“We talk about our freshmen, there’s no freshmen anymore,” said Michigan coach Mel Pearson. “Once Christmas rolls around, they’ve played enough games, they understand the systems now, they understand how hard it is to score and be a good player at this level. With that in mind, someone referred to them as the fourth line, I said, ‘they’re not our fourth line.’ … they’re only going to get better moving forward.”
Entering the second half of the season, Michigan is now 28th in the PairWise Rankings. Though it is not the exact method by which the 16 teams will be selected for the NCAA Tournament, it shows that the Wolverines currently sit on the outside looking in.
Neither team would give up an edge, throwing bodies in front of shots and scrapping for every loose puck in the third period. With the game remaining tied at 2, Michigan went into its seventh overtime in the past nine games.
The same continued in the overtime period, and the game ended in a tie.
Instead of upperclassmen, it was a pair of freshmen that stepped up in place of the sophomores. Defenseman Nick Blankenburg and forward Nolan Moyle both recorded points for the Wolverines when they opened up the GLI Tournament against Michigan Tech with a shootout loss.
For the sixth time in their last eight games, the Wolverines (6-7-1 overall, 2-4-4-2 Big Ten) were playing overtime hockey. The winner was decided in a shootout, in which Michigan Tech emerged victorious, 3-2, after five rounds.
Last season, junior forward Nick Pastujov recorded just four goals and 11 assists in 36 games. This season, he has seven goals and four assists through 13 games –– nearly doubling his scoring production just a third of the way through the season.