U-M Icers: Back to Joe Louis!

Michigan's going back to Joe Louis Arena! The No. 14-ranked University of Michigan hockey team was unable to claim its third consecutive CCHA regular season title this year, but the Wolverines will be heading back to Joe Louis Arena next weekend in an attempt to defend the conference tournament title from last season.

It's been a struggle for the Wolverines to put together a full 60 minutes of hockey for the past three months. The No. 14-ranked Michigan hockey team hasn't recorded a weekend sweep since back in early December. As a result, the Wolverines have put themselves in an unfamiliar position; on the NCAA bubble. However, with an NCAA tournament birth on the line, the Wolverines performed when it mattered.

"The best thing about it was we got to sing that song. We haven't sung 'The Victors' since before Christmas as a team, and we don't sing it unless we win both games," said U-M coach Red Berenson after Wolverines completed a weekend sweep of Ferris State to return to Joe Louis Arena. "That was the best part."

One night removed from the Wolverines 6-4 victory over Ferris State, the Wolverines and Bulldogs returned to Yost Ice Arena for the second game in a best of three weekend series. In the opening frame neither team was able to light the lamp. U-M was outshot 9-8 in the period by the Bulldogs, but it was the Wolverines that spent most of the period on the attack. And it paid off in the second period.

Just 31 seconds into the next period Michigan jumped on top 1-0. While skating with the one-man advantage, Brandon Kaleniecki jammed home his 17th goal of the year from just in front of the crease. Kaleniecki banged home his own rebound after Chad Kolarik found the Wolverines alternate captain wide open just in front of Ferris State goalie Mitch O'Keefe.

U-M would continue to threaten, but the Wolverines couldn't capitalize and the two teams exchanged minor penalties at 5:01 of the period. Neither team scored while the sides skated four apiece, but Ferris State used the time to regroup and jump out to their first lead of the weekend.

Eric Vesely tied the score for Ferris State at 1-1 by flipping the puck over the glove of U-M goalie Noah Ruden from just in front of the net on the power play. Then, 1:04 later, Greg Rallo gave FSU their first lead of the weekend series by converting on a Ferris State power play.

One minute and four seconds later FSU went on top 2-1 as Greg Rallo sent the puck over Ruden's shoulder from just off the goaline to make it 2-1. However, U-M forward T.J. Hensick tied the game 2-2 just minutes later with the Wolverines second power-play goal of the period. Hensick fired the puck past the FSU netminder from the bottom of the right circle while crashing the post for his 16th goal of the season.

Ferris State opened the third on the offensive. Just minutes into the period FSU's Adam Miller coasted into the Michigan zone all alone. After making a move to the backhand, the Bulldogs forward tried tucking the puck into the net only to be denied by Ruden.

"He beat me pretty bad. He had the whole net, which I don't think he realized. I think he tried to go to my five-hole but it was way over on the other side of the net, and he just put it right into my toe right before the goal line," said Ruden on the breakaway save. "I was lucky in one sense, but in another sense, that is the way of the game. It was the break we needed at the time and it worked out well for us."

After the big save from Ruden, U-M went on top for good at 4:11 of the period. Jack Johnson snapped the puck into the top corner of the net as the trailer on a three-on-two rush to make the score 3-2. Hensick, credited with an assist on the play, found Johnson while skating in along the boards on the left side.

Ferris would end with a flurry of chances, but Ruden kept the puck out of the net to hold on for the Michigan win.

With the win, the Wolverines return to Joe Louis Arena next weekend for the CCHA Final Four. An opponent is yet to be determined.

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