Ice Hockey

Junior forward Jake Slaker notched three assists in Michigan's 4-3 loss at Minnesota.

MINNEAPOLIS — Mel Pearson preached discipline throughout the week. After Friday’s game against Minnesota, the Michigan coach preached it even more.

Junior forward Will Lockwood scored the Wolverines' first goal in a 4-2 win over Minnesota.

But three minutes later, junior forward Will Lockwood found twine on his third attempt in under 10 seconds, sliding the puck past goaltender Mat Robson.

And from there, Michigan took the lead and held on, winning, 4-2.

The Michigan hockey team needs more than a sweep against Minnesota this weekend.

If Michigan hopes to make an NCAA Tournament appearance, it will need to begin coming out of weekends with more than three points.

The Wolverines can start by sweeping the Gophers, who are in third place –– three points ahead of Michigan –– in the Big Ten standings. By picking up their first sweep, the Wolverines will leave the company of Penn State as the only Big Ten teams without one.

Freshman Nick Blankenburg moved to forward after playing as a defenseman earlier in the year.

Two years ago, Nick Blankenburg was a forward. Two weeks ago, the freshman was a defensive force on the blue line against Ohio State.
But two days from now, the freshman will more than just go back to his roots — during practice on Tuesday, Blankenburg skated with Michigan’s top line for the first time since converting back to being a forward.

Junior defensemen Griffin Luce and Luke Martin have helped anchor a defense and penalty-kill unit that has otherwise been inconsistent this season.

To say the Michigan hockey team’s defense has been inconsistent this season is an understatement. The Wolverines have given up the fourth-most goals in the Big Ten this season with 77 goals against — 24 more than No. 4 Ohio State, which has allowed the fewest goals in the conference.

But amid all that inconsistency, junior defensemen Luke Martin and Griffin Luce have backstopped an up-and-down group of blueliners.

Freshman goaltender Strauss Mann made 19 saves in relief against Penn State.

After beating Penn State on Thursday, the Michigan hockey team went to New York City looking to build off momentum. It did the exact opposite, losing 5-2.

Here are the takeaways.

Strauss Mann is still a viable option

Nick Pastujov hit iron three times in the first period against Penn State in Michigan's 5-2 loss.

NEW YORK CITY — If you count striking iron, Nick Pastujov had a hat trick in the first period alone, and Michigan led Penn State, 4-3.

Officials don’t though, and nothing in the rulebook would have aided the Wolverines’ offensive execution on Saturday night.

Senior defenseman Joseph Cecconi lost his footing, allowing a breakaway that led to a Penn State goal in Michigan's 5-2 loss.

Saturday’s 5-2 loss at Madison Square Garden was in complete contrast to the near perfect defensive performance put forth on Thursday by the Wolverines.

It was a tale of defensive gaffes.

Sophomore defenseman Quinn Hughes turned the puck over twice that directly led to Penn State goals

NEW YORK CITY — Quinn Hughes went into the locker room and turned to the team. After a poor showing defensively, Hughes did what he had to do. He was accountable for his sloppiness in Saturday’s game against No. 15 Penn State, one that the Michigan hockey team lost, 5-2, with the sophomore defenseman at the epicenter.

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Lavigne sprawled out to make the save as Limoges wound his way to the front of the crease, waiting to shoot the puck until Lavigne was flat on the ice. One quick flip of his stick later and Penn State led 5-1.

Though Michigan tacked on another goal in the third period, the comeback came up short. The Nittany Lions went on to take the second game of the series, 5-2.