Ice Hockey

Senior forward Will Lockwood and the Michigan hockey team are focused on scoring early to work with a lead.

The Wolverines play 34 games in a season, so every night — every opportunity to eke out a point to help their position in the standings — matters. And through the course of the weekend series with Clarkson, they faced the harsh realities of falling behind early in a game. It’s challenging to come back from being down, and the evidence is visible in Michigan’s 13-victory season last year.

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Pearson drew up the intricacies of a play from last weekend’s matchup against Lake Superior State, breaking down where players went with the puck, what they were thinking with the play they made and how it all went down — with the X’s and O’s on a whiteboard.

Freshman forward Johnny Beecher won two crucial face-offs late in Saturday’s game against Lake Superior State.

In that high-pressure situation, where a faceoff win could mean the difference between victory and defeat, Michigan coach Mel Pearson had a decision to make. Seconds later, 6-foot-3 freshman forward Johnny Beecher glided into the faceoff circle to take the draw against 6-foot-6 forward Hampus Eriksson. As the referee dropped the puck, Beecher beat Eriksson to the puck, twisting as he sent it back between his legs to senior defenseman Luke Martin, who waited in the corner.

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Last Saturday, you wouldn’t be able to find Jack Becker on the ice.

Instead, you would find him sitting on the fifth floor of Yost Ice Arena, in the press box, with the remaining players not dressed for the game against No. 10 Clarkson. 

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Mel Pearson spent the week leading into the series against Lake Superior State stressing that his team needed to get out to an early lead.

Sophomore goaltender Strauss Mann earned his first career shutout Friday.

When the clock hit zero on the scoreboard at Yost Ice Arena on Friday night, Luke Martin immediately turned to Strauss Mann — who was lingering in the net.

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During its first series of the season, the Michigan hockey team seemed hesitant at times to take shots. The team passed excessively in the offensive zone, often waiting too long for plays to develop.

Senior forward Jake Slaker hopes Michigan can use its speed to its advantage against physical Lake Superior State.

End-to-end hockey. Battles on the boards. Body checks, poke checks and forechecks. Anything to bother a player and get position in between a Michigan player and the net. 

Grinding hockey.

Sophomore defenseman Nick Blankenburg has gained a reputation for physical play despite standing 5-foot-9.

Sophomore defender Nick Blankenburg has gained a reputation for physical play despite his short stature at only 5-foot-9.

Senior forward Nick Pastujov scored the Wolverines' lone power play goal against Clarkson.

The defense was there.

The offense was coming along.

The penalty kill was an underlying factor in Friday’s 1-1 tie for the Michigan hockey team, and a key in keeping Saturday’s game close.