward Luke Moffatt and then capitalized on a power play to take a 2-0 lead after the first period.
At 9:18 of the opening period, Moffatt performed the lion’s share of the work battling for the puck and gaining possession in the slot. Moffatt slid the puck to Scooter Vaughan at the right corner of the net. Vaughan roofed his fifth goal of the season over Bulldogs netminder Pat Nagle’s glove from close range to put the Wolverines ahead, 1-0.
On a power play at 12:15, Langlais’ shot from the left point bounded straight off Nagle’s stick to Kevin Lynch in the slot, who fired it into the exposed Bulldogs cage for a 2-0 Michigan lead.
Ferris State closed to within one goal of Michigan twice in a seesaw second period that ended with the Wolverines holding a tenuous 3-2 lead.
The power play provided the Bulldogs with their first score of the game just three minutes into the middle period.
Sophomore left wing Kyle Bonis slapped a bullet over Bryan Hogan’s glove from the top of the left circle to narrow the Wolverines lead to 2-1.
Michigan regained its two-goal bulge at 6:18 of the second period when Hagelin’s pass to the front of the net from the left half-boards deflected off Ferris State defenseman Brett Wysopal’s leg into the net past Nelson.
Video review supplied ample evidence that Andy Huff’s shot from the slot beat Hogan high over his glove at 17:30 on a similar shot to Bonis’ earlier Bulldog tally. Freshman Huff’s career first goal pulled Ferris State back to within easy striking distance at the end of the period, trailing only 3-2.
Quick-paced up-and-down played characterized the third period, but neither team could find the net and Hagelin’s second period goal proved the winner.
Hagelin pointed out the Wolverines need to find an urgency sooner in the weekend.
“It was kind of the same as last weekend,” said Hagelin. “We played bad Friday and then realized we can’t play like this again. Coach said this morning that everyone needs to pick it up. We showed up and really wanted it. Next weekend, we have to be prepared for Friday’s game.”
“If I were going to give it a grade, I’d say B-minus,” Daniels said of his team’s weekend performance. “It was passable, I thought we played a better game last night. Tonight, we played well at moments, but overall not as good as we need to play to win a game here.”
Michigan (4-1-3, 3-0-1-0 CCHA) makes the long journey to Fairbanks for two games with the Alaska Nanooks next weekend. Ferris State (4-3-1, 1-2-1-1 CCHA) returns home next weekend to host CCHA power Miami for a pair of contests.