The night before The Game, Michigan's hockey team provided some inspiration to their football team by putting up a touchdown of their own in a 7-0 rout over Dartmouth.
The scoring started early when Tyler Motte put back a rebound to give the Wolverines a lead at 5:05 of the first period. After falling behind, the Big Green took back-to-back penalties, a fatal mistake on a night when Michigan's power play was firing on all cylinders. The Wolverines converted on both man advantage opportunities to take a 3-0 lead into the locker room after the first period.
Zach Werenski would score Michigan's third power play goal of the game late in the second period, and from there, the route was on. Evan Allen, Boo Nieves, and Werenski, again on the power play, would tack on goals for the win. Michigan's power play finished the evening 4-for-6 with the man advantage while Dartmouth was 0-for-5 with the man advantage.
Michigan moves to 7-2-1 on the season, while Dartmouth falls to 2-5-0. The teams meet again tomorrow night in the conclusion of their two-game series at 7:35pm
Notes and Thoughts:
-There might not be a more Jekyl and Hyde team in the country than Michigan. They either look really, really good or really, really bad. Tonight, it looked like the bad team would show up for the first five minutes of the game. Their breakout was extremely sloppy and they couldn't get the puck out of their zone.
But when they finally got a clean breakout for a 3-on-2 rush, they made a nice play to convert it for a goal, and from there they settled in on their way to a very impressive victory.
-Michigan's power play went 4-for-6 tonight and was the difference between a close-ish game that Michigan had an edge in, and the seven-goal blowout it ended up as. There's a lot of talent on the Michigan power play, but I suspect there will be a lot of work put into the Dartmouth penalty kill between now and tomorrow night. The Wolverines play a perimeter-oriented umbrella formation power play and were able to move the puck through the middle of the Dartmouth box with ease all night. Any time the puck is moving side to side through the middle of the ice like that, it's going to be a long night for the defending team regardless of who they are playing, and especially when you're letting guys like Compher, Connor, Marody, and Werenski have free reign.
-Michigan is a fun team to watch--at least from an outsider's perspective--because they play a style of hockey that is so markedly different than the rest of college hockey. The Wolverines will actually forecheck with two guys! With a three-goal lead! Most teams wouldn't do that if they're trailing by only one goal. It maybe isn't so fun when you're a Michigan fan and that aggressive strategy means Michigan has a harder time keeping a lead than most other teams, but it is a lot more entertaining to watch.
Tonight, Dartmouth just didn't have the type of team speed necessary to really pressure the Michigan defense in transition and force them into mistakes.
-A tough night for Dartmouth goalie Jimmy Kruger. Rebound control was a big issue early on and that kept a couple plays alive in the Dartmouth end that eventually ended up in their net. The sixth goal was a softie too. It was a little surprising to see Dartmouth keep him in the whole game while he was getting shelled.
Steve Racine wasn't much sharper for Michigan, but didn't need to be. He was saved some major embarrassment in the first period when he whiffed a glove save on a soft dump in from the blue line. The puck bounced off a post, rolled across the goal line and hit the other post. It was that kind of night for both teams. Racine did make some nice saves, especially during a third period 5x3 penalty kill.
Shots on Goal: UM: 14-11-8-33 DC: 11-10-12-33
Even strength shot attempts: UM: 10-22- DC: 12-17-
Prime scoring area attempts: UM: 12-15- DC: 9-10
What do the numbers tell us?
This game was a little less lopsided than one might expect at 5-on-5 through the first two periods, but Michigan was 4-for-6 on the power play, including the two first period goals which turned this game into a blowout.
5:05 Tyler Motte from Michael Downing and JT Compher 1-0 Michigan
Michigan skated the puck into the zone on a 3-on-2 rush. Compher picked up a pass deep in the Dartmouth zone, then turned towards the boards and found Downing at the right point with a pass. Downing's high slap shot wasn't controlled by Kruger and Motte was able to punch the rebound into the back of the net.
7:02 Cooper Marody from JT Compher and Alex Kile (power play) 2-0 Michigan
Compher and Marody were able to pass the puck back and forth across the ice at the top of the circles. Compher's pass gave Marody a wide open net to wrist the puck into.
9:09 Tyler Motte from Alex Kile and JT Compher (power play) 3-0 Michigan
Compher came down the right wing and dropped a pass back to Kile, who made a backdoor feed to Motte for an easy goal.
17:55 Zach Werenski from Kyle Connor and Tony Calderone (power play) 4-0 Michigan
Connor flipped a cross-ice saucer pass to Werenski at the left face-off dot. Werenski's high wrist shot beat Kruger.
18:38 Evan Allen from Tony Calderone and Max Shuart 5-0 Michigan
Allen chipped away at a loose puck at the left goal crease that bounced over Kruger and into the net.
8:01 Boo Nieves from Joe Cecconi 6-0 Michigan
Nieves brought the puck into the zone down the left wing and wound up for a big slap shot from the top of the left circle. His shot bounced off the glove of Kruger and into the net.
12:27 Zach Werenski from Michael Downing and Kyle Connor 7-0 Michigan
It was 6-0 and I was writing.