ANN ARBOR, Mich. — In an instant at Yost Arena Saturday night, Luke Glendening saw his four-year journey from recruited walk-on, to regular player and ultimately, to captain at Michigan, fittingly come full circle on the Wolverines’ senior night.
Glendening scored Michigan’s first goal in their 3-2 overtime win against Northern Michigan, but it was his anticipation that led to the overtime winning goal. He peeled off to the right half-boards and intercepted an attempted Wildcat clearing pass, then whipped the puck nearly the full width of the ice to A. J. Treais, who one-timed a laser past Northern Michigan netminder Reid Ellingson for the deciding goal 1:20 into extra time.
“It’s just really good for the team,” said a typically self-effacing Glendening. “I’m glad I can help in any way I can. It’s kind of weird to think that it could be my last game here, but I’m just really happy the team did well tonight and pulled out the victory.”
Treais’ game-winner continued his streak of hot play in the month of February and Glendening wasn’t surprised that his linemate converted the pass.
“It’s pretty fitting,” said Glendening. “The way [Treais has] been playing is unbelievable. He has 15 goals now, so he’s tied with [Alex] Guptill at the top of that. He’s been playing well offensively, but he’s been playing really well defensively. I think he was plus-two tonight and that’s huge for this team.”
Glendening’s interception was the play that set up the opportunity for Treais.
“He just didn’t have anywhere else to go,” Glendening said. “He would have had to go cross-ice and that’s tough, especially in overtime. So, I just got lucky, I guess.”
Northern Michigan played a strong game, matching Michigan offensively and defensively at every turn.
“It’s frustrating,” said Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle. “We know we did a good job, but you have a guy turn a puck over like that late and that’s what’s going to happen. We had one line that was minus-two. They took the penalty. They gave the power play and you can’t do that. You have to learn that. When you’re playing good teams, small mistakes hurt.”
Wildcat senior forward Andrew Cherniwchan helped Northern Michigan keep pace with the Wolverines, scoring the goal that tied the game 2-2 at 1:15 of the third period. Cherniwchan turned Michigan defenseman Jon Merrill inside out and then beat Michigan netminder Shawn Hunwick to knot the score.
“I just tried to make a move on that first guy [Merrill] and I expected to get hit,” said Cheriwchan. “It kind of just opened up for me. I took it to the net and I know Hunwick likes to go down, so I put it up top.”
“I thought he was good,” noted Kyle of Cherniwchan’s game. “I thought that line was very good tonight. They were dangerous. They were strong, and Cherniwchan, that was a highlight reel goal, a big-time goal.”
Michigan’s win, coupled with a Western Michigan loss to Lake Superior State, moved the Wolverines into second place in the standings, while Northern Michigan, a team no one is going to relish meeting in the playoffs, remained tied with Notre Dame for eighth spot.
“I think yesterday, we were fortunate in a lot of things,” observed Glendening. “I don’t think we played our game. Coach [Red Berenson] talks a lot about will. I don’t think we had a lot of that in our game yesterday. I thought today was a lot different. I thought we played hard. We let in two goals and that’s unfortunate, but I thought we played with a passion that we didn’t have yesterday. I think that was the big difference today.”
Michigan closes its regular season next weekend with a two-game road set at Bowling Green. The Wildcats finish with a pair of home games with fellow Upper Peninsula rival Lake Superior State.