Michigan junior defenseman Andrew Sinelli had only scored four total goals in 54 career games for the Maize and Blue as a forward. Until tonight. In a huge game with NCAA Tournament implications against rival Michigan State, he scored three in a row playing on the blue line, the first hat trick of his career.
Michigan jumped on Michigan State early. Only 56 seconds into the contest, junior forward Alex Guptill beat two Spartans to the puck behind their own net. He centered to untouched senior forward Derek DeBlois, who let loose a hard shot into the back of the MSU net. U-M enjoyed a quick 1-0 lead over MSU.
From there, the Wolverines turned it on.
Senior forward Luke Moffatt continued his torrid pace of beautiful goals. Moffatt collected the puck at his own blue line, outraced the MSU defenseman on the right side, and blasted a shot that went off the crossbar and in at 7:46 of the first period. The tally was Moffatt’s tenth of the season. The Spartans were on their heels, and the Wolverines were rolling up, 2-0.
Awarded their second power play of the evening, MSU had a golden opportunity to pull to within one. The puck was shot hard from the point. The puck clanked off the crossbar, and landed right on the waiting stick of junior forward Matt Berry. Michigan sophomore goaltender Steve Racine, solid to that point, had absolutely no chance at making the save. Berry easily deposited the power-play tap-in into the cage. The Spartans’ will had thwarted the Wolverines’ early onslaught. The scoreboard read, 2-1.
After one period, U-M was the better team, outhustling MSU and doing a better job defensively in their own zone. MSU’s forwards were consistently herded to the outside, unable to attempt shots from close range. But near the end of the stanza, it was clear MSU had some jump in their step. In addition, the Green and White outshot the Maize and Blue, 11-6.
As the second period began, Michigan found itself with a great opportunity going on the power play. After just missing on some one-timers, junior forward Zach Hyman managed to get his stick on a sizzling shot from Guptill who pivoted between the circles and fired a shot on net. The goal was Hyman’s sixth. At 5:55, the Maize and Blue were up, 3-1.
MSU managed to kill off U-M’s second power play of the game, but a little over ten minutes later, Michigan’s quality play in the offensive zone led to some unbelievable luck.
Junior forward Phil Di Giuseppe carried the puck in along the left side. He attempted what looked to be a harmless backhand pass towards the MSU net. Unfortunately for the Spartans, the puck glanced off the skate of R.J. Boyd. The puck trickled past goaltender Jake Hildebrand, and in the process, upped the Wolverines’ lead to 4-1. Di Giuseppe has needed luck like that this season. The goal was his tenth of the season.
Moments later, Michigan struck again.
Junior defenseman Andrew Sinelli, perhaps acting his instincts as a converted forward, skated into the zone and put a soft wrist shot on net. The shot happened to elude Hildebrand’s catching glove at 17:43. The goal was only Sinelli’s second of the season.
After two, the scoreboard read 5-1, Michigan. The game had featured low shot totals for both teams, with Michigan ahead in that department, 17-12. The offensive consistency is there for them tonight; they’re making their shots count.
Hildebrand was pulled by MSU head coach Tom Anastos at the start of the third period in favor of Will Yanakeff. Amazingly, it was the first time in 57 careers starts that Hildebrand had been yanked.
Michigan’s offensive prowess was matched only by their defensive dominance. Time after time again, MSU entered the Michigan zone and left with nothing to show for it. The Wolverines consistently kept the Spartan forwards to the outside, never giving them any serious chances.
The misery was not yet over for the visitors from East Lansing.
Sinelli picked up his second goal of the game—and third of the season—at 7:31. DeBlois and freshman forward J.T. Compher combined for a nifty pass-and-shot that Yanakeff stopped. The rebound came all the way out to Sinelli, who was stationed at the right faceoff circle. Yanakeff had no chance. He fired a shot top-shelf into a yawning cage. 6-1, Michigan.
On their fifth power play of the game, Michigan put an emphatic stamp on a dominating victory. With Luke Dwyer in goal for mop-up duty and Dean Chelios ejected for the Spartans, Sinelli finished off his hat trick.
Sinelli took a pass from freshman defenseman Michael Downing. The pass was perfect, and Sinelli unleashed a blistering one-timer. In a rout at Yost, Michigan won, 7-1.
Sinelli scored a natural hat trick tonight while playing on the blue line. He is the first Michigan defenseman to record a hat trick since Jack Johnson did it.
What’s most impressive about this performance by Michigan, perhaps more than the offense, is the continued improvement in their own zone. The Wolverines blocked 15 shots in the contest, with seven coming from senior defenseman Kevin Clare. In addition, the Maize and Blue prevented MSU from mounting any serious pressure, outside of their goal in the first and a point-blank shot that Racine stopped in the second. He wasn’t required to stop much due to the focus on team defense, making 18 saves. The Spartans never seemed to be able to acquire a quality scoring chance in tight, kept to the perimeter by swatting sticks and air-tight coverage. It appears the Wolverines are peaking at the right time; hope remains that this team will continue their solid play defensively down the stretch with their NCAA fate in their own hands.
Michigan makes the short trip north tomorrow for the series finale at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing. They’re seeking their fourth win in five games against Michigan State this season. The puck will drop at 7:00pm, and the game will be televised by Fox Sports Detroit.
A Penn State turnover was not the way the Nittany Lions wanted to start their first game at Yost. Before the night was over, Michigan would end up committing plenty of their own.
PSU coughed the puck up behind the net, where it slid to senior forward Derek DeBlois. Sophomore forward Boo Nieves was parked all alone in front of the net. DeBlois made the simple pass, and Nieves pumped it in short-side for his second of the season at 5:40. The goal was Nieves’ first since Oct. 12.
Freshman goaltender Zach Nagelvoort got the call in net, and he stopped 13 PSU shots in the first period to keep the Lions’ offense at bay. A handful of saves came at point-blank range.
It took just over a minute for the Wolverines to pad their lead to 2-0. Junior forward Phil Di Giuseppe broke his own scoring drought with an impressive second effort off a rebound shot. Di Giuseppe broke in on the right wing, clanged a hard shot off the post on his first attempt, and then neatly deposited the rebound behind stunned PSU goaltender Matthew Skoff. The goal came at 6:41 on the power play, and was Di Giuseppe’s sixth of the season.
Unfortunately, the two-goal cushion would not last for long. Michigan turned the puck over shorthanded, and PSU forward David Goodman made the score 2-1 at 7:06.
Freshman forward Tyler Motte put the Maize and Blue up 3-1 on a gorgeous bit of passing from sophomore forward Andrew Copp. Copp flew in along the right side of the offensive zone. A PSU defenseman attempted to close in and tie up his stick, but Copp mustered just enough strength to backhand a pass to a wide-open Motte, who roofed a wrister at 15:37 for his eighth of the campaign.
As the second began, Michigan hoped their 3-1 lead would be buoyed by a power-play-marker. No goal, but encouraging signs were seen with the man-advantage. Michigan’s power play showed promise with players skating hard and passing the puck well.
Zach Nagelvoort’s stellar play in goal carried over from the first period. There was a moment in the second where PSU had multiple whacks at a puck, only to have both shots denied.
The Wolverines appeared to be coasting to the second intermission, and the Nittany Lions made them pay for their indiscretion. Phil Di Giuseppe’s careless slashing of a stick landed him in the penalty box at 18:29.
PSU scored on the late power play chance, giving them new life. PSU forward Casey Bailey ripped a one-timer from the left faceoff circle that caromed off the goalpost and trickled behind Nagelvoort. The score read 3-2, Michigan.
Shots after two were 29-20 in favor of Penn State.
As the third began, Michigan’s worst fears—its’ propensity to cough up the puck—were realized.
Dylan Richard outraced Alex Guptill for a loose puck and swept a high backhand past Nagelvoort’s glove at 3:17. The scored was now tied at 3. Guptill broke his stick on the net in anger. Guptill’s turnover exemplified his frustration all night on the ice, turning the puck over and getting beat all over the ice.
Guptill’s opportunity at a little redemption would come with mere minutes left in regulation.
Guptill’s ninth goal scored at 17:40 put the Wolverines into the driver’s seat near the end of the game. Compher made a slick pass from behind the net, feeding it to Guptill. In one, fluid motion, Guptill toe-dragged the puck deftly around a defender, and fired a low wrist shot past Skoff. Michigan re-took the lead, 4-3.
But the Nittany Lions made sure their first visit to Ann Arbor would end with a little more fanfare.
With five seconds left, Michigan desperately fought to clear the puck. Their season-long struggles of turning the puck over reared their ugly head again. A blind, backhand pass found its’ way onto a PSU stick. Casey Bailey burned the Wolverines for a second time, shooting a high wrister past a confused Nagelvoort to send the game to a 4-4 deadlock and overtime.
PSU would finish what they started.
Fittingly, a Michigan turnover would end the game in PSU’s favor. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, it was one of many on the night. With Michigan skating into the zone on the offensive end, they overskated the puck, which led to a PSU 2-on-1 the other way. David Goodwin chose to shoot the puck rather than pass, and his second goal of the contest ended in a 5-4 overtime win for the Nittany Lions.
The Wolverines are just not a very good hockey team at the moment. They’re giving up more shots, out of position in the defensive zone, and turning the puck over at alarming rates. Both Andrew Copp and Boo Nieves were visibly upset the post-game press conference, calling the recent efforts “flat-out unacceptable at a place like Michigan.”
Michigan must rectify its’ porous play in its’ own zone quickly, before another season gets away from them. They’ll have another chance tomorrow as they face Penn State.
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.