ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan’s 4-1 win over Northern Michigan Friday night at Yost Arena was nearly completely a product of special teams play.
The Wolverines successfully killed all six Wildcats power play opportunities and scored two of their four goals with a man-advantage themselves.
More disappointed than proud, Michigan coach Red Berenson said, “We literally had to kill penalties the whole second period. You can’t play that way and get any momentum going. So, we got lucky in this game to be able to escape with a win in the third period.”
“I can’t tell you exactly,” continued Berenson about the success of the penalty kill. “I think part of it was respect for their power play. Part of it was willingness to block shots and win faceoffs and do the little things, but our penalty killers were embarrassed last week. Tonight, it was a good night for them.”
Wolverines center David Wohlberg credited the Michigan coaching staff for the special teams’ prowess.
“We watched a lot of film,” said Wohlberg of Michigan’s preparation to face the Wildcats’ power play, second best in the CCHA coming into the game. “They scouted them really well and the coaches prepared us perfectly. We knew exactly what they were going to do on the breakouts. We just executed it perfect.”
Shawn Hunwick continued the solid play in net that Michigan has come to rely on, stopping 28 Wildcats shots.
Two first period goals by two Ontario natives, one each by Phil Di Giuseppe and Alex Guptill, produced two separate rousing renditions of “O Canada” from the Yost Arena student section and a 2-0 first period lead for Michigan.
Di Giuseppe took advantage of sloppy Northern Michigan play, sniping an errant pass from the slot past Coreau at 9:59 of the opening period to give the Wolverines a 1-0 lead.
On the power play at 14:07, Guptill subtly changed the direction of a Greg Pateryn shot from the right point, beating Coreau for a two-goal advantage after 20 minutes.
That same Michigan student section was “singin’ the blues” in the second period when Wildcats freshman Ryan Daugherty potted a goal at 11:20 of the middle stanza to pull Northern Michigan within one goal, 2-1, after two periods. Daugherty roofed a shot high over Hunwick’s glove on the far side from a spot just to Hunwick’s right from close range.
Derek DeBlois scored the goal that iced the game for Michigan on a perfect set-up pass by Jon Merrill with only 4:30 to play in the contest.”
“Jonnie (Merrill) was fortunate enough to see me and gave me a pass right on my stick,” said DeBlois. “I just tried to shoot as quick as I could.”
Lee Moffie added an insurance goal on a power play for Michigan at 18:28.
“From a coach’s perspective, you like the outcome of the game, but you don’t like how you got there,” summarized Berenson. “Northern played a good, strong game. I said earlier, they’re bigger, they’re older and stronger than we are. We had to compete with that. I thought part of the game we did and part of the game we didn’t.”
Northern (14-11-6, 9-10-6-3 CCHA) gets the opportunity to avenge the loss late Saturday afternoon in the series finale against the Wolverines (19-10-4, 13-8-4-1 CCHA).