Almost 30 seconds into Michigan’s third power play of the game, junior forward T.J. Hensick stood idly behind the Toronto net, scanning the slot for a white jersey in the perfect position. He found it and fired a pass to sophomore forward Chad Kolarik, who punched the puck over the stick side of the goalie – from the left side of the net- for Michigan’s first score.
The Wolverines failed to convert again the rest of the game for a total of one goal in 10 chances.
“I liked the way we moved the puck,” Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson said. “We just weren’t getting good shots. In all fairness, (Toronto) did a good job on the penalty kill – they didn’t give up much. But that’s something we’ll work on.”
The Varsity Blues goalie, Ryan Grinnell, did have a game most goaltenders would be jealous of. Grinnel made an astronomical 50 saves while only giving up three goals in the process. But the Wolverines couldn’t capitalize on numerous open nets or the three separate five-on-three power play opportunities during the game.
Still, Michigan did not seem frustrated by the missed opportunities, instead skating toward the net harder over the course of the game.
“We were just trying to get a feel for each other and figure out what each of us are capable of doing,” freshman defensemen Jack Johnson said. “Each time we’re out there on the power play we’ll get that much better.”
Berenson believed that part of the reason that Michigan was missing opportunities was that his players were still just a moment behind when making their decisions. Instead of finding the goalie out of position, he said, players were being a bit tentative and thus giving the goalie an opportunity to make a play. Hensick knows what it’ll take to correct the problem.
“It was pretty sad. I think we have to work on (the power play) in practice,” Hensick said. “We haven’t done that much. We’ve had captain’s practices the past two weeks, and we really never worked on it. I think that’s something we have to focus on. It’s going to be a big part of the CCHA and a big part of our run to the national championship.”
New rule of thumb: Featured in this weekend’s exhibitions was a new rule drawn up by Red Berenson himself. Named “The Berenson Rule,” players do not have to keep the puck inside the offensive zone once they have crossed the blue line onside. Instead the puck must pass the centerline before the offensive players must touch up – opening the offensive zone by at least 30 feet.
The rule drew mixed reactions from players and the rule’s creator, Berenson.
“I really like it, and I think it has a lot of potential,” Berenson said. “They talk about the offensive zone and making the ice bigger and wider – and I’ve given them 30 more feet.”
Johnson felt the rule had its pros and cons, but the overwhelming feeling was that it was more of a deterrent for the offense than the defense.
“We were able to step back a little more and quarterback it and have some time,” Johnson said. “On the other hand, you’re harder pressed to get in tight and get more quality shots.”
Why can’t we be friends?: The Blue-White intrasquad scrimmage became a bit heated in the first period when freshman Jason Baily and senior transfer Adam Dunlap dropped their gloves and helmets and settled things the old fashioned way. The fight heightened tensions for a little while later but soon the spirit and camaraderie of the scrimmage became the overriding theme of the evening. Both players played together without incident during the Toronto scrimmage last night, and Baily proved to be an enforcer, making big hits throughout the game.