The Wolverine

February 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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FEBRUARY 2018 THE WOLVERINE 67 BY ANDREW VAILLIENCOURT M ichigan finally had its breakout moment. On the road at Minnesota against a team ranked in the top 10, the Wolver- ines did something they haven't done since the 1976-77 season — sweep the Golden Gophers at their own place. The first game of the series saw Michigan come away with a 5-3 vic- tory versus the then-No. 9 Gophers Jan. 12. The Wolverines then won game two 3-1 behind a strong per- formance from sophomore Hayden Lavigne, who has won the battle for U-M's starting goaltender position. Junior forward Brendan War- ren scored three times in the series, including the game-winner in the opener. Head coach Mel Pearson was wor- ried about his team struggling to handle the success and was unhappy with a midweek practice leading up to the team's next game. "You have a good weekend and ev- eryone tells you how good you are and then you take it a little easy," Pearson said. "It's like if you're driving a car up a hill, you got your foot on the pedal, as soon as you take your foot off …" The Wolverines have been wildly in- consistent throughout the season, and Pearson wanted to use the week fol- lowing the road sweep to his advan- tage — and to teach his young squad. "Sometimes the best time to get af- ter your team is after success because they're feeling good about them- selves, instead of when they've had a tough weekend," Pearson said. "You don't want to jump all over them because they're already down. It's a fine line, and everybody is different." However, the winning didn't stop in Minnesota. In Michigan's next series, which came against then-No. 12 Penn State, the Wolverines dominated. Lavigne stopped every shot that came his way in a 4-0 shutout in game one, and was on fire against in game two with 43 saves on 45 shots to seal a 3-2 victory. The four-game winning streak moved the Wolverines to No. 17 in the rankings, one of six Big Ten teams included. "We're not good enough to where we can take days off," Pearson said. "We've got to work extremely hard for everything that we get. We can't rely on our skill and just show up and play." Pearson wants the recent success to drive his team even more, and hopes the taste of winning serves as motiva- tion as the season hits the home stretch. "It's great what we did, but it's in the past," Pearson said. "It's in the rearview mirror, unfortunately. As much as you want to hold on to it and enjoy it, and relish it, it's done, it's over. You have to move on. "So just stay in the moment and fo- cus to be ready to play the next game." That is especially the case consider- ing the Wolverines are down a man. Sophomore forward Will Lockwood, who was the team's MVP last season, injured his shoulder and is out for the season. Lockwood, who had four goals and 11 points in 16 games for U-M, suf- fered the injury during the World Ju- nior Championships in late December. The recent scoring boost by guys like Warren and freshmen forwards Michael Pastujov and Jack Becker have helped make up for his absence. "It makes your team more danger- ous," Pearson said. "For a lot of teams, you can go into a rink and know what line you need to shut down. You don't need to be a hockey expert to figure out who's doing all your scoring. Now it just makes it that much more difficult. "We've got some guys that are subtly playing better. It might not be showing up on the score sheet yet, but it's just a matter of time."   MICHIGAN HOCKEY Breaking Out Junior forward Brendan Warren found the back of the net three times during Michigan's two-game sweep at No. 9 Minnesota Jan. 12-13. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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