It's probably too early to say Michigan hockey is on a roll, but the Wolverines are streaking, winning their third straight with a 3-1 victory over Wisconsin Friday night at Yost. The win was U-M's first over the Badgers since 2009 (0-3-1 since).
Michigan returned to Yost for the first time since a 2-2 tie against Ferris State Dec. 11 - a stretch of 50 days between home games - and the fans were out in force. They enjoyed breakneck hockey for most of the 60 minutes and, more importantly to them, leads for the home team.
"We gave them something to cheer about," head coach Red Berenson said.
The Maize and Blue struck at 13:10 of the first, an expiring power play leading to some confusion out front and freshman Tyler Motte pouncing on a rebound. The goal was Motte's sixth this year and ended a nine-game goalless streak.
Just 1:20 later, after a big save by U-M rookie goaltender Zach Nagelvoort on the north end of the rink, freshman center J.T. Compher found Alex Guptill for a breakaway, and the junior winger knew what to do with it, netting his seventh of the year and ending his own mini slump of five contests without a tally.
"I've been a little snakebitten," Guptill said. "The chances have been there, and I got one tonight. But the credit goes to my linemates because they're making me look good. Compher is playing well and Derek DeBlois is working his butt off."
With momentum on their side after one period of play, the Wolverines dialed up the pressure in the second and locked down their own end, limiting UW to just five shots in the second frame.
"The first half of the game we gave up too much," Berenson said. "Wisconsin was all over us in the first period. They came out flying. They had some good chances and we had to tighten up in the second, which I thought we did."
Junior center Zach Hyman made it 3-0 at 12:05 of the second when he flipped a loose puck past Joel Rumpel for his second goal this season and first in eight games. The marker gave Hyman's line (Motte and senior Luke Moffatt) a two-goal, three-point night.
"I thought they really worked hard and that may have been their best game," Berenson said. "Zach Hyman works hard every night, and there seems to be something going on for him now. Tyler Motte is a smart player and Luke Moffatt gives them a senior on the wing."
Wisconsin scored at 13:16 of the second when a bouncing puck knuckled past Nagelvoort, but the freshman netminder was solid otherwise, stopping 26 shots, including a Badger breakaway at 10:45 of the third that preserved Michigan's two-goal lead and kept UW out of reach.
"I thought he had to be good, and he was good," Berenson said.
Michigan probably should have had two or three more goals - sophomore center Boo Nieves had a nasty wrist shot ricocheted off the post - and it's a little early to say the Wolverines are completely out of their own scoring slump (nine goals in six games prior to last Friday's 5-2 win over Michigan State) but they appear to be on their way, and are playing with that swagger that had eluded them during an 0-4-1 stretch.
"We have a lot of confidence right now, and you can see that in the up and down play, and even when we give up a few chances we have the confidence in Nagelvoort to make the saves," Guptill said. "We're starting to score some goals and having a lot of fun."
Michigan and Wisconsin will meet again Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. with the game televised by NBC Sports Network.
Here is how the game played out on twitter.
The last time Michigan hockey played Wisconsin this happened: pic.twitter.com/6tCNOGqP9l— Greg Garno (@G_Garno) January 31, 2014
Hockey games at Michigan are unlike any other— Anna Mordell (@annamordell) January 31, 2014
"@glanzpiece: Following the Motte goal @umichhockey celebrates by the glass. Michigan leads Wisco 2-0. pic.twitter.com/eJSO5Vs8ok"— Support Hoke (@byronconner92) February 1, 2014
NAGELVOORT WITH TWO HUGE STOPS AND GUPTILL SCORES ON A BREAKAWAY AT THE OTHER END!— Yost Built (@YostBuilt) January 31, 2014
Second period underway. Michigan is 6-0-1 this season when leading at the first intermission.— Jeremy Summitt (@jeremysummitt) February 1, 2014
Zach Hyman with Michigan's third goal against Wisco. He played well against MSU last weekend, too.— erin lennon (@ee_lennon) February 1, 2014
Michigan hockey killing Wisconsin. Represent— Jess (@genuinelover33) February 1, 2014
Michigan - maybe more than any hockey team I've seen recently - is so much more difficult to play against when they lead.— Matt O'Day (@moday77) February 1, 2014
Whoever wears #12 for @umichhockey should get a cape with the jersey. Holy fast! @boonieves @CarlHagelin #fasterthanaspeedingbullet #GoBlue— Real Stuart Kirk (@RealStuart) February 1, 2014
Time after time Zach Nagelvoort is there to bail out his team. They all owe him drinks at Skeeps eventually.— Greg Garno (@G_Garno) February 1, 2014
MICHIGAN WINS!!!!!!!!! Great start to the weekend!!! #GoBlue #BuckyBeaten #MichiganHockey #NiceToBeBackAtYost #B1GHockey— Shaun Klimek (@Imkingofdetroit) February 1, 2014