Ice Hockey: Michigan wins a wild one

In a key early season CCHA match up, the No. 10-ranked Michigan ice hockey team was home at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor to host the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks in a showdown of two of the top offenses in the CCHA. After falling behind by two goals in each of the first two periods, the Wolverines fought back behind a hat trick from Kevin Porter in a come from behind 6-4 win.

As if two goals and two assists against Michigan State last Saturday weren't enough, Kevin Porter picked up where he left off on on Friday at Yost Ice Arena against the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks.

Three Kevin Porter goals, all with an assist to T.J. Hensick, jump started a sputtering Michigan offense on Friday night in a key come from behind 6-4 victory in Ann Arbor for the Wolverines.

"We're just feeling it. We're having a lot of fun," Hensick said after the game. "I think we're having fun before the game, during the game and after the game. It's a big thing I think. I think the three of us, including Rohlfs, are just feeding off each other and the fun that we've having."

In the opening frame, it didn't look like the Wolverines would pull out the series opener with the Mavericks. Nebraska-Omaha forward Adam Bartholomay put UNO on top just past the midway point of the period, flipping the puck over the shoulder of Michigan goalie Billy Sauer on the Mavericks first power play opportunity of the game. Just a minute and a half later, UNO went up 2-0 when forward Scott Parse fired a one-timer from between the circles past Sauer.

"We seemed to struggle in this game for one reason or another," said Michigan coach Red Berenson after the game. "Maybe because we got behind or didn't get off to as good a start as we did last game, but it was a hard game to play for one reason or another."

Porter drew the Wolverines back within one with his first goal of the night, a tip in off the beautiful feed by T.J. Hensick. With the puck inside the Michigan zone, Hensick's back check forced the Mavericks turnover, and Hensick took it coast-to-coast before finding Porter wide open just off the left post to make it 2-1.

Nebraska-Omaha outshot Michigan 8-7 through one period.

The Mavericks got their second power-play goal of the night in the opening minutes of the second period. Alex Nikiforuk fired the puck past the screened Michigan goalie, and Sauer didn't respond till after the puck was already nestled behind the shocked Michigan netminder.

"There's a point where you know you can't take another penalty," Berenson said. "We had just killed two penalties and then we take another one. It kills you. Sure enough, they scored on it."

Porter would answer again, however, this time firing a shot past Nebraska-Omaha goalie Jerad Kaufmann from in the slot after a face-off win from T.J. Hensick to the netminders left side.

Andrew Cogliano tied the game 3-3 with a breakaway goal with 3:39 left on the clock in the second period.

In the third period, it took just five minutes for the Wolverines to take their first lead of the game on a goal from Brian Lebler. With the Wolverines maintaining possession inside the Mavericks zone, defenseman Mark Mitera fired a shot in from the point. After being blocked by a Nebraska-Omaha defenseman before even making it to the UNO net, Lebler pounced on the loose puck and fired it into goal before Kaufmann had a chance to even find the rebound.

Nebraska-Omaha would tie the game 4-4 with their final goal of the game just two minutes later, a long slap shot from on top of the right circle, but the Wolverines put the game away with Porter's third goal and a wrap around goal in the final moments from Jack Johnson.

Michigan and Nebraska-Omaha return to Yost Ice Arena tomorrow night at 7:35 for the final game of the weekend series, and, with a chance to sweep for the first time since early October, the Wolverines look focused on getting the job done.

"The intensity has got to be the same, but we've got to clean it up defensively. This team is pretty offensive with Parse and Nikiforuk, who have been proven goal scorers in the past," Hensick said on tomorrow nights game. "We need to clean up, try and stay out of the box and try and get the pucks out when we can. I think we turned it over too many times on both blue lines."

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