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.