Michigan Hockey: Icers Single Game With Niagara — Preview
Michigan Hockey Splits in Omaha; Single Game With Niagara Friday Night
What: #5 Michigan Wolverines (7-2-1) Vs. Niagara University Purple Eagles (3-7-1)
When: Friday 11/22 7:00 p.m. Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor
TV/Radio: Comcast Local (Ch. 900 in A2) & The Michigan Hockey IMG Radio Network (1050 a.m. Al Randall, Bill Trainor)
www.mgoblue.com for gametracker and streaming.
The Wolverines traveled to Omaha this past weekend looking to remain undefeated on the road. Unfortunately, the Mavericks had other ideas and gave Michigan everything it could handle. The result was an unsavory split with both teams lamenting third period breakdowns. Technically, Michigan probably played its worst hockey of the young season, surrendering slim third period leads on Friday and Saturday. Both games started similarly, as neither team could dent the twine in the first period.
On Friday, UNO took a 1-0 lead midway through the period on a 5×3 advantage. Luke Moffatt rallied the Maize and Blue on a PPG with a little more than four minutes left in the period and was quickly followed by freshman J.T. Compher’s first collegiate goal, also on the PP, at 18:48. Michigan held a 2-1 lead and the momentum. But, UNO roared out of the locker room in the period knotting the game at 2-2 when Michigan’s defense broke down early in the period. A little less than three minutes later, UNO’s leading goal scorer Josh Archibald made a dazzling rush 4×4 around the Michigan defense and beat U-M goalie Zach Nagelvoort to give the Mavericks the lead for good. Michigan had a few good opportunities, including a Tyler Motte shorthanded breakaway, but couldn’t tie the game. Nagelvoort stopped 28 of 31 shots while UNO’s Ryan Massa turned away 26 of 28 shots. The Mavs were 1-6 on the PP while the Wolverines were 2of 4.
On Saturday, Michigan struck first in the second period on an Andrew Copp PPG at: 54. A few minutes later Phil DiGiuseppe made a great move around UNO netminder Reed Peters to extend the lead to 2-0. UNO cut the lead in half at 5:13 after some sloppy defensive work. JT Compher scored a SHG at 13:39 to give Michigan a 3-1 lead, but UNO struck back quickly just after the Wolverine penalty expired at 14:09. The game remained tight in the 3rd the game on a PPG with seven minutes left. Derek DeBlois, who took the ill timed penalty, scored the winning goal :50 later, though, off of a broken play in the UNO zone. A point shot hit him and he turned and fired the puck in before Peters could scramble back into the net. Michigan allowed 22 shots in the period and 43 in total, with netminder Steve Racine knocking all but three away. It was Racine’s first action in several weeks due to a groin injury. Peters stopped 27 of 31 shots.
The consensus was that Michigan was lucky to survive the weekend, being out played and out shot for long stretches of both games. The most glaring observation is the shots on goal allowed and the defensive zone breakdowns that occurred. UNO exhibited speed and grit, while the Wolverines appeared rusty off of their bye week. Both games were also choppy due to the style in which the NCHC officials called both games. Michigan finished the 1-4 on the PP, while UNO was 1-6, meaning Michigan was in the penalty box 12 times for the weekend- far too much to overcome, especially on the road.
Purple Eagles Visit Yost Again:
The Niagara University Purple Eagles travel to Ann Arbor for the ninth meeting between the two programs since becoming a D1 program in 1996-97. Niagara’s lone victory in the series took place in 1998. Niagara is coming off of a 23 win season a year ago, and qualified for the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in their history. (They dropped a tough 2-1 loss to North Dakota.) They last visited the Wolverines in 2011.
Things are a bit different this season as the program has ushered in ten freshmen which includes both goaltenders and has one of its better seniors out of the lineup due to “personal issues”. The Atlantic Conference squad is winless on the road (0-5-1) with the lone tie coming against conference foe Robert Morris and includes a 7-4 thumping from AHC leader, Air Force. This past Tuesday night the Purple Eagles suffered a 4-2 road loss to Mercyhurst. They have not won a non-conference tilt as well, getting swept at home against Clarkson and getting thoroughly beaten on the road at Denver (5-1) and at Ohio State (4-1, 6-1.) Their three wins (all at home) are against conference lightweights Army (5-0, 8-3) and Canisius (6-4).
Overall, it is a rebuilding year for the program which features five seniors including forward Ryan Rashid (4-4-8) and defenseman Kevin Ryan (2-3-5). Look for offensive support from sophomore Hugo Turcotte (4-4-8) and a pair of junior forwards-Mike Conderman (3-5-8) and Isaac Kohls (3-4-7). Freshmen forwards TJ Sarcona (2-4-6) and Stephen Pietrobon (3-2 period as Michigan appeared to sit back. UNO tied 5) also have chipped in offensively. Freshmen Jackson Teichroeb (1-4-0, 3.39 GAA, .892 Save %) and Adrian Ignagni (2-3-1, 3.55 GAA and .890 Save %) have shared the netminding duties.
Niagara’s offense has produced against its conference opponents (28 of their 32 goals are in AHC games) bloating their average offense to a misleading 2.91 GPG (T27th.) Their defense has been lit up this season, though, posting a 3.64 GPG average (52nd The powerplay has been non-existent, anchored at 57th stopping opponents at a 71.7% clip (54th
On paper, this may be the lightest opponent the Wolverines will have faced this season. It is perhaps the tonic needed for Michigan’s sporadic offense- if the Wolverines do not decide to overlook the Purple Eagles. It is a natural concern for a young team, so be wary of that.
-Michigan’s defense was dented for six goals this past weekend which now finds itself tied for 8th GPG this season. The offense dropped to 31st two of the goals came at even strength and one was shorthanded. Their PP is 3rd at 27.5%, a move parlayed by a 3-8 showing on the PP in Omaha. The PK was static at 22nd at an 84.0% kill rate, yielding 2 goals last weekend in 12 chances.
-Expect sophomore Steve Racine (3-0-1, 2.44 GAA, .931 Save %) to start on Friday. Both he and freshman Zach Nagelvoort was strong at UNO- with Racine being super sharp in the third period on Saturday. Nagelvoort (4-2-0) is 6th in the NCAA in GAA (1.71) and Save % (.940)
-Andrew Copp still leads the offense for Michigan (5-5-10) followed by Phil Di Giuseppe (4-4-8). Each had a goal over the weekend. Senior Luke Moffatt (5-2-7) popped in his 4th season and added his team leading 6th assist. Derek DeBlois (1G) , Alex Guptill (2A) and Boo Nieves (2A) also contributed offensively and are tied with six points each.
-Where’s the blue line scoring?? Freshman defender Nolan De Jong garnered the sole point of the weekend for the defensive corps. The blue line has only provided 11 points (all assists) this season which has to be one of the contributing factors for the overall lack of team offense. On the other hand, the defense only allowed three 5×5 goals last weekend and has contributed greatly to the overall defensive numbers this season. Michigan has only yielded 20 goals this season, 10 of which have come at full strength. Michigan is still allowing too many shots on goal, over 30 per game, so there is room for defensive improvement.
-Penalties biting the Wolverines: Michigan has experienced the difference in B1G Ten officiating and the whistles from the other leagues (AHC, HEA and NCHC) and has come away with differing opinions on them. Secretly and to a man, this past weekend had to be the most frustrating (outside of maybe the RIT game) since they were whistled 12 times for a variety of ticky-tack calls. The Wolverines persevered, though, and should be better prepared for the differences come tournament time.
Michigan was shuffled back to the #5 spot this week on the basis of a non-impressive split at UNO. B1G Ten conference foe Minnesota (8-1-1) swept a series with the Minnesota State Mavericks and maintains the #1 spot in D1. Wisconsin (4-3-1) earned a well deserved split at #8 Miami and stayed at #12 this week.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Yostmeister
Go Blue — Wear Maize!