With many of Michigan”s forwards struggling to find their offense this past weekend, it was the Michigan defensemen which stepped up to provide the punch. The blueliners netted four of Michigan”s five goals and all of its even-strength goals.
The goals came in all shapes and varieties.
Eric Werner”s shorthanded goal came when the wily defenseman pinched in to grab a loose puck and fired it past Bowling Green goaltender Tyler Masters. While the freshman has 11 assists on the season, that was just his second goal.
“We need that because we are not getting a lot of offensive production from our forwards right now,” coach Red Berenson said.
Up to this point in the season, the Michigan defense has scored 14 goals, accounting for 15 percent of the Wolverines” total offensive production. Making last weekend”s offensive flare-up even more unusual is that up-ice rushes instead of screened shots from the point produced the goals.
Even sophomore Mike Komisarek, who is considered to have one of the stronger slapshots on the team, took the puck from his blue line to the Bowling Green circle untouched where he knocked in his own rebound to score his first goal since the end of November.
“We are not preaching offense to our defense, but our defense is getting more opportunities now just because of the way the game is played,” Berenson said. “There is so much pressure on the forwards down low, and when they get the puck back to the defense, their shots can be dangerous.”
Michigan is not the only CCHA team that has been receiving offense from its defense. Michigan State uses a system that has relied heavily on its blueliners for scoring this year. The Spartans have received 25 goals from their defense this year, accounting for 27 percent of their total offensive production.
Dropping the puck: One of the most overlooked but important aspects of the game is the faceoff. While the team rarely participates in faceoff drills, Berenson, a former center, recognizes the importance of winning the opening draw.
Faceoffs are about “intensity, second efforts and guys helping,” Berenson said. “If the centermen (tie each other) up and the puck is loose, the first player to the puck (wins) the draw. So if the puck is available, it is about which team is hungrier, which team is more ready for the faceoff.”
Michigan struggled to win faceoffs on Friday night, as the Spartans took 37 of 70 drops. But the Wolverines rebounded Saturday night and won 19 more faceoffs than the Falcons.
Junior John Shouneyia led Michigan in faceoff wins with 25 this weekend. He leads Michigan with a 261-191 faceoff record.