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November 05, 2012 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-11-05

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2B - November S, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Michigan's adversity on the road to Pasadena

MINNEAPOLIS - It's a
foregone conclusion.
Michigan throttled
Minnesota, 35-13, at TCF Bank
Stadium on Saturday behind a
banner day at quarterback for
Devin Gardner to hoist the Little
Brown Jug once more.
The victory_
was the Wol-
verines' sixth
of the season,
the magic
number to
become bowl-
eligible. But
hardly anyone STEPHEN J.
even noticed. NESBITT
The days of
the almighty
sixth win are gone.
It's a foregone conclusion
now, and that's a beautiful thing.
The focus is higher now, set on
winning the,Big Ten champion-
ship. Brady Hoke brought that
laser-focus when he arrived
before the 2011 season.
Michigan is back to a place
where not just any bowl, but the
Rose Bowl is the standard.
There's a reason Hoke took
the seniors on a leadership trip
to the California coast in late
May.
He took them to train with
Navy SEALs, but he also took
them to the Rose Bowl Stadium
in Pasadena, Calif.
"It was my first time and
I was dying to see it," said
fifth-year senior safety Jordan
Kovacs.
"That's a special place. I

questionable flags and 'Sparty,
no!' moments, engineered a pair
of touchdown drives to steal vic-
tory from the grasps of defeat.
Michigan, fully poised to
scoot back into the driver's seat,
got whiplashed. Back behind the
Huskers.
The finish in East Lansing
nearly shrouded the victory -
that crucial sixth victory - in
Minneapolis. And that it all
happened on Hoke's 54th birth-
That roadmap
to Pasadena
cuts through
Indianapolis.
'day seems like a script written
wrong.
Still, Hoke says November is
when championships are won.
So Michigan waits, If Nebraska
falters, the Wolverines must be
ready. Through the training, the
SEALs and this agony of bat-
tling from behind the eight-ball,
Hoke built the Wolverines for
this chase.
He never thought about that
sixth win.
That was a foregone conclu-
sion.
- Nesbitt can be reached
at stnesbit@umich.edu.

a

The Michigan football team is trying to gain a game on Nebraska, who stole a victory from Michigan State this weekend. Michigan lost to the Huskers this fall.

understand now why they call
it the Granddaddy of 'Em All. It
was unreal.
"I left that place thinking,
'I've gotta be backhere in six
more months, because I can't go
too long away from this place."'
But the reality of that Rose
Bowl goal is that roadmap back
to Pasadena cuts through India-
napolis, and Michigan's window
of opportunity to get to Indy is

closing week by week.
The Wolverines are 6-3
through the bulk of its sched-
ule this fall. They are 4-1 in the
Big Ten, good for a slice of first
place with Nebraska. But there's
no split first-place ribbon here.
Michigan lost to the Huskers
two weeks ago and, in so doing,
relinquished the driver's seat in
the Legends Division.
To pardon the well-worn

cliche, the Wolverines aren't
in control of their own destiny.
And that's the last thing Hoke
wanted.
If the Huskers win out,
they're on to the Big Ten title
game and one step away from a
Rose Bowl berth. If Michigan
wins out, goes 7-1 in confer-
ence play, but Nebraska doesn't
lose, it would have to settle for
a warm, sunny bowl game in

Florida.
That's why all eyes were on
the Michigan State-Nebraska
game on Saturday night.
The Michigan football team's
plane had just landed, and
the players were undoubtedly
watching. The Spartans were
leading slightly, then comfort-
ably. Then it was all erased.
Taylor Martinez and the
Nebraska offense, aided by a few

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Defensive miscues
plague Wolverines

Reinforcements can't seal holes

By MICHAEL LAURILA
Daily Sports Writer
MARQUETTE'-A wide-open
one-time goal can be difficult to
come by in hockey.
Having the goalie completely
out of position and the puck fall
rightintoyour lap for an easygoal
is every hockey player's dream.
But that was exactly what the
majority of Northern Michigan's
goals looked like on Saturday
night as the Wildcats defeated the
No.8 Michigan hockey team 4-3.
It wasn't a new theme either.
The night before, Northern Mich-
igan tallied three power-play
goals in the second period during
Michigan's overtime victory. It
was the first time the Wolverines
had allowed three power-play
goals in a single period since Oct.
25, 2008. And the penalty-kill
unit allowed these same kinds of
easy, point-blank goals.
These issues come just weeks
after Michigan started the sea-
son a perfect 10-for-10 on the
penalty kill. The success 'of the
unit enabled the Wolverines to
concentrate on other areas of the
game.
"They were getting sticks on
pucks and deflecting them in,
and we were on our heels," said
Michigan coach Red Berenson on
Friday. "There's no question. We
did not look good on our penalty
kill during the second period."
Later in the game, after fresh-
man defenseman Jacob Trouba
earned a five-minute major for
a hit to the head, the Wolver-

ines were able to kill the entire
penalty en route to a last-minute
comeback. The unit appeared
to have regained its confidence,
especially in knowing that Racine
couldbe a reliable option between
the pipes. On Saturday, though
Northern Michigan didn't score
a single power-play goal, the
same defensive miscues plagued
Michigan. All four Wildcat goals
came from just outside of the
crease in the slot. Whether it was
a missed assignment or confusion
on where they needed to be, the
Wolverines looked befuddled.
Berenson attributed this to
problems in Michigan's defen-
sive-zone coverage. Whether it
was on the power play on Friday
or when both teams were at even
strength on Saturday, the defen-
sive effort was not up to par.
"It's individuals being sur-
prised that they didn't see some-
body or they thought this and
'they went over to help you
because you weren't doing your.
job, and now all of a sudden no
one is helping me,' " Berenson
said on Saturday.
Whether it's the defensive
effort during the penalty kill or
the defense as a whole, the glar-
ing mistakes in the defensive
zone were too much for Michigan
to overcome this weekend, com-
ing out with just two points. The
mistakes will need to be correct-
ed if the Wolverines hope to find
success in the difficult CCHA.
"It's a game of mistakes and
we're making too many right
now," Berenson said.

By MATT SLOVIN
Daily SportsEditor
MARQUETTE - The Michi-
gan hockey team traveled to
Northern Michigan for its two-
game series against the Wildcats
having just six healthy, eligible
defensemen to work with.
The Wolverines left just as
they did last season, bearers of
just two of six possible CCHA
points after Northern Michigan
won Saturday's finale.
For Michigan, it was day late,
defenseman short.
The defensive depth issue
turned quickly into a full-
fledged emergency in the series
opener when freshman standout
Jacob Trouba received a game-
misconduct penalty for an open-
ice hit on Northern Michigan's
Reed Seckel.
Asa result, Trouba was forced
to sit out the series finale, leav-
ing the Wolverines with just
five true defensemen in their
lineup, though senior forward
Jeff Rohrkemper did dress and
skated alongside Kevin Clare on
the blue line.
As for Seckel, who appeared
seriously injured after Trouba's
misconduct penalty? He was
back in the lineup on Saturday
and responded by scoring twice
in Northern Michigan's 4-3 win
in the series finale, doubling his
prior total for the season.
Trouba's absence; along with
that of defensemen Brennan
Serville ("facial concussion,"
according to Berenson) and Jon
Merrill (cracked seventh verte-
brae), took their tolls on the Wol-
verines in the loss.
"It's different," said Michigan

to return. Serville, though, skat-
ed this weekend in Ann Arbor
s { and could be ready for this
weekend's series against Michi-
gan State. And unless the CCHA
passes down a suspension for
Trouba's hit, he'll return -to the
lineup Friday.
Junior defenseman Mac Ben-
nett believes the team needs to
make do with what it has for
now.
"I don't think it should make
a difference," Bennett said of the
stockpiling absent defensemen.
"We just got to come in with the
mentality that we're going to
shut teams down."
The onus to play responsible
on defense then falls to others,
PAUL SHERMAN/Daily like the forwards, and defen-
Freshman defenseman JacobTrouba earned a game disqualification on Friday semen who lack experience at
and was forced to sit out Saturday's game against Northern Michigan. Michigan.
coach Red Berenson of playing Michigan forward lost sight of Take sophomore defenseman
without several of his top defen- his man. The puck ended up in Mike Szuma for example. Last
semen. "There's no question. But. the net before the Wolverines year, Szuma struggled to see the
that's no excuse." could maneuver back into posi- ice, playing in just two of the
Instead of focusing on what tion. Wolverines' 41 games. This sea-
his team was missing in the loss, In fact, the lone forward to son, Szuma isn't just cracking
Berenson chose to point out how earn Berenson's praise after the the lineup for Michigan - he's
the Wolverines could've patched game was senior Jeff Rohrkem- expected to make significant
up some of per - a scratch contributions.
those holes. from Friday Saturday night, Szuma found
And it starts " don't think it night's game, himself working from the blue
up front. but thrust into line to build a Michigan rally as
on far too should make a the lineup on time wound down. A year ago,
many occa- defense Satur- he'd have been at the end of the
sions in the d eday to replace bench come crunch time.
loss, Michi- Trouba, along- Consider ita sign of the times
gan's for- side junior for Michigan. Injuries are very
' wards allowed Kevin Clare. much a part of the game, but
Northern Michigan skaters Berenson said it's the only time the response is what determines
to sneak through its porous he can remember Rohrkemper their impact.
defense. Both of the Wildcats' playing defense for Michigan. And the Wolverines respond-
first two goals came after 5-on- Total relief isn't coming for , ed to the adversity on Saturday
5 play in the Wolverines' own the battered defensive corps. by missing assignments in their
zone. Merrill is still weeks, probably own zone, creating easy goals for
And both times, a different months, away from being ready' the opposition.

Defense down, offense picks up slack in split vs. Wildcats

By LIZ NAGLE conference collisions. With junior
Daily Sports Writer Jon Merrill, junior Kevin Clare
and sophomore Brennan Serville
MARQUETTE - With highly missing various amounts of ice
touted defensive lines consist- time, the remaining defensemen
ing of a ninth-overall NHL Entry have struggled to find chemistry.
Draft pick, a pair of returningvet- The Wolverines' defense sits
erans and a preseason First Team last in the CCHA, surrendering
All-CCHA 3.43 goals per game. Though the
member, the NOTEBOOK penalty kill sat atop the charts
No. 7 Michigan entering conference play with a
hockey team was tagged with perfect record of kills, Michigan
high expectations. dropped to the bottom -half at
But there's been a spotlight 82.1 percent. The Wolverines have
shift. compensated with better offensive
Things quickly went awry as production as of late, headlined
the Wolverines' anchor started by Friday night's performance
to collapse with a slew of inju- against NMU. Michigan's deflat-
ries. Michigan coach Red Beren- ing defense and penalty woes
son rearranged the blue line each continued before the final frame.
week after exhibition and non- The Wolverines found themselves

in a 4-1 hole after giving up four
straightgoals in the second period
- three on the Wildcats' power
play.
But with a quick shift in
momentum, the Michigan offense
surged with a trio of goals, includ-
ing senior forward A.J. Treais's
game-tying tally with 0.6 seconds
left on the clock.
"Anything can happen in the
last minute," Treais said. "I don't
think anyone thought we were
down and out. If they could score
four goals in one period, I think we
could too."
Treais has been the on-ice
leader the Wolverines need since
the losses in the defensive arsenal.
He notched his seventh goal of the
season on Saturday and sealed the

shootout victory, slipping one past
Northern Michigan goalie Jared
Coreau.
Michigan leads the CCHA in
registering 4.43 goals per game,
and that output can be credited
to Treais and the spreading-out of
offensive efforts. With 14 different
players finding the back of the net
this season, the Wolverines look
to rely on their depth of forwards
while the defense recovers.
The defense continued to strug-
gle on Saturday, and the offense
tried to make another comeback
from a 4-1 deficit, netting back-to-
back goals against the Wildcats in
the middle of the third period.
Treais ignited the rally attempt
on a power play goal and junior
defenseman Mac Bennett fol-

lowed suit less than a minute later
with an assist by senior forward
Kevin Lynch. But that was all the
offense could manage.
"This team has a lot of pride,"
Berenson said. "They expect to do
well and they learned last night
when they fall behind, you never
give up because you always can
get back in the game. And we did
that last night and we did it again
tonight, so that's good - that's the
one thing we learned on this trip
that we can come from behind.
"On the flip side, you can't get
behind like that and have to play
desperation hockey."
MOFFIE AND BENNETT PAIR
UP: Senior defenseman Lee Mof-
fie sat on the bench in the empty
Berry Events Center before the

faceoff against Northern Michi-
gan, with Bennett giving him an
encouraging back rub.
Berenson put the two together
for the first time this year against
the Wildcats and he was pleased
with the pairing.
Before the first road trip, Beren-
son called Moffie a "notoriously
slow starter" and expected him
to start "playing like a senior." But
he also noted the duo's progress in
the week of practice leading up to
the northbound series.
"I like playing with Moffie,"
Bennett said. "In Moffie, I've got
a two-way defenseman, who can
jump up and who can cut for me.
So with the two of us together
we're able to do some kind of an
offensive flare."

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