It was a little closer in the 2nd than we would’ve liked it to be, but your University of Michigan ice hockey team scored 3 unanswered goals in the 3rd to put an emphatic stamp on an always-satisfying victory over the Spartans tonight at Yost. Postgame comments from Red and Kevin Lynch, followed by some insightful commentary from yours truly.
Red describes the flow of the hockey game…”I really liked our start in this game. We got two quick goals to start, but we know that a rivalry game with them is never over. They came out with fire in their eyes in the 2nd period, and got a late goal. Everyone in the locker room knew what’s happened to us in the 3rd period, so it was important that we stick to it. Lynch and Trouba got some late goals for us, and that put the game away.”
On being asked about Jacob Trouba’s incredible intensity…“Well, you saw what he did tonight. He’s a special, special player. He blocked shots, he played against the forward he was matched up with well, and he scored a goal–heck of a shot.”
Kevin Lynch tries to put into words his success against MSU…”I can’t tell you what it is. I mean, this is a great rivalry game–who wouldn’t enjoy playing in these games? I know our whole team enjoys playing in them. I’ve had some very fortunate goals, and my linemates Phil and Derek gave me some great passes tonight.”
- As the aforementioned quote would allude to, Kevin Lynch played some incredible hockey tonight, continuing his run of success against Michigan Agricultural College. (I like to refer to them by their institution’s original name.) The newly-christened line of Kevin Lynch, Derek DeBlois, and Phil Di Giuseppe really was a catalyst to the overall offensive effort of the team. The Wolverines were strong out of the gate, peppering NOT ANN ARBOR NATIVE Will Yanakeff with shots from all over the ice. They held a 15-5 shot advantage after one period, easily frustrating the Spartans into additional bad passes and giveaways to solidify their advantage. To emphasize: Boo Nieves gets his first career goal to make it 2-0 in the first, but perhaps it was the Lynch line on the shift before that created energy and energized the team to make it happen. DeBlois lifts the stick of an MSU forward who was gliding in for a possible scoring chance, before a timely lift of the stick prevents that and swings momentum into Michigan’s favor. (More on the overall defensive intensity from the team tonight, which was stellar, and sorely needed.) The passes from the 2nd line tonight were crisp, on the tape, and most imporantly, putting the Spartans on their heels on the road. They were rewarded in the final stanza as both DeBlois and Kevin Lynch lit the lamp to put a bow on the victory. DeBlois scored his goal unassisted, but Lynch received a tape-to-tape, perfect pass across the ice from Lee Moffie to roof one into the net. Kevin finished with 4 SOG, and a +2, winning 7 draws on the night. Hail, the Spartan Killer.
- I’m pretty sure Red mentioned somewhere during the week that he wanted a “complete game” from his players on both ends of the ice, and the boys did not disappoint. The lines were considerably mixed-and-matched before the start of tonight’s game, and the new combinations seemed to provide more balance, both offensively and defensively. Nieves got the honor of playing on the top line with AJ and Guptill, and promptly scored the first goal of what we’re all hoping will be a highlight-filled career, tapping the puck into the net; the goal itself was a result of shots from AJ and Guptill. Lynch centered the 2nd line between DeBlois and PDG, in what looked to be the most complete effort on the ice. Copp and Moffatt had some quality chances on the 3rd line with Travis Lynch, and Sparks low slapper to open the scoring helped springboard the 4th line. All six defensemen offered something positive tonight, and that may be the first time this season we’ve been able to sing their praises. Bennett blocking centering feeds; Chiasson skating hard up ice; Moffie making that great first pass out of the zone; and Clare and Trouba blocking shots, scoring goals, and doing quite the hard-nosed job. Those two were warriors, they threw weight around, and made life very, very hard for a listless Spartan offense that was already beaten down; they found no solace in this outing. I know, I’ve been hard on Kevin Clare, but he proved he belonged on the 1st pairing tonight. Jared Rutledge, who earned his first career win, should not be swept aside in the midst of the lavish accolades I’m showering on the defense; he had to be quick on saves off draws, and he managed the puck very well. But the men in front of him, all six as a collective unit, worked together and was as stingy as you can ask any defense to be: loose pucks were swept out of the crease, bodies were lain down to block shots, and the challenge was answered by a unit that, up until tonight, had acted more like a sieve than stopgap in the 3rd period. I didn’t receive end-of-game stats, but I’m guessing Michigan had upwards of 15 blocked shots tonight. Great job, D!
- Jacob Trouba: he’s a damn good defenseman, and he’s on his way towards becoming that complete, elite-package of a defenseman that Michigan hasn’t had since, well, Jack Johnson. (I should know, I was a student just a few short years ago when JMFJ roamed the ice at Yost.) I saw Jack shoot the puck extremely hard, hit extremely hard, and play the game at a level that few can play at. Signs are all around us, and realities, that Jacob can also be that type of defenseman. Like Jack, he must master discipline, and he must see plays before they happen before he can claim elite status. A few examples: MSU had a 2-on-1 late in the 2nd period. Trouba’s all alone, no one around him, he kneels down to block the pass, and then is able to have the awareness to sweep away the puck out of the zone. Another great Trouba play: he gives the puck away in the second while MSU was trying to tie the game. He didn’t let it affect him emotionally, didn’t remove himself from the play. He proceeded to atone for that giveaway by sacrificing his body on the ensuring shot that looked headed for the back of the net. Further still: Trouba muscled off an MSU forward in the 3rd, then calmly grabbed the loose puck and shoveled it over to Clare. Textbook examples of Trouba’s continued development, and how the defensive depth and execution will be scary good when Merill returns. 5 SOG, and a laser-beam of a goal that even HockeyBear would be proud of to cap the evening.
Complete team effort tonight, and it’s even sweeter and more satisfying when it comes against the Spartans. I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it to Munn with the football game and general exhaustion tomorrow, but I am definitely considering it for all you loyal followers! I’ve spent many-a-game watching Michigan play poorly at Munn, so I’m hoping that trend is reversed tomorrow night, and we finish off a sweep of this dreadful Spartan team with a sweep at the Library.