By Michael Caples -
ANN ARBOR – The Michigan Wolverines jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period of their regular-season opener against the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Yet even after adding another goal in the third period, the Wolverines discovered in overtime that four goals wouldn’t be enough.
RIT forward Adam Hartley got his stick on a puck that had slid through Michigan goaltender Jared Rutledge’s legs 14 seconds into overtime, giving the Tigers a come-from-behind win few saw coming.
“You have to give that team credit,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said after the game. “They were down two goals in the game and two goals in the third period, and they came back. On the flip side, we are disappointed in our overall defensive game, starting with our goalkeeping, our defense, and our D-zone play. You can’t give up unearned goals and that is what we did.”
The Wolverines recorded three goals in the first 18:37 of the contest, courtesy of Derek DeBlois, Mac Bennett and Jacob Trouba. The last, Trouba’s first NCAA goal, was a highlight-reel wraparound goal that had the crowd at Yost Ice Arena on their feet. Trouba also recorded his first assist (though he had three in their exhibition opener) and first penalty before the goal.
But a RIT goal by Josh Mitchell at the 19:06 mark of the opening frame slowed the Wolverines’ momentum, and the two clubs played a scoreless second period.
In the third, RIT’s Chris Saracino scored at the 3:31 mark, which was answered by Michigan’s Travis Lynch on a turnover in front of the Tigers’ goal two minutes later.
From there, it would be all RIT; goals from Elliot Raibl and Greg Noyes tied the game by the 15:20 mark, and Hartley completed the comeback early in overtime.
Berenson said that he wasn’t impressed with any of the goals scored by RIT, but didn’t want to place all the blame on his goaltender, either. Rutledge gave up five goals on 26 shots, and three on eight shots in the third period.
“I will have to look at them again, but [the goals] all looked pretty soft to me,” the Wolverines’ coach said. “The kid made some good saves, too. It was a tough night to be a goalie in our end and we have to be better than that. Our D have to play better and our forwards have to play better too.”
DeBlois said that both the forwards and defense have to do a better job of supporting their goaltender, no matter who it may be.
“I couldn’t tell you where [we lost control], but the defensive zone was definitely our burden tonight,” the junior forward said. “We can’t give those shots up to anybody. They buried them whenever they were in front. It’s just bearing down in the defensive zone. It’s something we’ll work on and we have to get better at it.”
The Wolverines and Tigers play again tomorrow night at Yost, with puck drop scheduled for 7:35 p.m.