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Five things we learned: New Hampshire

Paul Sherman/Daily
Freshman forward Tyler Motte was the hero for Michigan on Saturday. Buy this photo

By Erin Lennon, Daily Sports Writer
Published October 20, 2013

1. Zach Nagelvoort provides a solid backup in net.

Less than two minutes into the third period Friday against No. 13 New Hampshire, sophomore goaltender Steve Racine was laying on his front side in noticeable pain and unable to continue play in a tie game on the road. He was assisted off the ice by sophomore forward Boo Nieves and freshman defenseman Nolan de Jong, and did not return for the remainder of the game.

His early exit prompted the regular-season debut of Nagelvoort, the freshman, who hadn’t seen ice time since coming in halfway through an exhibition game against Waterloo (Ont.). He made 15 saves in 15 minutes without allowing a goal en route to a 1-1 tie for No. 4 Michigan (3-0-1).

Nagelvoort made his first career start the following night with Racine — who recorded a career-high 42 saves against Rochester Institute of Technology last weekend — sidelined again by what was described as a lower body injury.

After a solid first period, Nagelvoort surrendered a pair of scores on just 12 shots in the second. The second goal bounced in off his own skate.

Still, in his impromptu debut weekend, Nagelvoort recorded his first career win and kept Michigan out of the loss column two nights in a row.

“For his first college hockey experience to have to come in and then face a penalty shot, it’s pretty good,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “And plus killing a penalty, I thought he did really well.”

2. Michigan can survive the OT.

After a 7-4 victory over RIT last Saturday in which the Tigers erased a 4-0 deficit in a single period, Bennett said that he was unsure if last year’s team would’ve secured the victory.

But twice this weekend, the Wolverines were forced to play in front of a reputably hostile sellout crowd at the Whittemore Center Arena in Durham, N.H.

Twice, they came away unscathed.

Without their starting goalie in the net, Michigan and Nagelvoort held off New Hampshire through five minutes of overtime hockey on Friday, tying the Wildcats 1-1. And the Wolverines came away with a 3-2 overtime victory on Saturday when freshman forward Tyler Motte netted a goal 1:37 into the extra frame.

“Those were two good games,” Berenson said. “We felt (Friday) night we didn’t put our best foot forward, and the home team was better. But we survived the tie. In every category, we were outplayed or outworked or out-faceoffed or out-chanced.”

For a young team looking to build its identity from the get-go, this weekend’s resilient performance could be a defining moment. If nothing else, the Wolverines proved they are conditioned enough to survive extra hockey when necessary.

3. Guptill provides both power and flexibility.

On Friday, junior forward Alex Guptill moved up to the first line alongside sophomore Andrew Copp and senior Derek DeBlois.

The trio contributed to the Wolverines’ lone goal, but afterward Berenson decided Guptill would be better suited on a bigger line with Nieves and junior Phil Di Giuseppe, who had trouble connecting in the first game.

It took just 10 minutes on Saturday for the new line to connect. Guptill took a pass off the sideboards from Nieves and fired a shot off the inside of the post and in — his first goal of the season. Di Giuseppe picked up an assist on the play.

Later in the period, Guptill took a feed from Nieves near the right circle and slid through the New Hampshire defense before netting his second goal of the game over the shoulder of goaltender Casey DeSmith.

4. The freshmen are ready.

On a larger ice surface — one that stretches 15 feet wider than regulation — and an even bigger stage this weekend, Michigan’s nine contributing freshmen were as unfazed as they had been in the season opener against Boston College.

Freshman forward Tyler Motte played the hero on Saturday when, less than two minutes into overtime, freshman forward JT Compher found DeBlois who fed Motte for the game-winning goal.

Freshman forward Evan Allen — on an all-freshman line with Compher and Motte — nearly gave the Wolverines a lead before regulation expired, but his rebound chance flew high over the net.

Nagelvoort, a late commit from the United States Hockey League, saved 22 shots in 24 attempts, allowing just one goal.