Thursday, October 13
Michigan 10 – St. Lawrence 3
4-0-0 (0-0-0 CCHA)
Michigan Hockey exploded in a scoring fest in the only game of the weekend, putting up double digits for the first time since 2008, and actually tying week one’s season high goal mark despite playing one game to the first week’s three. This was another game where the score doesn’t tell the whole story, however. Michigan was actually outplayed for the first quarter of the game, which makes the 10 goals they put up even more impressive. St.Lawrence opened the scoring seven minutes in. Serville lost the puck, and then, adding insult to injury, got turned around, effectively taking him out of the play. This resulted in a 3 on 1 and a pretty goal that Hunwick was powerless to stop. Through 15 minutes the Wolverines trailed 1-0, had been outshot and generally played lackluster hockey. Then the light came on. Glendening evened things up with four and a half left in the first period, and Moffatt gave Michigan the lead they wouldn’t relinquish 45 seconds later. Treais added another goal with just over a minute left in the period, and despite being outplayed for the first 15 minutes went into the first intermission with a 3-1 lead. Glendening opened the scoring in the second period, two minutes in, although St. Lawrence answered with a power play goal a few minutes later. Michigan had another flurry, first with a goal credited to Pateryn (that looked like it was deflected in by Brown), and then a Moffie snipe followed by Glendening’s third 27 seconds later. St.Lawrence closed out their scoring with a five on three power play goal in the waning seconds of the second period. The third period was all Michigan, as they held St. Lawrence to only five shots and scored three goals, on by now the third string SLU goalie, to get to double digits on the night. Di Giuseppe had by far the prettiest goal of the season on a beautiful toe drag, and Sparks and Wohlberg added the final two tallies. Despite the huge margin of victory, shots were almost even, 34-32Michigan, and St. Lawrence outshot the Wolverines through most of the first period and after two. Michigan did handily win the faceoff category, 46-24, with fellow freshmen Zach Hyman and Travis Lynch leading the way with a combined 25-9 mark.
Some thoughts on the weekend: first, this is what can happen when the Wolverines get set in the offensive zone. After the ugly 15 minutes to open the game, Michigan settled down, maintained possession and put up their highest scoring mark in over three years. The telling point is not the score, but rather how they did it; the differences in offensive efficiency between this game and earlier in the season are night and day. Michigan scored 10 goals on only 34 shots, and in essentially only 45 minutes. Compare that with the season opening exhibition against UOIT, where the Wolverines only managed two goals on 56 shots. Although there were some times where I felt that players needed to just take a shot and get the puck on net, overall the team did a much better job of passing around, controlling play, and getting quality looks. Pretty much all of Michigan’s scoring threats tallied goals, led by the height of efficient performances, Glendening’s hat trick on three shots.
Second, despite the big offensive numbers, the power play was still downright ugly. Although failing to get a power play on only three opportunities isn’t that bad, it does say something when you score ten even strength goals but can’t manage any with the man advantage. Michigan only managed four shots on the three power plays, and for long stretches had trouble getting set in the offensive zone. Although the even strength numbers are encouraging, the power play will have to get better if this team is going to have long-term success.
Although the freshmen defensemen (Serville and Chiasson) are getting better, Merrill’s absence is still being felt. The first St. Lawrence goal is entirely on Serville, as he singlehandedly turned a decent looking offensive possession into a three on one the other way. Although everyone on the ice got a -1 for the play, it’s really the type of situation where Serville should have gotten the -5. There have been rumblings that Merrill has not been making the most of his suspension, and might not come back when it’s over. If that bears out – and even if it doesn’t – the freshmen can’t be liabilities and give up cheap goals made possible by inexcusable mistakes.
Finally, Janecyk got a half period’s worth of playing time for the second time this season. While it’s good to get him experience lest we need him (*crosses fingers that we won’t*), and he’s played well, not giving up a goal in his almost 20 minutes in net, I can’t help but feel that getting a top goalie recruit to come in (and play immediately; Hunwick’s a fifth year senior) is the top priority to having success going forward.