Ice Hockey: Wolverines prevail 6-2

The No. 13-ranked Michigan ice hockey team picked up a pair of points in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association standings on Friday night with a 6-2 win over the University of Alaska Nanooks in Fairbanks, Al. Senior center T.J. Hensick recorded his first career hat trick and Billy Sauer recorded 29 saves for the Wolverines.

After last Saturday, the message was clear. The No. 13-ranked Wolverines need to take care of business each time out on the ice to make a final run at Notre Dame and Miami University at the top of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association standings. Behind a hat trick from senior T.J. Hensick and 29 saves from Billy Sauer, the Wolverines did just that in a 6-2 win over the Alaska Nanooks on Friday night in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Despite the 6-2 win, it was UA with the first scoring opportunity of the game. A pair of penalties to Tim Miller and Brandon Naurato at 3:14 of the opening frame gave the home team a full two minutes of 5-on-3 power play time. Michigan's penalty killers responded, however, limiting Alaska to just 1 shot with the two-man advantage.

Within a minute of killing off the penalties, the Wolverines went on top 1-0. Sophomore center Andrew Cogliano beat UA goalie Wylie Rogers over the blocker on a breakaway just 6:15 into the period.

T.J. Hensick doubled the Michigan lead 1:59 later. Hensick, who scored his league leading 41st point in the third period, slipped a rebound past Rogers after a hard shot from Kevin Porter caused a scramble in front of the UA net.

UA went back onto the back following the Hensick goal, but Sauer kept Alaska off the board until halfway through the final frame despite another 5-on-3 advantage in the closing minutes of the frame. Alaska held an edge in shots 11-8 after one, but the Wolverines held the 2-0 edge on the scoreboard.

Brandon Naurato made it 3-0 with his eighth goal of the season at the 4:46 mark of the second frame. Naurato fought through a backcheck and deked past Rogers, slipping the puck behind him and into the net to put the game out of reach.

Michigan struck once more in the period, however, this time with a 5-on-3 of its own. Porter found Chad Kolarik just off the right post with a quick pass right to his tape. Kolarik quickly fired the puck across the crease to Hensick on the left post, and Hensick tapped the puck across the goal line for his second goal of the night.

Alaska had a pair of power play opportunities in the middle frame but didn't generate a single shot with the man advantage.

UA broke Sauer's shutout with a power-play goal at 9:48 of the final frame, but Hensick responded with a second power-play goal to complete his first hat trick as a Wolverine. Each team would add one more goal, the Wolverines' coming from senior captain Matt Hunwick to make it a 6-2 final.

With Notre Dame's loss to Western Michigan and Miami Universities tie with Ohio State, the Wolverines gained at least a point on each of the two league leaders with 11 games remaining in conference play. Michigan and Alaska are scheduled to drop the puck on the second game of the weekend series on Saturday at 7:05 pm Alaska Standard Time.

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