Ten days before he delivered the shootout winner against Ferris State on Saturday, Luke Moffatt was benched for the first time since Feb. 25, 2011.
But since his return to the lineup, the forward has played better hockey, generating scoring chances on an offense that looked lethargic at best for much of November.
“He’s playing with more confidence now,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “But I can’t tell you we’ve got guys who can score every night.”
In the Wolverines’ 5-0 loss to the Bulldogs on Friday in Big Rapids, Moffatt ripped off five shots, tied for the most he’s had in a game this season. He also assisted on freshman forward Boo Nieves’s first-period goal on Saturday before eventually winning the game using excellent stick work to maneuver around Ferris State goaltender C.J. Motte, who senior captain A.J. Treais called one of the best in the CCHA.
Moffatt’s lack of early season production comes as a surprise after his successful sophomore campaign. Last year, the Paradise Valley, Ariz. native recorded a career-high 16 points and a plus/minus rating of plus-four. But he still hasn’t scored a non-shootout goal this season and is not playing positive hockey.
Then Friday night, it came as a bit of a surprise that last year’s co-points leader and CCHA Rookie of the Year Alex Guptill didn’t make the trip to Big Rapids.
Guptill had certainly been slumping this season and hasn’t scored since Oct. 27 against Miami (Ohio). Berenson sent a message that should be plenty loud by leaving him home and airing a laundry list of grievances against him.
“We’re just not happy with his day-to-day approach to the game, and the team, and his work ethic and his performance,” Berenson said. “Is he a better player than some players that played (Friday)? He could be. But I’m not doing him justice by letting him play at a lower level than he’s capable of.”
Guptill had previously played in every single game since he arrived at Michigan.
Though Moffatt is yet to completely turn it around, he’s been a part of some opportunistic scoring chances lately. Berenson needs Guptill’s benching to have a similar impact on both his performance and attitude.
O, CANADA: Hockey Canada released its selection camp roster for the IIHF World U20 Championship on Monday.
Absent from the list is Michigan sophomore forward Phil Di Giuseppe, who most believed to be the only Canadian Wolverine with a shot at inclusion. Last year, Di Giuseppe made the camp, but didn’t make the final cut to represent his country.
Since he won’t be at the tournament, Di Giuseppe will be able to play in the Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena on Dec. 28-29.
MONDAY FUN DAY: After the weekend set with Ferris State, the Wolverines were given the day off from skating on Monday. Michigan will resume practice Tuesday and won’t be in action again until Dec. 14 when it hosts Western Michigan.