ANN ARBOR (CCN) — The Michigan Wolverines will reach the midway mark of their college hockey season this weekend when hosting the Minnesota Golden Golphers, and they need a sweep to stay in contention for a Big 10 championship.

The Wolverines are coming off a weekend of losses in a home-and-home series against last-place Michigan State. UM is 2-3-3 in Big 10 action where Ohio State is 4-2-2 and Notre Dame is 4-2-0. Minnesota is 2-2-2 coming into its weekend action at Red Berenson Arena inside Yost Arena in Ann Arbor. "There is some sense of urgency," said UM Coach Mel Pearson. "We need them. These are important games. They give us an opportunity to go into the winter break feeling good about ourselves, our game and where we are in the standings."

Game time is 8 pm on both Friday night and Saturday night. The Wolverines, who reached the Frozen Four a year ago in the NCAA Tournament, slipped to No. 15 in this week's college hockey poll. Before losing twice last weekend to MSU, they split a pair of Big 10 games with in weekend series against both No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 9 Penn State.

 Minnesota, ranked No. 23 in the latest national poll, supplies UM's final action before the annual Great Lakes Invitational Tournament on Dec. 30-31 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit where they could get a rematch against the Spartans.

Junior Nick Pastujov from Florida called  it a "big confidence boost" if UM can play strong this weekend, saying, "It's our last chance to put some points on the board in Big 10 (play before the holiday break) ... Minnesota has a really good team this year and I think our fans want to see us string together some wins."

Pair of Wolverines eye return to Team USA later this month for World Juniors in British Columbia



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Western Michigan stuns UM 5-4 in college hockey upset in Kalamazoo in front of near sellout crowd

 KALAMAZOO (CCN) — Western Michigan's hockey team stunned the Michigan Wolverines with a 5-4 victory Saturday night in Kalamazoo in front of a near-sellout crowd of 3,426 fans after dropping a one-goal game one night earlier in Ann Arbor.  UM, beaten 4-3 on a goal with six seconds remaining last season in a Frozen Four matchup with Notre Dame, was ranked No. 11 in the country heading into the weekend action.  Austin Rueschoff scored 1:51 into the game, UM defenseman Quinn Hughes tied it and Western went ahead 2-1 after one period on a power play tally by  Hugh McGing.  Ethen Frank  gave the Broncos a 3-1 edge at the 2:18 mark of the second period. UM got within 3-2 near the midway mark on a power play goal of its own by Brendon Warren, then struck twice in the final four minutes on goals by Josh Norris and Nick Pastujov to take a 4-3 lead into the final period.  Colt Conrard cashed in during a five-on-three advantage early stages in the final period to tie it at 4-4 and Josh Passolt scored what proved to be the game winner with 13:21 remaining.  

UM Wolverines beat Western Michigan in wild 6-5 decision for first victory of college hockey season

 ANN ARBOR (CCN) — A capacity crowd of 5,800 fans watched the Michigan Wolverines win a wild 6-5 decision over Western Michigan Friday night at Red Berenson Rink inside Yost Arena in Ann Arbor. It was the first victory of the season for the Wolverines who are ranked No. 11 in the nation. They lost 5-2 to Vermont in their opener in Ann Arbor on Oct. 6. "One thing I really liked was our bounce-back," Coach Mel Pearson said after beating Western. "They came back and we'd get another goal to extend the lead, so it was some good bounce-back from our guys tonight." UM trailed 2-1 after one period but scored three times in the second period to go ahead 4-2. Western scored early in the third period to trim the margin to 4-3 and UM twice built two-goal margins, only to be answered by the Broncos. The two teams will have a non-conference rematch Saturday night in Kalamazoo. 

Vermont beats Michigan 5-2 in college hockey season opener in Ann Arbor

ANN ARBOR (CCN) — Vermont spoiled opening night for Michigan's hockey team Saturday night at Red Berenson Rink inside Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor.   The Wolverines, fresh off last season's run to the Frozen Four before losing to Notre Dame, brought the No. 4 pre-season ranking into the opener against Vermont but fell behind 3-2 after one period, battled to a scoreless middle period and then watched Vermont score twice in the final period to put the game away. A near capacity crowd of  5,669 fans greeted the Wolverines who managed their only offense on first period goals by Will Lockwood and Nick Pastujov.