When the young Wolverines hit the road for their first two game road trip this weekend, it looked like the series could be a confidence builder playing two teams that were both looking to discover their identities.
Instead, it went about as bad it could have starting with a clobbering at Vermont followed by a heartbreaker at Dartmouth. Michigan now finds themselves with more questions than answers.
Red Berenson needed a spark going into this game. The Wolverines have been out-possessed and outshot in every game this season so he threw his lines into a blender. Dexter Dancs started as the top line left winger, Cutler Martin was the 2nd line left winger, Alex Kile was dropped to the third line with Adam Winborg as his center.
For a little while it worked. The Wolverines came out and turned in their most physical period of the season before taking a 1-0 lead when Adam Winborg redirected a Piazza shot on the power play.
The Wolverines, however, couldn’t keep their demons in check for more than a period and Dartmouth would tie the game in the second when Michigan couldn’t clear their zone. Later in the period a coverage bust left a Big Green foward all alone right in front of Jack LaFontaine and take the lead.
Crossing the 10 minute mark of the third period Michigan was in desperation mode. Red Berenson blended his lines again just trying to find something that would work and Alex Kile saved the bacon. Kile took the puck in his own zone, raced over the line and danced three defenders before shaking the goaltender and scoring to tie the game.
The Wolverines just couldn’t get ahead and the Big Green looked to take the lead for good late in the third but a goal review overturned the Dartmouth goal after a Michigan player was driven into LaFontaine. The Wolverines looked to have new life and had a chance to win the game with Dancs and Kile coming in on a two-on-one, however, when Dancs missed Dartmouth took the puck down the ice and a puck flung from nowhere beat LaFontaine with 49 seconds left to win the game.
It was a disappointing result to say the least. Dartmouth was picked the finish 9th in their conference and hadn’t played a game this season yet they easily handled the Wolverines by dominating possession by a large margin.
Again, the lone bright spot was the goaltender. Jack LaFontaine faced a barrage of rubber from quality areas all night long and stood on his head to give his team a chance in the game.
Up next Michigan travels to Arizona for a one game series at Arizona State.