Yost Ice Arena has a reputation as one of the most intimidating venues in college hockey, but on Friday night, in the first of a two-game series, Michigan fell to 6-7-0 on its home ice, dropping a 5-4 decision to visiting Alaska.
"We focused on defense obviously, and we still give up five goals," head coach Red Berenson said. "We aren't going to win games giving up five goals. I thought we pushed back hard in the second, and we played better. We played better in the third, but it was just not good enough."
The Nanooks took advantage of a struggling U-M offense that wouldn't register its first shot on net until 11:26 into the opening session and would finish with just four total shots in the period, netting their own marker at 14:43 on what amounted to an unofficial shorthanded goal when Kaare Odegard stepped out of the penalty box to join a 3-on-2 rush and redirected a feed past a sprawling Steve Racine.
UA went up 2-0 just 3:21 into the second on a Matthew Friese wrist shot into the upper right corner of the net.
Michigan would respond just 15 seconds later on freshman Andrew Copp's third goal this year, and that tally seemed to energize the Wolverines, giving them newfound confidence as they attacked Alaska with everything they had.
U-M would score again at 12:37 of the second as forward Derek DeBlois patiently weighed his options in the offensive zone, finding a streaking Alex Guptill, who slid into the slot and rifled a shot into the netting.
Unfortunately, as has been the case too often this year, the Maize and Blue have not been able to maintain their momentum for long, yielding a goal at 13:57 and another at 17:20 - this one a power-play tally for the Nanooks - as Alaska looked to take a 4-2 lead into the second intermission.
However, Michigan would retake some of that lost momentum with a late-period marker. Freshman defenseman Jacob Trouba would pounce on the loose puck in front of the net, flipping it over goalie John Keeney before a UA defenseman could snatch it out of the air.
Again, though, the Wolverines' edge wouldn't last long, with Alaska netting a shorthanded marker at 3:46 of the third period, poking in a loose puck that goalie Adam Janecyk, taking over for netminder Steve Racine, thought he had secured.
Racine had allowed four goals on 17 shots.
"We give up four goals in two periods, and I don't care who is playing goalie, you have to play better than that," Berenson said. "Racine is a good goalie. I think he is as good of goalie as we have. He has to make those saves.
"Those are too easy of goals, and he stops them everyday in practice. We are trying to win games, and we are trying to give our goalies confidence. But, they better go out and do the job."
Michigan would give everything it had, and would inch within one at 18:40 on an extra-attacker goal from Zach Hyman, but too little too late as the Wolverines fell to 1-3-0 in its last four games.