Ice Hockey: Wolverines drop weekend finale

Despite 28 saves from goalie Billy Sauer, the No. 13-ranked Michigan ice hockey team dropped a tight 2-1 decision to the Northern Michigan Wildcats at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor on Saturday night. Sauer held the Wildcats to a pair of goals for the second night in a row, but the Wolverines offense was non-existent in a disappointing 2-1 loss.

Who wins when a low scoring team with the leagues' leading scorer matches up with the top scoring offense in the conference? Is it possible for one to offset the firepower of many? Mike Santorelli did just that on Saturday night at Yost Ice Arena by leading the Northern Michigan Wildcats past the No. 13-ranked Wolverines with a pair of goals in a 2-1 NMU victory.

Despite not registering a shot until the midway point of the first frame, the Wildcats jumped on top 1-0 with a goal at 15:17 of the period. Santorelli picked up an errant Michigan pass in the neutral zone and coasting into the Michigan zone blasting a shot past goalie Billy Sauer to make it 1-0.

Michigan had a man advantage three different times in the period and out shot the Wildcats 13-4 over 20 minutes, but the Wildcats went to the first intermission with the 1-0 lead.

"We were not playing with enough desperation; we weren't playing with a sense of urgency. When you start doing that, then you start trying to do too much yourself, and then you are not playing together," Michigan coach Red Berenson said after the game. "Even in the first period, we might have led them 13-4 in shots, but they had the best chances. Give Northern credit; they came back and played a hard, strong game, and we did not"

Northern Michigan controlled the action in the second period. Santorelli made it 2-0 NMU with his second goal of the night just over halfway through the frame. Santorelli beat Sauer from between the circles as a trailer on a three-on-three rush. His shot, over Sauer's blocker, doubled the Wildcats lead and would end up the game winning goal. Northern Michigan outshot Michigan 16-11 in the second period.

Neither team could generate an offense in the third period. Despite taking multiple penalties in the final 20 minutes, the Wildcats continued to stifle the Michigan offense until the final minute of play. Andrew Cogliano scored his 15th goal of the season to make it 2-1, but just six seconds remained on the clock after the Michigan goal and time expired to drop the Wolverines to fourth in the CCHA.

Michigan returns to action next Friday night for a two game road series at the University of Alaska. Scheduled start time is 7:05 pm Alaska local time.

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