After dominating a ranked Arizona State team on both days last weekend, the Michigan Wolverines have vaulted up to No. 6 in the polls. Just about everything went right in 8-1 and 3-0 victories, and it looks like this team is just as good on the ice as it appears on paper. There are still 13 more series to play, but it is hard to start a season better than this.
Michigan got contributions from up and down the roster against the Sun Devils, with the electric offense quick to show its capabilities. Just about every forward is capable of scoring at any time, and the defenders are happy to jump into the attack as well. Meanwhile, the Wolverines did not allow an even-strength goal and seem likely to dominate possession against most teams this season.
Their first action in conference play will come against Wisconsin, who swept Notre Dame to earn a place in the rankings this week. The Badgers finished dead-last in the Big Ten standings last season, but they returned some key players such as 2020 first-rounder Dylan Holloway, who scored in both games against the Irish but will miss this series after joining Canada’s National Junior Team.
Series Info & How to Watch
Teams: No. 6 Michigan Wolverines (2-0-0, 0 pts) at No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers (2-0-0, 6 pts)
Location: Madison, WI
Game 1: Thursday, Nov. 19, 7:00 pm ET — Fox Sports Detroit
Game 2: Friday, Nov. 20, 7:00 pm ET — Fox Sports Detroit
Scoring does not seem like it will be a problem for the Wolverines, as 10 players already have at least one goal from the weekend, including standout freshmen Kent Johnson, Matty Berniers, Thomas Bordeleau, and Owen Power. Wisconsin let in the most goals in the conference last year, though goaltender Robbie Beydoun opened the season with a 2-0 shutout, so it will be fun to see if the Michigan offense can stay hot.
Comically, even after an 11-goal weekend, the best player for the Wolverines might be the guy in net. Strauss Mann was named the Big Ten First Star of the Week with just one goal allowed, which came on an Arizona State power play. It is an absolute luxury for an offense of this caliber to have arguably the league’s best goaltender as well, but Michigan will certainly take it.
This will be the first road series for the young Wolverine team, although the away environment definitely has a different feel this year. Continuing the hot start is important given how last season’s team dug itself into a hole, so the intensity must remain high. Given how Michigan played last weekend, there are unlikely to be too many nights where things are not clicking for at least part of the lineup. The Badgers looked better than expected to start the year, but the Wolverines are still the team to beat right now.