Ann Arbor – Top-ranked Notre Dame spoiled Michigan’s party Friday night at Yost Arena, earning a 2-1 victory before 5,800 fans, to push its winning streak to 14 games.
Sophomore goalie Cale Morris turned aside 35-of-36 shots, giving up Tony Calderone’s Big Ten-high 12th goal, and the Irish (17-3-1, 11-0-0) scored two power-play goals in the opening period for the difference.
The Wolverines (8-9-2, 3-6-2) were playing without Quinn Hughes, Josh Norris and Will Lockwood, who are with the U.S. team in the World Junior Championship.
Prior to the game there was a tribute to Michigan’s legend, former coach Red Berenson. Michigan named the rink inside of Yost Arena in his honor; it is now known as “Red Berenson Rink.”
Berenson dropped the ceremonial first puck after the crowd watched a Berenson tribute video.
The Wolverines – now coached by Berenson’s former longtime assistant coach Mel Pearson – came out in pregame warmups with all their players wearing the No. 9 jersey worn by Berenson while he played at Michigan.
“It was a great night for Red. He’s been a great ambassador for the University of Michigan, the athletic department and our hockey program, but for college hockey, and we can’t honor or thank a man like him enough,” said Pearson of Berenson. “It’s going to be a pleasure coming here every day and knowing that name is on that rink.”
Berenson guided the Wolverines for 33 years and won a pair of national championships (1996, ’98), with 11 Frozen Fours and a record 22 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances (1991-2012).
“I don’t get carried away with these things, but I really appreciate the gesture from the athletic department and I’m thankful for all the good teams and good players that we’ve had at Michigan over my time and good coaches. You don’t do this by yourself, it takes a lot of good people,” Berenson said. “I was lucky that I was at a school like Michigan. Good things happen at Michigan and this is one of them.”
Berenson had no clue the Wolverines would be wearing his jersey with the No. 9 on the back with his name, and the “C” on the front for when he was Michigan’s captain as a player.
“The first guy I noticed was Cutler Martin and I thought, ‘Geez, Cutler’s wearing the C tonight.’ Then I realized they were all wearing the C,” said Berenson.
Berenson says retirement is treating him well.
“I’m happy with my decision and happy with the decision to bring Mel Pearson back,” Berenson said. “I told Mel, I’m out of the loop, but I’ll be here for you if you need me. I don’t lose any sleep if our power play’s not working or if our goalie doesn’t play well.”
The Irish advanced to the Frozen Four last season and are considered a favorite to do so again this season, led by Morris, who entered the night with a 15-1 record with a 1.53 goals-against average and a .954 save percentage.
Morris was in goal for every game during the 13-game winning streak, helping the Irish to a 10-0 record in Big Ten play in their first season in the league, including four shutouts.
The Irish jumped out to a 2-0 lead midway through the first period, taking advantage of power-play chances with goals by Matt Hellickson, who poked in a loose puck in the crease after Hayden Lavigne’s original save 4:44 into the game, then by Andrew Oglevie, who took Dylan Malmquist’s pass and one-timed it past Lavigne from the left circle.
Calderone scored his 15th goal to pull the Wolverines within 2-1 with 4:08 left in the opening period, but they failed to pull even on their power-play chance later in the period.
The Wolverines had multiple odd-man rushes, but failed to get the puck past Morris, who has a .961 save percentage during the winning streak.
“It’s unfortunate, the penalty calls, because they are a team you don’t want to play from behind against,” said Pearson.
“We had more two-on-ones tonight than we’ve had in the last six games combined, but we just couldn’t finish. We got a little too cute at times.”
Pearson hopes the Wolverines can get more traffic in front of Morris when the teams conclude the series Sunday in South Bend. He thinks he will have Hughes and Norris back in the lineup.