Michigan’s hockey team managed to resist a late surge from the 18th-ranked Providence team, preventing a sweep in their season-opening series.
In the game held at Yost Ice Arena, the fifth-ranked Wolverines initially led 5-1 with just 5 minutes and 30 seconds remaining on Sunday.
However, the Friars made a remarkable comeback, scoring three goals in under three minutes and narrowing the gap to just one goal with 58 seconds left.
Providence, which had won Saturday’s season opener with a score of 4-2, had one last opportunity to tie the game.
Still, Michigan’s freshman forward, Garrett Schifsky, came through with a crucial shot block in the final moments to secure a 5-4 victory.
This season, Michigan faced the challenge of replacing more than 50% of its scoring, including its top three point-getters, from the previous year’s team that had earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and reached the Frozen Four.
However, several of their top returning players stepped up in Sunday’s game.
After Providence scored a power-play goal during the second period, cutting Michigan’s lead to 2-1, sophomore Frank Nazar, a 2022 first-round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, restored the two-goal lead by capitalizing on a centering pass from fellow first-round pick Rutger McGroarty, who had contributed significantly with 39 points in the 2022-23 season.
Michigan finally scored their first power-play goal of the season in the third period, with Rutger McGroarty unleashing a one-timer past Providence’s goalie, Philip Svedeback, following a cross-ice pass from TJ Hughes.
Nazar sealed the game with another power-play goal at the 14:30 mark, seemingly securing the victory at 5-1.
Michigan’s head coach, Brandon Naurato, who had the interim tag removed just before last year’s Frozen Four run, emphasized his desire for a more solid defensive performance from his team this season.
The team seemed to take this message to heart for most of the game, holding Providence at bay for the first 56 minutes.
However, a breakaway goal by the Friars sparked their late surge against Michigan’s Jacob Barczewski, a graduate transfer from Canisius making his debut in the net for Michigan. Barczewski finished the game with 22 saves.
Michigan’s strong start was instrumental in gaining early momentum. Gavin Brindley, a sophomore forward drafted 34th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in June, scored just 23 seconds into the game, capitalizing on a fortunate bounce off the end boards and jamming the puck past Svedeback. Brindley had also scored the team’s second goal in Saturday’s game.
In addition to Brindley’s quick goal, sophomore defenseman Seamus Casey, a 2022 second-round draft pick, extended the lead with a spectacular goal in the early minutes of the first period.
He showcased his skills by skating coast-to-coast and finishing with a top-shelf backhander, giving Michigan a 2-0 lead in less than four minutes. The trio of Casey, Nazar, and McGroarty combined for eight points in Sunday’s game.
Looking ahead, the Wolverines will be heading to UMass for a two-game series scheduled for the upcoming Friday and Saturday.