For the second straight night, the Michigan Wolverines played the type of game they hadn’t intended to play, one filled with penalties and one in which they were outshot badly by their opponent. Unlike Friday’s 7-4 loss to Wisconsin, though, Michigan prevailed with a 4-1 win.
Leading 2-0 after the first, Michigan had five penalties for 10 minutes in the second period alone, leading to Wisconsin’s only goal of the night, Grant Besse’s eighth of the season at 17:58, but the Wolverines scored two empty-net goals at the end of the third to put the game away.
“We were a desperate team tonight,” said Berenson. “We had to play harder. We had to play better. Getting the first goal of the game was important and then the second goal, and then I thought the wheels started to come off with the penalties.
“We didn’t intend on taking a lot of penalties. We didn’t want to take penalties against this team with their power play, but we’ve taken more penalties in this weekend series than we have in any series this year. Our penalty killers did a great job and our goalie did a great job in keeping the score down.”
Hayden Lavigne improved his record in the Michigan net to 4-2-0, making 34 saves after surrendering six goals to the Badgers Friday night. Prior to Friday’s loss, Lavigne had last played Nov. 11, a 4-0 shutout win over Boston University. Berenson said that part of the reason he went with Lavigne this weekend was because “on paper, he’s got our best record.”
“I thought he was a little rusty last night,” said Berenson. “He didn’t play a poor game, but his team didn’t give him a good game; tonight, the team was better and Hayden was better, too.”
Wisconsin coach Tony Granato said that the Badgers had their chances but that Lavigne was the difference in this game.
“I think if you’re looking at the whole weekend as a package, we played really good hockey,” said Granato. “We played really good hockey tonight. We just didn’t do enough things to solve the goalie.”
Alex Kile and Cutler Martin had the two first-period goals for the Wolverines. Kile’s goal at 11:32 came on the Michigan power play, a hard shot from the left circle that beat Berry long. Martin scored from the top of the slot at 12:45.
Besse’s power-play goal was scored on an odd-man rush that was made even more lopsided by a play at the other end of the ice. Michigan’s Jake Slaker was skating backward into Jack Berry, pushing Berry deeper into the Wisconsin net, and Berry took exception and tripped Slaker, taking him out of the play. The result was the rush that led to Besse’s goal — and loud, sustained disapproval from the home crowd.
That play was the game’s emotion in a microcosm. Lavigne was called for roughing a minute after Besse scored his goal, as he pushed over a Wisconsin player who was crowding him. In the third period, the crowd had more to jeer as Wisconsin’s Peter Tischke shoved Michigan’s Will Lockwood from behind and into the boards. Lockwood left the game holding his shoulder.
“This was an emotional game at ice level and we need to battle through periods better than that,” said Berenson, “but nevertheless, we got through that and that was a rough spot.”
At 19:10, Tony Calderone scored on the empty Wisconsin net and at 19:51, so did Adam Winborg.
“It was close,” said Granato. “We had a lot of chances that didn’t go in for us. I thought maybe our special teams weren’t quite as sharp. The power plays we had, obviously, we had the one goal but I don’t think we created a lot of momentum from them.”
“Those are the kinds of games that we’re going to have to play and to win games this year,” said Berenson. “We’re not going to outscore the other team by five and six goals. Last year is over and our team has to learn that. We can’t take those types of penalties and expect to win games, but we won the game and we salvaged the weekend.”
Wisconsin (8-7-1, 1-1-0 B1G) finishes the first half of the 2016-2017 season with as many wins as the Badgers had for all of last season. The Badgers don’t play again until they host Michigan State Jan. 6. Next up for Michigan (7-8-1, 1-3-0 B1G) is the opening game of the Great Lakes Invitational Tournament against Michigan Tech Dec. 29.
Big Ten roundup
No. 11 Minnesota 4, at Michigan State 2
After trailing 2-0 midway through the second period, Minnesota scored four unanswered goals to beat Michigan State in East Lansing, 4-2, giving the Golden Gophers a weekend sweep. Goals from JT Stenglein and Thomas Ebbing gave the Spartans their lead by the 6:13 mark in the second, but Jake Bischoff’s unassisted goal at 10:03 in the second opened the scoring for the Gophers, followed by Rem Pitlick’s power-play goal at 13:33 to tie it at the end of the second. Brent Gates Jr.’s power-play goal at 11:14 in the third was the game-winner, and Tyler Sheehy extended his point-scoring streak to eight games; Sheehy has netted seven goals in the last five games. Eric Schierhorn made 17 saves in his ninth win of the season.