ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Freshman forward Phil Di Giuseppe provided all the offense Michigan needed Saturday night with his two-goal performance, leading the Wolverines to a 4-1 victory over Bentley at Yost Arena.
A.J. Treais and Alex Guptill provided late insurance for Michigan in a game that was hotly contested deep into the third period for a second straight night. The Wolverines had a similar late-scoring outburst in Friday night’s 5-1 win over Bentley in the series opener.
“For us, it was a good weekend overall,” said Michigan mentor Red Berenson. “Bentley really played well, and they played hard. They gave us everything that we could handle, and these games were both literally 2-1 games right into late in the third period.”
Jared Rickord scored the lone Falcons goal in the second period, but the story for Bentley was the fine goaltending performance by sophomore Branden Komm and a spirited attitude that kept the result in doubt until the late Wolverine goals.
Komm made 39 saves, many of them during Michigan’s seven power play attempts. Michigan’s Shawn Hunwick turned aside 21 shots at the other end of the ice.
The game’s key sequence occurred midway through the second period.
Bentley had just tied the score, 1-1, and fortune seemed to be turning Bentley’s way. The Falcons appeared to take the lead at 13:57 of the second, but the apparent Bentley goal was disallowed because Falcons forward Joe Campanelli was whistled off for goaltender interference on the play.
On the ensuing power play, Di Giuseppe scored his second goal of the game, converting a pass from Luke Moffatt at the Falcons’ goalmouth to regain the lead for the Wolverines.
In a matter of seconds, a 2-1 Bentley lead turned into a 2-1 Michigan lead due to the goaltender interference call.
“It was an emotional swing,” Bentley coach Ryan Soderquist said. “I thought our guys actually handled it pretty well. We score a goal. It gets called back. Puts them on the power play. It’s a two-goal swing in 30 seconds. But, I thought we handled it well and rebounded from it.”
“That was a really big momentum switch,” said Moffatt, who set up the Michigan goal. “It ended up that we were on the power play there and we were able to get that power-play goal. It boosted up the whole bench, and gave us a lot of momentum after that.”
Michigan’s win set a school record for consecutive home wins, its 17th straight home victory since it was beaten by Notre Dame in November 2010.
Momentum-wise, the game started as the previous night’s contest had, with Michigan strong in the opening period.
Outshooting Bentley by 12 shots in the first period, 16-4, Michigan could only connect on one of those 16 shots. Di Giuseppe scored the period’s lone goal at 10:24 on a feed from the right half-boards from linemate Moffatt. Moffatt intercepted a Falcons clearing attempt and threw the puck toward the net. Di Giuseppe out-battled a Bentley defenseman for the puck and slid the disc by Komm.
Bentley came out in the second period determined to repeat its positive second period performance from Friday night’s 5-1 loss to the Wolverines. The Falcons did just that, playing even with Michigan, with each team scoring a goal in the middle period.
The Falcons tied the game nearly halfway through the second period. After sustained pressure in the Michigan zone, Jared Rickord knocked a bouncing puck by Hunwick from just outside the crease at 9:21.
The disallowed Bentley goal sequence shortly followed, leaving the Falcons on the short end of a 2-1 two-period deficit.
The final period featured frantic up and down play, with both teams having several chances, until Michigan’s Treais slipped Lindsay Sparks’ pass between Komm’s legs with just 2:21 left.
Down 3-1, Bentley pulled Komm for an extra skater, but Guptill’s empty-net goal ended the scoring with 49 seconds left.
After Friday night’s loss, Soderquist was disappointed with the way his team had finished the game. The Falcons had made finishing strongly in games a key team goal for the season. Saturday’s performance had Soderquist talking much differently than he had the previous night.
“I was extremely proud of our finish,” said Soderquist. “I thought that we left it all out there, even when we went six-on-five at the end. We were down 3-1 and got a couple shots at it. We had big, big penalty kills that kept us in the game, 2-1. That’s finishing the game. If we don’t have that penalty kill there, the game’s over. I thought we gave 60 minutes of all we had, and I leave very proud tonight.”
“When we give up only two goals on the weekend, we have a good chance to win those games,” summarized Berenson.
Michigan (3-0-0) finishes off a stretch of four home games in 10 days when it is visited by St. Lawrence Thursday. Bentley (0-2-0) remains on the road Friday when it travels to Massachusetts.