ANN ARBOR, Mich. — When one looked at the Yost Arena scoreboard at game’s end Friday night and saw Michigan outscored Bentley, 5-1, the easy, but mistaken, conclusion was that the sixth-ranked Wolverines rolled over the Falcons.
However, with five minutes left in the third period, Michigan clung to a slim one-goal lead, 2-1. Three Michigan goals in three minutes late in the third period belied the fact that Bentley was within reach of a big upset win.
“Give them marks,” said Michigan head coach Red Berenson. “They (Bentley) came in here and played a good game. We could not do anything about it, I thought we got sloppy in the second period. We got better in the third period and we got re-focused. I thought we had our best period in the third.”
“We were right there in the third,” said Bentley head coach Ryan Soderquist. “Our motto for the year has been ‘finish’. It’s what we didn’t do last year. I was really disappointed in our guys not to finish the game off with five minutes left. Win or lose, just finish the game strong.
“It’s about the only negative we take out of the game. Our goaltender played fabulous. Other than the fact we didn’t play the last five minutes, we can walk out of here pretty pleased.”
Senior Bentley netminder Kyle Rank turned aside 44 of the 49 Michigan shots directed his way.
Although he was only tested by 19 shots, Michigan goaltender Shawn Hunwick made key stops for the Wolverines when the teams were only separated by one goal.
Five different Wolverines scored their first goal of the season in the contest—Greg Pateryn, David Wohlberg, Alex Guptill, Luke Glendening and A.J. Treais.
Freshman Alex Grieve notched the only Falcon goal.
The meeting between Bentley and Michigan marked the first-ever hockey meeting between the two programs.
Without even an exhibition game as a warm up for their opener, Bentley played most of the game’s opening minutes back on their heels in their own defensive zone.
It took just one Bentley power play to remedy that.
Only seven seconds after Michigan’s Guptill was waved off for high sticking, Grieve bagged his first career goal, the only goal of the opening period.
A shot from the top of the right circle deflected in front of the goal to Grieve, waiting alone to Hunwick’s right. Grieve easily banged the puck into the empty net behind Hunwick at 7:06.
Using their territorial advantage inefficiently, Michigan took 35 shots in the first period, 11 of which were off-target and nine more were blocked by Falcon defenders.
Ironically, Michigan scored the second period’s only two goals despite having much less of an edge in play than they enjoyed in the opening period. Pateryn’s and Wohlberg’s first goals of the season allowed the Wolverines to hold a 2-1 edge after 40 minutes.
Bentley raised their level of play in the second period, matching Michigan offensive chance for offensive chance. Hunwick and Rank both were called upon to make big saves to keep the game tight. One three minute stretch saw repeated end to end rushes by both teams, “pond hockey” style
At 2:45 of the second period, Pateryn’s shot from mid-ice at the blue line deflected off a group of players in the slot, caromed high in the air toward the goal, bounced once in the crease and into the net by Rank.
On the power play at 9:36, Wohlberg took the puck at the right point from A,J, Treais, took two strides toward the middle of the ice and blistered a low shot by a screened Rank to give Michigan a 2-1 lead.
“It was our first game, and to come out in this environment, I was pretty satisfied with the first period,” Soderquist said. “I thought we played really well in the second. We started getting settled in and started playing our game.”
The Falcons hung in gamely during the third period, despite being outshot 20-3. Finally, Guptill, Glendening and Treais all scored for Michigan within a three-minute stretch starting at 15:38 of the final stanza to ice the victory.
“College hockey is all about momentum, if you can get something going,” mused Berenson. “That is the thing about Yost Ice Arena and playing at Michigan. If we can get something going and the crowd gets into it, there just seems to be another level. We have seen that in the past and I hope we see more of it.”
Michigan (2-0-0) and Bentley (0-1-0) square off again Saturday evening at Yost Arena in the return match up from Friday’s weekend opener.
Note: Upon further review, Lindsay Sparks’ hat trick in the Wolverines’ Tuesday night season-opening 5-0 blanking of Niagara turned out not to be a hat trick after all. Review of game film showed that Wolverine Chris Brown’s stick was the last to touch the puck before it entered the net. The scoring change left both Brown and Sparks with two-goal nights.