The Wolverine

March 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MARCH 2018 THE WOLVERINE 93   MICHIGAN HOCKEY "I think the beauty of it for us, is that we've sort of been in that playoff mode for the last month," Pearson said. "So, the intensity and what we're going to see in the first round of the Big Ten playoffs, even the second or champion- ship, we've been in that mode." QUINN HUGHES HAS ELEVATED HIS PLAY Michigan's rise from not being close to the NCAA Tournament a year ago, to a couple wins away from earning a bid this season has a lot to do with head coach Mel Pearson, who is in his first year as head coach. However, the emergence of sev- eral young players such as freshman defenseman Quinn Hughes has also provided a boost. Hughes scored two goals in a Feb- ruary series against Michigan State, and was fourth on the team in scor- ing with 19 points (three goals and 16 assists) through 32 games. "He had a good first half, but I think he's played extremely well in the second half," Pearson said. "You can see his confidence with the puck, and he tends to be in the right place at the right time. He's such a compet- itor. He just wants to win so bad. You can see that in the way he's playing. "He's always had some good scoring chances, but the shots just haven't been going in. Now they are going in for him. "He's elevated his game, and that's what you want this time of year. Your top players need to be your top play- ers, and he's one of our best players." He already had two goals waived off earlier in the season, making the two against the Spartans feel even better. "I got the goals, but I've been play- ing the same way the whole year," Hughes said. "I think my game the whole year has been really good, and I don't think it changed against Michigan State. "The weekends before I thought I was a little bit better than I was at MSU — I just wasn't getting the goals." Hughes, who is expected to be a top-10 pick in this year's NHL Draft, played on the United States Junior National Team that won a bronze medal in early January at the Junior World Championship in Buffalo, N.Y. That finish motivated him when he returned to Ann Arbor. "I was just ready to get after it," Hughes said. "I was really ready to try to help my team win every night. With the season coming to a close here, every night I just look at it like we don't have much left, so empty the tank." He was joined on the U.S. Junior National Team by freshman forward Josh Norris and sophomore forward Will Lockwood at the tournament. Lockwood was injured at the event and is out for Michigan's season. ❏ Record: 16-13-3 overall, 11-10-3 Big Ten Best Win — 4-2 at then-No. 1 Notre Dame: Michigan entered its final two conference games against Notre Dame in desperate need of at least one win to secure home ice in the Big Ten Tournament. With the odds not in its favor, U-M not only got one win, it got two — including a 4-2 victory in South Bend to start the series. That momentum carried over to game two of the series in Ann Arbor, with the Wolverines notching a 1-0 win. Quote: "Going into the last weekend we're in third; we're right there. These guys have done a great job. They've given themselves a chance to be in the mix for home ice in the playoffs, and at the start of the year everyone picked us sixth. They didn't give these guys much credit." — Head coach Mel Pearson on his team's performance in Big Ten play this year MVP — Sophomore goalie Hayden Lavigne: He continued his brilliance against top-ranked Notre Dame, fin- ishing the series with a shutout. His goals-against average has dropped all the way to 2.61 and his save percentage is up to .912. In Big Ten play, Lavi- gne has a goals- against average of 2.53 and a save percentage of .918 — both of which have improved since he became the full-time starter in January after beat- ing out sophomore Jack LaFontaine. Freshman Impact — Freshman defenseman Quinn Hughes: He has consistently been one of the team's best players all season long, and finally was able to get a couple more goals against Michigan State, bringing his season total to three. He has also added 16 assists, which ties him for fourth on the team in total points — and the most of any defenseman on the squad. Player To Watch — Junior forward Cooper Marody: He probably hasn't got- ten his full due for his efforts this season. He leads the team in points with 37 and had three assists in the sweep of No. 1 Notre Dame. Marody and senior forward Tony Calde- rone have the on-ice chemistry and production to make any team fearful. Calderone leads the team in goals (17), and Marody has set the pace in assists (26). Must-See Series — March 2-4 vs. TBD: Michigan is locked into hosting the f i r s t r o u n d o f the Big Ten Tournament, which is a best of three series. It will either play Wisconsin, Penn State or Minnesota. — Andrew Vailliencourt Through 32 games, junior forward Cooper Marody led U-M in both points (37) and assists (26). PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL HOCKEY REWIND: JAN. 22-FEB. 19

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