Michigan coach Red Berenson said he’s been around long enough to know few leads at Mariucci Arena can really be considered safe.
Friday night, his Wolverines left no doubt.
No. 15 Michigan, losers of four out of its last six games, rolled into Minneapolis, jumped out to a 4-0 lead, then put on the cruise control in a 6-3 trouncing of top-ranked Minnesota.
The win is Michigan’s second straight convincing win over the Gophers in the College Hockey Showcase. Last season, the Wolverines rolled to a 5-1 victory at Yost Arena.
“We were rewarded tonight and I thought we worked hard,” Berenson said. “Getting the early goal was important. We knew how the momentum can work in this building.”
Michigan opened the scoring just over five minutes into the game. A slick pass from the left corner by Ben Winnett hit a hard-charging Brandon Naurato on the doorstep, and his one-timer beat Alex Kangas for the 1-0 lead.
Four minutes later, Carl Hagelin got into the act. Robbie Czarnik controlled the puck near the left half wall before dishing a pass to Hagelin at the faceoff circle. Hagelin drove to the slot and snapped a shot past Kangas’ glove at 9:05 for the two-goal edge. The goal was Hagelin’s third of the season.
“It was a great team effort,” Hagelin said. “Out first shift, we came out flying and came out banging and got a couple of great shots on net. Then we were up 2-0.”
David Wohlberg made it 3-0 two minutes into the second period, backhanding a shot through Kangas’ five-hole. At 4:01, Hagelin scored his second of the night, capitalizing on a nifty tic-tac-toe passing play. His goal chased Kangas from the game after just 15 shots and 11 saves.
“We haven’t been scoring and he doesn’t give up much,” Berenson said. “It’s just one of those quirky games that went our way.”
The Gophers got on the board six minutes later, capitalizing on a five-on-three power play. Cade Fairchild played the puck behind the net to Jay Barriball. Barriball dished back to Fairchild, who found freshman Jordan Schroeder in the slot. His wrist shot beat Bryan Hogan just inside the left post. It was Schroeder’s seventh of the season.
Michigan pushed its lead back to four goals at 18:49 on Wohlberg’s second of the night. He gathered in a rebound and beat a screened Kent Patterson, who saw his first collegiate action.
Ryan Stoa scored his 11th goal of the season with 15 seconds remaining in the second to pull Minnesota back within 5-2. Justin Bostrom’s tip of a Mike Hoeffel shot 3:47 into the final period made it 5-3, but Berenson credited his goaltender for clutch play down the stretch.
“I thought Hogan made a couple of big saves to keep the game the way it was,” Berenson said.
Louie Caporusso added an insurance marker with just over nine minutes to play in the game to cap scoring.
“We weren’t playing our style of hockey that we’ve been playing all year,” Bostrom said. “They seemed to be on top of their game tonight, so you have to give them credit. But I don’t think it was our best effort tonight.”
“They out-hit us, they out-skated us, they out-chanced us, they outplayed us,” said Gophers coach Don Lucia. “We didn’t deserve to get a win tonight.”
Michigan takes its win and hops on Interstate 94, where they will travel to Madison to face Wisconsin Saturday night at the Kohl Center. The Badgers defeated Michigan State 3-1 Friday. The Gophers will host the Spartans Saturday at Mariucci Arena. Face off for both games is set for 7:07 p.m. CST.