Hockey

After helping Michigan to a Frozen Four two years ago, senior goaltender Hayden Lavigne has taken a back seat to Strauss Mann.

Over the course of this conversation, Lavigne will say all the right things. He’s accepting the role and doing what he can, enjoying the wins as they come. But it’s clear that two years ago, when he skated off the ice in Minneapolis after a Frozen Four loss, this wasn’t how Lavigne saw his career winding down.

Sophomore goaltender Strauss Mann had his sixth shutout of the season on Saturday night.

But the real story was all about Mann — he was the man of the hour.

A shutout is no easy feat. After earning his fifth the day before, he tied for second in the nation for most shutouts. One day later, he did it again. Sixty minutes. One hour. That’s how long he had to laser in in-game, but his match started much earlier.

Freshman forward Johnny Beecher scored a highlight-reel goal on Saturday.

Saturday night, Beecher flipped the script. He scored again — his ninth goal of the season — in dramatic, highlight-reel fashion, helping propel Michigan to a 3-0 win over the Spartans.

Sophomore defenseman Nick Blankenburg assisted a powerplay goal on Saturday night.

Blankenburg’s been a key component on the powerplay all season for Michigan. At the beginning of the season, it wasn’t as apparent. The powerplay struggled. A lot. But Blankenburg and his teammates believed in the system. They bought in.

Now, they move the puck much better. The movement allows for much better scoring opportunities. And recently, Blankenburg has been quarterbacking the whole thing.

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That goal put the Michigan hockey team (18-14-4 overall, 12-10-3-2 Big Ten) up by two and fueled the Wolverines to a 3-0 win over Michigan State (15-19-2, 11-12-2), Saturday night at Yost Ice Arena. And with the victory, a Michigan team once left for dead advanced to the second round of the Big Ten Tournament.

The Michigan hockey team held onto a three-goal lead despite letting off the gas in the third period on Friday.

Rather than feeling confident, Pearson understood the nature of a three-goal lead and thereby, deficit. Especially in hockey, where one play can spark a snowball effect, it’s essential to maintain focus for a full 60 minutes. But when you believe you’re safe, when you let down your guard, take your foot off the pedal, kinks in a seemingly-insurmountable lead start to show.

Sophomore goaltender Strauss Mann recorded his fifth shutout of the season on Friday.

Friday was the fifth meeting between the two this season. Lethemon certainly had the upper hand in the opening series in mid November, while his team walked away with the sweep. He tallied a 95.9 percent save rate that weekend while Mann blocked just 83.3 percent of his shots. Mann even got pulled for senior goaltender Hayden Lavigne in the latter game, after giving up three goals on 12 shots in the first two periods.

Senior forward Nick Pastujov was a key part of Michigan's penalty kill on Friday.

Five.

That’s how many times a Michigan player sat in the penalty box and watched as his teammates faced a man disadvantage on Friday night. But each time the Wolverine penalty killers skated over the boards for a shift, they came back to the bench not having surrendered a goal.

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Sophomore forward Jimmy Lambert won the faceoff and sent the puck to senior forward Nick Pastujov. Pastujov’s quick shot beat goaltender John Lethemon over his shoulder from a sharp angle to score Michigan’s third and final goal in what became a 3-0 victory over the Spartans in the first game of the Big Ten Tournament.

The Michigan hockey team will play Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament.

In wake of the Big Ten Tournament, the Michigan Daily hockey beat sat down and discussed their thoughts on how the tournament would play out.

With a field of Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Michigan State and Wisconsin, respectively ordered in how they placed in the Big Ten standings, anything could happen in the well-balanced conference battles.

Here are the beat writers’ predicted winners: