ANN ARBOR, Mich. — It felt like two different games took place Friday night at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor.
For the first 40 minutes, Shawn Hunwick tended the Michigan net and, although the balance of play was close, Michigan took advantage of its chances better than Lake Superior and led the Lakers, 3-1, after two periods.
All that changed in the third period.
Hunwick couldn’t answer the bell in the final period due to an undisclosed illness or injury and little-used Adam Janecyk was thrust into the spotlight in net.
Even though Janecyk had only seen 47 minutes of action so far in one appearance this season, the sophomore stopped seven of the eight shots directed at him, only allowing one goal to preserve a 4-2 win for the Wolverines.
Entering the third period trailing 3-1, Lake Superior scored at 8:17 to draw within one on Ben Power’s bullet from the inner edge of the circle that beat Janecyk high on the glove side.
Michigan rallied around Janecyk with solid team play and tenacious penalty killing to hold the one-goal margin till Wolverine Chris Brown found the empty net with mere seconds remaining after the Lakers goalie was pulled for an extra attacker
“We had to,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson of his team’s need to adjust to the third period change in goaltenders. “That is one of the things when you come to the rink when you haven’t played in a long time. Are you really ready to play? I think Janecyk gave us a good period and he had no idea he was going to play in this game. That is his job, to be ready, and he was ready. I thought the team responded well for him.”
Asked if Lake Superior changed strategy with the change in goal for Michigan, Lakers coach Jim Roque said, “We just wanted to get more pucks at the net. I thought we gave ourselves enough opportunities to win the game. They bury it, though. They’ve got talented kids.”
Michigan took advantage of its chances in an evenly-played opening period. Travis Lynch and David Wohlberg each scored for the Wolverines, giving Michigan a 2-0 edge after 20 minutes.
Mac Bennett’s tape-to-tape pass from inside the Michigan defensive zone found a streaking Lynch. Skating in alone on Lakers netminder Kevin Kapalka from left to right, Lynch slipped the puck between Kapalka’s pads to open the scoring at 9:50.
Wohlberg took Alex Guptill’s pass across the slot at 14:38 and found room above Kapalka to extend the Michigan lead to 2-0. In his first game back after a season-long suspension, Wolverines defenseman Jon Merrill made the pass to Guptill to start the play leading to the goal.
Merrill played his first game of the season for the Wolverines after a 22-game disciplinary suspension, and made his presence felt all game with his calm demeanor handling the puck and solid outlet passes to clear the defensive zone.
Both teams scored less-than-pretty goals in the second period, leaving Michigan with the two-goal margin with which they entered the period.
Lake Superior plugged away and finally solved Hunwick on a very unlikely looking opportunity.
With his own defenseman, Mike Chiasson, setting a screen, Hunwick simply didn’t see Nick McParland’s shot from just inside the right point soon enough to stop it. McParland’s 11th goal of the season at 8:27 swung momentum in the Lakers direction temporarily.
Michigan stole that momentum back at 17:10 of the middle period. Wohlberg’s shot from a scrum just to Kapalka’s left was batted in the air by the Lakers goaltender. Chris Brown bunted the fluttering puck into the goal from close range.
Brown’s goal gave Michigan just enough margin for Janecyk to hold off the Lakers in the final period.
“Their big line did real well.” said Roque of Michigan’s trio of Brown, Wohlberg and Guptill, which supplied three of the Wolverines’ four goals. “We just had no answer for them. We had a couple good chances early and didn’t score. We have a hard time coming back. We got two goals down twice, and that’s tough for us. I thought our guys worked really, really hard and gave ourselves a chance at the end. I was happy with our effort, and I hope we can bounce back tomorrow night.”
Since only four points separated fourth place Lake Superior and eighth place Michigan in the CCHA standings, the Wolverines victory allowed them to pull within one point of the Lakers, with a rematch between the two teams set for Saturday night.
“We’ve won three games in a row now,” said Brown. “I think we’re just confident. Everyone is playing well. We have good depth, and we’ve got Jon (Merrill) back.”