Wolverines rebound from season-opening loss with 7-4 win in exhibition game
Unlike Friday night, the result of Sunday’s game was not in question for very long.
The Michigan hockey team (0-1) took the ice at Yost Ice Arena for the second time in as many days. After losing to Vermont, 5-2, in their season opener, the Wolverines looked to rebound in an exhibition match against Waterloo.
And rebound is just what they did.
Michigan’s offense wasted no time as sophomore forward Josh Norris streaked towards the net on the right side of the ice and tucked the puck under the crossbar and over goaltender Trevor Martin’s left shoulder. After going scoreless in their previous 50 minutes of play, the Wolverines were finally on the board.
Just three minutes later, junior forward Nick Pastujov extended the lead to 2-0 after he found space in front of the net on a pass from the left wing off the stick of junior forward Jake Slaker. The goal came during a four-on-three advantage for Michigan.
The Wolverines would pour in two more goals in the first period and entered the first intermission with a 4-1 lead.
In addition to the early offensive initiative, freshman goaltender Strauss Mann made his debut for the Wolverines. His collegiate career got off to a less-than-ideal start after a shot from center ice bounced towards the goal and over his left pad. After allowing Waterloo on the board seven minutes into the contest, the freshman settled in and looked more comfortable in the crease.
His aggressive style showed as he often came out of the net to play the puck, allowing his team to quickly transition on the offensive break. Michigan’s 29 shots on target through the first two periods were a result of their aggressiveness starting from the back and the effective puck movement in the offensive zone.
The Wolverines added three more points in the second period on goals from junior forward Will Lockwood, freshman forward Jack Olmstead and sophomore forward Jack Becker.
Olmstead, who made his collegiate debut, impressed Michigan coach Mel Pearson.
“[Olmstead] didn’t play last night but he got in there tonight,” Pearson said. “He played strong, he played hard and he had a nice goal.”
Added Pearson: “I like this class and I’m really looking forward to seeing the growth in them.”
Nine of out 10 members of the freshman class have now made their debuts for the Wolverines, with the only exception being goaltender Jack Leavy.
Despite sloppy play from the Wolverines towards the end of the game, the early lead created a margin for error. Waterloo scored the only goal in the third frame, but the four-goal deficit coming into the final period of play proved to be insurmountable as Michigan bounced back from their loss on Saturday, notching a 7-4 win.
Although the Wolverines came out on top, they allowed nine goals through their first two games. Pearson acknowledged that it is something his team needs to address moving forward.
“We’ve got to get better defensively,” Pearson said. “Even tonight, four goals is too many … We’ve got to get better in that area. I’m a little surprised that we’re not better –– that we gave up as many goals as we did this weekend. So that’s going to be an area that we have to take care of.”
Michigan will get another chance to make their defensive adjustments in an exhibition match on Friday against USA Hockey's U-18 National Team Development Program before returning to regular season play against Western Michigan on Oct. 19.