Wolverine Icers Advance to Super Six

The Michigan hockey team met the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Saturday at Yost Ice Arena in a Central Collegiate Hockey Association first-round playoff game, which ended up as the home finale. With a 1-0 lead in the best of three series, the Wolverines looked to end the season for the Irish while advancing to the Super Six for the 16th consecutive year.

It was an emotional night at Yost Ice Arena. After the 10-1 victory on Friday night, the Michigan seniors suspected Saturday's contest was likely their final home game as Wolverines. With the game knotted at zero in overtime, senior Eric Werner stepped up and snapped the puck hard into the net to ice a first-round playoff sweep.

Unlike Friday night, this game was dominated by strong goalie play. After a shaky performance the previus night, Notre Dame's goalie, Morgan Cey, put together the game of his life while holding the Wolverines scoreless through three periods of play. Fortunately for Wolverine fans, Al Montoya was just as good in between the pipes.

The opened with a period of back and forth play. Michigan tested Cey early by peppering him with shots from all directions, but the goaltender was up to the challenge and turned aside 14 Wolverine shots in the first period. Montoya was just as good for Michigan, turning away eight Fighting Irish shots.

Play continued into the second period with the score still tied at zero, which is when momentum started to swing the Wolverines way. Minutes into the second period, the Fighting Irish went on their first power-play of the night. The Wolverines successfully killed the one man advantage, but a second penalty set the Wolverines back again, giving the Irish another power-play. Michigan controlled the puck for a majority of the time, and ended up shotshooting the Irish 13-5 in the second period of play.

In the third period, Michigan continued to dominate the shots on goal. Five minutes into the period, Chad Kolarik provided the Wolverines with their best scoring chance of the night as he clanged a shot off the post with half the Irish net open.

After Kolarik's opportunity, the Fighting Irish weathered the Wolverine storm and settled down defensively. Michigan out shot the Irish for the third time in the contest 11-6, but Kolarik's scoring chance with 15 minutes remaining would be the last serious threat Cey faced in the period. Michigan's Brandon Rogers sent one final shot on the Irish net from 100-plus feet as the horn sounded, but Cey kicked the puck off to the left boards and the teams were still scoreless after 60 minutes.

In overtime, the Wolverines finally capitalized on their momentum, beating Cey for the first time in 44 shots. As the teams skated four-on-four early in the overtime, David Moss brought the puck through the neutral zone and across the Irish blue line, creating a one-on-one situstion. A quick move by Moss beat his defender and he flung a shot towards the Irish net that bounced of the body of Cey out into the slot. Wolverine defender Werner capitalized on the rebound, skating into the slot and blasting the puck into the top of the net 2:05 into the overtime period to lift Michigan into the CCHA semifinals.

With the Wolverines advancing to the Super Six, they retain the No. 1 seed and will receive a bye for Thursday's quarterfinals. They return to the ice Friday against a team yet to-be-determined.

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