|Trouba in happier times, against FYS|
Photo: Bill Rapai
After looking like they may have turned a corner with a 5-1 win over Michigan State last Friday night, the Wolverines have lost three straight and now find themselves two games below .500 and with an ugly 2-5-1-1 record in CCHA play, bad for 9th in the conference.
This past weekend, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish came into Yost and skated out with 3-1 and 4-1 victories, both of which were closer than the final score indicated, though that's small consolation. With something along the lines of 80 former players in town for the Yost rededication ceremony, that wasn't the weekend Michigan was hoping for.
On Thursday night in a nationally televised game, the Wolverines came out and played an excellent first period, They took a 1-0 lead on the first goal of Justin Selman's career after Robbie Russo's clearing attempt went right to him. Selman walked in alone and put one past Steve Summerhays and up under the bar. Shots were even at 9, but the Wolverines largely carried the play.
After that, though? It was all Notre Dame. Just as in the first period, the shots were even (13-13) but one team more or less dominated, that being the Irish. They tied the game up on a Mike Voran short-handed goal early in the second, and Michigan seemed fortunate to get out of the second period with the game tied. On the goal, the Irish took control deep in their end and hit on a long pass to Tynan at the far blueline. It looked like Michigan had gone for a change, so it was Voran and Tynan against one Wolverine. The pass got across and Voran blasted a one-timer past Racine.
In the third Michigan never seemed to get anything going in the offensive end. The Irish outshot Michigan by a 10-3 count and added two goals late in the contest to earn a 3-1 victory. Bryan Rust scored on a wraparound with just over five minutes left in regulation and then Peter Schneider was given credit for an insurance goal with about 1:30 remaining when a shot that was well wide deflected in off Mike Chiasson's shin pads. It's been that kind of season so far for Michigan.
Steve Racine made 29 saves in the loss and was decidedly not the problem. He was spectacular at times, keeping Michigan in a game that they had no business being in after the first period. He made a couple of fantastic post-to-post stops. At one point, I made the joke on Twitter that he had committed so many robberies that Mark Dantonio told him he could be on the practice field on Monday.
The Wolverines actually missed a few chances to get out of the first period with a much larger lead. Jacob Trouba ripped one off the post, Justin Selman just missed a post by a couple of inches on a puck that slid through the goalmouth, Boo deked his way to an empty net and had the puck roll off his stick, Copp rung one off the bar, and that was all in the first period. After that? I don't know what happened. The SHG had to be deflating, but they never mounted anything resembling an offensive attack the rest of the game.
The next night was pretty similar. We're 1-1 after two periods, shots are 15-12 Michigan, and things just came apart late in the third period. This time, the Irish scored 2 1/2 minutes apart to build a 3-1 lead and then added an empty-netter for the final margin of victory. Jacob Trouba scored unassisted for the Wolverines off another ND turnover. The puck rolled to the faceoff circle and Trouba absolutely uncorked one into the net. Michigan nearly took a lead when PDG came in on a partial breakaway, but after a nice move he hit it off both goalposts. Again, that kind of season.
The Irish regained the lead off a bad turnover by DeBlois that got dumped into the Michigan end, where Moffie had a brutal turnover behind the net. Rust centered it for Costello and he easily slid it by Racine. Mario Lucia added another goal when Chiasson tried to shovel the puck out of the slot and put it right onto Lucia's stick. He roofed one. No chance for Racine, and another home loss for Michigan, making 4 on the year.
On the plus side, Racine was really good in net Thursday night and you couldn't fault him for the goals that got past him Friday either. They also had tie games deep in the third period against a really solid Notre Dame team when they weren't really playing that well. I suppose that's a positive, even though both games got away really quickly.
In the minus column? Sloppy turnovers and absolutely nothing in the way of offense outside of the first period Thursday. (I didn't see Friday's game, but there weren't a whole lot in the way of highlights of scoring chances, outside of one Selman look.) Both goals were off bad ND turnovers, so they didn't create a whole lot on their own.
It's still only a quarter of the way through the season and there's plenty of time to right the ship (North Dakota does this every year, seemingly). But with a road-heavy schedule in the second half, they really need to start playing better sooner rather than later.
Michigan returns to the ice on Wednesday for a single game at Yost against Bowling Green. The Falcons have struggled this year, but they do have Andrew Hammond in net, so they're always an upset threat. They haven't scored more than 3 all season, so hopefully this will be a good way for Michigan's beleaguered defense to get back to playing sound hockey in their own end. There is no more College Hockey Showcase, but the Wolverines will head to Madison Square Garden to play Cornell on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Hopefully the Maize and Blue faithful will get to see three wins at MSG this holiday week, with the basketball team playing there twice as well.
Last thing: The signing period is underway and the Wolverines have recieved LOIs from Evan Allen, Bryson Cianfrone, and Michael Downing at the very least. Those are the three that have posted on Twitter that they've signed. Allen, though, is said to be considering going the OHL route. Unfortunately one of the usual suspects, Windsor, holds Allen's rights, so I'm sure that's a battle that will be going until the very end.
Zach Hyman will be playing in the Maccabiah Games, the "Jewish Olympics", over the summer.