DETROIT – For the first time this season, the Michigan Wolverines sang “The Victors” after their 5-2 victory at Joe Louis Arena Saturday afternoon – something the team only does after sweeping a weekend series.
Friday night, Michigan pulled out a 3-2 win at Yost Ice Arena. Saturday, the Wolverines did it again, picking up a 5-2 victory on goals from junior Luke Moffatt, freshman Andrew Copp, freshman Cristoval “Boo” Nieves and a pair by junior Derek DeBlois. Freshman goalie Jared Rutledge stopped 26 of 28 shots in the win.
Michigan coach Red Berenson had a copy of the lyrics to his school’s fight song ready after the game – the 294th all-time meeting between the in-state rivals and most between any two schools in college history – to remind his team of the words.
“Well, it seems like unfamiliar territory,” said Berenson, with a smile. “This is the best weekend we’ve had, probably all year. The team deserved it. They worked hard. They got through some tough spots. They kept the goals against down, and if there’s anything that’s kept us from winning this year, it’s too many goals against. ”
The Spartans had an early power play opportunity just minutes into the game. While they got good looks, the Spartans couldn’t put one in the net. And shortly after, Michigan got their turn with the man-advantage, but made theirs count.
Just seconds into the first Michigan power play of the game, Moffatt banged away at a loose puck in front of Hildebrand that found the twine for a 1-0 lead.
Halfway through the first period, DeBlois blazed down the right side on the penalty kill and ripped a laser past Hildebrand high on the short side with enough torque to destroy the freshman netminder’s water bottle for a 2-0 lead.
“I think he’s just being Derek,” Berenson said of DeBlois. “He had another hard-nosed, hard-working weekend and he got rewarded. Sometimes you don’t get rewarded. He scored a big shorthanded goal tonight, and what a shot. That was a big-time shot. When you see that water bottle just explode, you know it’s been hit by something. He’s just in the right place at the right time. When you work hard, you get rewarded. Good for him.”
In the second, on a breakaway, senior alternate captain Chris Forfar made a beautiful backhand-forehand move to beat Rutledge and pull the Spartans within one.
At 7:36 of the second stanza, Copp regained the two-goal lead for the Wolverines with his fifth of the season.
But both teams did not go quietly into the locker room after 40, as MSU captain Greg Wolfe made a tremendous effort to dive past Jacob Trouba and bang home his second goal and fourth point in his last five games. That came at 18:21 of the period.
DeBlois then registered his second goal of the night and sixth of the year, banging home a rebound on Hildebrand’s left.
Nieves – who tallied a pair of third-period goals Friday – cleaned up the scoring, with a bank shot off of a Spartans defender in front to extend the Wolverines’ lead to 5-2 and cap the 149th all-time win against MSU.
The Spartans are now 0-18-2 when scoring two or fewer goals. Forfar expressed his team’s disappointment after the game to drop a decision to its rival.
“Well, we’re obviously not happy,” he said. “These are some of the biggest games of the year. i know they all count the same but the Michigan rivalry is something we all look forward to, definitely came out short tonight. We’re going to have to go back to work on Monday, but try to take some things away from the game. There were a lot of bright spots but theres still a lot of cleaning up to do all over the ice.”
Notes: Official attendance was 16,124…All-time record: UM leads 149-126-19…Jake Hildebrand faced 82 shots in the weekend against Michigan, allowing eight goals.