Michigan's goaltenders cannot save weekend
It took 22 seconds for Vermont to score its game-winning goal against the Michigan hockey team Friday night. Freshman goaltender Hayden Lavigne, already used to early deficits, resorted to his calming exercises in an effort to maintain composure.
The freshman netminder remained relaxed and saved Vermont’s next seven shot attempts until Catamount forward Matt Alvaro scored at the 10:22 mark.
The rest of the Michigan hockey team, though, failed to muster any offense to support Lavigne’s effort in the crease — notching just eight shots on goal in the first, seven in the second and six in the final frame. It proved to be the trend of the weekend, as the Wolverines’ goaltenders notched 71 saves on 77 shots, but still fell 3-0 to Vermont and 3-2 to Dartmouth.
“We just gotta be able to come out and play from the get-go,” said senior defenseman Nolan De Jong Friday night. “One thing I said after the game is that we gotta come in there with a little bit of pride. You don’t come to Michigan to be average, and (Friday night) was far below average for our standards.”
In the second period Friday night, sophomore forward Brendan Warren hit the post but it was to no avail. Michigan had five power-play opportunities, but managed just five shots with this one-man advantage and couldn’t find paydirt on any of them. Though Lavigne turned away 39 of 42 shots he faced, his offense attempted just 21 shots on goal.
Saturday night, when facing Dartmouth, it was more of the same. The Wolverines’ attack fared better, scoring two power-play goals. Winborg scored his first career goal in the game’s third minute. Forward Alex Kile tied up the score in the third, on his second goal of the season. Yet these bits of offense were not enough, as a late opportunity by Big Green forward Troy Cema broke the stalemate with 49 seconds left. Once again, another impressive effort by a Michigan goaltender went to waste. This time, it was freshman Jack LaFontaine who stopped 32 shots on 35 attempts.
After the departure of many players from Michigan top-ranked scoring offense last season, early growing pains were to be expected. Excellent goaltending, though, has kept the Wolverines in games.
But Michigan’s goaltenders can’t save every shot, and with a struggling offense, the early goals have proved costly.
In the two matchups over the weekend, Michigan allowed only one power play goal on 21 shot attempts.
The Wolverines’ goaltenders continue to thrive while their offense has generated just 18 goals in seven games. The three players — Lavigne, LaFontaine and senior Zach Nagelvoort — rank sixth nationally in save percentage with a .934 clip. The offense though, continues to struggle. It sits second to last in the nation with a 39.5 percent Corsi average, which measures the percentage of shots taken compared to an opponent.
In a season filled with close calls and heart-breakers, there has been one constant for Michigan: the success of its goaltenders. And this weekend was no different.
Michigan once again fell just short.