In its two previous matches against Windsor — both occurring 34 years ago — the Michigan hockey team outscored the Lancers 18-5. This weekend wasn’t quite as lopsided, but the Wolverines still kept Windsor scoreless.
Sunday afternoon, Michigan scored an early goal and added another late to win 2-0 at Yost Ice Arena.
Freshman center Jake Slaker won the opening faceoff and the Wolverines offense went to work. Just 69 seconds after the puck drop, Michigan had notched three shots on goal.
After an elbowing penalty on Windsor left wing Justice Dendas, the Wolverines had their first power play opportunity of the season. And as they did last year — when it scored 48 power play goals — Michigan took advantage of it. Senior goalie Zach Nagelvoort passed to Tony Calderone at the blue line who dished it to freshman center Nick Pastujov. Pastujov ran to the faceoff circle and passed it back to the junior right winger. Calderone knocked it back to Pastujov who juked a Lancer defender and backhanded the puck into the net.
“It was surreal,” Pastujov said. “ It is something you picture doing. You want to score and want to produce, and it was good that we didn’t let any against.”
The Wolverines outshot Windsor 15-7 in the first period led by two freshmen: Pastujov and Slaker. Slaker and freshman right wing Will Lockwood played on the first line with senior left wing Alex Kile, last season’s leading scorer.
“Slaker and Lockwood are coming in with a lot of momentum and a lot of confidence, and they seem to have fit with Alex Kile,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “They looked good in practice and they looked good in the game again.”
In the second period, Michigan initially struggled. The Lancers won the face-off and had two early shots to test freshman goaltender Hayden Lavigne in his first game-time experience. Lavigne saved every shot that came his way — 13 in total — to keep Windsor’s offense in check.
By the third frame, Windsor nearly scored twice. The Lancers had a breakaway, but failed to capitalize with freshman Jack LaFontaine saving Ventas’ team-leading third shot on goal. With five minutes left in the period, LaFontaine once again made impressive blocks, saving two of Steve Anthony’s shots with his glove. All three Michigan goalies combined for 32 saves, with Lavigne saving 13, edging out LaFontaine for the team-lead.
“When you give another team breakaways and point blank shots, it’s up to your goalie to be able to make a save that we hopefully hoping they wouldn’t have to make, but they made them tonight,” Berenson said.
“Nagelvoort got us off to a good start and in the second period, I thought Lavigne was really good and LaFontaine had to make some of the toughest saves in the game when the game was on the line.”
Added senior defenseman Nolan De Jong: “I loved the competition those guys had … I think we (the defense) did a pretty good job of taking away some Grade A (shot opportunities). When they did happen to get a pretty good chance they were solid back there.”
Michigan added another goal with one minute left in the third period when the Lancers pulled their goaltender. Junior left wing Dexter Dancs shot the puck from the red line and it sailed into the net.
Lockwood and Calderone proved to be offensive bright spots. Lockwood finished second with five shots on goal and came close to scoring twice. In the first period, he skated the length of the ice but couldn’t hit it past the Windsor goaltender. In the second frame, he broke away for a one-on-one against Lancers’ goaltender Kris Joyce who once again blocked Lockwood’s shot. Calderone led Michigan with nine shots on goal including two shots at the game’s first minute.
Though it was just an exhibition, the Wolverines have some optimism going forward after its victory Sunday afternoon. With so many freshmen, the game provided them a chance to gain vital game time experience.