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December 04, 2013 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-12-04

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8A - Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

What We Learned: Ohio State

By ERIN LENNON
DailySports Writer
1. Big Ten hockey is going to be
fun.-
The carpetwas rolled out, liter-
ally, when Big Ten commissioner
Jim Delany dropped a ceremonial
puck with Michigan captain Mac
Bennett and Ohio State captain
Curtis Gedigon on Friday at Yost
Ice Arena.
With two contests flanking
The Game between the Michigan
and Ohio State football teams, the
first-ever Big Ten hockey match
ups between the third-ranked
Wolverines and the Buckeyes
were no less dramatic.
On Friday, with 16.2 seconds
remaining in the second period
of a tie game, junior forward Alex
Guptill scored Michigan's third
goal. The Wolverines held off
Ohio State for the first 16 minutes
of the third period before allow-
ing the game-tying goal to for-
ward Max McCormick.
Then, with 1:22 left in over-
time,sophomoreforwardAndrew
Copp took a pass from senior for-
ward Mac Bennett, found a hole
and fired a shot past the Buckeye
goaltender.
The largest crowd at Yost this
season, 5,800 fans, roared with
approval.
"It was definitely nice (to win)
and definitely cool to see the fans
on our side tonight," Guptill said
Friday. "It was just a lot of fun."
On Monday in Columbus, Ohio
State netted three unanswered
goals in the third period to erase
a 4-1 deficit.
Facing a potential second-
straight overtime in the Wolver-
ines' (10-2-1 overall, 2-0 Big Ten)
first Monday night game since
1982, Bennett scored the go-
ahead goal with 1:3S remaining in
regulation.
With some of the nations' most
highly-touted programs, the Big
Ten promises to be as entertain-
ing on the ice as on the gridiron.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
Higher expectations?
Not so fast, says coach
By LEV FACHER crazy," Barnes Arico said. "We
Daily Sports Writer haven't faced that kind of length
or that kind of size all year long."

PATRICK BARRON/Daily
Freshman forward JT Compher has four goals in five games, including four points in two wins against Ohio State.

2. Offense from the defense is
key.
Two weeks ago, Bennett took
time after practice to work on
his offense. Alone on the ice, the
captain fired shot after shot at an
empty net.
Bennett's game-winning goal
against Ohio State - his first
since March 9 - was the first tally
from the Wolverine defense.
This weekend, when the power
play failed to convert on five man-
advantage opportunities in the
series finale - snapping a five-
game scoring streak and marking
just the third time the unit was
held without a goal this season -
it was up to the defense.
The defense was also cred-
ited with the two game-winning
assists this weekend. On Friday,
Bennett's pass to Copp secured
the overtime victory, and Mon-
day, fellow defenseman Mike Chi-
asson aided Bennett in the tally.
"You can see the difference
it makes in a game," Berenson
said. "Our forwards aren't going
to score all our goals. Obviously
when the defense scores, it's a
good sign."
3. But defense from defense is
crucial.

The Wolverines skated without
a trio of defensemen - freshman
Kevin Lohan and juniors Mike
Szuma and Brennan Serville - on
Monday, and it showed.
The deficit forced junior for-
ward Andrew Sinelli to fill in on
defense.
A penalty kill that began the
season stopping more than 90
percent of power-play chances
is down to just 80.3 percent. On
even-strength opportunities the
Wolverines have been beaten in
the defensive zone, forcing the
goalies to block more than 30
shots per game.
Michigan went 5-for-9 on pen-
alty-kill situations this weekend
against the ninth-ranked Buckeye
offense, allowing three goals to
cross the line in the third period
Monday. And on Friday, the Buck-
eyes' second power-play goal was
a matter of freshman defenseman
Michael Downing leaving his
stick off the ice.
"Giving up three goals like
that, it's disappointing," Bennett
said. "Coach let us know in the
locker room, and we know that
too."
4. Compher and Guptill have
the hot sticks.
After two months of toying

with line pairings, it appears
Berenson has found a winning
combination.
On a line with Guptill and
senior forward Derek DeBlois for
the first time against Nebraska-
Omaha, freshman forward JT
Compher netted his first goal of
the season. Since then, Compher
has tallied five goals and four
assists in five games.
And on Monday, Compher
recorded his fifth multi-point
game of the season, scoring twice
in the second frame for his first
career multi-goal night.
"He's just competing hard, and
he's going to the net," Berenson
said. "He's scoring hard-working
goals, workmanlike goals, and
I think both his goals were on
rebounds tonight. But he had to
get there."
After a similarly slow start,
Guptill - who was pegged by
Berenson as a player in need of a
breakout season in September -
is feeling back in the groove. With
an assist Monday, Guptill also tal-
lied his fifth multiple-point game
of the season. In 11 starts this sea-
son, Guptill has five goals and five
assists.
"I'm a streaky player anyway,"
Guptill said. "It's nice to be able
to use my momentum to help the
team out."

Michigan women's basket-
ball coach Kim Barnes Arico is
guarded with her optimism, and
there wasn't much optimism to
be had when she lost her leading
scorer the day before the Wol-
verines' tilt with No. 15 LSU on
Saturday.
After losing junior guard
Shannon Smith to a back injury
in the second half of Michigan's
blowout win over Texas Tech,
keeping things respectable
against LSU seemed like a much
more reasonable expectation
than coming away with a win.
But the Wolverines met the
first expectation and came a pos-
session away from pulling off a
shocking upset to meet the sec-
ond. Barnes Arico, though, isn't
letting it reshape her assessment
of what she has referred to peri-
odically as a "transition year."
"I think it's a sign of things
to come," Barnes Arico said.
"Everybody's role became a little
greater (without Smith)."
It was not, in other words, a
sign that Michigan (5-3) is in a
position to contend for a Big Ten
championship a year or two ear-
lier than expected.
Signs of the Wolverines' youth
were still prevalent, even in
the process of taking one of the
country's top teams down to the
wire. Michigan gifted LSU the
basketball 23 times, any one of
which could easily have made
the difference in Saturday's
64-62 nail-biter.
To be fair, the Lady Tigers
brought the defensive pressure
throughout the night at the Bar-
clays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
When the Wolverines broke
through the press, the points
came, but the breakthroughs
were few and far between.
"They double-teamed us like

In Smith's absence, the other
two guards in Michigan's start-
ing lineup had no choice but to
step up, and they did so admi-
rably. Freshman Siera Thomp-
son scored 24 points on Friday
and added another 13 against
LSU, while sophomore Madison
Ristovski overcame an off night
against Texas Tech to add 13 of
her own in the tournament final.
"We looked at each other and
said that we're still a team ... we
can still do this," Ristovski said.
"I didn't try to put pressure on
myself, but I tried to max out my
game as much as I could."
Senior forward Val Driscoll
helped pick up some of the slack
as well, earning the start in
Smith's absence, racking up 11
rebounds and six blocks against
LSU. The lineup change worked
out well for the Wolverines, who
needed to go bigger to contend
with the Lady Lions' size.
Barnes Arico also cited fresh-
man guard Paige Rakers as a
player worthy of the fifth spot
in the starting lineup, but said
she felt more comfortable with
Driscoll's experience. "We feel
like (Rakers) is more comfort-
able, even a sparkplug for us
coming off the bench."
With or without Smith, it may
be naive to suggest that Michi-
gan didn't shift any expecta-
tions with its performance over
the weekend. They might not
be world-beaters, or even one
of the better teams in the con-
ference. But had Barnes Arico
seen into the future before the
season started and watched the
Wolverines go toe-to-toe with a
top-20 opponent, the "transition
year" buzzword might not have
become such a mainstay in her
repertoire.

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