After the Michigan hockey team’s sweep of Miami (Ohio) last weekend, coach Red Berenson said sophomore goalie Bryan Hogan made the difficult saves look easy.
“That’s when you’re playing well as a goalie,” Berenson said. “And when you’re not getting a lot of work and to be ready for that next shot, he was good.”
Even though he didn’t have much to do in Sunday’s 4-0 blanking of Miami, there were times when Hogan couldn’t see the shots coming.
The Highland native admitted the RedHawks had success screening him in front of the net and blocking his view of the puck.
But the Wolverine defense, which had little trouble bailing its goaltender out of potential jams, blocked 25 shots. Michigan allowed just five shots on goal while killing all six of Miami’s power play opportunities Sunday.
“I couldn’t see anything with those two (Miami forwards) in front of the net all the time,” Hogan said. “The defense blocking shots really helped out.”
The RedHawks managed just seven combined shots on goal in the third period in both games.
“We were on our heels and in our zone a lot,” Berenson said. “I think we all understand and agree that we have to be a better shot-blocking team. And that helps the goalies, it helps everyone and it gets you in the game.”
A good problem to have: The surprisingly quick return of junior defenseman Steve Kampfer to the blue line presented one problem: someone had to become a casualty of depth.
Sophomore Scooter Vaughan’s streak of 25 consecutive games played ended on Dec. 27. That was when Kampfer returned from a fractured skull suffered in an off-ice assault on Oct. 12.
A healthy scratch for three straight games, Vaughan was inserted into the lineup Sunday against Miami in place of freshman defenseman Greg Pateryn. Vaughan’s performance reflected a player desperate for a steady spot in the rotation. The Placentia, Calif., native notched an assist, blocked three shots and prevented numerous other scoring chances.
“I thought Scooter held his own,” Berenson said. “He’s been working hard in practice. There’s a fine line between Scooter playing and not playing, and other defensemen as well. … But there will be competition on defense, and that’s good for our team.”
Berenson stressed last week that the coaching staff would not “threaten” blueliners when they make mistakes. But with seven capable defensemen and just six roster spots, the margin for error is certainly smaller with Kampfer back in the lineup.
Staying grounded: Berenson indicated his players must maintain perspective after Sunday’s win because Miami played without forwards Carter Camper and Justin Mercier. Camper and Mercier were injured during Michigan’s 5-1 victory Saturday. The two have combined for 43 points this season.
“Let’s face it, Miami lost two of their top three forwards in (Saturday’s) game, early in the game,” Berenson said. “They didn’t have the firepower that they had going into this weekend. We didn’t beat a team that was 100 percent.
Added sophomore forward Matt Rust: “You can’t be too high and you can’t be too low. It’s the same type of focus you need to have after you get swept.”
See ya: For the last six weeks, Michigan has forced numerous opponents off the ice, and in embarrassing fashion.
In four of the last eight games, the Wolverines have chased the opponent’s starting goaltender to the bench with strong offensive firepower. After Michigan’s three-goal explosion in the first five minutes of Saturday’s game, Miami goaltender Cody Reichard became the sixth goalie this season to be pulled early against Michigan.