By Alejandro Zúñiga, Daily Sports Editor
Published October 10, 2013
Andrew Copp made himself a promise. Named an alternate captain by Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson, the sophomore forward vowed to contribute more to avoid a repeat of the crushing disappointment of last season.
And on Thursday night, Copp and No. 10 Michigan notched a statement victory at Yost Ice Arena by topping No. 4 Boston College, 3-1, in both teams’ regular-season openers.
Copp finished with three points on the night, highlighted by a shot deflected off a Boston College player five minutes into the second period to give the Wolverines (1-0) a 2-0 lead. And just moments into the third period, after the Eagles (0-1) had cut the deficit to one goal before the intermission, Copp’s pinpoint assist to senior forward Luke Moffatt helped restore Michigan’s two-goal advantage — one it would not relinquish.
“That’s what we’re looking for,” Berenson said. “(Copp) is a big kid, he competes hard, he wants to play at both ends of the rink, and that’s how we want our whole team to play. But Andrew Copp is not just a sophomore now — he’s one of our captains, and he’s playing like it.”
The Wolverines struck early when freshman forward JT Compher and Moffatt combined on the power play seven minutes into the first period. Singlehandedly breaking into the offensive zone, Compher avoided two defensemen before sliding the puck across the crease. Unmarked, Moffatt one-timed it past Billett.
“It’s definitely good to get the first one out of the way always,” Moffatt said. “Definitely good to get JT (Compher) his first point as a freshman, and I feel like we got the ball rolling early this year.”
Moffat had a pair of goals, and Compher had two assists as part of Michigan’s second line.
The Eagles’ lone tally came midway through the second period. Forward Johnny Gaudreau fed defenseman Ian McCoshen, and his slap shot from the blue line made its way past sophomore netminder Steve Racine after being tipped by a defender. Ryan Fitzgerald nearly brought Boston College all the way back from the two-goal hole on a breakaway moments later, but his backhanded wrist shot clanged off the frame.
The Eagles’ threatening second period highlighted Racine’s solid night between the pipes. The goaltender was the benefactor of a lucky break when Boston College forward Quinn Smith hit the post despite having an open net in the first period, but he recovered quickly enough to poke away the rebound. When forward Austin Cangelosi snuck in behind the Wolverines’ defense and had a prime goal-scoring opportunity with four minutes to go in the first period, Racine stuffed him cleanly. And the netminder’s quick snag on an odd-man break in the final frame preserved the two-goal lead.
“That’s what we need from him,” Berenson said. “He went through his learning curve last year, and hopefully now he’ll be more consistent.”
After the disappointment of the exhibition against Waterloo, where the Wolverines went 0-for-5 with the man advantage, Berenson warned that the power play might not be up to par this early in the season. It was a different story on Friday, as both of Moffatt’s goals came on a dangerous and versatile power play that finished 2-for-5.
Even more reassuring was the fact that Michigan played without junior forward Alex Guptill — last season’s leading scorer — who sat out due to an unspecified violation of team rules. It didn’t seem to matter, though, as the Wolverines fired 32 shots and found twine in every period as Copp’s three-point night secured the win.