Spring break started early for the Michigan hockey team, and Red Berenson served as the cure-all for Michigan's hangover to rescue his squad. The Wolverines spent nearly the entire first five minutes of the game in their own end, chasing the puck against what can be described as one of the worst teams in college hockey right now.
"Wisconsin came in and play hard," said coach Red Berenson. "We knew they would, and we were hoping to get out of our own zone better early in the game, but they made it tough and it took a while before we got going."
Michigan eventually found its game, but the contest quickly turned into the typical scrappy underdog fighting for its life against a very skilled team.
These, however, weren't the same Badgers that MIchigan crushed at the Kohl center back in January.
The Wolverines were without Michael Downing, who was serving his suspension incurred in last Sunday's game against Ohio State. De Jong came in along with Chiasson as a seventh D, and Berenson cited it as "defense by committee."
While the game was largely uneventful, there were some bright spots.
One of Michigan's shining moments came in the crease, as junior Steve Racine recorded his first collegiate shutout. The sophomore bailed out his defense on multiple occasions, and stood tall on two breakaways and multiple odd man rushes. It happened to catch Berenson off guard.
"Is that his first one? Well good for him," Berenson said, "that's what happens when you stay focused for 60 minutes."
The goaltender naturally played it off.
"This time of year, you'll do anything for the win," Racine said. "It's going to take ugly goals ... and I'm just going to have the saves I need to make just to give our team a chance."
One of the more interesting developments of the evening was the powerplay, which converted for two (pretty ugly) goals. Michigan had been forever trying to force the issue from the point, leading to a ton of blocked shots and missed chances.
Zach Hyman brought life to the Michigan powerplay unit in the second period, after he sent a cross-crease pass from the right side behind Joel Rumpel inadvertently into the net off of Chase Drake's right skate boot.
"You're not really trying to score from that angle obviously," Hyman said. "I was trying to get it to Dylan [Larkin] back-door, it bounced and went in. That's a good feeling."
Fixing what has long been a tedious issue, Michigan decided to solve its problem of not getting shots through to the goal on offense, particularly in 5v4 situations.
In the second period, however, not a single Michigan shot was taken in any situation from the point. Every shot was attempted from the top of the circle at the furthest distance. This was particularly one of the issues on the man advantage, and the forwards were quite pleased with the adjustment.
"We've definitely had some different looks on the powerplay," Hyman said. "Everybody has video these days so you have to change up your looks all the time, and it worked out for us tonight. Those two powerplay goals were the difference for us in the game."
It wouldn't be a 2015 Michigan hockey game without the stellar work of Zach Werenski, who joined the rush on multiple occasions, coming close to a goal in the first frame, followed by a powerplay tally in the second period.
Werenski has also been largely holding his own in the defensive zone over the past several games. He has been fantastic over the last month, and he is very quietly pumping up his draft stock for this June.
Michigan PDO - 1.088
Overall shooting percentage: 8.824 %
Team SV% - 1.000
|Corsi - M||Corsi - A||Fenwick - M||Fenwick - A|