Michigan's four-game losing streak and its five-game winless streak (0-4-1) are officially after the Wolverines scored the go-ahead goal with 2:18 remaining in the contest to beat Michigan State 2-1 Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.
The victory was U-M's first in 52 days, since the Maize and Blue bested Ohio State Dec. 2.
"It's been awhile," said freshman center J.T. Compher, who tallied the night's first goal. "It felt good to get the win, especially against State it's extra special. We're happy to be back on track."
For at least one game anyway. The Wolverines will look to complete the sweep when they travel to East Lansing for Friday's 6:30 pm start (Big Ten Network).
This one didn't actually start positively for the Maize and Blue, as the Spartans appeared to slip one past Michigan freshman goalie Zach Nagelvoort just 23 seconds into the contest. However, the official behind the net blew the whistle after losing sight of the puck (even though it was clearly not covered).
"On the first shot, it actually trickled through me and I got a nice whistle," said Nagelvoort. "The ref came up to me and said, 'You owe me one there.' Whistle was blown. It wasn't a goal. I'll take it."
With disaster averted, the Wolverines picked up the intensity and matched MSU for shots, 10-10, after 20 minutes of play.
At 11:36 of the second, Compher burrowed in on State goalie Jake Hildebrand and attempted a pass across the crease, but the puck deflected back to Compher, who lifted it over Hildebrand's stick for the game's first goal.
"It was definitely a little lucky," said Compher, who was battling the flu all week. "It came back on my stick. It was a nice break for us."
The hockey gods evened up the score at 6:04 of the third period when Spartan Michael Ferrantino redirected a shot from Joe Cox past Nagelvoort to tie the score.
That marker could have deflated the Wolverines, but they continued to battle, and would take the lead late when junior right winger Phil Di Giuseppe's second whack at a rebound lifted the netting along the top of the goal late in the third period.
With the marker, Di Giuseppe ended an eight-game goalless drought.
"It felt great," he said. "You saw me jump out there like an idiot, but it felt good. The last four games I've been playing well, getting shots, and to see it finally go in was a great relief."
Michigan generated 36 shots (MSU had 33) and scored only twice, so the Maize and Blue can't say they're out of their scoring slump convincingly - U-M had scored just seven goals in the five previous games - but they took a step forward Thursday, and, most importantly, won.
"We were worried about how effectively we could play having played so few games in recent weeks, but I thought we played well enough in the third period, and then to get that first goal of the game was huge," head coach Red Berenson said.
"Really the third period was probably our best period even though we gave up that goal. We stayed in the hunt and got lucky and scored an ugly goal. Our team killed off a few penalties and put pressure on their defense and finally got one in.
"These goals are precious. You play 60 minutes and these two teams can only score three goals. Every time we got a good scoring chance they got a stick on us, got a body on us, so there wasn't time to handle the puck. You just had to get it on the net and if there was a rebound you had to battle through someone to get there, and that's how we scored [the game-winner]."
Here is how the game played out on Twitter.
Lemmee off this plane. Want to watch hockey.— Yost Built (@YostBuilt) January 24, 2014
First big ten hockey game between MSU and Michigan #GoBlue— Justin DeWitt (@Justind0301) January 24, 2014
Compher bit of a madman at times. He gets one check & becomes temporarily addicted to conflict.— Peter Cunningham (@petcunningham) January 24, 2014
So jealous of my family at the Michigan vs Michigan state hockey game at the Joe!! #GoBlue 😍💙💛💙💛— Ashley Carey (@acarey_13) January 24, 2014
@MiHockeyNow @B1GHockey @MSU_Hockey @umichhockey Um, seems like something is missing? #crowd #fans— Robb Vogel (@RobbVogel) January 24, 2014
Scoreless after one. MSU better at the beginning, Michigan better at the end. Hildebrand has been unreal, Moffat, Hyman playing well— Peter Cunningham (@petcunningham) January 24, 2014
This Michigan vs. State hockey game is getting pretty intense— Destiny Fochtman (@Lets_get_weird5) January 24, 2014
Love singing the #Victors at #JoeLouisArena @DetroitRedWings @umichhockey— Anthony Ambroselli (@atrain1811) January 24, 2014
Michigan's goal-scorer, freshman center JT Compher, had the flu this week.— Alejandro L. Zúñiga (@the_zuniga) January 24, 2014
MSU GOAL: Unlucky bounce for UM goaltender Zach Nagelvoort as MSU's Joe Cox tips the puck past to tie the game at 1 in the 3rd period.— Greg Garno (@G_Garno) January 24, 2014
GOAL! U-M takes a 2-1 lead on a rebound try! #GoBlue #B1GHockey #UMvsMSU— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) January 24, 2014
That was the most important Michigan hockey goal in 3 months and the reaction told you the team felt it too.— Michael Lippert (@mikelippert) January 24, 2014
FINAL: Michigan hockey beats Michigan State, 2-1. This is the Wolverines' first win in 52 days.— Alejandro L. Zúñiga (@the_zuniga) January 24, 2014
YAYAYAYAY🎉 Michigan won against State in hockey and now they gotta do it in basketball on Saturday😁— camila∞ (@camilajoyy) January 24, 2014