Michigan Hockey: #4 Wolverines Split with Hockey East Rivals; Host Michigan Tech This Weekend — Preview
What: #4 Michigan (4-1-1) Vs. Michigan Technological University (1-4-1)
When: Friday/ Saturday 11/1-2 7:35 p.m. Friday, 7:05 p.m. Saturday. Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor
TV/Radio: Friday- No TV; Saturday- FSD & The Michigan Hockey IMG Radio Network (1050 a.m. Al Randall, Bill Trainor) joined in progress after Michigan Football
www.mgoblue.com for gametracker and streaming.
Comeback win over Terriers, late third period loss to Riverhawks:
The Wolverines, if honest with themselves, probably feel that this past weekend’s results were pretty fair. But, to look back on the games and be in a position to sweep the weekend, to a man they have to also feel pretty frustrated. On Friday, Michigan and BU were jumping from the opening faceoff in an electric Yost arena. Both schools had glorious offensive chances but were stymied by outstanding goaltending. Michigan’s Zach Nagelvoort and BU’s Matt O’Connor matched each other’s efforts for sixty minutes. In the end, though it was Michigan that recovered enough offense in the third period to outlast the Terriers, 2-1. BU got on the board with less than two minutes on the clock in the opening period after the Wolverines failed to clear their zone and got pinned in. BU’s Robbie Baillargeon ripped a laser from the right circle to stake the Terriers to the 1-0 lead. The game remained that way through an exciting second period, with Michigan holding a 30-12 shot advantage. The penalty bug bit the Terriers, (they took six minors to U-M’s one) in the third period as Tyler Motte one timed a perfect Mac Bennett feed to tie the game. A minute and a half later Alex Guptill was hooked on a partial breakaway and was issued a penalty shot. He placed the puck five hole on O’Connor to give Michigan the lead with a little more than 11 minutes left. Michigan held on the remainder of the way, finishing with a 44-19 shot advantage.
Cinderella’s slipper fell on Saturday, though, as the more experienced Riverhawks turned the tables on the Wolverines, winning 2-1. UML’s Connor Hellebuyck- a Commerce Mi. product, was sensational, knocking away all but one of the Wolverine’s 39 shots, while Nagelvoort was impressive again, turning aside 34 of 36 shots. UML struck early in the second period on a PPG by Ryan McGrath. Michigan came right back :24 later on a fluky Evan Allen goal. On a rush into the UML end, Allen collected a deflected shot off the boards and banked a shot five hole past Hellebucyk. The game remained tied until about eight minutes remained in the game when, on the last 40 seconds of a five minute PP (from a Phil DiGiuseppe HFB), UML’s Adam Chapie lifted a close in shot over Nagelvoort to give the Hawks the lead for good. The more physical east coast visitors held off the Wolverines in the dying minutes, including outstanding chances from Motte, Allen and Compher that were denied. The Hawks were one step faster to the puck most of the night and did not allow easy entry into their offensive zone. While disappointing, it was clear that Michigan’s offensive struggles were mostly in part to excellent goaltending. It was a great test for the young Wolverines, though and escaping with a 4-1-1 record against the top teams in Hockey East is outstanding.
In State Rivals from Yooperland up next:
Michigan Tech, coached by former Wolverine assistant coach Mel Pearson and former Wolverine Billy Muckalt visit Ann Arbor for the first time in over thirty seasons this weekend. The Huskies, part of the revamped WCHA, are led by a seven member senior class and a six member junior class, including (senior) captain and defenseman Brad Stebner and junior forward Blake Pietila. Pietila, a Brighton, Mi native, was a former USNDT player. Senior Blake Hietala (2-3-5) is pacing the offense along with freshman forward Mike Neville (1-3-4). Seven other players are tied with two points each.
The goaltending is being shared between two sophomores: Jamie Phillips (0-1-1, 3.84 GAA, .855 save %) and WCHA defensive player of the week Pheonix Copley (1-3-0, 2.025 GAA, .939 save %). Michigan fans may remember it was Copley that stood tall in last season’s MTU upset of the Wolverines in the GLI semi-finals. Copley ranks 7th in NCAA save percentage.
The Huskies have struggled early on, dropping road games at Minnesota Duluth, Notre Dame (2) and NMU. They did tie Duluth and won their home opener against NMU. What is most notable so far is the amount of penalty minutes the Huskies have racked up on the road, including games where they took 29 minutes (UM-D), 22 & 85 minutes (Notre Dame) and 42 minutes(NMU). They lead the NCAA with an average of 32.67 PIM’s per game- something that is difficult to overcome on the road. Neville leads the parade to the box with 32 minutes. In contrast, their offensive numbers are a pedestrian 1.83 GPG (52nd), where they are yielding 2.67 GPG (T23rd.) That includes a 22nd ranked PK (83.7% kill) and an unimpressive 2/37 PP conversion (5.4%).
The Huskies are seeking their first winning season since 2006-07 when they finished 18-17-5, and have not competed for an NCAA title since the mid 70’s to early 80’s. Last year the Huskies finished 13-20-4. Michigan will make a visit to Houghton to play a series against MTU next season.
-Freshman goalie Zach Nagelvoort (2-1-0, 1.47 GAA, .947 save %) was honored with the Big Ten Third Star Award for his performances against BU and UML. He leads the B1G Ten in both GAA and save %.
-Netminder Steve Racine is still on the mend after suffering a groin injury, but is working out this week with the team. He is not expected to play this weekend. Berenson has suggested that he will be given the chance to take over in net when he is ready.
-Michigan took a step back in their special teams last weekend, yielding two critical goals against UML, and tallying one of their own in their victory against BU. They are still the 4th best PP in the nation (30.4%) and 30th in PK at 81.5%. The offense has sunk to a 2.83 GPG (T29th) while the defense is T6th at 1.83 GPG. The Maize and Blue are 31st in PIM’s at 13.17 per game.
On the offense- not burying our chances, or better yet, taking too many shots on goal that are easily saved. On the defense- too many times the defensive corps is hesitant moving the puck or clearing it in their own end, creating turnover chances for the opponent. On the forwards- he’d like to see better backchecking since the team is allowing far too many shots on goal (30+ per game.) Faceoff wins in the defensive zone could be stronger, too.
Michigan maintained the #4 spot this week, while fellow B1G Ten conference mate Minnesota is still wearing the #1 target. Wisconsin was idle and dropped to #13.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Yostmeister
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