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December 29, 2012Nothing should come as a surprise with this Michigan hockey team, but coming off its best win of the year, the Wolverines were expecting to capitalize off that momentum in a Great Lakes Invitational semifinal. Instead, U-M fell to Michigan Tech 4-0 as its nightmare campaign continues.
The Maize and Blue fell to 6-10-2, squandering their 2-0 blanking of Western Michigan Dec. 15. A game coach Red Berenson hoped would prove a turning point for his team. Instead, it proved merely an aberration - a flash of something positive in an otherwise miserable season.
Michigan actually got off to a strong start, taking the play to the Huskies for the first five minutes, but U-M couldn't put one past MTU netminder Pheonix Copley, who entered the contest 1-6-1 this year with a 4.36 goals against average and a .851 save percentage.
Like it has most of this year, the puck went in for Michigan's opponent far too easily, when Tech's Alex Petan slipped into the slot undetected (despite the presence of four Wolverines in and around the net), rifling a shot past junior goalie Adam Janecyk at 5:10 of the first period to stake Michigan Tech to a 1-0 lead.
The Huskies would score again at 18:06 of the first, redirecting a power-play point shot over Janecyk's left shoulder to take a commanding 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
U-M sustained consistent pressure in the second period, just as it had early in the first, but for naught as Copley turned aside the every Wolverine shot.
In a second-period-intermission interview, Berenson said it was imperative the Maize and Blue score the next goal, but they couldn't muster much and would watch helplessly as an offensive rush turned into a breakaway for Tech and Petan's second marker at 4:15 of the third.
On the ensuing celebration, as Petan skated too close to the Michigan bench, U-M alternate captain Lee Moffie reached out to take a swing at the Huskies' forward, drawing a penalty as it became clear the Wolverines had lost their cool and their confidence, that swagger gained from their win over Western completely gone.
Michigan Tech would score again at 6:30 of the third, on another deflected point shot (the only goal that was Janecyk's fault) as MTU earned its first victory over Michigan in 11 tries. The win was especially sweet for Tech coach Mel Pearson, a former longtime U-M assistant.
The loss ranks up there with the Maize and Blue's worst this season - a 5-1 defeat to Cornell at Madison Square Garden Nov. 24 and a 5-0 loss at Ferris State Nov. 30. Tech had entered the game winless in its last seven, going 0-4-3, and had been outscored 10-2 in last two games.
Michigan will play Michigan State Sunday in the third-place consolation game at 3:30 p.m.