What a difference a day makes. Less than twenty four hours ago a young Michigan team playing their first game together looked rattled ceding the possession battle by a large margin against an older more experienced Union team.
Tonight that was not the case. Instead, it was the Dutchmen who couldn’t gain the zone against a Michigan team that put their speed and puck skills on display to negate the Union forecheck.
Hayden Lavigne started in net for the first time in place of Zach Nagelvoort and played an outstanding game. While Lavigne did give up a few big rebounds his positioning was excellent and he was ready to turn away the Dutchmen whenever they got a puck to the net. A 31 save shutout in is first career game is about as good as it gets.
Michigan took advantage of their chances in a slow first period and jumped out to a quick lead when Niko Porikos darted into the zone, grabbed a puck that was just sitting in the Union zone and threw it at the net from long range. Union goaltender Jake Kupsky misjudged the puck and it went in over his blocker.
Late in the period the Wolverines would get a goal from the same distance. This time it was Sam Piazza grabbing a loose puck at the blueline and snapping it on net by Kupsky.
Union pushed back and got a few pucks at Lavigne from good scoring areas but Lavigne shut the door on the Dutchmen, who couldn’t sustain any zone time due to the Wolverines quick zone exits. The Dutchmen were never able to establish any possession in the Michigan end and found their quality chances few and far between.
The dagger came midway through the second period. Shorthanded, Max Shuart tipped the puck to center behind the Union defense to a waiting James Sanchez. Sanchez went in alone and wasted no time stick-handling before he fired a wrister by Kupsky to make it a 3-0 game.
With the game already in hand Sanchez added his second of the night off another Max Shuart feed when the Union defenseman dropped an errant pass below the circle that Shuart picked off and put on the tape of Sanchez in front of the goal for a 1-time snipe.
The Wolverines improve to 1-1-0 on the season. They’ll play a one game series in Big Rapids against Ferris State next Saturday.