Michigan hockey records first sweep of season with 5-2 win over Michigan State
Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com
Updated at 7:13 p.m.
DETROIT -- It took until February, but Michigan finally sang "The Victors."
In its 11th series of the year, Michigan finally notched its first weekend sweep with a 5-2 win over Michigan State Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
The win was followed by an enthusiastic rendition of Michigan's fight song, as is the team's tradition after sweeps. And after joking earlier this season that he was going to forget the song's lyrics after not hearing them all year, Michigan coach Red Berenson held them on a printed sheet of paper as his team sang.
“I had to get the words out for them, so they knew the words,” Berenson said. "We haven’t sang it all year.
“Most of our Michigan teams get to sing it a lot, this has been a tough year for this team, but they can enjoy it tonight.”
Derek DeBlois led Michigan with a pair of goals, while freshman goaltender Jared Rutledge recorded his second win in as many days. DeBlois and freshman forward Cristoval "Boo" Nieves finished the series with three goals apiece.
The win came less than 24 hours after the Wolverines topped MSU, 3-2, Friday night at Yost Ice Arena.
The win not only gave Michigan (10-16-2, 7-13-2-2 CCHA) a sweep, but also spared the Wolverines the ignominy of last place -- Michigan came into the series three points ahead of Michigan State (7-18-3, 5-14-1-0 CCHA), and finishes it in eighth place. Michigan finished the regular-season series with a 4-1 record against Michigan State.
“It’s one thing to sweep, and I think it’s another thing to sweep State," DeBlois said. "It couldn’t have come at a better time, obviously we’ve had our struggles. We got a huge weekend.”
Berenson called the series "the best weekend we've had probably all year."
"I think the team deserved it and they worked hard," Berenson said. "They got through some tough spots, and they kept the goals against down."
Michigan jumped out to a two-goal lead 10:34 into the first period, after Luke Moffatt tapped home a rebound in front three minutes in, and DeBlois stole the puck at center ice and scored top shelf.
DeBlois' shot went over the shoulder of MSU goaltender Jake Hildebrand, hitting his water bottle and knocking the cap off.
“What a shot," Berenson said. "That was a big-time shot. When you see that water bottle just explode, you know it’s been hit by something.”
The Wolverines were able to keep pace through a four-goal second period. The Spartans twice cut the Michigan lead to one goal, before the Wolverines scored an insurance goal 16 seconds before the second intermission.
Chris Forfar scored for Michigan State four minutes in, taking advantage of a Michigan turnover near the MSU blue line.
Skyline graduate Andrew Copp scored Michigan’s third goal, taking a pass behind-the-net pass from Dexter native Andrew Sinelli.
And after MSU’s Greg Wolfe scored with a minute left in the period, DeBlois finished off a rebound for his second goal of the game, giving Michigan a two-goal lead going into intermission.
“That was huge, because we were on heels, we weren’t playing well and we’d given up a goal and we were sloppy in our zone," Berenson said. "That was a huge goal, it was one of those goals that really discourages the other team.”
Nieves, a night after scoring two third-period goals to seal Michigan's win, gave the Wolverines third fifth goal midway through the third period, sending a pss from behind the net off the skate of MSU's Travis Walsh.
The Wolverines outshot the Spartans, 45-28, marking its second-highest shot total since October. The low shots against helped Rutledge backstop Michigan to its first sweep. He gave up four goals in the two games while making 47 saves.
The performance came in Rutledge's first regular-season action since Nov. 30.
“I try to stay confident no matter what, whether we’re down or I’m playing or I’m not playing, and I feel I’ve done a pretty good job of that," Rutledge said.
Michigan heads to South Bend, Ind. for a series against Notre Dame next weekend.