It was a pretty uninspiring start, and a fairly lackluster first period. The Wolverines trailed 1-0 late in the first and the LSSU Lakers were on the power play. It would have been natural for Michigan fans to wonder if this was going to be a "let-down" game after a couple of controversy-filled weekends.
But then Matt Rust broke up a pass, took it the length of the ice, cut to the net, and roofed one up over Pat Inglis with just six seconds remaining in the first period. The Wolverines carried that momentum over to the second. David Wohlberg and Luke Glendening scored in the first two minutes of the second period and it was all Wolverines from there.
Michigan outshot the Lakers 17-5 in the period and outscored them 3-0. It was the mid-third before LSSU could get back on the board, but the game was over by that point. Michigan wins 6-2 in a pretty dominating performance, first period aside.
The Lakers got on the board first with a great pass to Will Acton from Matt Cowie. Hogan couldn't get side-to-side fast enough to keep it out of the net. That goal came just seconds after Chad Langlais had rung one off the bar at the other end.
The lone bright spot of the first 19 minutes of the game was that Travis Turnbull and David Wohlberg were jumping. Wohlberg kept feeding him, and Turnbull kept having beautiful scoring chances that he couldn't quite finish. That line could've easily combined for three goals in the first ten minutes of the hockey game.
But despite a lackluster first period (and, at least from the sound on the internet broadcast, a pretty subdued Yost crowd) the Wolverines were able to get out of the first period tied, thanks to Rust's short-handed effort. That was the 7th shortie the Lakers have allowed this season. They're vulnerable back there and Rust made them pay.
Michigan gave the Yost crowd a lot to cheer about throughout the second period. Just over a minute into the second frame, Travis Turnbull fed a wide-open David Wohlberg in front of the net. Wohlberg buried the shot and Michigan led 2-1. And before the crowd could tell Inglis that he's a sieve and it's all his fault, it was 3-1. Ben Winnett won an offensive zone faceoff and Luke Glendening was able to pop it in. My video was buffering at the time, so I don't have much of a comment about that goal. (This would be an ongoing trend. I missed three of our six goals thanks to buffering issues.)
Our top two lines kept buzzing. Hagelin had a pair of chances, then Palushaj just missed. The other line came out and Wohlberg darn near put in another gorgeous feed from Turnbull.
Michigan received a power play (hopefully everyone took a picture) and promptly turned it over in their own end. Hogan made a huge save, and it's a good thing he did, because we came down to the other end and Caporusso scored his nation-best 21st goal of the season. Langlais found him with a cross-ice pass. At that point, shots were something like 13-1 in the second period and Michigan had themselves a 4-1 lead.
Hogan made a couple saves at the end of the period to keep LSSU from gaining any momentum and David Wohlberg had another strong effort on the penalty kill.
The Lakers took an ill-advised penalty just a couple seconds into a power play of their own, and Rusty made them pay again. This time on a 4-on-4. Hagelin fed him. I had buffering issues on this one too. That's five goals for Rust in his last seven contests, after just two in the first 18 games (and those were in the same game). He's on fire right now. This is the Matt Rust we needed to give us a legitimate second line. He's responding and the team is reaping the benefits. Our top two lines have really good chemistry going.
LSSU finally capitalized on one of their numerous power plays. Schofield put a wrister up over Hogan's arm just inside the far post to make it 5-2. That ended a very long PK streak by the Wolverines. We had killed off something like 29 in a row. Even with the goal, the penalty killing was stellar tonight. Hagelin and Rust are so fun to watch when they tag-team opponents on the forecheck. Wohlberg, Miller, Fardig, and of course the defense. Those guys all do a really great job. It's like night and day from the start of the season when we were at the bottom of the national PK rankings.
Hogan made a couple more big stops and then Winnett hit on a breakaway pass to Caporusso, who had just exited the penalty box. Caporusso popped one off the water bottle and the Wolverines pretty much had it in the bag. Caporusso and Rust both had shots at hat tricks, but Inglis made a couple of stops.
All in all, another really solid effort for the good guys. They were off in the first period, but Rust's goal gave them momentum and they kept it going by capitalizing twice early in the second. There was never a moment that I felt like LSSU was threatening to get back in the game after that. Michigan completely dominated the second period.
-Burlon and Summers were both +3 on the night. How sick is Michigan's defense corps when Mark Mitera comes back? They could put him with Steve Kampfer to have a dominating top two pairings. You know your team is good when Chad Langlais is your #5 defenseman. That's not even fair.
-David Wohlberg is awesome. He was everywhere tonight, had a goal and an assist, and turned in his usual top-notch performance defensively. Rust, Hagelin, Caporusso, and Winnett were all really strong tonight.
-Speaking of Winnett, I've been really hard on him—and Red evidently agreed that he wasn't doing much, since he just benched him for four games—but one thing he does really well is make a breakout pass. He sprung Caporusso on his breakaway goal in the third period, and he also made the initial pass on Brandon Burlon's game-changing goal against FYS at Munn. I didn't see Glendening's goal, but it sounded as if Winnett deserved an assist on that one as well. It's nice to see him getting involved on the offensive end, because he came in with the reputation as a pretty darn good offensive talent.
-Caporusso's 22 goals lead the nation. I posed this question during the chat and no one really had an answer—I didn't either: Who is the Hobey favorite right now? There's no clear-cut choice. Maybe Jordan Pearce? I think you have to have Caporusso in the mix if he keeps this up. He's probably been a little too inconsistent to win the thing, but if he leads the nation in goals, he has to at least be in the Top 10.
-Hogan only faced 21 shots, but he made some top-notch saves tonight. He probably should've had the second goal (though it was a very nice shot), but he made some really big, timely stops.
-Notre Dame knocked off OSU in overtime, which was huge for us (especially since it didn't get to a shootout, so OSU didn't get a cheap point). Brian Aaron basically cost us any chance of catching ND, so it's nice that the Irish won tonight. We go 2 points up on OSU and have moved into a third-place tie with Alaska, who has played 3 more games than us.
Tomorrow night's game is at 7:35 Eastern and can be seen on Comcast 900 in Metro Detroit and the NHL Network in Canada. The game will air on the US NHL Network on Sunday at noon.
The author of this post normally writes at The Blog That Yost Built.