By Garrett Fodor
It is one month into the non-Red Berenson era at the University of Michigan and the Maize and Blue are proving early they lined up a good successor.
The team itself is sporting a 5-3 record. Two of those losses were against out-of-conference teams (Ferris State and a surprisingly strong Clarkson team). Their other loss was October 27th when they traveled to Penn State losing 5-4 in OT to the no. 15 ranked Nittany Lions. But they responded with a win the next day. Last year, the Wolverines were unable to string up wins through a series and were one of the weakest teams in recent memory. But this year’s newest additions and the experience gained last year will (hopefully) carry over and put them in a position to succeed. This year’s biggest test to see where the team lies is against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, with the Maize and Blue playing hosts this weekend (Nov. 10 & 11). Minnesota was voted no. 4 in the country this past week, sporting a 7-3 record, with arguably the strongest goaltending in the conference.
The team is being lead offensively by Cooper Marody who has 3 goals and 12 point through their eight games. But one of their under the radar stars is freshman centreman Josh Norris. Norris was drafted in round one of this past year’s draft by the San Jose Sharks. The 6’1” 190 lbs player has a knack for scoring goals, finishing their home opener last month with 2 goals and a missed penalty shot. He has 5 points through the season but expect big things from him later in the year.
Michigan’s saving grace last year and into this season has been their goaltending. Jack Lafontaine, a third rounder by Carolina in 2016 and Hayden Lavinge have been stellar at times between the pipes. Their efforts are holding the opposition to 2.4 goals a game, while averaging 30 shots against each night. While the high flying Minnesota offense will test it, the Wolverines are in good hands.
One player who has been hardly noticeable this year is Luke Martin. Martin was a second rounder this past year by the same Hurricanes. Last season he was a bright spot in the second half of the year on the back end. Not one to shy away from the physical side of the game, Martin would throw his body around like a wrecking ball. Whether it be through checks or laying down on the ice to block a shot. This year his presence has hardly been noticeable, with his physicality dropping. At times this season Martin has been dropped down to their third D pair.
It is a long season with one thing for certain, Mel Pearson is putting his mark on the team and the Wolverines are looking to fight for a top position in the Big Ten this season.
Interested to see how the Wolverines will do against the Gophers? Stay tuned for the recap from the weekend series, along with a photo album.