ANN ARBOR, Mich. — 2 Michigan win over Northern Michigan was anybody’s game; tonight’s 6-2 Michigan victory to secure a two-game sweep in the first round of the CCHA playoffs? It was all Wolverines. No question.
“They did a great job from the start of the game until the end of the game,” said NMU coach Walt Kyle. “They handled us.”
Freshman Andrew Copp led the Wolverines with two goals — including one scored on one of Michigan’s two penalty shot chances — while his classmate, Steve Racine, needed to make just 18 saves for the Wolverines. Michigan outshot Northern Michigan 44-18, with a margin of 23-6 in the first period alone.
“I was really impressed with our team tonight,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “I thought after last night’s game, we didn’t play that well. Their team outplayed us for big parts of the game, and even though we won the game, I thought if our team came in overconfident tonight, we were in trouble.
“Even before the game, I couldn’t have told you how ready this team was. They were ready. They showed it. That was a convincing victory, right from the start.”
Just as they did Friday night, the Wolverines jumped out to a multi-goal lead early. Alex Guptill’s backhander beat NMU’s Jared Coreau at 4:02, and Jacob Trouba fired a rocket from the top of the slot at 15:05 to put Michigan up 2-0. With 30 seconds left in the stanza, Darren Nowick scored unassisted when he stole the puck from directly in front of Racine to make it 2-1 after the first.
Unlike Friday’s contest however, when the Wolverines watched their 3-0 lead after the first evaporate in the second period, Michigan didn’t let up for the rest of the game. Bennett and Copp each scored on the power play in the second to make it a 4-1 game. The Wolverines outshot the Wildcats, 16-3, in the second, and the only break that NMU seemed to get in the period was Coreau’s stop of A.J. Treais on the contest’s first penalty shot at 12:15.
Luke Moffatt made it a 5-1 game for Michigan early in the third, and Copp’s successful penalty shot at 11:33 capped the Wolverines scoring. Kyle Fullmer added the Wildcats’ second goal at 18:54, capitalizing on an unguarded moment in front of the Michigan net.
Berenson couldn’t have been happier about the play of his team — nor the timing of this solid group effort.
“It’s something we haven’t had enough of,” said Berenson. “This is the time of year where you try to get your teams to really come together and play like a team. I thought we did that tonight.”
Each call that led to a Michigan penalty shot was justified. In the second period, Coreau had come out of the net to play the puck and got pinched when play heated up. NMU players were scrambling to protect the goal mouth, and in the process, Ryan Aynsley sat on the puck in the crease.
In the third period, Brian Nugent threw his stick across the path of Copp as Copp was breaking in toward the Northern Michigan net.
With the win, Michigan (15-18-3) moves on to the second round of the CCHA playoffs. Northern Michigan finishes the year with a record of 15-19-4.