On Friday, the No. 7-ranked Michigan hockey team opened a two-game set with the Lake Superior State…
No. 7 Wolverines Ice Lakers
"We talked about it before the game, how it was a must-win game for us. We only have one home game left now and it's crunch time. When you're looking at the rankings, both nationally and in the CCHA, it's a playoff chase right now. We've got to win the home games, so we were definitely desperate in that first period."
In the opening half of the first period, the Wolverines jumped out to an early 2-0 lead behind senior alternate captain Brandon Kaleniecki. Just 3:49 into the contest, Kaleniecki flipped the puck up over LSSU goalie Jeff Jakaitis and into the net. Then, eight minutes later, Kaleniecki notched his 13th goal of the season from inside the slot. After a beautiful effort from Andrew Ebbett to keep the puck inside the LSSU zone, Kaleniecki sent the puck through Jakaitis' legs while tumbling down to the ice to double the Michigan lead.
"On the first goal, I saw that they had just turned it over, so I went to the slot. I knew that Andrew Ebbett was going to find me," Kaleniecki said after the game. "I saw the puck coming and someone got in the way, so I pumped and it hit off the goalie and into the net. I didn't think it could get any uglier than that. The second one was the exact same play. I saw the puck get turned over at the blue line, and I saw it coming to me. I got a little excited; I'm a little embarrassed about how it went in."
At 14:28, Andrew Ebbett pushed the lead to three goals. After assisting on the first two, Ebbett fired a shot over Jakaitis' glove into the top netting. With the shot, the U-M captain set a new career high in goals with his 10th of the year.
U-M freshman Tyler Swystun added the Wolverines final goal at 17:31. Swystun tapped the puck past Jakaitis' stick after a give-and-go with fellow freshman Danny Fardig.
LSSU answered with two quick goals of their own to end the period, but that was all they could get past Michigan goalie Noah Ruden on the night.
Over the final 40 minutes of play, the two clubs would combine for 25 shots as they traded unsuccessful power-play opportunities. Ruden, the Wolverines senior goalie, recorded 12 saves over the final two periods as the Wolverines held on to the 4-2 win.
Michigan now sits in second place of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association with four games to play in the regular season. Michigan travels to Nebraska-Omaha next weekend to complete the final two-game road trip of the season.
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