Michigan suffered their first loss of the season last weekend, after falling to Notre Dame 17-8. Canisius comes calling this weekend.
What: Canisius Golden Griffins 0-3 (0-0 MAAC) at Michigan Wolverines 2-1 (0-0 B1G)
When: February 28; 1:00 p.m. ET
Where: Oosterbaan Field House Ann Arbor, MI
How to Watch: No TV; Live stats
Canisius is bringing a ton of experience with them to Oosterbaan Field House: Randy Mearns has been heading the program for 17 years, and his team returns over 90% of the goals and points from last season. Uh, yeah--check out last year's stat sheet, and note that those first six names are coming back. Those six guys scored 99 of 129 goals last season, and three returners accounted for 61 of the 99: Austin Romantic, Vince Gravino, and Billy Jacobbi.
Things get a little scarier when you realize that the above three guys are just on attack; I haven't even gotten to the midfield yet. Senior Tim Edwards is the top returner, scoring 15 goals last season, but assisting 29 times and picking up 83 ground balls. Edwards also doubles as the face-off man; having gone 129-211 (61%) at the dot last season, he puts his 46% win percentage in 2015 up against Brad Lott's 60%. Tim's brother, Jeff, goes into his sophomore season having tallied 22 points on 9 goals and 13 assists in 2014. Junior Nick Tuttle brings 14 goals' worth of experience into Saturday's game.
On defense, the top two players in caused turnovers are also coming back: LSM Kevin Collins (11) and Adam Donner (12). Collins was also the team's leader in ground balls, with 38 last season; he has nine ground balls so far in the Griffs' first three games of 2015.
Between the pipes for the Griffs will be senior goalie Alex Govenettio, who has a save percentage of .478 (67 SOG faced vs 32 saves). Govenettio was in net for about 93% of the time last season, and has played every minute so far in 2015, so look for him to be the workhorse on Saturday and beyond for Canisius.
Key areas to keep an eye on: Clears--Canisius has been successful only 64% of the time, while Michigan is sitting at an 85% success rate. SOG%--the Griffs are 60 of 105 for 57% and the Wolverines are 82 of 126 for 65%. Goals per period: Canisius has been pretty consistent (8, 6, 3, 6); Michigan has exploded in the third, scoring 15 of their 39 goals after the break, which is bad news for the Griffs who have allowed 13 goals in the third. Finally, I really love the caused turnover stat, so I'm always looking to see how many times a team can turn the other one over. So far, Canisius has turned their opponents over 21 times, while Michigan has done it 36 times.
The Griffs went 7-8 overall and 3-3 in the MAAC in 2014, but are now 0-3. Although they may have had some momentum coming into the season, 2015 clearly isn't what they had hoped for. Saturday's match-up could be one of those games that goes totally bananas--Michigan will want to avenge last weekend's loss to Notre Dame and get back into the win column, and Canisius just wants to get a W regardless. So, could we see a high-scoring affair to the tune of 35 total goals between the two? Possibly. But it could also end up being a 7-5 snoozer.
With Michigan averaging 13 goals per game to Canisius' 7.66, I think Michigan's offense will get back on track and score closer to that average than they did against Notre Dame, while Gerald Logan will stop more than what he did against the Irish. And, let's face it, Canisius is not Notre Dame. Michigan 12 - Canisius 7.