Michigan Hockey: Michigan at Minnesota — Preview
Michigan Hockey Stunned At Penn State, Moves On To #2 Minnesota
What: #10 Michigan Wolverines (14-7-3) (6-3-1-1, 3rd) Vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (19-4-5) (8-2-2, 1st)
When: Friday 2/14 9:00 p.m. & Saturday 2/15 8:00 p.m. Mariucci Ice Arena, Minneapolis, Mn.
TV/Radio: BTN (Friday) FSD, Sportstime Ohio (Saturday) & The Michigan Hockey IMG Radio Network (1050 a.m. Al Randall, Bill Trainor) www.mgoblue.com for gametracker and streaming.
Wolverines face another tough road weekend:
The Maize and Blue, fresh off of a disappointing split at Penn State last weekend, complete their four game swing with a series with #2 Minnesota. Both teams are coming off of shocking weekends, where neither was happy with their consistency. Michigan won last Friday in a bizarre game, 6-3. They slept walked through a Saturday matinee game that saw them upset by Penn State 4-0, giving the Nittany Lions their first ever B1G Ten win. It was a golden chance to catch up with Minnesota, who dropped both of their games to Wisconsin in Madison. The Gophers are still four points ahead of Wisconsin and six points ahead of Michigan in the conference race. Nationally, Minnesota dropped out of the overall #1 spot for the first time in seven weeks and has now gone 1-2-1-0 in their last four contests.
So, the question is, can either team get on track? Michigan cannot afford to get swept as they are precariously holding onto an overall 10th seed in the projected NCAA tournament. Dropping two games- albeit to one of the most talented teams in the country on their home ice- may move Michigan out of NCAA consideration. A split will be palatable, but a sweep could propel them into first place in the conference depending on what Wisconsin does against Ohio State this weekend- and maybe send Minnesota reeling.
The Gophers have a young team that is a mirror image of the up tempo, hard skating offensive game Michigan brings. They have dropped four games this year- two last weekend and one each to Notre Dame and Minnesota Duluth. They have only lost one of those games on the Olympic size sheet in Minnesota- to Duluth. (They have been tied by Colgate, MSU and BC at home.) In other words, the Gophers protect their home ice very well.
Minnesota is 7th in offense (3.46 GPG) compared to the Wolverine’s 30th (2.88 GPG.) Both teams have a strong defensive average, with Minnesota 2nd at 1.96 GPG and Michigan 10th at 2.33 GPG. Neither power play is devastating, with the Gopher PP at 25th (18.9%) and Michigan’s at 34th (17.58%.) Both penalty killing units are looking for improvement, as the Gophers are 20th (83.5%) and the Wolverine’s are 26th (82.6%). Both squads are in the lower percentile in penalty minutes, with Michigan 15th best at 10.54 MPG and Minnesota is 6th best at 9.54 MPG.
Minnesota is not only a potent offensive team, but is adaptable to any type of opponent. They are big, strong and fast. Their defense is really mobile and activates frequently. Sophomore Adam Wilcox mans the net for the Gophers (18-4-5, 1.968 GAA- 7th in the country- and has a .930 save %.) There is too much balance throughout the roster to name all the key players- the Gophers roll four dangerous lines- so let’s throw down the names you may hear the most.
Junior Sam Warning leads the team in points (10-17-27) followed by junior Kyle Rau (7-18-25). Freshmen Justin Kloos (9-15-24) and big, strong Hudson Fasching (9-13-22) are high impact players. Defenseman (sophomore) Mike Reilly (8-14-22) is really dangerous. Eleven upperclassmen in total dot the roster.
Given the results from last week, the Friday night game should see two high flying, talented teams looking to right themselves. I give the Gophers an edge at home and look for Michigan to fall victim to their defensive weaknesses against one of the best teams in college hockey. Any points will be acceptable especially after last Saturday’s disaster.
-Michigan netminder Zach Nagelvoort (10-6-2, 2.119 GAA, .930 save %) dropped to #13 in goals against average after last week’s melt down in Hockey Valley. He surrendered six goals in total, three each game in what was a surreal, humbling experience. Steve Racine (4-1-1, 2.63 GAA and .930 save %) was sparkling in yielding only one tally in relief.
– JT Compher continues to lead the Wolverines with 24 points and added three points last weekend. Andrew Copp follows with 20 points following a two goal performance Friday. Alex Guptill (8-9-17) added two points, but fell victim of an injury late in Saturday’s game. His status is unknown.
-Junior forward Zach Hyman recorded his first two goal game as a Wolverine including the GWG to seal it for Michigan.
-Coach Red Berenson broke a 4th place tie in all time wins with Rick Comley with win #784.
– Michigan will return home for a weekend series with Penn State next weekend and will close out February with the first game of a home and home series with Ohio State on 2/28 and 3/1.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — YostMeister
Go Blue — Wear Maize!