By Kyle O’Neill
Daily Sports Editor
There’s no question that Michigan knows how to attack Northern Michigan’s defense. It outshot the Wildcats by a total of 12 shots in its two losses last December.
The question is whether the Wolverines can get anything by Northern Michigan goalie Craig Kowalski. The Wildcats’ netminder held Michigan to just three goals on the weekend in Marquette, as his teammates scored a two-day total of nine.
And it wasn’t as if Michigan didn’t get its chances. Numerous times the Wolverines had Kowalski out of position, and numerous times they shot the puck right into one of his pads.
“I think it’s going to take traffic in front of the net, guys going to the net to get kicks off of rebounds,” senior John Shouneyia said. “I don’t think we created the traffic we needed when we played them. (Kowalski) is a good goalie, but we made him look better than he is.”
Michigan needs to find a way to score against a Northern Michigan team that has won the last five meetings between the two teams. Being home at Yost Ice Arena isn’t going to help much, as the Wildcats have won the past three there, including two shutouts.
The importance of sweeping the weekend is increased tenfold because Michigan is still four points back of first-place Ferris State. The Bulldogs have played two more games than Michigan, though, so if the Wolverines win their next six games, they will tie Ferris State – assuming it goes undefeated in its next four games. Since the Bulldogs have Feb. 21-22 off and Michigan plays Nebraska-Omaha that weekend, the Wolverines could theoretically use the two wins over the Mavericks to make up the point differential.