First up for the Wolverines are the St. Lawrence Saints (We're Saints!), who come into Ann Arbor for a weekend series. Friday night's game can be viewed on MGoBlue.com. Saturday's game will be televised on Comcast 900.
Here are ten things to know about our opponent for the opening weekend of play:
1) The Saints were picked to finish 8th in the ECAC by both the media and the coaches. They were 13-20-4 last year and lost in three games to Colgate in the first round of the ECAC Tournament, though they were 5-1-1 against teams that made the NCAA Tournament. In their sole exhibition game against Guelph, they tied 2-2.
2) They had a whopping four goalies play seven or more games last year (how many teams even carry four goalies?). Two of those graduated. Remaining are juniors Kain Tisi and Alex Petizian. Tisi was 1-5-1 last year with a 2.73/.884. Petizian went 4-5-1 with a 3.48/.884. Petizian did play in 29 games as a freshman and went 19-9-1 en route to the NCAA Tournament. Tisi got the start in their exhibition game and stopped both shots he faced. Petizian played the third period and the overtime and gave up 1 goal on nine shots. Robby Moss also gave up a goal on nine shots during his appearance. Basically your guess is as good as mine about who we'll see this weekend. I'd bet on seeing Tisi Friday night and Petizian Saturday, depending on how Tisi plays in the first game.
3) Tisi and forward Mike McKenzie were teammates of Andrew Cogliano's and Louie Caporusso's with the St. Michael's Buzzers of the OPJHL. McKenzie is also the son of TSN analyst Bob McKenzie. Zach Miskovic played with Brandon Naurato on the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders back in 2003-04. Senior Kevin DeVergilio hails from Sterling Heights.
4) According to USCHO, the Saints return five senior defensemen, four of whom have not accounted for a single healthy scratch since they were freshmen. A veteran defense corps is helpful when you've got goaltending that was as shaky as St. Lawrence's was last year. They get some offense from Zach Miskovic, who had 8-12--20 last season, as well as Jared Ross (6-9--15). Their blueline doesn't provide a ton of points, but those two players have healthy goal totals. Miskovic exceeded the goal production from our entire defense corps.
5) They had just two players hit double-digits in goals last year, both of whom are back for their senior seasons. Brock McBride led the team in points with 12-22--34 and was the only player to exceed 25 points. Casey Parenteau had 11 goals and 19 points. McBride also chipped in five on the power play.
6) A pair of their players have siblings whose names will be familiar to hockey fans. Forward Aaron Bogosian is the brother of 2008 #3 overall pick Zach. Freshman Jared Drewiske's brother Davis used to captain the Wisconsin Badgers and now plays in the Los Angeles Kings organization.
7) Amazingly, they were 26th in the country in scoring last year at 2.78 goals per game. They were 37th in team defense at 2.95 goals per game. I'm sure we'll see some power plays due to the two-referee system, but the Saints were one of the five least-penalized teams in the country last year (we were #11).
8) Their power play was just 14% last season and if you account for short-handed goals allowed, it was just 11.1%. The penalty kill was toward the bottom as well at 80.8%, though it would have been 86.1% if you factor in their eight short-handed goals, which was 8th-most in the country.
9) Red Berenson classified their style of play as "Hard-nose, physical, close-checking hockey" and the Wolverines fully expect to get hit and hit often.
10) Michigan has won five straight against St. Lawrence and is 9-2-1 in the series all-time. The last meeting was in 2004 and the Wolverines won by a 5-2 margin.