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Michigan Hockey Loses Senior Night Battle, Road to Frozen Four Gets Harder

Michigan managed to completely outplay MSU, only to run into a hot Jake Hildebrand.

Evan Gerstein

On Friday, Michigan stormed into East Lansing and won a great contest on MSU's senior night. On pi day nonetheless, the Spartans returned the favor.

Actually, it was really just Jake Hildebrand.

With 6:19 to go in the third period Boo Nieves sent a pass into the slot that deflected to Tyler Motte. With the whole net to himself, he wound up and fired a one-timer glove-side high, only to be robbed by Hildebrand. The junior goaltender made 37 stops on 38 shots on goal, leading Michigan state to the win and what would turn out to be the second seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

"I told them they did everything they did to make that happen," coach Red Berenson said. "We have goals in our locker room: protect Yost, win the weekend, win the GLI, win the Big 10; we were a goal away from doing all four of those and we didn’t get it."

Perhaps it was a metaphor for Michigan's season, or perhaps maybe it'll win the three games in the Big Ten Tournament to secure a national tournament berth and this will all be irrelevant.

The bright spot tonight was the work of Zach Werenski (see below), and it included a spectacular goal on the powerplay to tie the game in the second period.

"Good faceoff, got a couple of shots off of it and then (the puck) came out to me and they gave me some time," Werenski said. "The closer I walked in, I saw that the corner was open, I just went for it, and fortunately it went in."

The Wolverines, for once, did just about everything right. The goaltending was a bit shaky, but it's essentially become a sunk cost at this point. Regardless, a certain Hobey Baker finalist didn't see it like that.

"Sometimes the puck's not going to go in and we have to play well defensively," said Zach Hyman. "Unfortunately they capitalized on the little chances that they had."

"We pressured them really well and we had a lot of chances," said Hyman. "I guess it just wasn’t going in."

At this point, there's not much anyone can do. Michigan just has to play sound hockey. The Wolverines will be in good shape if they play the way they did against MSU and get a bit luckier on the scoring front. The issue will be getting past the stingy-against-Michigan teams.

Nonetheless, senior night was an omen for the end. It's not worth writing Michigan off yet, but it'll take an explosion to do any sort of damage going forward. The road could have been made much easier tonight, but it wasn't meant to be.

"Well obviously it’s disappointing," said Berenson. "We had an opportunity to do something that was special and it didn’t happen."

Advanced Statistics

Tonight, I had one of my friends, Todd Cordell, ask me to track Zach Werenski's on-ice Corsi at even-strength. It's one of the hardest things to do manually on a player-by-player basis while trying to tweet, write, and take notes, but I'd say these numbers are about 97% correct.

Red Berenson was playing to win tonight, as he always does, and sheltered Werenski quite a bit, nursing his ice time at even-strength and starting most of his shifts in the offensive zone. His zone exits were clean, his passes were crisp, and he had one heck of a goal from the slot. He finished with a 63.83 CF% at even strength, a +13.

5v5 On-Ice Shot Attempts On-ice Zone Entries Zone Starts
Period For Against Total For Against Offensive Defensive
1 7 5 12 7 4 5 3
2 5 4 9 7 4 4 2
3 18 8 26 11 3 8 3
Total 30 17 47 25 11 17 8

Also, not to go unposted, here are the team numbers for Michigan tonight, with totals in bold. Zach Nagelvoort posted a .895 SV%, while Jake Hildebrand tallied a remarkable .974 SV%.

PDO - Mich PDO - Away Corsi - M Corsi - A Fenwick - M Fenwick - A Period
0.889 1.111 63.415% 36.585% 55.556% 44.444% 1
1.100 0.900 62.857% 37.143% 68.182% 31.818% 2
0.833 1.167 69.388% 30.612% 68.750% 31.250% 3
0.921 1.079 65.600% 34.400% 64.198% 35.802% Total

The most insane thing? The shot attempts. Michigan had 92 total, while Michigan State had 45.