DETROIT – Before tonight, no team who had entered the CCHA tournament who was ranked seventh had come away with the Mason Cup, which is given to the winner of the CCHA tournament every year. Looks like nobody told Michigan that they were lucky No. 7
Northern Michigan came off of a thrilling 5-4 overtime win against Ferris State Friday night, while Michigan dominated Miami, especially during the third period when the Wolverines exploded for three goals.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game after getting by Miami last night,” said Michigan head coach Red Berenson.
Michigan set the tempo in the first period with big hits and the majority of the scoring chances.
Michigan’s Luke Glendening was ejected and assessed a five minute major for checking from behind with 1:30 to go in the first period after he hit Andrew Cherniwchan in the Northern Michigan zone. Northern Michigan failed to generate any offense during the Glendening penalty, mainly because they took two penalties of their own.
The Michigan penalty kill was stellar all night, especially in the second period, killing off a pair of five-on-three’s.
The Wolverines got an opportunity on the power play late in the second period when Northern Michigan’s Cherniwchan was called for tripping.
Louie Caporusso jumped on the ice and got a pass from Brandon Burlon just inside the Wildcats’ zone. Caporusso walked in and snapped a shot just under Brian Stewart’s armpit to break the scoreless deadlock with 19.4 seconds to play in the second period.
“The first goal was an important goal again,” Berenson said. “You knew it was going to be a tight game and the game could have gone either way.”
The Wolverines power play converted again on their next power play opportunity after TJ Miller was called for high sticking.
Michigan worked the puck around the Northern Michigan zone when Steven Kampfer blasted a slap shot from the blue line and Caporusso banged the rebound off of the crossbar. The puck found its way back to Kampfer who wound up and shot wide but the puck was re-directed perfectly by Caporusso for his second goal of the game.
The Joe wasn’t buzzing for long because Northern Michigan answered just 1:54 later. Justin Florek forced a turnover just to the right of the Wolverines’ net. The puck slid onto Cherniwchan’s stick and he flipped a shot over Shawn Hunwick’s glove to put the Wildcats on the board.
With the Stewart pulled in favor of the extra attacker, Northern Michigan’s Greger Hanson had a golden opportunity with about 16 seconds to play, but shot the puck wide of the net. Michigan was able to hold off the Wildcats and win the Mason Cup by a score of 2-1.
“In my opinion, Michigan definitely played better than us tonight,” said Northern Michigan head coach Walt Kyle. “Their speed gave us big problems.”
Hunwick didn’t see too much rubber between the pipes, but came up big when his team needed him most. Hunwick stopped 17 of 18 shots on the night.
“The guys played tremendous,” Hunwick said. “I don’t even know if I deserve to be the MVP. I don’t even know if I deserve to be a star of the game, but these guys played tremendous.”
The Wolverines earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with the victory.
“Six weeks ago if you would have told me I’d have said you’re crazy,” Hunwick said. “But you have to keep going.”
Like the rest of the country, the Wolverines will find out what’s in store for them in the NCAAs when the brackets are announced tomorrow during Selection Sunday.