After all the talk during Friday's telecast about how the freshmen had cooled off substantially, it looks like they got the message. Freshmen accounted for all four goals and all but one of the eleven points tallied in the game. Additionally, freshman goaltender Bryan Hogan made his first career start and did it in style, stopping 26 shots including a penalty shot in the first period en route to a win.
Friday night the Wolverines failed on several scoring chances in the early going, hitting 3 or 4 posts in the first eight minutes. Saturday they made no mistake, scoring 3 goals in a 7 1/2 minute span, all of which were set up by Aaron Palushaj. Ohio State never got within two goals the rest of the night, and Michigan got back in the win column.
Another freshman, Max Pacioretty, was named the #1 star of the night with two goals, including the game winner, which was a laser of a shot. His second goal came on a 2 on 1 late in the second period and Kevin Porter made an absolutely gorgeous feed.
Hogan was a surprise starter in net, but they've got to be happy with the way he played. He stopped a penalty shot in the first period and made 15 saves in the final stanza to preserve the win. From the sound of it--the highlights on MGoBlue don't show the goals he allowed--it would be hard to fault him on either goal. The first was a partial breakaway and the second came on a goal mouth scramble after he had made a few stops. By his own admission, he gave up a few more rebounds than he would've preferred, but not bad at all for a first start. And not a bad time by Coach Berenson to throw him in there. Despite the loss to them the night before, Ohio State doesn't have a great offense and he would be in front of the home crowd.
Steve Kampfer was back in the lineup a night after being a mysterious healthy scratch. Coach Berenson wouldn't reveal the reason for his absence, which leads me to believe it was just a minor violation of team rules (slightly worse than Caporusso's missing a meeting) that was handled in house. He's played too well for it to be performance-related. If it was an injury, Berenson would've said so. If it was a major academic problem, it's probably unlikely that he got it taken care of Friday night/Saturday afternoon. And the fact that he played Saturday means that it likely wasn't serious. Unless we hear anything more, I'd write it off as an issue that's been dealt with.
It was disappointing to drop a game to the Buckeyes, but we were due for a game like that where maybe the effort wasn't as good as it's been and the bounces didn't go our way. Add in a great performance by Joesph Palmer Friday night and it was the right mix for an "upset". I think every team will probably have a couple over the course of the season that they would like to have back, and that was one for us.
The big news this week will come on Tuesday. The US World Junior Championships team will be announced during the first period of the Wings/Canadiens game which will air on Versus. So we'll get to find out just how short-handed the Wolverines will be for the GLI. The good news is that, even though it was just one game, Hogan's performance Saturday gives me faith that we'll have a shot even if Sauer is named to the US team. It's high time Michigan wins a GLI. It's pretty incredible that, even with all the attrition, we haven't been able to win back-to-back games over the Christmas holiday since 1996.