Wolverines open with a win against #4 Boston College

Ok, this team surprised me.  Let me get it out there right away.  Although I was excited about the start of the new season, deep down inside I was dreading starting it against a ranked opponent.  In particular I was dreading starting it against Boston College.  We were fresh off the exhibition loss to Waterloo and as hyped up as I was about the season, I feared we wouldn’t score enough goals to win.  I was wrong.

From the very start of the game I felt like the Wolverines had the upper hand in the game.   Every aspect seemed to be a win for us.  We took less penalties.  We were solid on the penalty kill and scored on the power play.  Racine and his compatriots on the blue line kept the puck out of the net until the 3rd period when a shot when in off of a deflection.  We had more energy, we hit harder and we won more battles in the corners.  As I left the stadium I mentioned to a guy walking near me that I don’t think we saw a game that good at any time last year.  I take this as a positive as we head into the year.

I’m sure we’re not out of the woods yet.  I mean afterall we do have a full stable of freshmen and many of them are playing on the blue line, but I don’t remember seeing a turnover by a defenseman in the defensive zone.   The play was rock solid.

Luke Moffatt came out of nowhere and scored two goals.  He had a near miss against Waterloo that you can see in a picture I posted in that recap, but this time he put two into the back of the net.  I don’t think I would have picked Luke as my forward who would score the first goal of the year, least bit the first to have two.  Compher, Motte, Copp and Moffatt really seemed to click on the powerplay though.  Won’t it be a great thing if our powerplay doesn’t start off at the bottom of the NCAA rankings this year?  Our powerplay is 2-5 and our penalty kill 2-2 to start the year!

Nolan De Jong again put in solid minutes for the freshmen on the blue line, but I thought in this game he was overshadowed by Compher who had 2 assists and by Kile who put on some nice moves and was solid on the front line as well.  I’m really looking forward to seeing who steps up in the game against RIT on Saturday.

Andrew Copp continued to play awesome with assists on both of Moffatt’s goals plus a goal of his own that he banked off the back of the goalie from behind the net.  Copp is out there working hard on every shift and is drawing enough attention to make those around him that much better.  The promise we saw at the end of last year seems to have picked up right where it left off this year.

And now the fun part of my blog, the pictures.  I hope you enjoy them.  Please feel free to comment here, or mention @jfk81 on twitter and let me know what you think!

The official opening night of the season with the Star Spangled Banner being played.

The official opening night of the season with the Star Spangled Banner being played.

The Classic Hockey Huddle before the game.  Let's Go Blue!

The Classic Hockey Huddle before the game. Let’s Go Blue!

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The #1 star of the game, Luke Moffatt with two goals!

Another shot of Moffatt in between shifts.

Another shot of Moffatt in between shifts.

Racine takes a quick break during a stop in play.

Racine takes a quick break during a stop in play.

On the power play shortly before Moffatt's first goal.  Compher would go deep while Moffat would drop between the circles and take the feed.

On the power play shortly before Moffatt’s first goal. Compher would go deep while Moffatt would drop between the circles and take the feed.

A happy Moffatt and Compher are greeted by the bench and Racine after the first goal!

A happy Moffatt and Compher are greeted by the bench and Racine after the first goal!

Andrew Copp with his head up along the boards looking for someone to feed.

Andrew Copp with his head up along the boards looking for someone to feed.

Kile puts a move on the defender and goes in all alone on goal, but can't quite finish.

Kile puts a move on the defender and goes in all alone on goal, but can’t quite finish.

PDG with a shot from right out front...it needed to be more to the opening on the stick side as you can see the puck hits the goalies pads.

PDG with a shot from right out front…it needed to be more to the opening on the stick side as you can see the puck hits the goalies pads.

Compher takes a shot that goes wide...

Compher takes a shot that goes wide…

Zach Hyman also gets a shot off that is steered wide by Billett

Zach Hyman also gets a shot off that is steered wide by Billett

Andrew Copp patrols out in front of the net...

Andrew Copp patrols out in front of the net…

The final score - 3-1.

The final score – 3-1.

Last but not least, guys who get suspended from twitter can't sit in the goonfreezone, right @eaglescout03 ?

Last but not least, guys who get suspended from twitter can’t sit in the goonfreezone, right @eaglescout03 ?

Wolverines Warmup Against Waterloo

Exhibition games are supposed to be games that you play at the beginning of the year to warm up.  They typically would be against teams you expect to win against, and they don’t count in your record.  This year Michigan didn’t schedule the annual Blue / White scrimmage, so the exhibition against Waterloo was our first opportunity to see what this team might be made of.

Alex Guptill, the top returning scorer from last year missed this game and will likely miss a few more before he is able to play due to an off-season incident.  Other than that, the team appears to be healthy and ready to go for the season.

As you know by now Michigan lost to Waterloo 2-1.  What follows is my perspective of that 2-1 loss for the Wolverine program.  First of all, although we did score one goal, that goal was a gift by the Waterloo netminder who misplayed the puck right on to Copp’s skate and stick and it found it’s way off a defenders skate and into the net.  It was not exactly the kind of goal you want to see as your first and only goal of the game.  On the other hand, there seemed to be scoring chances a plenty, and so, finding the back of the net may just be the key. 

It’s not unusual for Michigan teams to have difficulty scoring goals early, particularly on the power play.  It always seems to take a few games for things to start to click and the pucks to start to find the back of the net.

On the overall I thought it was a very solid effort all the way around.  Freshmen filled in many roles including several on the blue line and a few more on the offensive lines.  Zack Nagelvoort also so action in goal after Racine gave up his second goal of the night, which turned out to be the game winning goal.  Both goals were given up on juicy rebounds, the first of which came on the third rebound in succession.  Racine will need to control these as the season goes on.  This was a problem for him early last year although he was significantly better late in the year managing to corral more and more of the loose pucks.

In general the freshmen were strong, but for me, one of them stood out more than all the rest.  Nolan De Jong looked like he belonged in the game and in the top defensive pairing.  He played solidly and was always in position.  Although he was on the ice for all 3 goals and ended up with a -1 rating with 5 shots, I still believe he was the most impressive.  Nagelvoort also looked impressive in his debut, giving up no goals on 9 shots in 27 minutes of play.  JT Compher also looked solid in his debut.

Andrew Copp was a solid leader on the ice and definitely picked right up where he left off last year.  Moffat, Selman and Z Hyman also looked comfortable on the ice and led the charge on the ice. 

Although it was a loss, and it’s hard to say there is such a thing as a good loss, I thought this was a well played game.  The puck didn’t go into the net like we wanted, but there were no bad turnovers in the zone, most rebounds were cleared quickly, and the tempo on the ice was great.   The official stats don’t list scoring chances, but I have to believe we had more chances than Waterloo did.   The atmosphere on the ice was different from last year, and this gives me hope that we have a great season ahead of us.

Now, for some pictures from the game.  I was experimenting with my camera settings having forgotten the lessons I thought I learned last year, so watch for more improvement in the weeks ahead.

The teams line up for the first National Anthem of the season...The Canadian one.

The teams line up for the first National Anthem of the season…The Canadian one.

It's a little strange seeing the B1G logo on the ice.

It’s a little strange seeing the B1G logo on the ice.

Boo Nieves warms up by flipping the puck up in the air in his Tiger Woods sand wedge impersonation.

Boo Nieves warms up by flipping the puck up in the air in his Tiger Woods sand wedge impersonation.

New names to learn....Shuart and Compher stand by Copp, Selman and Moffatt

New names to learn….Shuart and Compher stand by Copp, Selman and Moffatt

Shuart and Hyman warming up in practice.

Shuart and Hyman warming up in practice.

Another shot of Shuart during warmups.

Another shot of Shuart during warmups.

Andrew Copp takes the opening faceoff.

Andrew Copp takes the opening faceoff.

And the season begins!

And the season begins!

Nagelvoort in net.

Nagelvoort in net.

Deblois with a warmup shot.

Deblois with a warmup shot.

Moffat with a great shot that just deflects wide...I know it looks like it's going in!

Moffat with a great shot that just deflects wide…I know it looks like it’s going in!

Chiasson picked up the puck coming out of the penalty box, but was tripped up here and drew a penalty with no real shot on goal.

Chiasson picked up the puck coming out of the penalty box, but was tripped up here and drew a penalty with no real shot on goal.

De Jong circles for the puck in his own end.

De Jong circles for the puck in his own end.

Clare heads behind the net on the forecheck.

Clare heads behind the net on the forecheck.

Nieves gets off a blast that handcuffs the goalie high stick-side, but he makes the stop.

Nieves gets off a blast that handcuffs the goalie high stick-side, but he makes the stop.

De Jong skates out of the zone.

De Jong skates out of the zone.

Compher wins a faceoff.

Compher wins a faceoff.

Tyler Motte mixes it up on the boards while controlling the puck with his skate.

Tyler Motte mixes it up on the boards while controlling the puck with his skate.

De Jong waiting for the puck at the blue line on the powerplay.

De Jong waiting for the puck at the blue line on the powerplay.

It's a final....a 2-1 defeat for the Wolverines.

It’s a final….a 2-1 defeat for the Wolverines.