ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan senior captain Carl Hagelin rescued the proceedings on his senior night, not once, but twice.
Hagelin supplied his heroics with both a game-tying goal at 19:40 of the third period and then the game-winner with only 2.9 seconds left in overtime, single-handedly willing his Michigan Wolverines to a dramatic 5-4 win over Western Michigan Saturday night at Yost Arena.
Western Michigan had broken a 3-3 tie with Danny DeKeyser’s screened shot from the right point early in the final period at 3:20.
The two teams battled furiously for the next 16 minutes, prompting the Wolverines to pull goaltender Shawn Hunwick for a last-ditch attempt to tie the game.
Hagelin forced his way into the Broncos zone and leveled a shot that bounced off a Western Michigan defenseman’s leg and slithered past netminder Jerry Kuhn to force the decisive overtime session.
“Usually, they’re pretty good at blocking shots,” said Hagelin. “This time, he got a piece of it, the defenseman, and actually helped me out. It went through the goalie’s legs and I heard Louie (Caporusso) yell in my ear. That’s when I realized it was in.”
In overtime, Michigan used the momentum of the game-tying goal to control the flow of play, but couldn’t manage to score until Bronco Luke Witkowski was whistled off for interference with 29 seconds remaining in extra time.
Hagelin went to work again.
The Swedish import snapped off a shot as time wore down that somehow eluded Kuhn with only 2.9 seconds left for the stirring victory.
“I didn’t know how much time was left when I shot,” recalled Hagelin. “When we got out there, only 30 seconds were left. Then, we had the puck in their zone for 10 to 15 seconds. Moff (Lee Moffie) made a great play to me. I just felt I had to take the shot. I was lucky it went in.”
The overtime triumph was Michigan’s first such win in 11 overtime attempts since Travis Turnbull scored for the Wolverines in 2007 at the Grat Lakes Invitational Tournament in Detroit.
“That’s as good as it gets, and at home,” smiled Michigan coach Red Berenson. “He (Hagelin) plays with energy every game, but it just seemed like he was trying to do something special, and we knew what that was.
“I liked the ending. I can’t say I liked the start. The first shift, they score. The second shift,they score. We end up turning the puck over a couple more times; two breakaways and they had all the momentum. We got back into the game and stayed with it.
“The second period, if you look at the shot chart, was a one-sided game. We didn’t do a lot to answer them offensively, but we got the goals we needed at the end. It was a great finish, a little bit of luck. It was nice to see the power play capitalize and it was nice to see us get a power play.”
Dane Walters opened the game’s scoring, bagging two of the Broncos trio of first period goals. Michigan scored two of their own in the opening 20 minutes to trail Western Michigan, 3-2.
Only 43 seconds after the initial puck drop, Walters tipped Dennis Brown’s shot from the right point by Hunwick.
At 10:32, Michigan broke the power play hex that had followed them for 22 straight scoreless attempts.
David Wohlberg took a rebound off the end boards and slipped the puck by Kuhn to break the special teams skid and tie the game, 1-1.
Two straight bobbles by Michigan defensemen opened the door for a pair of nearly identical Western Michigan goals.
Wolverines blueliner Jon Merrill failed to hold the puck in the Broncos zone at 14:30, allowing Mike Leone to send Walters in alone on Hunwick. Atlhough the Michigan netminder got a piece of the shot, the puck still found its way to the back of the net.
Moments later, Brandon Burlon suffered the same fate at the same left point position, misplaying a pass and allowing Ben Warda a free pass straight to the Wolverines net. Warda converted the short-handed opportunity at 16:19 for a 3-1 Bronco lead.
The Wolverines struck right back seconds after the expiration of a penalty on Chad Langlais screened shot from the left point at 17:36 edging closer to Western Michigan, 3-2, at the end of one period.
After Kevin Lynch’s solo effort effort tied the game for Michigan at 2:01 of the second period, the game took on a heightened sense of urgency.
Lynch carried the puck from his own blue line into the Western Michigan zone, deked a Western Michigan defender and slid a low shot by Kuhn to knot the score, 3-3.
The rest of the middle period was highlighted by furious Broncos forechecking and a clearly desperate attitude by both teams.
The third period and overtime theatrics were clearly a carry over from the second period desperation.
“I think a lot of guys are going to look back on this,” Hagelin said. “Our class probably had one of the most intense senior night games. Today, we really had to battle back and show some character.”
“We didn’t do a lot to answer them offensively, but we got the goals we needed at the end,” agreed Berenson. “It was a great finish, a little bit of luck. It was nice to see the power play capitalize and it was nice to see us get a power play.”
Michigan wraps up the regular season portion of the CCHA schedule next weekend with a trip to Marquette to take on Northern Michigan in pair of games, while Western Michigan finishes off their campaign with a home-and-home two-game set with conference-leading Notre Dame.