The puck is set to drop on the 100th season of Michigan Wolverines hockey this Saturday with an exhibition game against the Windsor Lancers. The sixth-ranked Wolverines welcome the Lancers to Ann Arbor for the first time since 2019 — also an exhibition game season-opener — which saw Michigan prevail, 8-2.
A member of the Ontario University Athletic Association, the Lancers already have four exhibition games and four wins under their belt this season. Albeit against lesser competition — UBC Thunderbirds (twice), York Lions, Brock Badgers — Windsor has a better feel for its team chemistry in actual game settings.
Coming off an 11-6 campaign last season, the Lancers bring back a lot of key pieces vital to their team success. Offensively, they are led by forward and team captain Mason Kohn, who was the team leader in 2021 in total points (20) and assists (14). Their leading goal scorer from last season also returns in Sean Olson, who lit the lamp 11 times in 17 games last year.
Depth-providing forward John Parker-Jones returns, who lead the team last year in penalties. I really only bring up Jones because he is a 6-foot-7 forward and players of that height hardly exist outside the net, let alone beyond the blue line.
Wale Holden returns to hold down the blue line. He was a key set-up man last year and finished second in points and assists, only trailing Kohn. Team enforcer Brady Pataki is also back — fourth last year in points/assists, second in penalties — to give the Lancers a physical presence.
In net, the Lancers call upon Nathan Torchia, who split time last year while posting a 4-3 record, .932 save percentage and a 2.22 goals against average.
The Lancers are an experienced group with a chemistry advantage against the Wolverines. Michigan will look to work in several of their key freshmen including Adam Fantilli, Frank Nazar, Rutger McGroarty, and Seamus Casey.
It may take a few shifts for the new kids to found their places amongst Hobey Baker-hopeful Luke Hughes and dynamic winger Mackie Samoskevich, but the Wolverines talent and depth will win out in this one.
When: Saturday, Oct. 1, 7:00 PM
Where: Yost Arena, Ann Arbor
Watch: Big Ten+ (time to break out the annual subscription of UM hockey purposes)
Listen: Varsity Network App
History: The Wolverines are 3-0 lifetime against Windsor.