Just 24 hours after a disappointing Friday night 5-2 loss to Lake Superior State, No. 12 Michigan mentally wiped the slate clean and skated to a commanding 5-3 Saturday night victory over the Saints in Sault St. Marie.
Junior forward Josh Norris sparked the Wolverines’ offensive game both nights. Norris scored the opening goal in both weekend games and bagged the marker that put Saturday night’s win out of reach with a shorthanded effort.
“He was our best player last night [Friday] by far and I thought tonight [Saturday] that he was a man, a man among boys,” Michigan head coach Mel Pearson said of Norris. “You can see he’s a difference maker.”
In addition to Norris’ two-goal performance in Saturday’s win, junior forward Jake Slaker, sophomore forward Jack Becker and sophomore defenseman Quinn Hughes added single goals to the Michigan cause.
After jumping to a 2-0 lead on Saturday, Michigan allowed the Lakers to tie the game with a two-goal spurt of their own in a two-minute span over the end of the first period and the start of the second period.
The Becker and Hughes goals re-established the Michigan lead. Norris put the game out of reach with an unassisted shorthanded effort.
“We told them that we have to outwork,” Pearson said. “We not only have to match their work ethic and intensity, but we have to exceed it. I thought, for the most part, we did that tonight. We just didn’t match their intensity [on Friday], but tonight we did. It’s a big road win against a team that was undefeated.”
Pearson was far less enthusiastic about Friday’s losing effort.
Four straight Lake Superior State goals over an eight-minute period late in the first period and early in the second period gave the Lakers a comfortable margin, and they coasted home despite a lone Michigan third period goal by Slaker.
“You come off a couple wins and you think you’re pretty good, but you have to show up and play,” said Pearson of the Wolverines’ Friday night performance. “They’re [Lake Superior State] a hard-working team. They’re going to be as hard-working a team as we’ll see this year.”
Freshman goaltender Strauss Mann’s strong performance in the Saturday Michigan win was a spark the Wolverines needed.
“Unbelievable,” said Pearson of Mann’s Saturday effort. “I don’t like using that word a lot. Just his calmness, his presence in net. His [ability to] compete. I thought he was outstanding tonight. He didn’t have much chance on the first and third goals.”
Michigan Three Stars Of The Weekend
First Star — Sophomore forward Josh Norris
Norris’ three-goal clutch weekend performance made him an easy choice for weekend honors. The sophomore has a team-leading six goals.
Second Star — Junior forward Jake Slaker
Slaker has quietly added fuel to the Wolverine offense this season. His two goals and two assists against Lake Superior State doubled his season output in both those categories, giving him four goals and four assists to date.
Third Star — Freshman goalie Strauss Mann
Michigan badly needed a win in Saturday’s contest and Mann contributed a game-winning performance in net, stopping 28 of the 31 Laker shots on net.
Quote of the Weekend
“You could feel the intensity. Just the speed and urgency we played with. It’s like night and day.” — Michigan head coach Mel Pearson comparing the Michigan Saturday performance to their effort on Friday.
Michigan opens their regular Big Ten season schedule with a Friday/Saturday home set at Yost Ice Arena with fellow Big Ten power Notre Dame.
The Irish garnered preseason No. 1 rankings in both the Big Ten and nationally, but like most teams this season have performed inconsistently. Notre Dame’s early schedule has been stout, with matchups against top-ranked Providence, Minnesota Duluth and Ohio State. The Irish split a home series against the Buckeyes this weekend to open their conference schedule.
Other Big Ten Weekend Scores
@Michigan State 5, Ferris State 3 (Fri)
@Ferris State 4, Michigan State 1 (Sat)
#4 Minnesota State 5, @ #10 Minnesota 1 (Fri)
@ #4 Minnesota State 2, #4 Minnesota 1 (Sat)
#7 Ohio State 1, @ #5 Notre Dame 0 (Fri)
@ #5 Notre Dame 2, #7 Ohio State 1 (Sat)
@ #6 Penn State 6, Arizona State 5 (Fri)
Arizona State 4, @ #6 Penn State 3 OT (Sat)
#14 North Dakota 5, @ #16 Wisconsin 0 (Fri)
#14 North Dakota 3, @ #16 Wisconsin 3 OT (Sat)