The Wolverine

January 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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56 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2019 BY BOB MILLER T he mid-season break couldn't have come at a better time for Michigan head coach Mel Pearson and his hockey team. In the final game of the opening half of the season, Pearson's Wolver- ines suffered a Saturday night, come- from-behind winning performance by Minnesota which epitomized the frustration experienced from the Oc- tober start and through the first half of the Big Ten schedule. "It's just one of those nights where — and it's been the same story for the last four weeks — we just cannot get any separation," Pearson said. "We get the lead, and the next goal is critical. We had a number of really good opportunities. We don't get it, and we're in a one-shot game. "I think that's the story of the game and the last three weeks. We prob- ably played well enough to win all the games — tonight, more so than any of them. It's frustrating for sure. "You'd like to get right back it, but time will heal. By the time we re- convene [after the holiday break], we'll be in a different way. We'll have individual player meetings and talk a little bit about the first half. We'll talk a little about each individual. We'll talk about the team and what we need to do. It's not unlike last year at this time. "Now, can we do what we did last year [in the second half of the season]? That's the question that re- mains to be seen." Even with the first-half frustra- tions and inconsistencies that led to an overall record of 6-7-4 and a sub- .500 ledger in Big Ten play (2-4-4), positives exist that suggest Michigan could be capable of going on a run to match last season's march through the second half all the way to a Fro- zen Four appearance. In the 17 games that comprised the first half, Michigan's "SNL" line, comprised of junior forwards Jake Slaker and Will Lockwood along with sophomore forward Josh Nor- ris, put together a dominant stretch of offensive prowess. Slaker added his expected brand of offense in the first half, recording seven goals and six assists. Norris produced a breakout first- half performance, leading the team with 10 goals and adding nine as- sists. Norris' all-around performance included playing on both special teams and taking crucial faceoffs. "He's had tremendous growth in all parts of his game," Pearson said. "De- fensively, offensively, leadership, prep- aration, speed, strength. You name it." After missing the full second half of last season with a shoulder injury incurred at the World Junior Cham- pionship tournament, Lockwood has rebounded with five goals and 10 as- sists in this season's first half. "I'm happy to have him back," Pearson said. "We really missed Will last year. He adds an element of skill and speed, and some grit. He missed a lot of hockey, so he's still finding his game. I expect him to have a huge second half." On the defensive end, sophomore defenseman Quinn Hughes contin-   MICHIGAN HOCKEY Wolverines Hit The Break At Just Under .500 Through 17 contests, sophomore forward Josh Norris paced the Wolverines with 10 goals and had also recorded nine assists. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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