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ALLENTOWN, Pa. — All season, the Michigan hockey team’s offense has rolled like a wagon down hill. Its abundant shooters capitalize on countless scoring threats, and even a bad night still ends in three or four goals.

But against Quinnipiac, that wagon might finally stop.

Facing stout defense and the nation’s best statistical penalty kill, the Wolverines will need to find ways to keep scoring. Even with a lineup laden with high-end scorers, that will be a tall task.

“The way (Brendan) Brisson can shoot it, the way (Matty) Beniers can shoot it, the way (Kent) Johnson can shoot it, (Thomas) Bordeleau, (Mackie) Samoskevich,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson said. “We feel we’ll get some looks and if we do we have a chance to score.”

Michigan’s top scorers have carried much of its offensive workload this season, and it’s unlikely that changes with a spot in the Frozen Four on the line. Establishing those shots early, though, will be key. 

In games where they get going late, Michigan has struggled. Notre Dame beat the Wolverines twice because the top six were a non-factor. In Friday’s regional semifinal, American International hung around in the first period because Michigan’s top scorers couldn’t push an early lead higher. It’s essential to get those players on the scoresheet early to put the game in their favor.

That’s also where the Wolverines’ depth can make a difference.

Scorers like senior forward Garrett Van Wyhe and freshman defenseman Ethan Edwards got on the board early to put their team in control against the Yellowjackets. And against the Bobcats, those contributions will make a difference. Goals are goals, and Michigan will need all they can get against such a tough defense.

“You just gotta get pucks to the net, get people to the net,” senior forward Nolan Moyle said. “It may not be the prettiest goal, but even like our first goal yesterday, just getting to the net, getting a stick on it.”

But there’s another obstacle making that difficult: goaltender Yaniv Perets.

Perets burst on the scene this season, putting up a .944 save percentage and allowing just 1.07 goals against. Granted, he was playing against weaker competition in the ECAC than Big Ten teams, but that doesn’t mean he’s any weaker of a goaltender.

“Just look at his numbers, they’re mind-boggling,” Pearson said. “I think part of it is just making sure he doesn’t see shots … and get people and the puck to the net. It’s simple. You have to simplify sometimes.”

Getting bodies down low can accomplish that goal, especially when the Wolverines are on the power play. Against tough penalty kills, Michigan’s power play has come up empty-handed time after time. It focuses too much on moving the puck to find perfect shots instead of leaning on net-front traffic to create scoring threats.

The Bobcats will pounce on those extra chances to deny goals.

The Wolverines can’t afford any offensive mistakes against the Bobcats. One goal could determine who heads to Boston, and Quinnipiac’s defense could make those few and far between.

Michigan will need all of its offensive might to punch that ticket.