Before the college hockey season started, Michigan’s first-year head coach Mel Pearson suggested that it might take his Wolverines some time skating on thin ice before they found their groove.
Michigan was inconsistent early on and a few injuries didn’t help a team with a new coach and plenty of new faces in the lineup. Well, it appears the Maize and Blue have found its groove and turned the page on inconsistency after back-to-back weekend sweeps of ranked conference opponents.
U-M knocked off No. 12-ranked Penn State, 3-2, on Saturday night at Red Berenson Rink at Yost Ice Arena. The victory was the Wolverines’ fourth straight win this season and earned them their first back-to-back sweeps since the 2014-15 season.
Strong goalkeeping has been one of the keys to Michigan’s recent success. Hayden Lavigne recorded 43 saves, marking a career high, in Saturday’s win over the Nittany Lions. Over the weekend, Lavigne stopped 75 of the 77 shots he faced (.974 save percentage), including a 34-save shutout in Friday night’s 4-0 win.
The sophomore goaltender has played in 17 games this season, surpassing the total of 13 from his freshman season. He has an 8-6-2 record for the season, including four straight wins in which he lowered his goals-against average to 2.51. His two goals allowed on the weekend and 77 saves earned him the Big Ten’s First Star of the Week award.
Saturday’s victory was the Wolverines’ seventh straight against Penn State on home ice, which is tied for the longest active home win streak against an opponent (St. Lawrence University).
The No. 17-ranked University of Michigan ice hockey team (12-10-2, 7-7-2-1 B1G) is set to face off with No. 6 Ohio State (15-5-4, 8-5-1 B1G) this weekend (Friday and Saturday, Jan. 26-27) at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Michigan and Ohio State will meet for the 135th time in program history, with U-M holding an 81-40-13 record in the series. Earlier this season the Wolverines dropped two games against the Buckeyes over Thanksgiving weekend in Ann Arbor.