Call it the most successful unsuccessful power play Michigan hockey could’ve possibly put together.
“As a team, we broke them down on tape a little bit and found their openings,” said senior forward A.J. Treais. “We’ve been looking in these first two games to find seams and get shots to the net.”
The overpowering man advantage began like this: At the 1:46 mark in the first period of the Wolverines’ 7-2 win over Rochester Institute of Technology on Friday, Zander Kuqali got whistled for boarding, giving the Wolverines a man advantage.
The next two minutes were a blur of constant puck cycling, open looks and shots on goals, but Michigan couldn’t notch an elusive power-play tally. Five shots were rifled at Tiger netminder Jordan Ruby during that power play, but it surely felt like twice that amount as his head was on a swivel until his team finally regained full strength.
In other words, the RIT penalty killers bent but didn’t break. Two periods later, though, the Wolverines found their scoring touch and showed just how lethal their man advantage has the potential to be this year.
Michigan coach Red Berenson believes it to be a matter of experience, and in one instance, a newcomer who doesn’t have much of a learning curve to overcome.
“Most of the players on our power play played on a power play last year,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “(Freshman defenseman Jacob) Trouba has come in and been a nice addition, obviously. … I think we’ve got a lot of experience, even if some of it is young experience.”
Berenson has spoke highly of his two power-play units since official practice began last week. And the way he beamed while speaking about their play after Friday night’s win would lead one to believe the man advantage converted at an even higher rate than it did.
The Wolverines scored a single power-play goal off of six tries, with the lone tally coming when Trouba scored his second goal in two nights in the third period. But Michigan mustered 16 shots between the opportunities, none more impressive than the first period power play that left Michigan empty handed.
Thursday night, despite the upset 5-4 overtime loss, the power play was even better. The unit scored on two of its 11 shots with an extra skater. Both goals came in the first period and should’ve springboarded the Wolverines to an easy win, but the third-period collapse changed that fate.
Treais is used to finding himself skating a man up, but his role has changed on the ice early this year as it has off of it. Treais, one of the team’s alternate captains, will run the point from the left side of the ice frequently, due in part to the junior defenseman Jon Merrill’s injury. And he’s looked impressive doing it, coming away with nine shots and two points to show for it Friday.
“It’s fun, it’s fun for me,” Treais said. “Growing up, you always want to be that guy that runs the point, like (former Detroit Red Wing defenseman) Nick Lidstrom, and if you’re not playing offense, you want to be running the point. It’s fun for me, especially with Trouba out there. I just throw him the puck and he puts it on net.”