With the score tied 2-2 heading into the third, the difference between winning and losing tonight was the ability to take advantage of chances as they came.
In the third period, Mike Chiasson and Alex Guptill scored for the Wolverines to lift Michigan over Miami 4-2 to open each team’s final season of CCHA play.
“When you’re going up and down the ice, you’ve got to bury your chances,” said Miami coach Enrico Blasi. “We didn’t and they did. They were obviously in the right place at the right time.”
The right place and right time were difficult to define in this one, especially during the first period. Miami scored first on the power play at 3:14, a goal that required review because as Cody Murphy fired the puck, Michigan goaltender Steve Racine was falling down and taking the UM net with him. Then at 4:59, starting RedHawks’ goaltender Ryan McKay went down for a save and came up injured. He was replaced by Jay Williams.
On the third Michigan power play of the game, A.J. Treais scored from the top of the slot – through an impossible tangle of traffic – to knot the game 1-1 after one.
Penalties continued through the second period, during which Treais gave Michigan its first lead with an even-strength goal at 6:32 – another puck with eyes, this time from the left point – but Austin Czarnik tied it for Miami again at 11:58, a shorthanded highlight-reel goal from the red line on a UM turnover.
Michigan coach Red Berenson said that a combination of factors led to a choppy game the first two periods.
“It was really sloppy hockey,” said Berenson. “You talk about shinny – it was shinny. Then in the third period, it seemed like the hockey game started.”
The third period was open, back-and-forth hockey. At 8:41, Chiasson poked home Guptill’s feed to give the Wolverines another lead and at 12:15, Guptill himself made hard work look easy, picking up Jacob Trouba’s rebounded shot from the left of the crease with Williams drawn right to defend.
“That’s what Guptill needs,” said Berenson. “That’ll be his mantra if he can become a complete player as he develops – a player who can be an effective player working hard, which he did. He got that goal by the second effort and he’ll get rewarded more often so good for him.”
When the teams meet for the rematch Saturday night, there’s something Miami has to do, said Blasi.
“We’ve got to watch when we take our penalties,” he said. “There were some undisciplined penalties. The timing of those penalties was crucial. I thought for the most part we played hard, but we’ve got to play 60 minutes. We’re a young team and we haven’t solved that yet.”
Williams registered his first loss of the season for the RedHawks, making 30 saves in the process. Racine is undefeated (3-0-0) after stopping 30-of-32 for the Wolverines, but he won’t be in net tomorrow night. His fellow freshman, Jared Rutledge, will get the start, a decision made earlier in the week.
“I liked Racine’s game and that gives him a good vote of confidence,” said Berenson. “Now Rutledge gets the chance to show what he can do.”
The puck drops at 7:35 p.m. Saturday at Yost Ice Arena.
“I think tomorrow night will be more of the same,” said Berenson. “It’ll be hard-nosed, hard-fought hockey.”