ANN ARBOR - No. 3 Miami (Ohio) ruined Michigan’s hopes of an undefeated opening weekend of conference play when the RedHawks stormed back from a one-goal third period deficit in just two minutes, 41 seconds to win 4-3.
“It’s disappointing to go into the third period with a lead at home in the second game of a series that is a must-win and have a defensive lapse like we had,” a visibly disappointed Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “We got out-powered, out-muscled going to the net and we had no answer for it.”
It took a massive defensive collapse on the sixth-ranked Wolverines’ part to spurn the momentum shift that Miami rode to a series split.
“We can’t get these points back in March,” junior defenseman Mac Bennett said. “Every weekend we play, whether we’re playing one game or two games, we want to take all the points we can. That’s going to sting a little, but we just have to pick it up.”
From the onset, it appeared that Michigan would be the one to play catch up. As the Wolverines have done often in the early part of their schedule, they surrendered the first lead as Livonia native Riley Barber used an impressive toe drag to beat Michigan starting goaltender Jared Rutledge in the first period.
But the answer came later in the frame when sophomore forward Travis Lynch slammed home his own rebound to even the score.
That’s the way it remained until the 9:10 mark of the second period when Michigan gained the 2-1 advantage that wouldn’t last. Sophomore forward Alex Guptill scored the go-ahead tally off an assist from senior forward Kevin Lynch.
But a careful Michigan team in its own zone turned into a careless one once the third period got underway.
The collapse started with a defensive-zone face-off loss, an aspect of the Wolverines’ game that was plagued all evening. Rutledge barely had time to react to the rapid-fire shot, which beat him stick side.
“He gave us a chance,” Berenson said of his freshman goalie. “I thought he played a good game, and we just did not give him the type of support you need to give your goalie.”
The next two Miami goals came in an 18-second span, and quieted the partisan Yost Ice Arena crowd, which was sparse in part due to the Michigan football game airing at the same time.
On the first goal of the pair, Michigan was whistled for a crippling penalty that led to a go-ahead power-play score for the RedHawks. It took a breakaway score to beat Rutledge off a backhand.
“You can’t give up a goal that easily,” Berenson said. “Our defense was asleep on that penalty kill and they got behind us on the breakaway. There is no way that should happen.”
Michigan made it a one-goal game once again off a goal from senior forward Lindsay Sparks with just over two minutes remaining. The Wolverines were unable to score the equalizer with the extra attacker.
This marks the earliest the Wolverines have lost two home games since the 2001-02 season. Next up for Michigan is a trip to the Upper Peninsula where it will face Northern Michigan twice next weekend.