The Wolverine

April 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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68 THE WOLVERINE APRIL 2020   OLYMPIC SPORTS The roller coaster Michigan hockey campaign came to a screeching halt due to cancellation of the remainder of the season due to COVID-19 virus concerns in mid-March, but not before head coach Mel Pearson and his team had turned a seemingly disastrous season into one of notable success. The Wolverines trudged through the first half of their 2019-20 campaign with a series of performances that always seemed to come up just short of a winning effort. U-M lost six games by a one-goal margin. Michigan found an extra measure of both offensive and defensive prowess when the calendar flipped to 2020. The Wolverines went on a run of successful conference series outcomes, sweeping Notre Dame and Penn State in January, splitting a two-game set with Ohio State, and then adding February sweeps of Wisconsin and Michigan State to their rapidly improving overall record. The Wolverines earned a No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tourna- ment and put on their best show of the season in the con- ference tournament quarterfinals, sweeping Michigan State with a pair of 3-0 shutouts. The Wolverines began preparations to visit Ohio State for a one-game semifinal tilt, only to have their season come to an abrupt finish with the cancellation of the college hockey season by the Big Ten and the NCAA. The successful turnaround of the season was built on four different factors. Stout goaltending, a marked increase in offense by Michigan's senior class, smothering team defense led by a crew of experienced blue liners and stellar special teams play all contributed to the turnaround. By the time the team started preparations for the confer- ence tournament semifinals, their national ranking had risen to No. 17 in the USCHO poll and No. 15 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. The Wolverines' ascended to No. 14 in the Men's Division I PairWise rankings and No. 12 in the Col- lege Hockey News KRACH rankings. Pearson cited Mann's Twitter statement as best capturing the team feeling after the season was halted. Mann tweeted: "Hard to describe what it's like not being able to pour our everything into a final run … we had some- thing special. To the best group of seniors — you've left a legacy more impactful than a trophy. You've taught us what it means to be a true Michigan Man." Season MVP — Sophomore goaltender Strauss Mann: Even though strong statements were made by senior for- ward Jake Slaker and a strong corps of defensemen led by seniors Luke Martin and Griffin Luce, Mann's outstanding play from season's start to finish earn him recognition as the team MVP for the 2019-20 season. Mann led the conference and placed sixth in the nation with a 1.85 goals against average. The sophomore netmind- er's .939 save percentage also led the Big Ten and earned him a tie for second in the country. Mann's six shutouts also placed second in the nation and tied the all-time Michigan program record for shutouts in a season. Honorable mention nods go to senior forward Slaker for his team-leading totals in both goals (17) and assists (31), and to senior defenseman Martin for his smothering de- fense and puck movement skills. Best Team Performance — Big Ten quarterfinals se- ries sweep of Michigan State March 6-7: The Wolverines poured all of their improved team components into a pair of 3-0 blankings of the Spartans at Yost Ice Arena. Mann recorded his fifth and sixth shutouts of the season, making 45 total saves in the series to highlight his perfect weekend performance. Michigan scored three of its six goals on the power play. Slaker added two goals to the win- ning Wolverine cause. Postseason Honors: M ann, Pearson and freshman defense- man Cam York all earned postsea- son kudos for their efforts in the 2019-20 campaign. Mann's blitz of honors included being name a finalist for both the Big Ten Player of the Year and Big Ten Goaltender of the Year. York's total of 16 points included five goals and a plus-9 rating in the plus/minus category earned him finalist honors for Big Ten Fresh- man of the Year. York also blocked 54 shots on the defensive side. Pearson earned a finalist nod for the Big Ten Coach of the Year, overseeing the Wolverines rise from last place in the conference at the end of 2019 to a tie for sec- ond overall by regular season's end. The league's awards were offi- cially announced March 17. — Bob Miller Michigan Hockey: 2019-20 Season In Review Sophomore goaltender Strauss Mann finished tied for second nationally in save percentage (.939) and shutouts (six), and was sixth in goals against average (1.85). PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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