Friday, November 4
Michigan 2 –Western Michigan 3
6-2-1 (2-2-1-1 CCHA)
Saturday, November 5
Michigan 5 –Western Michigan 2
7-2-1 (3-2-1-1 CCHA)
Friday night was déjà vu as the Wolverines reprised the Friday night game at Northern two weeks earlier. Michigan got off to a slow start, unable to sustain any offense whatsoever, and it bit them as Western got on the board halfway through the first to go up 1-0. The Broncos increased their lead to two with a goal early in the second, and things started to look bleak before Michigan finally turned it on. Clare scored midway through the second to cut the deficit to one, and Bennett tied it a few minutes later. Despite outshooting Western 15-5 in the period, however, Michigan was unable to do any further damage. The game remained tied through the third, and looked headed to overtime, when Western struck with less than a minute left. Michigan was unable to tie the game with Hunwick pulled, and for the second time this season a late goal erased an impressive rally. Also frustrating is that the Wolverines outshot the Broncos 36-25 yet only managed the two goals; possibly telling is that Michigan badly lost the faceoff margin, 33-23. Hyman and Travis Lynch, who had been recently tearing up the faceoffs, went a combined 10-17. Michigan did manage to be perfect on the penalty kill, despite taking a number of (ahem) “questionable” calls.
Michigan did rebound on Saturday after Friday’s disappointing finish. Deblois got the Wolverines on the board ten minutes into the first, and they carried the 1-0 lead through the first intermission. Western came out for the second on fire, however, tying the game a minute in and continuing the barrage throughout the period. Western got another goal halfway through the period to take the 2-1 lead. Despite being outshot 13-5 in the second, Michigan did manage to go into the second intermission tied as Guptill had a beautiful power play goal late in the period. The third was all Michigan. The Wolverines retook the lead with a Bennett power play goal early in the third, and Treais added an insurance goal with just under five minutes left in the game. Kevin Lynch concluded the scoring with an empty net goal with a minute left to finish off the Broncos. Similar to Western the night before, Michigan got the win despite being outshot 32-21, making their five goals all the more impressive. The Wolverines again lost the faceoff battle, 26-31, though Hyman and Travis Lynch had better nights than on Friday.
Some thoughts on the weekend: while it’s encouraging to see Michigan be able to overcome slow starts and mount comebacks to tie games after two goal deficits, they need to find a way to close out those games. The Wolverines have shown a great ability to score so far this year, but they haven’t shown any ability to win games late. Unless Michigan can get that turned around, they better hope they already have the lead with five to ten minutes left.
Boding well for the future however is where the Michigan goals are coming from: everywhere. The Wolverines’ seven goals this weekend came from six different players. If Michigan can continue to get solid production from the top scorers-Sparks, Di Giuseppe and Treais-as well as getting timely goals from the rest of the team, this offense can remain very dangerous.
Finally, it was another good weekend for special teams. The Wolverine penalty kill was perfect, holding Western scoreless over six attempts on Friday and another two on Saturday. Also, Michigan tallied goals on two of the five power play opportunities on Saturday. Although there is always room for improvement, especially on the man advantage, it does look as though Wolverine special teams are improving.