- Paul Sherman/Daily
BY ERIN LENNON
Daily Sports Writer
Published October 10, 2013
Less than two minutes into the No. 10 Michigan hockey team’s season opener against No. 4 Boston College, a lone stick lay unclaimed on the ice after a scuffle — a sign of things to come.
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After 60 minutes of predictably brutal hockey and solid play from both teams, it was stellar goaltending from sophomore Steve Racine that preserved the Wolverines’ 3-1 victory.
Racine — who allowed two goals in an abbreviated appearance in Sunday’s exhibition — finished the game with 20 saves, including nine in the first period, and allowed only one goal.
Much of Racine’s success was a product of limited rebounds. Racine was able to sit on several in-traffic shots, at times with opposing players fallen in goal. Late in the third period, he made a quick glove save on an odd-man rush.
In front of him, Racine had the support of the penalty kill all night. The defense held the Eagles to just two shots on the power play and to just 21 on the game.
“He was awesome,” said sophomore forward Andrew Copp. “He’s been working out all summer so we knew where he was at mentally and physically. It’s good for him. It gets him a lot of confidence to keep the ball rolling from last year.”
While Racine was the better netminder, he was also luckier. Three times in the second period, Racine was mere inches from allowing a goal, and three shots in particular could have gotten Boston College back in the game.
In the first period, Racine juggled a puck in traffic that all but jumped out of the goal by itself. Racine got an even luckier break in the second period, when a shot from Eagles forward Ryan Fitzgerald bounced off the crossbar, narrowly missing an upper-corner goal. Once more with three minutes remaining, having made a left-pad save, Racine lost sight of the puck and left the net open for a moment for Fitzgerald, who missed wide.
Meanwhile, Boston College goaltender Brian Billett finished the game with 29 saves having allowed three goals — two of which were a result of a sleepy penalty kill, and another off a deflection. Billett also spent 12 minutes defending the net with four men.
“I thought our goaltender played really, really well,” said Boston College coach Jerry York. “We’re going to have a strong year this year in the net.”
Despite the errors, the stat sheet showed Racine allowed a single goal against one of the nation’s top offenses, and the defense held the Eagles’ best player, junior forward Johnny Gaudreau, to one shot. It was a game that will build confidence not only in Racine, but in a young Wolverines defense moving forward as well.
“I think that’s what we expect,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “If you’re at Michigan, you know you need good goalkeeping. Look what he did last year. I think he was 8-1-1 in the last 10 games. That’s what we need from him. He went through his learning curve last year, and hopefully now he’ll be more consistent.”