ANN ARBOR — Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson said after his team's 9-2 win over Michigan State on Friday that the eighth-ranked Wolverines couldn't put up those kind of offensive numbers every game.
He was right, of course. On Saturday, Michigan tallied only six.
But that output was plenty as Michigan rode a four-goal second period to notch a 6-3 win over the Spartans at Yost Ice Arena and finalize the weekend sweep.
"Putting up 15 goals this weekend might open some eyes," said Tyler Motte, author of Michigan's fifth tally of the night, "but I don't think we're surprised."
With the victory, the Wolverines (4-1-1-1 Big Ten, 13-3-3 overall) remain atop the six-team Big Ten.
It was, by all accounts, the typical rivalry matchup, complete with hard hits and plenty of post-whistle skirmishes. And the raucous, sellout crowd got what it paid to see -- Michigan's offense lighting up the scoreboard.
"I challenged our team (Friday) night: ‘Do we know how to finish off a weekend? We haven't proven it yet,'" Berenson said.
After a lackluster opening 10 minutes during which the Wolverines surrendered a goal and took more penalties (2) than they managed shots on target (1), Dexter Dancs evened the game on a one-timer thanks to a feed from Max Shuart.
But the real damage came after the intermission -- and the swing in momentum began on the defensive end. Moments after Steve Racine and the post staved off a shorthanded breakaway attempt, Cooper Marody took advantage of a long rebound and found twine to give Michigan a 2-1 lead.
Then, the floodgates opened. Forty-six seconds later, before the student section had finished its "goal count" celebration, Michael Downing's shot through traffic beat Spartan goaltender Jake Hildebrand. Six minutes after that, Zach Werenski's laser from between the circles gave Michigan its fourth goal of the night.
Motte's individual effort -- singlehandedly gaining the offensive zone, driving through a defender and flipping the puck over Hildebrand from a bad angle -- made it 5-1 and capped the four-goal period for Michigan.
"Got the puck with a little ice to work with," Motte said. "Got my legs under me, got a little speed going and just took it to the net. Where it ended up going, your guess is probably as good as mine."
In customary rivalry style, Saturday's game featured plenty of memorable moments, the most notable of which was perhaps Alex Kile's crushing hit on Justin Hoomaian near the end of the second period -- a play which drew a charging penalty. That soon escalated into a 5-on-3 advantage, which the Spartans capitalized on to claw back to within two.
"I wasn't happy with the goals they scored," said Berenson, who also criticized his team's struggles to stay out of the penalty box. "... We know, as the season wears on, we're not going to score nine goals in a game. We shouldn't have to score four or five goals at home to win."
But Racine handled all seven shots he faced in the third period, and Kyle Connor secured the win with a three-quarters-rink empty-netter.
Michigan's 15-goal outburst over the two-game weekend increased the its scoring output from 4.35 to 4.68 goals per game -- still good for the most prolific offense in the country.
The Wolverines lead the all-time series against the Spartans, 158-130-19, and have won seven of the last 10 meetings. And this weekend, both of Michigan's victories came in emphatic fashion.