The No. 18 Michigan hockey team entered Friday night’s game against No. 4 Boston University undermanned and an underdog.
The Wolverines were missing four of six seniors — including both captains — as forwards Alex Kile and Max Shuart, defensemen Nolan De Jong and goaltender Zach Nagelvoort were all suspended one game for violating team policy.
Playing at less than full strength against one of the nation’s top teams could have seemed like a death wish.
But it was no matter for Michigan. The Wolverines (5-3-1) managed to come away with a 4-0 upset victory over the Terriers (4-3-1) at Yost Ice Arena.
Despite the suspensions, there was no sign of sluggishness from the Wolverines. Michigan was aggressive and physical, hitting Boston University early and often. The Wolverines rode strong play from freshman goaltender Hayden Lavigne, who notched his second shutout of the season by tallying 30 saves.
It didn’t take long for Michigan to score its first goal of the night — nor did it take the Wolverines much longer to score their second.
Freshman forward Will Lockwood fired a wrister past Terrier goaltender Jake Oettinger midway through the first period, and sophomore forward Tony Calderone slotted one into the back of the net just 37 seconds later. Just like that, Michigan had a 2-0 lead.
“I think both teams played physical,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “But when you take a team’s physicality out of their game by scoring on the power play, then that can change the whole game, and scoring on the first two power plays was huge.”
The first period was perhaps the best 20 minutes Michigan has played all season. The Wolverines kept the puck in the Terriers’ zone for long stretches of play, applying pressure on Oettinger. Michigan held a 10-5 shot advantage over Boston University headed into the first intermission — no small feat considering it has been outshot often this year.
The Terriers bounced back in the second period, peppering Lavigne with shots and creating several grade-A chances. The freshman goaltender was up to the task, though, preserving his team’s lead with several crucial saves — including one where he found himself on his back, yet was able to reach out with his glove to make the save.
“I was following the puck really well,” Lavigne said. “The shot came in, I dropped the rebound (and) it was kind of just a mess, but I saw it go over and knew that I had to get over there somewhere. I just kinda reached, and luckily he put it into my glove.”
Considering Boston University spent most of the second period with the puck and outshot Michigan 15-3, the Wolverines were perhaps lucky to head into the locker room with their 2-0 lead intact.
But that’s how Michigan has won most of its games this season: concede the shot advantage but ride the wave of timely goals to victory. Friday was no different.
“I think as a whole team we kinda survived (the second period),” Lavigne said. “But that’s why we’re a team. When we don’t play so well, there’s other people to pick it up. Like in the first period, (Boston) only had five shots. Really (give) credit to our offense there, how we kinda dominated that, so I think that’s what being a team is about — getting through those lows and maintaining the highs.”
Michigan added to its lead in the third period when Lockwood and freshman Jake Slaker combined for a nifty goal. Lockwood deked past a defender by the boards before dropping the puck off just outside the crease for Slaker, who backhanded the puck from a tough angle past Oettinger for his fourth goal of the year.
After the shaky second period, Michigan settled down to stifle the Boston University attack and keep Lavigne mostly clean. An empty-netter from Calderone — his second goal of the game — provided the final score, and when the clock hit zero at the end of the third period, the Wolverines had a signature win to their name.
“There’s no question about the respect we had for (Boston University) and their personnel, their coaches and their program,” Berenson said. “And then we had some players not playing that normally would have been in the lineup. So that was another motivator for guys that got a chance to play, and the other guys knew that we weren’t 100 percent and that (we had) to play over our heads, and I thought we got that type of effort tonight. It was a good team effort.”