The Wolverine

December 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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DECEMBER 2018 THE WOLVERINE 57   MICHIGAN HOCKEY I owe to them. They were always the backbone in my career." As more budding college hockey players from non-traditional regions continue to follow their aspirations of enjoying an NCAA Division I ca- reer, Slaker 's expectations are that the number of success stories will continue to grow. "I believe more and more kids will be coming out of the West coast and playing big-time hockey," Slaker pre- dicted. "The game has grown so much since I have lived there and it is super exciting to see. Just for example, look at [NHL superstar] Auston Matthews coming from Arizona and now, Ari- zona State having a Division I team. "It just goes to show that the sport is growing and only has more upside potential to come." ❏ Record: 5-4-0 National Rankings: No. 16 per USCHO (as of Nov. 12) Best Win: 2-1 over No. 6 Notre Dame Nov. 9 U-M wobbled into their Big Ten conference-opening two- game set with Notre Dame — which beat U-M in the Frozen Four last year — searching for consistency in goal and on team defense. That challenge was met head-on by the Wolverines in their 2-1 win over the Irish at Yost Ice Arena in the series opener. Freshman Strauss Mann provided the best goaltending performance of the young season with a 26-save effort in net, including several key saves with the game in the balance. In addition to limiting the Irish to just one goal, Michigan's offense was sparked by junior for- wards Jake Slaker and Nick Pastu- jov, who gave the Wolverines the pair of markers needed for the win. Arguably Michigan's best period of the season to date came in the third frame against Notre Dame, when Michigan held the Irish to a mere two shots and pelted the ND net with 16 shots of their own while protecting a slim one-goal lead. MVP: S ophomore for ward Josh Norris Norris has consistently been the Wolverine's top forward on both sides of the puck early in the 2018-19 campaign. Through nine games, the 6-2, 195-pound native of Oxford, Mich., leads Michigan in scoring with a team-best six goals and seven assists for 13 points. Norris has taken the vast ma- jority of faceoffs and performed on both specialty teams — the penalty kill and the power play — scoring a shorthanded goal and three game-opening goals. Freshman Impact: Goaltender Strauss Mann Mann's clutch performance in the win over Notre Dame raised his save percentage to .889 and lowered his goals against average (GAA) to 2.83. The 6-0, 175-pound native of Greenwich, Conn., came to Michigan with a reputation of gritty performances in key games after leading his USHL team to the league title and a USHL Clark Cup championship. In the playoff run, Mann posted a 2.09 GAA and a .932 save percentage. Player to Watch: Junior forward Jake Slaker When he arrived at Michigan in the fall of 2016, Slaker was undervalued as a prospect. Known for his leadership skills, Slaker has broken out offensively for Michigan, exhibiting a propensity for scoring clutch goals. Having earned an assistant captaincy as an underclassman already, the California native is tied for second on the team in scoring with sophomore defenseman Quinn Hughes and senior defenseman Joseph Cecconi with nine points, including five goals, which ranks second. Slaker was one of Michigan's offensive leaders in 2017-18 with 15 goals and 12 assists, including two game-winners. Must-See Series: Nov. 30 (away) and Dec. 1 (home) vs. Michigan State Some of the luster has been lost in Michigan's traditional in-state rivalry with Michigan State due to the struggles the Spartans program has suffered. However, sec- ond-year Michigan State head coach Danton Cole has made steady prog- ress in returning MSU to their past winning ways during his tenure in East Lansing. The Spartans marched into eighth- ranked Cornell's home arena in late October this season and swept a pair of wins from the Big Red. Currently hovering around the .500 win-loss mark overall, the Spartans have a trio of forwards powering their offense. Junior forwards Taro Hirose and Pat- rick Khodorenko make up two of that trio, and sophomore forward Mitch Lewandowsk i completes the set leading Michigan State on offense. Twin freshman defenseman brothers Cole and Christian Krygier are highly- touted entries onto the Spartan ros- ter this season. Future Wolverine Watch: Forward Brendan Brisson Previously known mostly because of his father, NHL super agent Pat Brisson, Brendan has started to create some press clippings of his own. Currently playing for Shattuck St. Mary's Boys Prep pro- gram in Minnesota, Brisson leads the well-known hockey feeder program with 16 goals and 29 assists in 20 games. A senior at Shattuck, the 5-10, 172-pound Brisson could arrive at Michigan either in the fall of 2019 or 2020. The Manhattan Beach, Calif., native's strengths include leadership skills, a high hockey IQ, and a knack for puck control and playmaking. — Bob Miller Sophomore forward Josh Norris led the team with six goals and 13 points, plus ranked second with seven assists, through nine contests. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL Hockey Rewind: Oct. 13-Nov. 15

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