The Michigan hockey team won their first Big Ten Conference game in overtime Friday night, sending the packed house at Yost into a frenzy. Michigan experienced spurts of offensive dominance in the second and third periods, but the Ohio State Buckeyes used turnovers to stay in the game.
2:51 into the first period, junior forward Travis Lynch scooped up a loose puck. Lynch’s wraparound caught OSU goaltender Logan Davis by surprise; the soft shot slid easily behind him. Michigan led, 1-0.
But Ohio State responded.
On an ensuing power-play in the Michigan zone, the Buckeyes got control of the puck. Ryan Dzingel was wide-open on the right side, and blasted a one-timer home at 15:46. 1-1 after one.
Michigan earned a power-play in the second period. Senior forward Luke Moffatt took a hard shot. The shot was kicked right into the slot by Davis, and freshman forward J.T. Compher was there to backhand it into the empty net at 6:41.
”I’m a feisty player,” Compher said. “I was just working hard and going to the net. It was a good shot by Luke. I just got a good bounce in front of the net.”
Just when the Maize and Blue thought they had grabbed the momentum, the visitors took it right back with a tying goal.
On the power-play, OSU’s Max McCormick was credited with the equalizer at 14:56. A pass out front deflected off a skate and slid by Nagelvoort to knot the game at two.
As the period wound down, it looked to stay tied. An offensive zone faceoff win for Michigan prevented the tie.
Compher won a clean draw at the left faceoff circle, shuffling the puck back to junior forward Alex Guptill. With just 17 seconds left on the clock (19:43), Guptill snapped a hard wrister just underneath the right crossbar. After two, Michigan led, 3-2. Guptill knew that a late goal would mean a lot for his team.
”To get a late goal like that is always a big momentum swing for sure,” he said.
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, a defensive-zone error late in the third would swing momentum right back to the Buckeyes.
Clare circled behind his net, and attempted to throw the puck behind him. The plan backfired, and the puck came right to Anthony Greco, and he fired a shot past Nagelvoort at 16:47.
Michigan head coach Red Berenson was displeased with his team’s overall effort.
”We were sloppy at times,” he said. “Let’s face it, you have a one-goal lead in the third period at home, it’s pretty disappointing when you give it up. We turned the puck over, gave it right to them, and they scored.”
Nagelvoort looked solid all game, stopping 32 shots and shutting down any semblance of OSU pressure. The three goals-against came off an unstoppable one-timer, a skate deflection, and a turnover.
At 3:38 of the overtime session, sophomore forward Andrew Copp won the game for Michigan.
Copp won a faceoff in the defensive zone. He flew up the ice and snuck behind the Ohio State defense. Senior defenseman Mac Bennett waited just long enough for Copp to get some separation, and then passed the puck the length of the ice to catch Copp just before he reached the blue line. He skated in a low and fired a wrister high-blocker side to beat Logan for the game-winning-goal.
The play was agreed upon just prior to the faceoff.
“Yeah, we talked about having a center high all week long,” Copp said. “We drew it up before that faceoff, I told both our defensemen. OSU’s defense had been pretty spread out all game. It was a picture-perfect pass by Bennett, and I just buried it.”
A game like this could propel Michigan to bigger heights in Big Ten play. Just 34 seconds into the contest, the Wolverines brought the Yost faithful to their feet.
Senior forward Derek DeBlois took a rink-wide pass at the red line. Freshman forward Tyler Motte trailed on the play, and found himself in perfect position to take the pass. The puck was right on his stick and he fired a shot high blocker-side.
Zach Nagelvoort stood tall. As he moved across his crease he stopped an unseen shot via his blocker. He didn’t have to stop many quality chances, but the ones he did were crucial.
Video review accompanied Michigan’s second goal of the evening.
Motte fell down, but got to his feet to pick up a loose puck at center ice. Junior forward Phil Di Giuseppe feathered a soft pass to oncoming sophomore forward Andrew Copp. He deposited it into the back of the net just as Motte was brutally checked, taking it off its moorings. Copp’s sixth of the season counted after the video review, staking them to a 2-0 lead after one period. Michigan head coach Red Berenson explained the relatively recent rule which allowed the goal to count.
“I thought they would call it a goal,” Berenson predicted. “’Imminent goal’ is the name. If the puck is heading imminently towards the net, then it’s a goal, even if the net gets knocked off. If it gets knocked off by your player, who is knocked in by their player, then it’s a good goal.”
No one, it appeared, wanted to grab hold of the contest in the second.
At the 10:30 mark, freshman forward Alex Kile celebrated the first goal of his collegiate career.
Senior forward Luke Moffatt glided in on the right wing, and let go a wrist shot that caromed off Niagara goaltender Teichroeb and to the left. The puck landed on Kile’s stick and he shot the puck into the open side of the cage. Michigan led, 3-0. Shots were tied at 24-all after two.
Nagelvoort, as he has done all season, continues to make every save look easy. Niagara had a good chance that glanced harmlessly off Nagelvoort’s shoulder as he slid from left-to-right. Nagelvoort brushed aside 36 shots for his first career shutout, and described the feeling.
“Unbelievable,” he said. “There’s no better feeling, honestly. It’s important to get wins, but to have an opportunity to do something like that against a team like Niagara feels really good.”
At the 10:36 mark, junior forward Alex Guptill scored his fourth of the season to make it 4-0. Niagara turned the puck over behind their net to a waiting J.T. Compher. The freshman forward backhanded a perfect pass out front to Guptill.
Guptill was not done. Minutes later, he utilized a power play to notch his second of the night and the increase the lead to 5-0. At 12:50, he battled for a loose puck behind Niagara’s net. Using his strength, he whirled out front and sniped the shot short-side.
The Wolverines concluded their scoring at 15:29. Di Giuseppe grabbed a loose puck along the far boards and placed a pass right on Copp’s tape. He zoomed a shot from the slot to finish off the Eagles, 6-0.
The first- and third-line scoring generated the bulk of Michigan’s offensive artistry. Guptill-Compher-DeBlois combined for six points, while the third-line of Motte-Copp-Di Giuseppe racked up seven points and unleashed twelve shots-on-goal. Motte mentioned that the cycling had been a point of emphasis in practice to jumpstart the offense.
“I thought we played well,” Motte said. “We talked it about it earlier in the week: we wanted to control the puck better in our opponents’ zone, and I thought we did a great job. We got pucks to the net, and Di Giuseppe made a couple great passes and we buried them.”
Well, folks, like Tim at Yost Built, it’s time for me to go on hiatus as well. Its been on my mind for a while and as the weeks go by and the neglect of MHNet becomes more and more obvious, it’s time for me to step aside for the time being. There’s been some changes in my personal life that take priority.
Geoff Chiles, who you may have seen post a few game recaps this season so far (after leaving me back in February to go intern with The Wolverine), will continue to do so as his schedule with The Wolverine allows.
I will keep the website up and continue to post an update here and there as time allows. In the mean time, you can follow me on Twitter, where I will continue to post updates. It’s a lot easier and less time consuming for me to post updates on Twitter. For those who don’t have Twitter, you do not need to have a Twitter account to follow my feed. Just go to http://twitter.com/MichiganHockey.
Last season appears to be a distant memory for the Michigan hockey team. There were no slumping shoulders on the ice or in the post-game press conference. The all-freshmen line of Tyler Motte, J.T. Compher, and Evan Allen played with speed and tenacity. Freshman goaltender Zach Nagelvoort was a picture of calm in his crease, and junior Alex Guptill refused to let the moment get to him as he lined up for the game’s winning goal. No nerves, no jitters, and no doubts for this year’s team–just confidence.
Michigan was the aggressor from the outset, skating hard, passing with clarity, and dominating play in the offensive zone.
U-M’s power play, which coming into the game had clicked at a thirty-three-percent efficiency, was held in check in the first period, going 0-3.
Michigan head coach Red Berenson reassured his team to keep their heads up and stay focused despite BU goaltender Matt O’Connor’s strong play.
“I told the team, ‘Don’t be discouraged if you’re going up against a good goalie.’ O’Connor played really well tonight, and he gave his team a chance on the road.”
The Terriers withstood the Wolverines’ barrage of shots, but managed to score the game’s first goal to go up 1-0 at 18:25. Robbie Baillargeon uncorked a blistering shot into the upper left corner of the net past Michigan freshman goaltender Zach Nagelvoort. BU was being outshot after one, 14-6, but they led where it counted, 1-0.
The all-freshmen line of Motte, Compher, and Allen was stellar for the Maize and Blue in the second period, and combined for 13 shots-on-goal in the game. Motte banged a centering pass off the outside of the post, and Compher and Allen buzzed around the net all night.
Michigan limited any dangerous activity around Nagelvoort, and at the close of the second, they held a dominating shot advantage of 30-12. U-M was clearly the better team, but they still trailed, 1-0. Last year’s team may have folded, but this is a new season, and a determined bunch of Wolverines.
Michigan finally found the equalizer at 7:16 of the third on the power play.
Senior captain Mac Bennett looked off BU’s defenders, and sent a pass directly to Motte’s stick. Stationed along the lower right faceoff circle, the freshman unloaded a shot into a wide open net to extend his goal streak to four. This was finally a shot that O’Connor couldn’t get to. Yost was in a frenzy, but the play showcased pure calm from Bennett and Motte.
Motte was effusive in his praise for his captain.
“Unbelievable pass. It goes through sticks, through skates, and lands right on my stick,” he said. “He’s been making those passes for years, you have to be ready for those.”
Michigan delivered the kill shot to the Terriers just moments later at 8:46.
Junior left wing Alex Guptill skated in alone on a breakaway, but was hooked on his arm. The decibal level inside Yost rose as a penalty shot was awarded, and the pressure was squarely on Guptill. But this wasn’t last year’s team. The gravity of the moment would not faze him. He took the shot and scored five-hole, cleanly beating O’Connor to give U-M the 2-1 lead for good. Guptill had played against O’Connor before, and that insight proved crucial.
“The penalty shot felt nerve-wracking. To be honest, my heart was racing. I played against him back in the day in the Ontario leagues. He’s a big guy, I decided on the five-hole, went forehand, and just got rid of the shot quick.”
Michigan’s mentality is vastly different from where it was a season ago. There is confidence. But most of all, there is leadership. As one of those leaders, Guptill sees it firsthand.
“I think it just shows the maturity level of this group. We were down 1-0, but the freshmen stuck with it. It shows the leadership on this team. We find the tying goal, and all the momentum. It was a great comeback.”
No Alex Guptill? No problem for the Michigan hockey team.
Michigan scored one goal in each period on Thursday night to defeat Boston College in their home opener and to claim a huge early season win at Yost over a ranked opponent. The Eagles remain winless all-time against the Wolverines on the road; they are 0-5 all-time in Ann Arbor.
Two of college hockey’s titans waged war for another classic battle on the ice, with both featuring a large freshman class (BC: seven, U-M: 10). But it was Michigan who played like the veteran team. They pushed, shoved, swiped, and stole pucks away from a Boston College squad that consistently turned pucks over, a “no-no” on the road.
From the opening whistle, the Maize and Blue pushed the pace and featured the better group of chances, outshooting BC 10-9, but Boston College junior goaltender Brian Billett kept his team in the game. Senior Mac Bennett set the tone for the game, jumping into the play early on a two-on-two rush. He fired a shot off the left shoulder of Billett. Moments later, Boston College nearly got on the board first, sending a cross-ice pass right through the crease. Sophomore goaltender Steve Racine made the inexplicable save, stepping across his crease standing up to stop a puck he didn’t even see. The puck was juggled, but Racine pounced on it to keep the game scoreless.
Wolverines capitalizing on B.C. turnovers and errant neutral-zone-play would become a trend throughout the game, and it gifted U-M with the game’s opening goal. Freshman center J.T. Compher lugged the puck down the right side of the ice, hounded by two Eagles while on the power play. The savvy passer was forced wide by the Eagles, but managed to send a gorgeous pass to senior right-winger Luke Moffatt. Moffatt slammed the puck home for his first of the year at the 7:25 mark.
On Michigan’s third power-play-chance of the contest, the nearly upped their lead to two. Freshman forward Alex Kile made a slick move to enter the zone one-on-one, take the puck, and deke to his right. He went around his defender, and just missed sliding the puck past Billett.
While Billett gave his best effort to keep the deficit at one, Racine matched him save-for-save. The Eagles carried the puck down, and came in on a partial breakaway. Racine stuffed his pads together to prevent a five-hole-goal.
As the second period began, Boston College began to find their legs and make a surge in momentum. In spite of that, freshman defenseman Nolan De Jong further impressed with his steady play on the back end. De Jong displayed a calmness and ability to learn from his partner, senior defenseman and captain, Mac Bennett. On one occasion, he thwarted a glorious Boston College chance by tying his man up on a loose puck in front of the U-M net.
Michigan did their best to counter the Boston College surge with one of their own. On their end, they outhustled and dogged the Eagles, and on the other, they skated with a purpose and passed with precision.
The lead stretched to two at 5:03 of the second period as the Maize and Blue scored on a strange play. A shot from the point goes wide and hits the glass behind the Boston College cage. Sophomore forward Andrew Copp shot the puck from behind the goal-line. The puck deflected in front of Billett’s net, hit his defenseman, and caromed into the back of the net. Senior forward Derek DeBlois and freshman defenseman Michael Downing picked up the assists. Copp played a sensational game: along with his goal, he notched two assists, took five shots-on-goal, and was very responsible when he had the puck.
Michigan’s penalty-killers kept the Eagles at bay, denying them on the power-play twice. But they eventually got on the board at 10:05. Freshman defenseman Ian McCoshen skated across the Michigan blueline, squaring his body to accept a pass from junior forward Johnny Gaudreau. McCoshen took a great pass in stride, and one-timed it past a scurrying Racine to bring the Eagles to within one, 2-1.
Racine protected the slim lead brilliant. He slid across his crease to make a few diving saves, and even managed to stop his puck ten feet out from his net during a mad scramble. Amazingly, the Eagles did not score, missing on a wide-open net.
After two periods, Michigan had the edge in shots, 25-16, and on the scoreboard where it counted, 2-1.
J.T. Compher’s assertive play on both ends stood out. The talented freshman backchecked on any Eagle who happened to have the puck, set up his linemates, and passed the puck like a professional. He finished with two assists, and two shots-on-goal.
Before Boston College had a chance to settle in for the third period, the Wolverines scored in the blink of an eye to make it 3-1. Moffatt scored his second of the game–and second on the power-play–off a pretty pass from Copp. Moffatt entered the B.C. zone and set up at the left faceoff dot. Copp feathered a perfect pass that Moffatt absolutely uncorked into the back of the Boston College net. Michigan finished with 32 shots, and Boston College had 21.
Michigan next travels to RIT on Saturday night for their first road game of the season.