Michigan advances to CCHA final

Defenseman Mac Bennett and the Wolverines came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Bowling Green. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

DETROIT -- Bowling Green hit the cross bar. Michigan hit the post. Twice. Then both Michigan goalie Shawn Hunwick and Bowling Green State goalie Andrew Hammond stood on their heads.

And finally, after nearly 22 minutes of sudden death overtime hockey, Michigan sophomore forward Luke Moffatt got the puck to the back of the net for the Wolverines’ 3-2 win. The goal advanced the top-seeded Wolverines to the final of the CCHA tournament where they will meet the second seed, Western Michigan.

“We knew it was going to be an ugly goal,” Moffatt said. “At that point in the game shots are coming on net, you have to drive the net hard and get there for a rebound or something. I was fortunate. It just bounced right to me and I was able to put it in.”

While it was an exciting finish for Michigan, it was a slow start that seemed like it would send the Wolverines to the consolation game. Bowling Green grabbed a 2-0 lead and it seemed as though the Falcons would head into the third period with that, but sophomore defenseman Jon Merrill sent a pass to Chris Brown, who was right in front of the goal.

The puck went past Brown, past his defender and past Hammond, sending Michigan into the break down just one tally.

Michigan senior David Wohlberg -- who scored the game-tying goal with less than three minutes remaining in regulation -- said he felt the Wolverines came out lackadaisically.

Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson echoed his thoughts.

“I thought we were deliberate with the puck and we were tentative,” Berenson said. “It wasn’t our pace that we wanted to play at, and I thought we got better as the game went on. Don’t ask me why.”

It was the Wolverines’ second double-overtime game in a week, the first coming over Notre Dame last Friday night in the CCHA quarterfinals.

And now, Michigan faces Western Michigan with the CCHA title on the line. The Broncos booted the Wolverines last year in the semifinals. Even with a quick turnaround, players thought that extra motivation would be all Michigan needed to come out strong and claim Michigan’s 10th CCHA tournament title.

“It’s great to have two Michigan teams in the finals,” Moffatt said. “We have a little resolve still from last year, them beating us here. We want to get them back for that. It’s going to be a big game. We’re only halfway done with the weekend so far.”