As the first period wound to a close, Ohio State defenseman Will Riedell tried to execute a pass up the right boards. Michigan senior forward Nolan Moyle was there to pick it off and rush towards goal. With a wide open look, Moyle whiffed at the puck and Michigan headed to the locker room tied with the Buckeyes.
Moyle, a role player for the Wolverines, came off one of his best games of the season last Saturday against Minnesota. He recorded four shots against the Gophers and scored his second goal of the season.
The missed chance in the first period is a tough look for any player, especially in a rivalry game. But Moyle’s experience and determination aided him in looking past it, helping the Wolverines to a 5-2 victory in Columbus.
In search of redemption at the beginning of the second period, Moyle pushed the puck past the goal line after senior defenseman Nick Blankenburg ripped a shot from far out. Using his big body and strong game, Moyle challenged the Buckeye goaltender and gave Michigan the lead. The Wolverines held onto the 2-1 all the way until the third period. Moyle’s ability to step up after a clear missed opportunity proved to be valuable to his team.
“It’s staying positive throughout a long game,” Blankenburg said. “There’s going to be chances you don’t bear down and mistakes that are made. He’s playing hard and getting to the net. When you do that you’re going to get rewarded.”
Moyle was an energizer bunny throughout the entire game on both ends. Although his goal helped drive the Wolverines’ win, his work off the puck was even more important. Moyle’s forechecking constantly won possession back and forced turnovers to create more looks for his teammates. His physicality and work rate gives any opponent a tough night on the ice; his grit, determination and second effort hockey proves why he’s one of the most consistent players on the roster.
“Even on that goal, he stays with it,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson said. “He gets a whack and doesn’t give up. He stays right after the puck and obviously it’s a huge goal.”
Michigan was unfortunate to miss multiple players in the first game of the series. Sophomore defenseman Owen Power and sophomore forward Kent Johnson are at the World Juniors camp, sophomore defenseman Steve Holt had an injury in the second period, and junior forward Jay Keranen left the ice early on a major penalty. Everyone had to contribute if the team wanted to win.
“What I like about this team is there’s no excuses going into this game,” Pearson said. “They just said this is our team, this is what we’re going with, and we feel good about this team.”
Whether it was blocking shots, pushing the puck towards goal or working to get it back, the Wolverines looked to continue their form in the second game against Minnesota. Moyle’s performance in both these matchups shows just how important his consistency is to the squad.
Even when he can’t score, Moyle comes right back at his opponents and gives Michigan the edge.