ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan junior Chris Brown ended 83 minutes of highly competitive playoff hockey with a snap shot high into the far corner of the Notre Dame net, giving the Wolverines a dramatic, 2-1, double overtime win over the Irish in the opener of the their CCHA quarterfinal playoff series Friday night at Yost Arena.
Brown’s goal, beating Notre Dame netminder Steven Summerhays at 3:11 of the second overtime period, sets up a crucial rematch between the Wolverines and Irish Saturday night, when Notre Dame needs a win to prolong its season in the best-of-three series.
“Really tired coming off the bench going out for my next shift,” said Brown of the moments preceding the game-winner. “Mac (Bennett) totally sold it. The goalie thought he was going to shoot, but he slid it over to me and I just tried to put it on net so we could end this game and I could go to bed. I’m just shooting it. I know everyone’s tired. He’s tired. He had a lot of shots. So, any puck you can get on him, the better your chance to score, so I just got it and shot it.”
Summerhays heroically held Michigan off the score sheet in the first overtime period, stopping 14 shots in addition to two that rang off the post behind him in during a power play. Both Bennett and Jon Merrill found iron in their attempts to end the game while the Wolverines held a man advantage in the first few minutes of the initial overtime period.
“It was a great game for the fans,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “It was heart-attack hockey for the coaches. I’m pleased we won, and I like that we stayed with our focus, and we were creating things, but let’s face it, (Michigan goaltender) Shawn Hunwick had to keep us in that game. They had some glorious chances, particularly in the second period, and a couple in the third where he made the difference in that game. I thought we had some good chances, and we missed the net on some.”
“He has such a good shot that it’s either half an inch over the net or half an inch in the net,” Berenson continued, describing Brown’s goal. “Fortunately, that one was in.”
Hunwick nearly matched Summerhays save total of 40, turning away 37 Irish shots.
“He’s a warrior,” said Berenson of Hunwick. “He’s done everything he can for this team and this program, and there was another example tonight. We wouldn’t have been in overtime if it weren’t for Shawn Hunwick.”
Any thought that Michigan would come out stagnant due to its weekend off with a first-round bye was dispelled just 68 seconds into the game.
Wolverines forward A.J. Treais tipped a Notre Dame clearing pass to linemate Phil Di Giuseppe in the high slot. Di Giuseppe’s shot on Summerhays trickled behind the Irish netminder and Luke Glendening tipped the puck in at 1:08 for a 1-0 Michigan lead that stood up until midway into the third period.
Notre Dame finally solved Hunwick at 11:23 of the third period to tie the game and eventually send it to overtime.
After sustained Irish pressure, Billy Maday’s pass from behind the Michigan cage found Anders Lee in front of the Wolverines’ net. Lee made no mistake with his shot, beating Hunwick on the stick side, setting up the dramatic overtime conclusion.
“It’s a tough game to lose, but we’ve got respond tomorrow,” said Summerhays. “We have to come back tomorrow like it didn’t happen. The toughest thing in hockey, especially in college, is to end a team’s season. Michigan’s got to come and end our season.
“We still feel like we’re alive, and we’re worried about tomorrow’s game. We feel like we did a lot of good things tonight. We had a lot of momentum toward the end of that game. It was an even game both ways, so tomorrow is up for grabs.”