Notebook: Pastujov seeing increased production, goaltender battle continues
Last season, junior forward Nick Pastujov recorded just four goals and 11 assists in 36 games. This season, he has seven goals and four assists through 13 games –– nearly doubling his scoring production just a third of the way through the season.
The New York Islanders’ draft pick saw an increase in offensive production from his freshman season –– where he scored one goal and added two assists in 28 games –– to his sophomore campaign. The trend has quietly continued into his third year with the Michigan hockey team.
Being a point producer has never been Pastujov’s calling card, but he thrives when embracing physicality, creating havoc in the offensive zone and winning faceoff battles. This season, he is second on the team in faceoff-win percentage at .571, an increase from last season’s .452-win percentage in the circle.
The jump in production has not gone unnoticed by Michigan coach Mel Pearson.
“He’s so much better than he was offensively,” Pearson said. “I think he’s hitting the net more, more confidence. He was playing with a couple freshmen last year and they’re sophomores now –– they’re both having better years than they did last year, too. So, I think it’s a combination.”
After practice on Tuesday, Pearson also noted that this past summer was Pastujov’s most impressive as far as training.
“(I) worked on little things like winning battles and winning stick battles, winning corner battles, getting stronger,” Pastujov said. “Just getting stronger, faster and a little bit smarter.
“We’re on the power play now, too, and gotten some goals there, so we’re getting a lot more ice time. Getting to create more chances, getting out there more and being able to get in a groove as the game goes on. And I think that’s played a big role in that uptick in production.”
One area of play that has been an issue for Pastujov this season, though, has been his plus-minus. He currently sits at minus-four, which would be the lowest of his collegiate career.
“It’s something where we’ve been in the room a lot watching video, focusing really heavily on turning that minus into a plus,” Pastujov said. “Hopefully before Christmas but definitely very, very quickly. That has to be the biggest thing to work on, just keeping that production up.
“Just gotta score, or get scored on.”
Goaltender competition continues
For two consecutive weekends now, Pearson has opted to start the same goaltender on back-to-back nights, after previously rotating starters for each game. Freshman Strauss Mann got the nod in net for both games against Penn State, while junior Hayden Lavigne started this past weekend against Wisconsin.
Michigan came out of both weekends with three points and all four games were competitive to the final buzzer. The difference? Mann allowed 11 goals to a high-powered Nittany Lions offense while Lavigne surrendered just three to Wisconsin.
“It just depends on how they play,” Pearson said. “If Hayden gets the opportunity to play Friday and plays like he did this past weekend and strings games together then I think he’s making a strong case to be ‘the guy.’ And Strauss, it’s a little bit of work in progress. He’s very capable, I’ve got a lot of confidence in him, as the team does. But he did give up 11 goals –– whatever way you slice it –– against Penn State, and he played well.
“But Hayden comes in and gives up three goals. Now different teams –– you look at where they are in the offensive stats in the country and you take that into consideration, too, but no timeline at this point.”
Luke Morgan and Adam Winborg record first goals of season
There were times during practice coming into this season where redshirt sophomore forward Luke Morgan looked like the best player on the ice, according to Pearson. And on Saturday –– his 13th game of the season –– he tallied his first goal in a Michigan sweater.
“It felt good, definitely,” Morgan said. “It’s a big relief, it took a lot longer than I’d like it to, but it’s definitely a big relief going forward knowing I don’t have to worry about it.”
Junior forward Adam Winborg joined Morgan in recording his first goal of the campaign over the weekend. The Stockholm native saw plenty of ice time in his first two seasons, playing in 30 and 39 games, respectively. Thus far, he has played in seven of thirteen regular season games, but has been a mainstay in the lineup since the Lake Superior State weekend series.
Cam York announces commitment to Michigan
Cam York, a defenseman for the U.S. National Team Development Program, announced his commitment to Michigan on Tuesday. He has recorded 16 points through 21 games this season. York –– a five-star prospect and likely an eventual NHL-first rounder –– decommitted from Boston College in September and joins fellow USNTDP forward John Beecher as a Wolverine commit.