Michigan advances to NCAA Regional Final

<p>Although Michigan was playing as the higher seed in Saturday afternoon&#8217;s NCAA Regional Semifinal Vs. New Hampshire, the hostile environment of Manchester, Hew Hampshire was sure to test the Wolverines early and often in the first round match up. Michigan proved up to the challenge, however, thanks to a two-goal effort from Brandon Kaleniecki. Michigan advances on to the NCAA Regional Finals Sunday afternoon against Boston College. </p>

Kaleniecki didn’t wait long in the first period to get the Wolverines on the board. With 1:05 gone in the first period he took advantage of his own rebound after a Wildcat defender knocked down his initial shot. He was able to re-collect the puck and flick it over goaltender Michael Ayers with a backhander to give the Wolverines the very early 1-0 lead.

Al Montoya prepares to block the puck
AP Photo
The second period was the decisive one, however, for the Wolverines. With goals from Andrew Ebbett and Eric Werner, Michigan was able to steal the momentum away from the Wildcats. "I think our team was very focused on not letting any momentum go against us for long,” Wolverine coach Red Berenson said. “…There were a lot of bouncing pucks out there and you might say that we got some of the bounces tonight or we created the bounces."

The next Michigan ‘bounce’ came after a successful Michigan penalty kill. At the 9:45 mark in the second period the Wolverines capitalized on an odd man rush after a mild New Hampshire attack. After streaking through the neutral zone, Milan Gajic brought the puck over the Wildcat blue line. With a 2 on 1 breakaway he spotted Ebbett sneaking in behind the lone New Hampshire defender. After drawing Ayers to the nearside post, Gajic sent the cross-ice pass to Ebbett who faked the forehand shot and then slid the puck backhand through Ayers legs to put the Wolverines up 2-0.

Less then 3 minutes later the Wolverines gained all of the breathing room they needed. While on a power play, Gajic took a pass from T.J. Hensick in the left corner and picked up his second assist of the night. He found an open Eric Werner slashing into the slot. Werner was able to control the bouncing puck and flip a wrist shot over the sprawled out goalie for the Wildcats netting the third Wolverine goal of the game.

Brandon Kaleniecki would add another goal for the Wolverines early in the third period after skating into the Wildcat zone all by himself, as Michigan skated to the 4-1 victory.

Al Montoya made 27 saves for the Michigan (27-13-2) who now advance to the NCAA Regional Finals to take on the Boston College Eagles (28-8-4). The two teams met earlier in the season on December 27th with Boston College coming out with a 4-1 victory in Ann Arbor. The puck drops Sunday at 4 PM.

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