The Michigan Daily sat down with Michigan coach Mel Pearson on Thursday and pulled out a hockey whiteboard.
Pearson drew up the intricacies of a play from last weekend’s matchup against then-No. 11 Ohio State that led to a Will Lockwood goal. He broke down where players went with the puck, what they were thinking with the play they made and how it all went down — with the X’s and O’s on a whiteboard.
The Daily deciphered the board and pieced together a series of drawings that represent what Pearson had to show.
Here’s what he drew up.
Friday, the Buckeyes tied the game with a power play goal midway through the second period. Momentum flipped then and Ohio State started pressing heavily against a stout Michigan defense. With four minutes left in the game, Lockwood took the puck off a rebound and scored a thrilling game-winning goal. The Wolverines went on to win the game, 3-2, due to the hustling efforts of Lockwood.
The Michigan Daily: Can you break down (senior forward Will Lockwood)’s game winner Friday?
Mel Pearson: Yes, Slaker shot it, so Will came in and came across like this. Slaker came in from behind him so he dropped the puck, and Slaker came in and basically took the shot.
Pearson: Will continued on this way, and the rebound came out to him. He took the one shot and followed it in. Puck came here, he actually took a second shot, and it came here.
Pearson: So Will’s coming here, and he comes in and cuts across. This is his sort of path that he took, and yes Slaker just came in here and took the shot. And then actually (Slaker) goes to the net, but Will stayed with the puck.
Pearson: That’s the biggest thing. After the shot was taken, he got the rebound. You teach guys to go to the net, and then the second one came to him. He’s fortunate it came here and then he’s so quick. He’s got such good speed and quick hands. When the goalie made the save, he was here, and Will just beat him back to the post.
Pearson: They had a defenseman here but the defenseman for some reason — this is how Ohio State and other teams play. They sort of hold in front. (The opposing player) didn’t go down to meet him here, and that gave Will actually, Will’s probably a few feet behind the goal line when he stuffed the puck in. So, this defenseman was taught not to go back down and get him, just sort of hold the post like this.
Pearson: Slaker’s coming in like this. Oh, yeah. Again, Will just comes in like this. He leaves the puck for Slaker coming down here. Slaker takes the wide shot, gets a rebound. It’s actually a good shot. Will, one rebound, continues on, second rebound, and then picks it up and jam it here. Then Slaker goes to the net here. Will’s so quick like I said, he just put in.
TMD: Could he have made the open pass to Slaker at the net?
Pearson: He could have, but I think you sometimes make a decision, you don’t even look. Especially when he first got out here, I think his whole intention was to beat the goalie to the far post. A lot of times you can when that goalie has come out to play this shot and it comes right back, he’s so quick. If you’re fast like Will and quick, you can get around to that far post before the goalie can physically move there. That’s what happened on that play. And good goal scorers do that. You know, you see some guys get in there, come way out here like this and look for the pass. They don’t have the aggressive move to the net and Will has that, he likes to go to the net. He’s aggressive and he was rewarded for that on that play.
TMD: You talked about positioning of that defenseman, do you teach that differently?
Pearson: We do. We do so we would, a lot of times, if there’s a defenseman over here with Will, we tell them to go with him. The other guy holds. Some teams will actually go with them, and then when they get to a certain point, if they don’t have contact, they just let him go. This guy will try and pick him up. But the Buckeyes don’t normally do that, they’re just sort of playing off the post. Will didn’t come out far enough for this guy to challenge him, so his feet are behind the goal, his (stick) tip just wraps it around. But we teach a different (style). We’ll tell this guy to go after him and this guy just hold him for them. Look for anybody here. Sometimes like I said, if this guy’s too far ahead of him, then he’ll switch off, he’ll just come to the front of the net and let this D go. But you never want to leave this area here. You never want to leave that area. That’s a dangerous scoring position. Ohio State did that. They didn’t leave that area. Will just happened to be so quick that he beat him around the net.