The Wolverine

February 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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68 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2018   MICHIGAN HOCKEY HAYDEN LAVIGNE SEIZES GOALIE JOB Strong goaltending has been the key to U-M's improvement during the course of the season, and sopho- more Hayden Lavigne has been at the center of it. He seized the starting job from classmate Jack LaFontaine, and hasn't let it go. "He seems more confident, and he's getting out of his crease more," head coach Mel Pearson said of Lavigne. "He's on the top of the crease versus staying back in the net, which helps cut down your angles. He's doing much a better job there." Lavigne feels the team is commu- nicating better on the ice and thinks it helps the rest of the team to know which goalie will be in the back of the net more consistently. "I think the biggest thing for me was a mental mindset," Lavigne said. "I had to go into games knowing I could do this, playing confident. "Watching the tape from my last couple games, I've been playing a lot farther out of my crease. That shows the confidence that I've gained over the last little while. That extra depth has given me the ability to make saves that I wasn't earlier in the year on tipped shots or rebounds." Pearson, while happy with his goalie's play, noted that there is al- ways room for improvement. He didn't like two of the goals Lavigne allowed in the Minnesota series. It's been a team effort to improve defensively, with defensemen cutting down on critical errors and forwards learning to come back more to help. "Any time you have four games like that or a couple games back to back, that sweep that weekends it's huge for my confidence, and not just for my con- fidence but the team's as well," Lavi- gne said. "You see it in practice, too. "When you start feeling good, you start feeling good in practice, you joke around a little bit more, you don't get frustrated so easily, little things like that." Despite the competition on the ice, Lavigne and LaFontaine are friends and understand the nature of compet- ing. The two don't discuss the situ- ation off the ice, but joke about it to- gether at practice to keep things light. "Jack has handled it like a pro. He's been really good," Pearson said. "He was excited after the win against Minnesota. It was very evident. I wasn't looking for it, but you could tell how excited he was for Hayden and the team. "To me, that's a sign of a good team- mate. He's worked hard in practice. He knows he'll get a chance at some point, and you have to be ready." Keeping the competition on the ice and putting the team first have helped the pair of sophomores han- dle a potentially difficult situation. "I've been in situations before where I've been with really competi- tive goalie partners," Lavigne said. "I know how it works when guys are constantly competing, and you're in one night and out the next. "Obviously, Jack and I are ex- tremely competitive, but we're also really supportive." ❏ Hockey Rewind: Dec. 16-Jan. 22 R e c o r d : 1 2 - 1 0 - 2 overall, 7-7-2 Big Ten Best Win — 4-0 over then-No. 12 Penn State: Everything all seemed to come to- gether at once in the first game on Michigan's home series against Penn State Jan. 19. The Wolverines were com- ing off a road sweep of Minnesota and kept the momentum going with a shutout. Sophomore goalie Hayden Lavigne was outstanding, stopping all 34 shots he faced. Michigan got a scoring boost from two fresh- men — forward Jack Becker, who scored twice, and Josh Norris, who scored once and had an assist. Quote: "There are no freshmen anymore once your second semester starts. They've all been through it now, they know what it takes, how hard you have to compete, what it's like to play Big Ten hockey. You can definitely see it. They've made some really good strides." — Head coach Mel Pearson on U-M's freshman class MVP — Sophomore goalie Hayden Lavigne: He was sensational in Michigan's first six games following the Great Lakes Invitational, posting a 4-2 record and a 1.67 goals- against average. In the process, he lowered his season goals- against average to 2.51 and had a save percentage of .915. Pearson said that he's seen a notable difference in Lavi- gne's confidence and the team's defense as a whole. He beat out fellow sophomore Jack LaFontaine for the starting job and will continue to start both games of every series until further notice. Freshman Impact — Forward Josh Norris: He has contin- ued to show improvement over the last several weeks, and was up to fifth on the team in scoring with eight goals and tallied seven assists as of Jan. 22. He was one of three Michi- gan players — along with freshman defenseman Quinn Hughes and sophomore forward Will Lockwood — that played for the U.S. in the World Junior Championships in late December and early January. The United States took home the bronze medal, while Canada captured the gold. Sweden won the silver medal. Player To Watch — Junior forward Brendan Warren: Pearson has long been clamoring for more scoring produc- tion — and he's been getting it from Warren. He scored three times against Minnesota and once against Penn State to bump his season total to seven as of Jan. 22. With Lockwood out for the season, Warren will continue to a larger focus of the offense. Must-See Series — Feb. 2-3 vs. No. 18 Wisconsin: The Badgers have climbed into the rankings one spot behind Michigan. It will be important for U-M to defend home ice and stay ahead of Wisconsin for both its ranking and its place in the Big Ten standings. The series comes a week after a road trip to No. 6 Ohio State, so it will serve as an opportunity to extend a big win- ning streak or to get back on track. — Andrew Vailliencourt During a six-game stretch from Jan. 5-20, sophomore goaltender Hayden Lavigne posted a 4-2 record and a 1.67 goals-against average. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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