The Michigan hockey team may have earned its first sweep at Yost Ice Arena in over 20 months, but it lost a key piece of its team during the two-game weekend series against Michigan Tech.
Friday, defenseman Kevin Lohan left the game after he slid awkwardly into the boards. The following evening, Michigan coach Red Berenson announced that the freshman will miss several months with what the team is calling a lower-body injury.
“He’s going to be out for some time,” Berenson said. “We’re talking a few months with him. … Let’s start with three months, and we’ll see what happens.”
Lohan is expected to undergo surgery Monday, and though Berenson said the injury isn’t season ending, it’s unclear when he’ll return.
After he appeared to hurt his knee, Lohan didn’t put any weight on his right leg as he skated off the ice and was seen standing by an arena elevator on crutches after the game. According to Berenson, the defenseman underwent testing at the hospital that evening, where it was determined he would need surgery.
The fourth-ranked Wolverines (6-1-1) entered the season thin defensively after Jacob Trouba and Jon Merrill departed for NHL organizations in the spring. As a result, Lohan immediately earned playing time and formed a defensive pairing with senior Kevin Clare.
Lohan participated in all of the Wolverines’ games before the injury, taking four minor penalties and registering an even plus-minus ratio.
Saturday, he was replaced by junior Mike Chiasson. Michigan allowed only one goal in the victory. The result lowered the Wolverines’ goals-against average to 1.75 per game, tied for third in the nation.
“Our depth on defense is being tested, and I think Chiasson came in and did a good job tonight,” Berenson said. “Our overall defense, they came and they battled. The goals against is (on) the goalie, but it’s the defense too and some help from the forwards.”
SHUFFLING IN SELMAN: Chiasson’s start on Saturday wasn’t the only addition to Michigan’s lineup. Junior forward Andrew Sinelli and sophomore forward Justin Selman saw playing time as well, and the changes paid dividends.
Three minutes into the third period, Selman’s wrist shot snuck past Michigan Tech goaltender Pheonix Copley to give the Wolverines a two-goal lead. The sophomore’s first goal of the year proved decisive when the Huskies later threatened with a comeback.
“Selman is one of several players that could be playing every night if he played well enough,” Berenson said.
Sinelli was credited with the assist on Selman’s goal, as both players recorded their first points of the season.
GOALTENDER CONTROVERSY?: Berenson has suggested that netminder Steve Racine will regain his starting job when he returns from a groin injury. But for both of Michigan’s games against Michigan Tech, the sophomore dressed — and he sat on the bench as the backup.
Racine doesn’t feel fully recovered quite yet, but he’s been practicing and will likely be completely healthy when the Wolverines face Nebraska-Omaha on Nov. 15-16 after a bye week. At that point, though, it might be difficult to start him over freshman goaltender Zach Nagelvoort.
Through six games played — five started — Nagelvoort boasts a 4-1-1 record. His 1.47 goals-against average ranks second in the nation, and his .948 save percentage is also among the best in the country.
Berenson said he would consider using a platoon system between the pipes, starting each netminder for one game of a weekend series. But that decision likely won’t be made until late next week.