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February 2, 2013

Michigan belts out The Victors after sweeping MSU

The Michigan hockey team sang The Victors for the first time this season, a Wolverines tradition for a series sweep, after U-M bested rival Michigan State 5-2 Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.

"I had to get the words for them," head coach Red Berenson joked afterwards.

Junior forward Derek DeBlois (two goals), sophomore forward Phil Di Giuseppe (two assists) and freshman forward Boo Nieves (goal and an assist) starred for the Maize and Blue for the second straight game; the three had combined for three goals and four helpers in Friday's 3-2 win over the Spartans.

Michigan jumped on MSU early, scoring just 3:08 into the game when junior forward Luke Moffatt lifted a rebound over State goalie Jake Hildebrand's shoulder for a 1-0 lead.

DeBlois would make it 2-0 at 10:34, outworking a Spartan foe to create a shorthanded opportunity. Streaking down the right side of the ice, the junior fired a shot into the upper right corner of the net, sending Hildebrand's water bottle flying in the process.

Michigan State picked up its own shorthanded tally early in the second, but the Wolverines responded on freshman Andrew Copp's goal five-hole, re-establishing their two-goal lead.

MSU sought to take momentum into the second intermission when it scored at 18:21 of the period, but like it had done earlier in the frame, U-M answered, DeBlois tallying his second marker of the night with only 17 seconds remaining on the clock.

Leading by two as the third period commenced, Michigan wanted to play its best period of the weekend, and, arguably, did just that, outshooting its rival 10-5 as Nieves banked a backhand from behind the net off a State defender and into the net at 9:20, picking up his third goal of the weekend.

The Wolverines' defense would keep the Green and White from any type of comeback attempt with freshman netminder Jared Rutledge recording 26 saves in grabbing his second straight win and his third this year.

"This is probably the best weekend we've had all year," Berenson said. "I think the team deserved it. They worked hard through some tough spots and they kept the goals against down."

When it was all said and done, the Maize and Blue belted out a joyous rendition of their fight song, relishing the chance to sing it at least once this season.

"It's my first time," Rutledge said. "It's a really great bonding experience for everyone. We all come together and sing that song. We're all happy and rearing to go. It was a great sight."


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