Friday, October 7
Michigan 5 – Bentley 1
2-0-0 (0-0-0 CCHA)
Saturday, October 8
Michigan 4 – Bentley 1
3-0-0 (0-0-0 CCHA)
Michigan Hockey continued play this past weekend with a home set against Bentley, a team I didn’t even know existed. The Wolverines’ 5-1 win was the classic “closer than the score indicates” game; Michigan went into the first intermission down 1-0 and was only leading 2-1 with 4:30 left in the game. Of course, the flurry of three goals within three minutes to close the game turned it into a blowout, but this game was still close until late. The story of this game follows the early season trend: Michigan dominated most facets, but still had trouble setting up an offense. The Wolverines obliterated Bentley in the shot column, 49-19, including only allowing three shots in the third period. Michigan also handily won the faceoff battle 43-27. However, a stupid penalty (Michigan’s only of the game) and a backside defensive breakdown on the power play allowed Bentley to get on the board seven minutes in, and the lack of quality offense saw Michigan end the first period down one. Pateryn got Michigan on the board early in the second, and a Wohlberg power play goal turned out to be the game winner seven minutes later. After taking the 2-1 lead though, Michigan‘s offense went silent until the end of the game, when Guptill, Glendening and Treais scored within a 2:59 window to close the door on Bentley.
Unfortunately the Saturday night game was double-booked with football at Northwestern, and allegiances being what they are, I chose football over hockey. Looking at the box however score does give a good idea about how the game went. And it looks eerily similar to the Friday night game. Despite a 4-1 final, Michigan only led 2-1 until a little over two minutes left. This time Michigan got on the board first with a Di Giuseppe goal midway through the opening period. They took the 1-0 lead into the first intermission, but Bentley tied it up midway through the second. Di Giuseppe added his second goal of the night – the eventual game winner – a few minutes later, but the Wolverines were unable to add to the lead until the end of the game. Treais made it 3-1 with a power play at just over two minutes remaining, and Guptill finished the scoring with an empty netter. Michigan again easily won both the shot and faceoff battles, 43-22 and 40-26 respectively. There were however a good deal more penalties in this game, with the Wolverines’ penalty kill perfect on five Bentley opportunities, and the power play cashing in two goals on seven man advantages.
Some thoughts on the weekend: first, this is becoming a recurring theme, but the team needs consistent offense. The Friday night game was rather painful to watch as neither team could get set in the offensive zone. While part of that might be a testament to the Wolverines’ defense, the offense needs to do a much better job of controlling the puck. Most of Friday’s game played out in transition – getting the puck, bringing it into the offensive zone, maybe getting off a poor quality shot, and losing control/having it come back the other way – and while I wasn’t at Saturday’s game, based on the box score I assume the same held true. While the effort was enough to win against Bentley, it’s not a sustainable formula going up against stronger teams.
Second, I’ll say it again, this team has offensive talent. It’s a shame that controlling possession has been such a problem, because if that issue ever gets straightened out these scorers will be fun to watch. Freshmen Di Giuseppe and Guptill each had two goals on the weekend, and Treais, who had been rather absent in the offense the first weekend, had two himself. In addition to Sparks, who’s shown great scoring ability, and Moffie who has a knack for sniping from the point, this offense could be very dangerous if it ever gets going.
Finally (maybe in homage to the football team) the Wolverines had a particularly difficult time getting going early. They scored only one first period goal on the weekend (and gave up one), and scored over half of their goals in the games’ closing minutes. While it’s nice to see an ability to close out games, it would be even nicer still to see the team come out with fire and get early goals instead of giving them up. Better teams like Miami and Notre Dame will likely make them pay if this doesn’t issue get straightened up.