Michigan Hockey: Sweeps OSU, Drops Exhibition to USNDT, Bulldogs Preview
What: #3 Michigan Wolverines (10-2-1) Vs. #4 Ferris State University Bulldogs (13-2-2)
When: Wednesday 12/11, 7:05 p.m. Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor, Mi.
TV/Radio: FSD+ & The Michigan Hockey IMG Radio Network (1050 a.m. Al Randall, Bill Trainor)
www.mgoblue.com for gametracker and streaming.
The Wolverines managed to kick off B1G Ten play the right way with a nerve racking sweep over Ohio State on November 29th at Yost (4-3 in OT) and 5-4 in Columbus on December 2nd house anticipating a huge weekend against the hated *uckeyes. Both teams came out tentative with the Wolverines showing the most jitters. Michigan took 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 leads in the contest, but each time could not hold the margin, including allowing a late turnover and conversion with under three minutes to play. Halfway through the ensuing OT period, Alternate Captain Andrew Copp started a set play that sprung him loose for the game winning breakaway goal. Copp won a faceoff just outside his own blueline and raced straight up the middle of the ice. Defenseman Nolan DeJong swung the puck cross rink to his partner, Captain Mac Bennett, who fed a perfect lead pass to Copp as he crossed the OSU blueline, splitting the OSU defense. Copp deked and beat OSU netminder Logan Davis low and stick side for the winner. Travis Lynch, JT Compher and Alex Guptill also tallied for Michigan. Zach Nagelvoort was steady, making 32 saves in posting his 6th win of the season.
The following Monday Michigan traveled to Value City Arena for the re-match in front of about 4,000 spectators. The Wolverines jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a Zach Hyman goal after surviving the first ten minutes. OSU pounded Michigan in the early going, but sophomore Steve Racine held the door closed. OSU tied the game on a delayed penalty late in the period. The Wolverines then scored the next three goals and looked in control until the last ten minutes of the contest. Alex Guptill took an ill advised penalty and OSU capitalized on it. OSU then scored on a 4×4 rush to narrow the margin to one with seven minutes left. Michigan was penalized late during a 4×4 situation, allowing the *ucks a 4×3 opportunity which they converted to tie the game with a little over five minutes left. The Wolverines pulled the game out of the fire, though, as defenseman Steve Chiasson rushed up the ice and received a give and go pass deep in the OSU end. He deftly spotted a pinching Mac Bennett at the goal crease and lasered a tape to tap pass that Bennett tapped in back door for the winner. The Wolverines held off the *ucks in the remaining 1:30 and rode home with the victory. Racine turned aside 39 of the 43 shots he faced for his 4th win of the season. Freshman defender Michael Downing blistered home his first collegiate goal in the victory. JT Compher added two goals.
Michigan took on the under-18 USA development team (exhibition) on December 5th schedule lightened up for the holidays. But, the youngsters forced the Wolverines to overtime before securing a win at Yost for the second straight season. Michigan yielded the first goal, but struck back on a pair from former USNDT member Evan Allen. Michigan had a 4-2 with about three minutes left and decided to pull starter Zach Nagelvoort for fourth string back-up Luke Dwyer. The Wolverines took a string of penalties and eventually yielded a PPG with just over a minute to play. The USA squad pulled their netminder and tied the game with: 37 left on a mix up in the crease and a wrap around goal. They won it on a defensive breakdown that allowed a clear chance at the net from about 25 feet that Dwyer couldn’t stop. The disturbing trend of relaxing and allowing late third period collapses has to trouble the coaching staff seeing that this has happened several times this season. In this case, it was a much more a decision to let a little used, yet hard working teammate play in a meaningless game. It should also be noted that Derek DeBlois and Mac Bennett were held out of the exhibition.
Ferris State’s Bob Daniels has quietly put together a consistently good program since taking the reins in Big Rapids over two decades ago. The MSU grad has guided the Bulldogs to two NCAA tournament appearances during his tenure, including a remarkable run to the NCAA championship game in 2011-12. Ten of Daniels’ previous 21 seasons have finished under .500, yet the progression to national recognition has never been more prominent than in the last five seasons, including this year’s 13-2-2 start. (The 2002-03 squad with Chris Kunitz won 31 games, too.) FSU’s program was frequently overshadowed by the CCHA’s powers- Michigan, MSU etc. but this is a new era for the Bulldogs. Ferris moved over to the revamped WCHA when the CCHA broke up and the other two new conferences (NCHC and B1G Ten) were formed. They appear to be the class of the “new” WCHA which also features CCHA orphans Alaska, Lake State, NMU and Bowling Green. They joined WCHA holdovers Bemidji State, Minnesota State and Michigan Tech as well as independent Alabama-Huntsville. So far they have bolted out in front of the league in a manner that most fans that are familiar with their style are not accustom to. The typical FSU team is a hard working group of muckers and grinders which eek out offense and relies on solid goaltending and bruising defense. In contrast, this edition incorporates an offensive punch (3.76 GPG-5th 2.29 GPG) and goalkeeping. Now, some would look at the Bulldog’s schedule and poke holes through its difficulty, considering the conference is void of any ranked teams (other than 17th split a nondescript series with the ECAC’s Colgate and St. Lawrence and have pretty much had their way in the WCHA games they have played. Overall, they have played a fairly even set of home and away games and have only dropped 2 of those games. Their strength of schedule (SoS) is 14th (Michigan’s is 13th), so that argument is mute. They hold the 2nd best winning percentage in the NCAA (Michigan 4th) and are 4th in one of the elements that establishes the Pairwise Rankings- Ratings Percentage Index- compared to Michigan’s 5th position. The bottom line: the Bulldogs are a good team and this match-up will go a long way in establishing both teams’ resume for the NCAA tournament.
The Bulldogs are big and experienced, with five seniors and seven juniors dotting the roster. Senior LW Garrett Thompson is a sniper (9-11-20) and is complimented with senior RW Justin DeMartino (4-6-10) and senior center Cory Kane (5-6-11.) Junior forward Justin Buzzeo (7-11-18), freshman forward Kyle Schempp (6-8-14) and sophomore LW Matt Robertson (8-2-10) round out the top six forwards. The blueline produces offense, too with senior Captain Scott Czarnowczan (4-10-14) and junior Jason Binkley (3-11-14.) Goaltending duties are handled mostly by C.J. Motte (13-0-2, 2.31 GAA, .925 save %) who also happens to be the older brother of Michigan’s freshman phenom, Tyler Motte. It sets up an interesting (local) family dilemma.
Overall, the Bulldogs come into Yost seeking to validate their record and will not be intimidated. It will be another test for the young Wolverines who have started to show some signs of fatigue as the season moves to the holiday break.
-Michigan’s offense has continued to blossom (3.31 GPG, 15th imposing 2.08 GPG/6th tallied only once in nine tries against OSU. The one sore spot is the penalty killing which yielded four goals to the *uckeyes. It is now tied for 36th shorthanded goals- respectively. Michigan holds a slight advantage in PIM average, (36th MPG average. It could be a difference maker.
– JT Compher now leads the Wolverines offense (5-9-14) followed closely by Andrew Copp (8-5-13). Luke Moffatt (5-7-12), Alex Guptill (5-6-11) and Phil Di Giuseppe (4-7-11) are the other double digit leaders.
– The B1G Ten honored JT Compher and Mac Bennett with the second and third star of the week last week for their efforts against Ohio State. Bennett scored his first goal of the season in Columbus which stood for the game winner, and assisted on the game winning OT goal the previous Friday at Yost. Compher scored three goals against OSU.
Firsts All Around:
Congratulations to Bennett on his first goal of the season, and to Michael Downing for his first collegiate goal, a blistering slapper from the blueline.
– Defense adding offense: The Wolverine blueline contributed seven points on 2g and 5a against Ohio State, their best output of the season.
– Michigan’s netminder Zach Nagelvoort (6-2-0, 1.648 GAA, .945 save %) is #1 in goals against average and #3 in the country in save %.
Michigan remained at the #3 spot this week on the basis of their sweep of the *uckeyes. Minnesota (12-2-2) swept Wisconsin last week and then tied and defeated Michigan State (who also won the first B1G Ten shootout) this past weekend. The USA Today poll has Minnesota #1, where the USCHO poll dropped the Gophers behind #1 SCSU by one vote. In other B1G ten action, Wisconsin swept Penn State last weekend and will step out of conference to play Colorado College.
Michigan State will play Ferris State this weekend. Minnesota will be idle until their annual Mariucci Classic held January 3rd. Wisconsin, MSU, PSU and Michigan will all have breaks after this weekend until after the Christmas holiday.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Yostmeister
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