Detroit — Michigan’s hockey team took one step closer to repeating as GLI champions Tuesday night with a 3-2 win over Northern Michigan.
Michigan coach Red Berenson said a repeat is the goal of the Wolverines, who play Michigan Tech for the title at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“I think that’s the goal of all the teams that come down here, to get in that championship game,” he said. “It’s a great feeling.”
Cutler Martin, Justin Selman and Kyle Connor scored for Michigan (10-3-3).
Steve Racine, in his first game back after missing a month with a lower body injury, made 35 saves on 37 shots.
Gerard Hanson and Dominik Shine scored for Northern Michigan (6-7-1).
Atte Tolvanen made 31 saves on 34 shots.
“I thought it was a good game,” said Northern coach Walt Kyle. “Both teams gave up too many chances as a coach. I liked our effort. It was a good hockey game.”
At the 9:01 mark of the first period, Michigan went on the game’s first power play. Northern Michigan’s Shane Sooth and Michigan’s Tyler Motte were wrapped up along the end boards, and both were getting physical. Sooth picked up a minor penalty for tripping.
Martin’s first goal of the season opened the scoring for Michigan at the 11:42 mark of the first period — a wrist shot from the left point that was deflected by a Northern defenseman.
“We’re not sending our (defense) out there and telling them ‘You’ve got to score goals,’” Berenson said. “In fact, that’s the first goal any of the six (defensemen) that played tonight scored this year. It just happened. He got a shot through, and you know how the game goes. He got a point shot through and usually it gets blocked or deflected. That was a huge goal for us at the time.”
The Wolverines had a 1-0 lead after one period, and a 15-13 advantage in shots on goal.
Hanson tied it for Northern at the 2:39 mark of the second period, on a shot that beat Racine on the glove side. Ryan Trenz was credited with the assist on Hanson’s first goal of the season.
Martin picked up a minor penalty for interference at the seven-minute mark of the second period. The Wolverines killed the penalty.
Shine gave the Wildcats the lead at the 11:41 mark of the second period. Barrett Kaib took the initial shot — a slap shot from the blue line — that Racine stopped. Shine punched it in for the goal.
After Zach Urban went off for hooking at the 12:13 mark of the second, Michigan quickly tied the score at 2-2. Justin Selman redirected a wrist shot from Sam Piazza past Tolvanen at 13:05.
Michigan went on a long power play late in the second period. Hanson was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a hit to the head of Joseph Cecconi at 15:37. The Wildcats killed the long penalty.
“In the second period, I thought we played very well,” Kyle said. “I thought we were controlling the play. I thought we took a penalty that put us in a bad spot, but our penalty killers did a great job with that.”
After two periods, Michigan and Northern Michigan were tied, 2-2. The Wolverines held a 24-22 shots advantage.
At 4:05 of the third, the Wolverines took the lead. Kyle Connor scored on a wraparound goal that beat Tolvanen on his glove side.
Michigan’s Brendan Warren went off for slashing at 9:42 of the third. The Wolverines killed the penalty.
At 13:00 of the third, Michigan’s Alex Kile received a five minute major and a game misconduct for a hit to the head of NMU’s Shine. After a short 4-on-4 (too many men on NMU, 17:44 3P), Michigan killed the penalty.
“I thought there were two big points in the game where either team could have taken advantage of a five-minute major, and it just didn’t happen,” Berenson said. “I don’t know if we got a good shot on our power play, and I don’t know if they got a good one on theirs.”
Al Willman is a freelance writer