The Michigan Wolverines will welcome fellow blue blood hockey program Boston University to Ann Arbor this weekend for a two-game series. Both the Wolverines and Terriers will experience a massive leap in competition; Boston beat Bentley 8-2 two weeks ago before a 7-1 drubbing of Waterloo in exhibition play last weekend.
The Wolverines opened the season with a 8-2 victory over Windsor and a two-game sweep over Lindenwood last weekend in which Michigan outscored the Lions 10-5 across two games.
Boston — under first-year head coach Jay Pandolfo — is similar to Michigan with several unknowns surrounding the program’s head man and their young team. But also like the Wolverines, there is no denying the talent level and potential of BU.
Against Bentley, Boston raced out to a 3-0 lead before eight minutes had passed in the first period, and ended the first session up 4-1. The Terriers cruised to victory and were paced by a trio of three-point scorers: freshman forwards Ryan Greene, Jeremy Wilmer and Quinn Hutson.
Despite the six-goal difference in the final score, BU held a slighter advantage in shots (32-24) than you would imagine and actually lost the face-off battle (35-33). It is hard to poke substantial holes in a victory of this size, but the face-off circle is a place to keep an eye on.
Michigan freshman forward Adam Fantilli — who just turned 18 this week — notched a pair of multi-point games against Lindenwood and won 75% of his face-offs (27-of-36).
KEYS TO THE GAME
- Michigan must start fast. The Terriers will look to jump on the Wolverines early and bury them before the first whistle. Lindenwood opened the scoring in both games last weekend, and Michigan cannot start out down 2-0 like it did in the season-opener.
- Blue line discipline (this will be a theme all year). Defensemen Jacob Truscott and Steve Holtz have to be the most aware players on the ice for Michigan’s top two lines. Each player is coupled with an offensive minded defender — Luke Hughes, Seamus Casey — which means Truscott and Holtz have to be the last line of defense to prevent break-aways and limit odd-man rushes.
- Physicality on the back check. Michigan has some heavy hitting forwards and this could be a great game for players like Rutger McGroarty and Mark Estapa to shine. BU prominently features several freshmen — like the Wolverines — and playing physical against them can help disrupt their rhythm and mitigate their offensive attack.
- Set up goalie Erik Portillo for success. The Wolverines have to eliminate sloppy passes and turnovers in the slot.
WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m., Sunday, 5 p.m.
WHERE: Yost Arena, Ann Arbor, Michigan
HOW TO WATCH: BIG+
HOW TO LISTEN: Varsity Podcast Network