ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan junior defenseman Greg Pateryn’s four-point game, a goal and three assists, led the Wolverines to a 6-3 win over Western Michigan Friday night at Yost Arena in Ann Arbor.
Every time Michigan would mount an offensive thrust, Western Michigan replied with an offensive parry of their own.
In the end, the 4-0 lead the Wolverines built early in the second period was simply too much for the Broncos to overcome.
Pateryn’s four-point effort was the first by a Wolverine blueliner since Jack Johnson turned the trick in January, 2007.
“Guys were putting the puck in,” said Pateryn. “Scooter’s (Vaughan) been scoring every chance he’s had. (Kevin) Lynchy put one in there for me and (Chris) Browny, good deflection, and (Matt) Rusty made an unbelievable pass, so you’ve got to give everyone else credit, too, not just myself.”
“It was a hard-fought game,” said Michigan head coach Red Berenson. “It was intense. It was gritty and Western was as good as we thought they would be.. We had a couple of bounces tonight to choose between. That makes a difference in the game.”
Western Michigan head coach Jeff Blashill pulled starting goaltender Jerry Kuhn once Michigan built their lead to four goals early in the second period. Sophomore Nick Pisellini came in to spell Kuhn in net and helped change the flow of the game.
“I thought Pisellini did a very good job,” explained Blashill. “He hasn’t played in a long time, but he has looked very good in practice. I thought he was therefore prepared to come in and do a real good job. He allowed us to be able to be aggressive because he had to make some big saves.”
The Broncos managed to pull within two of the Wolverines before the second period expired, controlling the flow of play for minutes at a time.
“Sometimes, that can be a little bit tricky,” pointed out Blashill, “in the sense that at 4-0 we obviously became the aggressor. But, I thought our guys did a good job of staying with it.
“They came out and played very well (in the third period). It’s obviously a credit to their team. They’ve got an outstanding team. We knew that coming in. If we want to have an opportunity to win, we have to play 60 minutes.”
Frequent and infrequent scorers hit the score sheet for Michigan in the opening period.
Vaughan’s 11th goal of the year, his eighth at Yost Arena, and Lynch’s first goal of the season, his first point in 18 games, gave the Wolverines a 2-0 edge after 20 minutes. Both goals were set up by Pateryn.
At 6:10, Pateryn’s hard clearing pass around his defensive boards traveled with perfect timing to Vaughan, who was just exiting the penalty box. Vaughan carried the puck into the Bronco zone and unleashed a laser beating Kuhn high glove side.
Just over two minutes later at 8:45, Pateryn’s shot from the right point was kicked out by Kuhn with his right pad directly onto Lynch’s stick. Lynch one-timed a shot into the empty net behind Kuhn.
“It felt good to give something to the team,” said Lynch of breaking his offensive drought. “I thought I’d been playing pretty well but it hasn’t been going in for me. Tonight it was nice to get those couple of goals, but my linemates played pretty well and made some great passes, so hats off to them.”
The goal total was even between the combatant teams in the middle period, but the Broncos held a clear edge in play.
Michigan stretched their lead all the way to four goals before Western Michigan battled back with two of their own in the second period. The Broncos skated off trailing, 4-2, on the strength of a 17 shot barrage they poured on Hunwick in the Michigan cage.
Only 15 seconds separated the two Michigan goals at the start of the middle stanza. Rust’s perfect leading pass was tipped past Kuhn by the diving reach of Pateryn at 3:27.
Brown deflected Pateryn’s shot past Kuhn from the slot at 3:42, ending the senior Bronco goaltender’s night in favor of Pisellini.
Said Blashill, “They pressure you a lot. Their team speed is outstanding. So, they’re going to put you on your heels at times. They were able to capitalize on some opportunities, so give them credit for that for sure. From our standpoint, we need to look at how we can correct some things, but we’ll look at that tonight on tape.”
Western Michigan wasted little time supporting Pisellini’s entry into the nets for the Broncos.
At 6:11, Dane Walters snapped a big shot past Hunwick from the top of the right circle to open the scoring for the Broncos.
Linemates Walters and Chase Balisy hooked up at 10:16 to further add pressure to the Wolverines. Balisy grabbed a loose puck to Hunwick’s right and managed to find an opening past Hunwick for the 12th goal of his freshman season.
“Sometimes, that can be a little bit tricky in the sense that at 4-0 we obviously became the aggressor,” said Blashill of the Bronco comeback. “But, I thought our guys did a good job of staying with it.”
Lynch bagged his second goal of the game at 11:15 of the final period to extend the Michigan edge to three goals, 5-2.
Although Western again came right back at 12:02 with Max Campbell’s 14th marker of the season, Michigan’s Luke Glendening iced the victory for the Wolverines with an empty net goal at 18:23.
“Western turned it up in the second period,” Berenson said. “They had us on our heels. We were fortunate to get the next goal. We didn’t like the last 10 minutes of that (second) period. It was embarrassing that the goals came too easy. Sometimes, your team starts relaxing when there isn’t room to relax.”
Michigan (20-9-4 overall, 17-7-1-0 CCHA) and Western Michigan (15-8-10, 9-7-9-5) do battle again Saturday night with a 7:35 puck drop at Yost Arena.
Greg Pateryn on how WMU never gives up:
Kevin Lynch talks about ending his goal drought: