Hockey

Mel Pearson's Michigan hockey team is in a similar place as Penn State.

At that point, the Nittany Lions seemed set. With college hockey’s most dominant offense and All-American candidates like Evan Barratt and Alex Limoges, Penn State seemed destined to establish itself as one of the best teams in the Big Ten.

But since then, Penn State and Michigan are 4-7-2 and 2-4-6, respectively, since that roller-coaster of a series. After lurking around the top 10 of the Pairwise, the Nittany Lions find themselves at 18th. Like the Wolverines at the beginning of the season, Frozen Four hopes were not an unrealistic ideal. But also like Michigan, it’s on the outside looking in.

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As Mel Pearson sat down in the offices at Yost Ice Arena on Monday, he admitted he was disappointed with his Michigan hockey team.

Pearson had just walked in from the Wolverines’ practice, and coming off a bye week, Pearson’s team didn’t have a great Monday practice.

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Dakota Raabe walked into the Michigan hockey locker room last January to find his locker empty.

Then a freshman, Raabe had been dealing with some academic issues and the Wolverines decided to send a message to him.

Sophomore forward Josh Norris will miss the rest of the season with an undisclosed injury.

Winning at Notre Dame and Ohio State without Norris showed what the Wolverines are capable of doing moving forward. Michigan already faced an uphill climb to make it into the NCAA Tournament.

But they’ve been here before.

Sophomore forward Josh Norris, who ranks second on the team in points, will miss the remainder of the season.

Josh Norris — a sophomore forward who ranks second on the Michigan hockey team in points — will miss the remainder of the season, the team announced Thursday morning.

Quinn Hughes and Josh Norris represented the United States at World Junior Championships.

Josh Norris and Quinn Hughes were no strangers to U20 World Juniors. It was only one year ago the sophomore forwards had both appeared in it together for Team USA, earning a bronze medal.

Returning to the scene once more — this time in Vancouver and Victoria, Ont. — they had their eyes set on gold.

Michigan coach Mel Pearson wore a Stormy Kromer hat during Michigan's outdoor game.

Michigan coach Mel Pearson wore it behind the bench at Notre Dame Stadium on Jan. 5. As the players took off their gear and changed into their street clothes, they slipped it on as well.

“It’s a unique cap,” Pearson said. “And a unique story behind the cap.”

Freshman defenseman Nick Blankenburg formerly played forward.

In 2016, Nick Blankenburg — then 18 years old and now a freshman at Michigan — was a forward on that team, but he had a hard time scoring. Burke decided to try Blankenburg at defense for the first time in his life.

Junior goaltender Hayden Lavigne notched 30 saves with a .889 save percentage in last week's 4-2 win over Notre Dame .

Entering the new year, compared to the first half of the season, there was a new Lavigne. A goaltender who practiced hard, competed hard and gave Michigan the opportunity to win. But for Lavigne and the coaching staff, it was more of the same.

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For a moment, it looked like Jimmy Lambert’s first goal of his Michigan hockey career might be a game-winner. But just 28 seconds later, the Buckeyes (13-5-4, 6-3-3-2) tied it up at the other end of the ice when defenseman Wyatt Ege found twine for his first tally of the season.

The Buckeyes added an empty-netter with 24.1 seconds remaining to ice the game and win, 4-2.