The Wolverine

March 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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BY MICHAEL SPATH M ichigan went into its one- game series against Fer- ris State Feb. 19 boasting the nation's most high- powered offense, averaging 4.78 goals per game, while featuring three of the nation's top five scorers (all on the same line): freshman left wing Kyle Connor ranked first in the NCAA with 1.78 points per game, junior cen- ter J.T. Compher was second with 1.59 and junior right wing Tyler Motte was fourth with 1.56. "It's pretty impressive what they're doing offensively," said former U-M center T.J. Hensick, who ranks eighth on the school's all-time list with 222 career points from 2004-07. "A lot of the goals they are scoring are tic-tac- toe plays, and the chemistry between the three on Michigan's top line is off the charts. "The incredible thing is I'm certain that coaches are putting out their top defensive pairing and top defensive forward combination against our guys, and they're still scoring. Not only is the skill level there, but the work ethic has to be there too." After completing a weekend sweep of Penn State Jan. 28-30 with 7-4 and 6-3 victories, Michigan was actually averaging 5.00 goals per game, be- coming the first U-M team to hit that mark since the 1996-97 squad (5.63). That average came down to earth a bit in a series split with Michigan State Feb. 5-6 in which the Maize and Blue netted six goals, and Wisconsin Feb. 12-13 (eight goals), but the Wol- verines' 4.78 mark remains the top average in college hockey over the past 10 years, eclipsing the 4.33 St. Cloud State is averaging this season and before that, the 4.24 U-M aver- aged in 2006-07. In total, just 10 teams have averaged 4.00 goals or better per game over the last 10 seasons, with three accumulat- ing that threshold this season. Scoring is up, but not at Michigan's level. "It's proven to be a little more dif- ficult to score in hockey over the last decade than the decade previously," said former Wolverine Mike Knuble, who scored 278 goals in a 16-year NHL career after leaving Michigan in 1995. "There is more depth across all four lines and three defensive pair- ings, and there has been such a great FIREPOWER Michigan's High-Scoring Offense Has Carried The Wolverines, But Better Defense Is Needed Down The Stretch

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