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What We Learned: East Coast Road Trip

The Wolverines hit the road to face two of Hockey East's best, earning a well deserved split.

Gregory Shamus

Michigan 8 - UMass Lowell 4

Boston University 3 - Michigan 2

Taking a 1-2-0 record on the road against two Top-15 teams, for better or for worse the young Wolverines were going to learn a lot about themselves as a team by the time the weekend was over.

Friday night the Wolverines put on a show in front a raucous UMass-Lowell crowd. The second line of Alex Kile, Dylan Larkin and Zach Hyman was unstoppable; with the speed of Larkin keeping the River Hawk blueline back in transition they gained the offensive zone with ease, putting their skill on display and just toying with the defense. Every puck they put on net was a quality scoring chance and by the end of the night, Hyman's hat trick capped off a 5 goal effort for the line.

Defensively the Wolverine blueline played a much better game despite allowing four goals, maintaining their gaps and terrorizing the River Hawks in the neutral zone. For most of the game Michigan suffocated the Lowell attack, with the exception of a handful of miscues finding the back of their net.

The real test came Saturday against Boston University, playing in an electric arena that got louder and louder every time Jack Eichel touched the puck. From the opening drop the Terriers put their speed on display, exiting and gaining the zone with brutal efficiency and bombarding Zach Nagelvoort.

The Wolverines took the lead on two occasions and both times BU had an answer before Sam Piazza scored what he thought was the winning goal, before it was waived off for goaltender interference. A second chance was all a potent BU offense needed and they proved too much for a besieged Michigan team to hold off.

No one like to lose, but sometimes you do everything it takes to win and the other team just does it a little better. In the end, Michigan played two great games and should head home feeling good about where they are as a team.

Five Keys
  1. Special Teams: Coming into this weekend Michigan had been awful on the power play and on the penalty kill. Special teams became a bright spot as the power play led the way scoring against UML and both of the Wolverine goals against BU, while not allowing a power play goal on three tries. Zach Werenski has come into his own establishing himself as Michigan's power play quarterback.

  2. Situational Plays: Another problem area from last season, the Wolverines have greatly improved their play coming off of faceoffs in the offensive and defensive zone. Three goals scored this weekend came off clean faceoffs wins in the offensive zone.

  3. Lineup Changes: Again Red continued his wizardry with the lineup, sitting Steve Racine and the Martin-Chiasson pair for Nagelvoort, Sam Piazza and Brennan Serville. Both moves paid off, as Zach Nagelvoort was outstanding and the Piazza-Serville pair held up well against BU's skill lineup. Piazza moves the puck well and contributed on the offensive end, in contrast to the defensive minded Cuter Martin. It's a good sign that Michigan has found serviceable minutes from both players.

  4. 2nd Line: We knew that this line was going to produce; Zach Hyman has become a dynamic offensive player over the past year, Dylan Larkin is arguably Michigan's most talented player and Alex Kile was a 30 goal scorer in the USHL. I don't think anyone expected them to be this good, as all three players have became lethal together establishing prefect perfect cohesion combining their skill sets.

  5. Poise on the Road: It was important for the young Wolverines to learn how to play on the road in a hostile environment, scoring first in both games and holding a lead for almost the entire weekend. The experience will be invaluable as they head to Houghton to play a tough Michigan Tech team.

    Up Next: Michigan heads north to face a 4-0-0 Michigan Tech team coming off a road sweep of Ferris State.