Michigan’s three-man rotation of goalies with either minimal or no collegiate playing time was supposed to be the storyline for the No. 3 Michigan hockey team going into its Tuesday night exhibition game against Windsor.
But that story got quickly overshadowed – it was the forwards who effortlessly stole the spotlight in Michigan’s 7-3 route of the Lancers.
“It was good to get a game under our belt where we’re playing against a team other than each other,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “It was a good test for our team.”
Despite what the score might reflect, it wasn’t a smooth path to the win, especially when the first period started off shaky for the Wolverines. Freshman Jared Rutledge made his debut between the pipes for the first period, and in the opening moments of the frame, senior forward A.J. Treais’ shot found the back of the net.
But the captain’s goal was waved off and Windsor subsequently took control of the game. Midway through the frame, a Windsor shot from the point was deflected several times before finding twine after being knocked in from the left side of the net with three seconds left on a Michigan penalty kill.
Waved-off goals seemed to be something of a trend for the Wolverines during the first period. Freshman forward Justin Selman eagerly celebrated what he thought was his first goal in a Michigan sweater.
“I think we missed some of our best chances in the first period,” Berenson said. “It wasn’t easy. It was a good game for us because (Windsor is) a good team, and they gave us a good game for half the game.”
As per Berenson’s plan, each period brought a new goalie. Freshman netminder Steve Racine entered in the second period, along with a Wolverine offense that finally found its groove.
Seconds after receiving the opening faceoff from Treais, sophomore forward Phil Di Giuseppe brought the puck up through the slot. He found junior forward Luke Moffatt situated in front of the crease and Moffatt knocked it in to tie the game at one.
Not long after, Selman found the back of the net again and this celebration was justified. And after that, the goals kept rolling. And rolling. And rolling — three goals in the remaining five minutes of the second period.
The Wolverines were graced with back-to-back power play goals after Windsor was penalized for too many men on the ice. The first belonged to Moffatt, who received a blast feed from freshman defenseman Jacob Trouba at the point, and the second went to Di Giuseppe.
Freshman forward Andrew Copp rounded out Michigan’s scoring in the waning minutes of the second frame. He was assisted by fellow freshman Boo Nieves and Selman.
Junior forward Derek DeBlois’ two third-period goals continued the carnage against the Lancers. Though Windsor managed to cut the lead to 7-3, it just couldn’t find the rest of the goals needed to close the ever-increasing deficit.
According to Berenson, junior netminder Adam Janecyk was on the short end of the stick by coming into the game’s final stanza.
“(The third period), that’s a tough period to come in,” Berenson said. “He hasn’t come in in two periods and then he comes in and our team is laying back a little bit.”
Janecyk never had a chance to see a Lancer wraparound goal, but it was the faulty penalty kill that let the second one sneak past him with three minutes remaining in the game.
But despite somewhat sloppy play, Michigan’s most pleasant surprise of the evening came from the freshmen, who scored two of Michigan’s goals. The placing of three freshmen, Copp, Selman and Nieves on the same line isn’t usually common practice — according to Berenson, that many freshman playing together usually get too excited — but Tuesday, it worked out in the Wolverines’ favor.
“It was a sight to see,” Moffatt said. “It was good to see those freshmen step up early and contribute offensively. They played good defensively too, so that’s what matters.”