Michigan 4 - Michigan State 1
It was 4:00pm and 40 degrees. Start time had pushed back twice, the ice was soft and there was a doubt whether this game would even be played. This was supposed to be a dogfight; a slow, defensive minded, scrapfest which would crown a winner to whoever clawed themselves out of the pile at the end of sixty minutes.
Instead, Michigan fans were treated to a role reversal. The freewheeling run and gun Wolverines were boring but brutally efficient using short, crisp passing to exit the zone and move through neutral ice."We knew we couldn't make home run passes on this ice so we were trying to play a shorter game." said Berenson.
The Michigan State neutral zone trap that gave Michigan so much trouble last week was an afterthought with the Wolverines chipping the puck passed the Spartans at the blueline, winning races to pucks and fighting for possessions.
"I thought out forecheck was better, D-Zone was better, neutral zone was better." Berenson said postgame. "I thought our second effort was better. We had more second effort, more physicality and we were more invested in the game than we were last week."
On the other end the Spartans were uncharacteristically sloppy trying to hit long passes, something Tom Anastos noted after the game. "I thought they were better at managing the game." "The puck was bouncing all night, so you have to play a simplistic game. You talk about it all week to prepare for it and I thought they executed better than we did."
In the end, the Michigan defensemen were the difference on both ends. They kept mistakes to a minimum, limited line rushes and added two goals. By the time Andrew Copp punched in Michigan's 3rd goal, tallies from Mike Downing and Cutler Martin had already sealed the game and three important points in the Big Ten standings.
Up Next: Michigan hits the road to take on Minnesota