What the game lacked in tension, it more than made up for in exciting prospects.
In front of a less-than-exuberant Yost Ice Arena crowd, the freshman-led Michigan hockey team coasted to a 5-1 victory over the United States National Team Development Program last night.
Michigan freshmen dominated the scoring.
Two freshmen goalies turned in a stout performance.
And, perhaps most intriguing, two future Wolverines accounted for two thirds of USNTDP’s points.
Forwards Robbie Czarnik and David Wohlberg – who skate on the same line for the USNTDP – have already committed to Michigan.
With less than five minutes to go and the game all but wrapped up, Czarnik took a pass from Wohlberg and snuck it past freshman third-string goalie Shawn Hunwick to tally the team’s only goal of the contest.
Michigan coach Red Berenson said after the game that he paid little attention to the two soon-to-be Wolverines during the game. But he said he would break down their performances on film.
“I was really excited,” Cznarik said about scoring against his future team. “We still lost, but I guess it’s all right.”
Senior Chad Kolarik said the two players used the opportunity to trash talk some of their future teammates.
“Some of the guys in the locker room were talking about how (Czarnik and Wohlberg) were chirping, giving them a hard time,” Kolarik said. “They both played well. Czarnik had a nice goal. Good for him, and I’m sure it was pretty exciting.”
Freshmen accounted for eight Michigan points, more than half of the team’s final point total. Freshmen forwards Ben Winnett and Max Pacioretty each tallied a goal. Sophomores Brian Lebler and Anthony Ciraulo added to the scoring with a goal and an assist each.
“It was good to get back into a game,” Berenson said about the team’s return from the Winter Break hiatus. “Get some players more ice time.”
Michigan’s puck movement was outstanding through most of the night. The increased passing paid off, as every Michigan goal had two assists attached.
Freshmen played a large role in this fluid offensive rotation, recording the majority of Michigan’s assists.
Forward Louie Caporusso – who played in just his third game since sitting out six weeks with a damaged medial collateral ligament – added two assists.
The scoreboard wasn’t the only place Michigan’s youth shone through, either. In the net, freshmen Bryan Hogan and Shawn Hunwick manned the Wolverine net and turned in a solid outing.
Hogan was a veritable wall through the first two periods, deflecting every single USNTDP shot that came his way. In relief of usual starter Billy Sauer, Hogan made 14 total saves and furthered his case as a legitimate backup to Sauer.
Hunwick was also impressive in his maize and blue debut, saving 11-of-12 USA shots-on-goal in the final frame.
“We got Hunwick some game time, which is good,” Berenson said. “Overall, you hope to come out of the game with some good things and no injuries, and I think we did that.”
The game might not have been a nail biter, but if it’s any sign of times to come, Michigan fans have plenty to be excited about.