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Michigan hockey opens season tonight against Lindenwood

A lot of question marks surround this team and coach, but one thing is for certain — this group can SCORE.

2022 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship Photo by Damian Strohmeyer/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The No. 6 ranked Michigan Wolverines are scheduled to officially begin the 2022 season this Friday and Saturday against the Lindenwood Lions. The Lions are currently 0-2 on the season after being swept last weekend by No. 2 ranked Minnesota.

It’s hard to imagine a more difficult start to Lindenwood’s maiden Division 1 season, but it appears the Lions are embracing this trial by fire scheduling. In their first game against the Golden Gophers, Lindenwood accrued 33 (!!) penalty minutes, were outshot 34-16, and blanked 4-0 by Minnesota.

In the second game, they were vastly improved; offensively, at least. Despite eventually falling 6-4, the Lions scored two goals late in the second period to hold a 3-2 advantage. However, it would not last long as Minnesota would quickly pour in two of their own, and enter the third up 4-3, before salting things away in the final frame.

In the opening series, Lindenwood proved they could skate with the big boys and score with an NCAA Frozen Four team from a year ago, and National Championship contender this year.

The Lions are paced by a duo of sophomores who are equally lethal on the power play. Forward Kyle Jeffers and defenseman Caleb Price both recorded two points in the second game against the Gophers and represent the twin turbines powering the offense for Lindenwood.

No matter which goalie the Lions have turned to, both have been shadowed and buried in a barrage of shot attempts. Sophomore Trent Burnham let in four in the first game, and graduate student Matt Ladd allowed six in the next one. Unfortunately for whoever starts this weekend, they can expect to face a similar darkness.

This is a great opening weekend test for the young Wolverines because while they should be able to out-score Lindenwood, the offensive pressure and power play from the Lions will provide a benchmark test for Michigan’s blue line depth, unlike Windsor six days ago.

In last weekend’s exhibition opener against the Lancers, 13 total Wolverines — six of them freshmen — left their mark on the scoresheet in an 8-2 victory for Michigan. Freshman defenseman Seamus Casey and sophomore forward Dylan Duke each lit the lamp twice, and the sophomore forward duo of Mackie Samoskevich and the hard-hitting Mark Estapa each recorded one goal and an assist.

Michigan was never challenged last weekend but showed some signs of things to come. Freshman sensation Adam Fantilli looks as advertised at center and the grind line could already be taking shape early with team captain Nolan Moyle leading the charge.

Sophomore Luke Hughes did not play against Windsor and stalwart goaltender Erik Portillo only played the first half, stopping six of seven that came his way. Several unknowns persist for Team 100 and their rookie head coach Brandon Naurato, but they will begin to be answered tonight.

Ice is ready!

WHEN: Friday (Oct. 7) and Saturday (Oct. 8), both starting at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Yost Arena - Ann Arbor, Michigan

WATCH: BIG+ ($55 for one year of just hockey; $75 for one year of all things Michigan)

LISTEN: Varsity Podcast Network