The Michigan hockey team continues to do some good things on the ice but just not enough to get the skates heading in the right direction at the right time. With rival Michigan State coming to Ann Arbor on Thursday the Wolverines hope to eliminate some of the mistakes and turn opportunities into goals and into wins.
The 17th ranked Wolverines fell to 6-6-2 overall and 2-4-2-1 in the Big Ten after a rough 5-1 loss Saturday night to visiting Ohio State at Red Berenson Rink at Yost Ice Arena. The No. 15 Buckeyes also won Friday’s game 3-2 and sent the Wolverines to the loss column for the fourth time in their last five games.
The Wolverines started the season strong under U-M first-year head coach Mel Pearson winning six of their first eight games. While the recent results are concerning, the process of getting better takes some time and a tough Big Ten isn’t going to give the Wolverines any slack as they get used to a new coach, new system and new direction.
“Earlier in the year against teams like Minnesota and Penn State we outscored our mistakes but against a good defensive team like Ohio State you’re not going to do that,” said Pearson after Saturday’s setback. “They had a lot of guys play well but their goaltender was excellent (in both games).”
Pearson said Sean Romeo, who made 34 saves on Saturday night for the visitors, was a key factor in both games.
“We just couldn’t score,” he said. “They had been going in easy for us and when you get to a weekend where they are not means you have to play rock solid defense and strong goaltending too and that just wasn’t the case this weekend.”
Pearson, heading into his third month on the job, said the makeup has come off and some of the blemishes are starting to show.
“This weekend we saw some of the issues we are going to have going forward,” he said. “We have to learn and we have to grow from it. There is a lot of hockey left. This was a good lesson for our team on how you have to compete. There is too much character in that room and I think we will come together.”
The Maize and Blue travel to Plymouth this weekend to face off in an exhibition contest against the USA Hockey National Team Development U-18 team. Michigan takes on the U.S. NTDP U-18 Team for the 18th time in as many seasons, holding a 15-2-0 record all-time in the series.
This will be the first time the Wolverines have played against the development team outside of Yost Ice Arena, and their first game at USA Hockey Arena – the former home of the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Plymouth Whalers.
The Spartans (7-6-1, 1-4-1-1 Big Ten) play two against Notre Dame this weekend before heading to Ann Arbor on Thursday. The Wolverines will play in East Lansing on Friday, Dec. 8.