There was both frustration and jubilation at Yost Ice Arena Wednesday night. The Wolverines squandered yet another third-period lead - their sixth this season - yet U-M earned a 2-1 shootout victory (seven skaters deep) in what will, officially, go down as a 2-2 tie with Ferris State.
"It was a tie. It would have hurt us to lose and it would have helped us to win," said head coach Red Berenson.
Few probably understood that when Michigan and Ferris went to a shootout, it was for naught. Or for practice as it didn't make a dent in their overall records, but that doesn't mean the two teams, and their coaches, who could be seen hamming it up on the benches, didn't enjoy it.
After both teams scored once among the first three skaters - sophomore Andrew Copp for U-M - goalies Zavh Nagelvoort and C.J. Motte began turning aside shots like it was no big deal. Finally, in the seventh frame, freshman Alex Kile beat Motte with a deke and a dangled shot that barely crossed the goal line. Nagelvoort came up with s save on the other end for the Wolverines' victory.
"You're not really thinking about winning or losing the game, you're just trying to make the next save," said Nagelvoort, who finished with 29 stops in regulation and overtime.
When the shootout began, Berenson called upon freshman Tyler Motte to take the first shot. Two years the junior to C.J., Motte had a chance to score on his older brother. He had a terrific deke move but couldn't finish as the Ferris netminder kept a pad between the puck and the goal line.
"He has bragging rights for stopping me in the shootout," Motte said. "That was my first attempt in a while. It was an opportunity. I don't look at it as brother vs. brother but a chance to get my team the lead. He stopped me on my best move so I tip my cap to him."
Kile would end up using a similar move on his goal, but Motte wouldn't take any credit for offering a blueprint.
"That's all him," Motte said. "He has some better mitts than me. He has pulled that move off in practice. It was a helluva move. It trickled in and we'll take it."
The fourth-ranked Bulldogs, having played a two-game series in six consecutive weekends entering play, took it to the third-ranked Wolverines in the first period. U-M, which had played only three times in the previous 24 days, was slow out of the gate, outshot 14-4 but stood even 1-1 with FSU after 20 minutes.
"I thought we were rusty," Berenson said. "Their game intensity was right there. They had just played two games each of the last two weekends, where we didn't. I thought that showed up. And we had to catch up and we did.
"I would like to play again tomorrow night but it's another one-game week."
Michigan took a lead in the second period when junior left winger Alex Guptill scored off an offensive-zone faceoff just 38 seconds into the frame.
"I just wanted to get rid of it quick," he said. "There was a screen. It wasn't a good shot but it was a good shot with the screen."
Michigan turned the tables on Ferris in the second, posting an 18-8 shot advantage. The third was much more even, with FSU going 6-5 in shots and outscoring U-M 1-0, netting the tying goal at 14:22 when Brandon Anselmini's point shot surprised Nagelvoort.
"That was definitely my fault," the rookie goalie said. "I lost the guy at the point and he must have taken a step over to get a better angle because I didn't see the puck."
U-M was lucky to get to overtime as FSU seized momentum and the Wolverines were left wondering how many times they can blow a third-period lead and get away with it. However, like they have so often before, the Maize and Blue regrouped and played inspired hockey in overtime, putting a few chances on net that could have won it before going to the shootout.
"We got back on our toes in the second period and played better, and it was anyone's game in the third period," Berenson said. "Disappointing to give up the lead. We played hard down to the wire. We gave up the lead and we had to hang in there. It was anyone's game in overtime, and then the shootout, you all saw.
"Goals are still hard to come by. Michigan should be able to score more than two goals in 65 minutes, at home. We still need to work on finishing our chances."
Still, after 14 games, the Wolverines are 10-2-2, and feel good about their play going into a two-week break before the Great Lakes Invitational Dec. 27.
"I feel a lot better than I did about last year's team," Berenson said. "Last year's team was pretty good but we couldn't find a way to win. Couldn't hang in there. Couldn't get the big save when we needed it. This year, our goalkeeping has been a big factor in the difference between the two teams. I like the leadership and I like the impact of the big freshman class. I think this team has something going."
"It's nice to not be behind the eight ball for the first time in my career," Guptill added. "Every time we've been gone into Christmas we've had to play catch up so it's nice to get off to a good start here and get the momentum going our way."