Saturday, the 11th-ranked Michigan hockey team was outshot, 45-18. The night before, it was outshot, 34-27. In fact, the Wolverines have been outshot in every game this season.
And yet, they’ve only lost one of five games this year.
This weekend, Michigan (3-1-1) managed to scrounge up a tie against Michigan Tech after Saturday’s game despite holding the lead heading into the third period. The Wolverines were consistently outplayed and outshot, and they had barely scraped by the Huskies on Friday night for a 4-3 win. But their luck appeared to run out as they lost their lead in Saturday’s game, settling for a tie.
“I just feel we have to play better,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “I know it was a busy weekend and there was a lot going on, but nevertheless our team has to be a better team. I like the fact that our goalies are playing well. I like the fact that our young guys are getting experience, but our team has to be better.”
With a tendency to be outshot — and sometimes by a lot — Michigan’s goaltenders have had to keep the team afloat.
Freshman goaltender Jack LaFontaine was in front of the net during the second match up against Michigan Tech and racked up 42 saves. And after a 28-save game in his debut last weekend against Ferris State, where the Wolverines registered a 2-1 win over the Bulldogs, LaFontaine has proved he can be reliable in front of the net.
Friday night, freshman goaltender Hayden Lavigne showed that he was capable of a solid performance as well, recording his second win of the season and tallying 31 saves. His first win was a 29-shot save shutout against Union, and despite giving up three goals in Friday’s win, he continued to play well.
Even senior goaltender Zach Nagelvoort, who shouldered the team’s only loss (4-3 at the hands of Union) looked solid in front of the net. Regardless of the loss, he came away with 36 saves out of 40 shots.
It’s clear that the goaltenders are capable of fending off large numbers of shots, but the 27-shot deficit Michigan racked up on Saturday night still isn’t promising. Being outshot has become a trend for the Wolverines, and it’s one that the goaltenders are seeing a lot of. And while Michigan’s goaltenders have played well thus far, allowing the opposition to have 40 plus shots on goal usually isn’t a recipe for success.
And the Wolverines know that.
“There’s going to be games where a goalie will steal you the game,” Berenson said. “Maybe (LaFontaine) stole us a game at Ferris and so on, and maybe (Lavigne) stole us a game last night, when we were outshot, outplayed and out chanced. We have some talent in our locker room, but I don’t think we’re playing up to our talent yet.”