Michigan freshman goalie Al Montoya has come up huge in some of the Wolverines’ most crucial games this season.
Sunday’s contest against CCHA foe Miami was his most important game yet and Montoya didn’t disappoint, stoning the RedHawks 34 times, including seven on power plays, as No. 10 Michigan overcame a 36-21 shot differential to capture an important 5-2 victory and series sweep of No. 14 Miami at Yost Ice Arena.
“Montoya was no doubt the difference in the game,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson, whose team moves into sole possession of third place in the CCHA, breaking a fourth-place tie with Miami and moving to within three points of leading Ferris State.
With the help of Montoya’s brilliant goaltending, Michigan (14-5-1, 8-3-1 CCHA) extended its winning streak to 14 straight over the RedHawks (13-8-1, 7-6-1).
“I was seeing the puck very well tonight,” said Montoya. “We know we have to win every game from here on out and this one was especially satisfying for me.”
After facing just 15 shots in Saturday’s game, Montoya was tested by an aggressive RedHawk attack. Miami got off nine shots within the first seven minutes, compared to one by Michigan.
“We never made up that early shot difference,” Berenson said. The RedHawks outshot Michigan 11-6 in the first period and 15-6 in the second, but the Wolverines managed to take a 2-2 tie into the third.
Miami had four power play opportunities in the second period, which included seven shots with the man advantage, but could score only once. With five seconds left in a Wolverine penalty, Todd Grant beat Montoya with a wrist shot, tying the score 1-1.
Brandon Kaleniecki gave the Wolverines a 2-1 lead with 16:48 left in the second period with an unassisted goal. Taylor Hustead then tied the game with a wrist shot that went over Montoya’s shoulder with 3:06 left.
Michigan freshman Jeff Tambellini used a nice feed from John Shouneyia to score the go-ahead goal with 13:23 remaining in the game. Shouneyia hit Tambellini with a cross-ice pass from between the blue lines, and then watched as Tambellini scored his team-leading 12th goal, firing a slapshot past Miami goalie David Burleigh from outside the left circle.
“This series was huge,” said Tambellini, who scored the winning goal in overtime Saturday to lift the Wolverines to a 3-2 win over Miami. “We had to have this weekend.”
Michigan added a David Moss five-on-three goal with 3:00 left and a Jason Ryznar empty-netter with five seconds left. The Wolverines converted three of six power plays, while Miami went one-for-five.