Getting four goals from the top line is undeniably a great night for the No. 4 Michigan hockey team. But getting four goals from the first line and having each of the other three lines contribute a goal of their own is a complete game.
And on Saturday, as all four lines created a goal for the Wolverines in their 7-3 rout of No. 9 Ohio State, Michigan played a complete game. While the first line of freshman forwards Adam Fantilli, Gavin Brindley and Rutger McGroarty jumped out on the stat sheet with their four combined goals — albeit that mark includes two empty-netters — the strong offensive performance throughout the line sheet kept the energy flowing throughout the entire game
“It’s good to have everybody bought in and buzzing, and get everybody involved too,” senior forward Nick Granowicz said. “It’s also good for just bench energy and everything all around.”
Of course, having that bench energy became pretty easy once Brindley scored the go-ahead goal 23 seconds in. It only became easier once two successive challenges went Michigan’s way in the first period, wiping a Buckeyes goal off the board and upholding the Wolverines’ third goal.
But that bench energy also has to be attributed to sophomore forward Mackie Samoskevich doing his best impression of second-line linemate sophomore forward Dylan Duke, taking a shot of the chest to score that third goal. It has to be attributed to freshman forward Jackson Hallum sniping a goal directly off the faceoff to put Michigan up 5-2 with 13 minutes left in the third period, giving the third line its first goal of the game.
And while no members of the fourth line recorded a point on Saturday night, it also has to be attributed to that line’s hard-nosed back-checking that freed up freshman defenseman Seamus Casey, allowing Casey to put the Wolverines up 2-0 in the first frame.
“You want to have everybody going,” Granowicz said. “It’s just gonna wear the other team down and beat them in the stamina battle.”
Winning that stamina battle is easy when all four lines generate high-danger chances and capitalize on them, as was the case Saturday night. And whether it was through putting the puck in the net, winning battles to regain possession or delivering punishing checks that took the wind out of the opposing attackers, each of Michigan’s four lines played to its strengths to stack shift after high-quality shift.
And as each line contributed those high-quality shifts, the energy flowed, and Michigan controlled the game the entire way.
“To have everyone confident and feeling like they’re contributing is a big deal,” Michigan coach Brandon Naurato said.
With every game remaining for the Wolverines coming in the form of a win-or-go-home scenario, Michigan needs the confidence it displayed Saturday throughout the whole bench. If one line has an off night, the Wolverines need to be sure that the next line will step up — because if they don’t, there’s no next night to bounce back.
But if the energy keeps flowing through the whole line sheet, if each line keeps setting itself up for success, then one line’s off-night doesn’t look so dooming.