Michigan hockey ends first half on a high note with 2-0 win over Western Michigan
Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com
Janecyk made his second career start and seventh career appearance as the Wolverines looked for anything positive in the series and first half finale against Western Michigan.
The result: Michigan finally played the kind of game it’s been looking for for weeks.
The Wolverines got steady goaltending behind an improved defensive performance while topping Western, 2-0, Saturday night at Yost Ice Arena.
The win snapped a four-game winless streak, and sent the Wolverines (6-9-2) into a two-week break on a high note.
In its first win since Nov. 21, the Wolverines turned to a third-string goaltender and a sophomore defenseman who had never scored before.
After walking into Yost and seeing his number at the top of the lineup sheet, Janecyk finished with Michigan's first shutout of the season.
“I didn’t know what we would get with Janecyk, because he has not been any better in practice than the other two," Michigan coach Red Berenson said. "But he showed up tonight, our team gave him a good game and he kept the puck out.”
And after two frustrating periods, the game-winner came off the stick of Brennan Serville, who hadn't scored in 46 games in a Wolverines uniform.
Michigan came out with a renewed energy from the start, following a 4-1 loss Friday night in which they were outshot, 25-11 in the first two periods.
From a hit in the first five seconds of the game, Michigan had the physical edge Saturday.
"We weren’t getting knocked down, we weren’t getting bounced around," Berenson said. "We played more like men tonight. Last night we played like boys.”
The Wolverines took 22 shots in the first two periods, compared to 15 for the Broncos. But none of those found the back of the Western net -- despite close calls when when Kevin Lynch couldn’t get a shot off on a centering pass from Alex Guptill, and when Derek DeBlois hit the post on a 2-on-1 chance.
That changed 1:18 into the third period, when Serville picked up a rebound near the hashmarks, and sent a wrist shot over Western goaltender Frank Slubowski.
Defenseman Jacob Trouba scored a power play goal from the blue line with seven minutes left to add the insurance.
The goal broke a streak of 34 straight Michigan power play opportunities without a goal, spanning more than seven games.
Two goals was enough for Michigan’s defensive corps, which eliminated many of the mistakes that plagued it for most of the first half and limited Western’s scoring chances in front of a goalie who hadn't seen game action since March.
“They know I haven’t been in there and I haven’t been playing as much as the other guys," Janecyk said. "So I think they want to do well in front of me.”
That Michigan had a third option in net is a result of unusual roster depth at the position. Berenson was asked in the preseason about this decision to carry four goaltenders for the first time in his 29 seasons behind the Michigan bench.
“We weren’t 100 percent sure about our goalkeeping, so we just wanted to be safe,” Berenson said just before the season started.
By the end of the first half of the season, Michigan had started three of those goalies. The fourth, former Huron goalie Luke Dwyer, is out with a clavicle injury.
Uncertainty came from the fact that the top two goalies on the roster are freshman. The opening night starter, Jared Rutledge, is an 18-year-old freshman.
The two both struggled throughout the first half, Steve Racine giving up 2.94 goals per game and Rutledge giving up 4.57. Michigan came into the game giving up a CCHA-high 3.56 goals per game.
Berenson said he originally planned on going with Racine Saturday, before changing his mind in the morning and going with the "unknown" Janecyk."
"We’ve got two freshman goalies that have been given the chance to play every game, and we thought it’s time," Berenson said. "Our team needs a boost and our goals against needs a boost.”
After a two-week layoff, Michigan will return to action in the Great Lakes Invitational, Dec. 29 against Michigan Tech at Joe Louis Arena.