The Wolverine

January 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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66 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2017 BY ORION SANG T he scene at Yost Ice Arena after the Michigan hockey team's 4-1 victory over Wisconsin Dec. 10 might have felt familiar. Just a little less than a month ear- lier, the Wolverines (7-8-1 overall, 1-3 Big Ten) had celebrated a victory over then-No. 4 Boston University. It was a big win over an extremely talented opponent, and it came after a sloppy start to the non-conference schedule. Afterward, some believed there was a chance Michigan would use the vic- tory as a steppingstone to becoming a better and more consistent team. It just so happened the Wolverines entered that Dec. 10 game against the Badgers under similar circumstances. Michigan, in the midst of a three- game losing streak to begin confer- ence play, needed a win before the holidays to keep the dimly lit spark of its season alive. The Wolverines had blown up in magnificent fashion the night before, allowing six goals in a span of less than 20 minutes during a 7-4 loss — a stretch that culminated in senior forward and captain Alex Kile getting ejected from the game for an illegal check. In the loss, Michigan was sluggish and undisciplined, earning the ire of head coach Red Berenson. While the Wolverines still took too many penal- ties the next night, they were able to emerge with the victory. Early goals from Kile and junior for- ward Cutler Martin proved to be the difference, while Michigan desper- ately clung to its lead before two late empty-netters sealed the 4-1 victory. The closest the Wolverines came to cracking took place at the end of the second period, when Wisconsin net- minder Jack Berry tripped freshman forward Jake Slaker to spring the Bad- gers loose on a four-on-two power- play rush that resulted in a goal. U-M freshman goaltender Hayden Lavigne only exacerbated the situation, taking a roughing penalty just more than a minute later when he decked a Bad- ger player who he felt was coming into the net too quickly. Somehow, someway, the Wolver- ines didn't buckle, and they wouldn't later in the game, either — not when freshman forward Will Lockwood ap- peared to be badly injured on a cheap Wisconsin check, and not when junior forward Dexter Dancs was sent to the box on a questionable slashing call. Bend but don't break — that seems to be the unofficial motto of the team this year. Michigan is among the na- tion's worst in Corsi (a statistic that measures shot-attempt differential while at even-strength play), rou- tinely allowing opponents to pepper its rotating cast of goaltenders with shots and grade-A chances, while the offense has often done the bare mini- mum needed to win games. The postgame remarks made it apparent that, even after 16 games, the Wolverines still haven't decided what they want to be. "Those are the kind of games that we're going to have to play in order to win games this year," Berenson said. "We're not going to outscore the other team by five and six goals. Last year is over, and our team has to learn that. We can't take those kind of penalties and expect to win games." "I think it's going to take a bit of experience, too. We're not a typical team like last year where they were all skill," Lavigne added. "It's going   MICHIGAN HOCKEY Wolverines At Crucial Point In Their Season Senior forward Alex Kile scored in Michigan's 4-1 victory over Wisconsin Dec. 10, but that game has been one of few recent highlights in a December that started off with the Wolverines going 1-3 for the month. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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