4B - December 3, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
48 - December 3, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
Blue can't play full 60 minutes
but shows improvement.vs. FSU
Junior defenseman Mac Bennett and the Michigan hockey team salvaged the weekend with a shootout win Saturday.
Wolverines can get back
on track in December,
By MATT SLOVIN
Daily Sports Writer
BIG RAPIDS - It wouldn't
be a stretch to say that Michi-
gan has yet to put together a full
60 minutes of quality hockey
But as it found out after Sat-
urday night's 3-3 shootout win
over. Ferris State, the Wolver-
ines don't always have to -
though it would certainly help
them hang onto leads, like the
two-goal advantage they held
over the Bulldogs, that have
been hard to come by.
Friday night, - Michigan
played an opening frame that
coach Red Berenson said was
carried by the Wolverines.
"I thought we came out
strong, and after playing that
first period. I think we all felt
pretty good in the locker room,"
said junior defenseman Mac
But after a solid first 20 min-
utes, the next two periods were
filled with disaster.
"I liked our start again,"
Berenson said Friday. "I look
back on this stretch of games
that we haven't played as well
in at the end, but we played
well at the start. Then the sec-
ond period begins and, for one
reason or another, our game
After Ferris State finally
scored the game's first goal,
there was an opening of the
floodgates that has been a too-
familiar sight to Michigan so
far this season. In fact, the Bull-
dogs' three-goal second period
marked the sixth time this
year that the Wolverines have
allowed at least that many tal-
lies in a single period.
Bennett readily admit-
ted after the series-opening
loss that the team's mentality
goes awry at times after fall-
ing behind early. Far too often
this season, he's seen Michi-
Michigan coach Red Berenson'was pleased with the rebound game Saturday.
BIG RAPIDS -
Jt's funny how much the
Michigan hockey team likes
Go back to last season, when
a Wolverine squad in the midst
of a familiar
ing the first
a Saturday LIZ
tear through the remainder of the
month that culminated ina Great
Lakes Invitational title.
Now back to the present day.
Michigan, severely underper-
forming, visited.Ferris State for a
series that straddled November
and December. Friday night loss,
Saturday night shootout win.
November is like a time bomb.
Michigan knows the number
of games in the first half of the
season is waning and that it has
to get on better CCHA footing
before a difficult second half
Michigan coach Red Beren-
son is good at avoiding the panic
zone when the team falters. The
players? It's trickier. It's been
clear to see how easily the team
has gotten down on itself during
games - how aone-goal deficit
has turned into two, then three,
then five, with the Wolverines
rarely coming back to put a point
on the board.
So when the calendar changed
this weekend, it seemed Michi-
gan's game plan also changed
from Friday to Saturday night.
"I thought we played harder
and better," Berenson said. "Even
though they got some momentum
at times in the game, our team
hung in there."
It started with putting togeth-
er a full 60 minutes. Though
walking away from Saturday
nightwith two points instead of
three wasn't ideal, the players
still celebrated like they had won
the whole weekend. When things
don't go your way, everything
gets magnified, and two points
look a lot better than none.
Instead of having only one
strong period on Saturday, Michi-
gan had three - you don't make it
to a sudden-death shootout with-
out everyone on the team pulling
The defense put in more effort
to clear the zone and clear out the
crease to assist freshman goalie
Steve Racine when the Bulldogs
swarmed the goal. The offense
finally started firing on multiple
cylinders, with the three goals
each coming from different play-
Oh, and don't discredit the
magic of puck luck, either. Just
ask Racine about the shot he
stopped on the goal line between
a post and a player's skate. The
Wolverines haven't had that kind
of luck lately.
"For us to come back and
establish the weekend with a tie
(and) shootout win is big for us,"
said senior forward A.J. Treais.
"I think that everyone's just all
in right now. Everyone's playing
defense ... everyone's bought into
the system nbw."
And then there's mentality.
It's not all about staying.clear-
headed, though that does have
a lot to do with the Wolverines'
performance - off-ice mindsets
have just as much to do with it.
Just look at sophomore Alex
Guptill, one of Michigan's staple
forwards, who didn't even make
the trip to Big Rapids.
Berenson said he wasn't
happy with Guptill's "day-to-day
approach to the game, the team,
his work ethic and his perfor-
mance." Is-it hard scratching
someone who should be a top
scorer while less productive for-
wards see ice time? Yeah. But for
a team that has lacked the mental
conditioning to make it through
a game, Berenson needed some-
one that was all in. His gamble
of a better attitude trumping a
less effective player didn't hurt
on Saturday. Does this weekend
mark the turning pointin the.
season? Perhaps. An upcoming
bye week gives Michigan extra
practice time to readjust before
playing Western Michigan.
But the best thing about fac-
ing the Broncos? It will still
be December. And maybe the
Wolverines can hold on to that
December magic that'sbeen so
good to them before.
gan come out sharp and com-
petitive, only to look flat-footed
and shell shocked as the games
wear on. -
"That's something we need
to be better at," Bennett said.
"Our mental toughness is a
huge part of this game. Espe-
cially in college hockey, you can
get a good bounce here or there
- you can go down or go up. If
we can be mentally tough, we'll
be in a good place."
Saturday was different,
though. Instead of packing
it in after the quick Bulldog
goal, Michigan seemed to play
with more intensity. Early in
the game, freshman forward
Andrew Copp rallied the bench,
delivering some :much-needed
energy into a lineup that had
failed to produce offensive
"I like the way our team put
that behind them and slowly
took over the game," Berenson
said. "Rather than let it bother
us or upset us, we moved on."
That's when the Wolver-
ines began to fight back with
three goals of their own. But as
evidenced by the Ferris State
comeback that brough the game
to overtime, Michigan isn't yet
able to play consistently for a
Freshman goaltender Steve
Racine gave the Wolverines a
chance to win the game Sat-
urday, and they did so despite
their inability to control all
three periods. By the end of the
second, Ferris State was clearly
closing in on an equalizer, and
the Bulldogs missed several
opportunities to win it in the
As long as Michigan con-
tinues to play more tentatively
with leads, or self destruct
when it trails early on, it's going
to be difficult put together a full
60 minutes. First, the Wolver-
ines must eliminate the goals
that come in bunches.
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THE DAILY TOP-10 POLL ON FACEBOOK
Each week, Daily sports staffers fill out ballots, with first-place votes
receiving 10 points, second-place votes receiving nine, and so on.
1. NOTRE DAME (16): 6. GEORGIA: In
No seriously, the Irish defense of Mark
can beat Alabam- Richt's terrible
sorry couldn't keep a clock management,
straight face. counting is a graduate
class at Georgia.
2. ALABAMA (1):
Nick Saban actually 7. KANSAS STATE:
smiled after winning Optimus Klein
the SEC. Doesn't that probably won't win
mean six more weeks the Heisman, but he
of winter? could take the Fiesta
3. OREGON: The
Ducks will face ,M 8. STANFORD: The
Kansas State in the Cardinal's tens of fans
Fiesta Bowl. Should are super pumped
be a lot of defense in about the Rose Bowl
that one. berth.
4. FLORIDA: 9. LSU: With both Ref inance I
Louisville vs. Florida teams idle, LSU
in the Sugar Bowl. Do jumped Texas A&M
Rutgers tears taste L in this week's poll.
like sugar too? Beats us.
S. OHIO STATE: Can't 10.SOUTH CAROLINA:
wait to see what Michigan gets its first T fsro U
great bowl game the taste of the Cocks in 2.00%Avnui w pr Rae(AP app
Buckeyes will get! January.