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After battling October and November frustrations about keeping the puck out of their own net on defense, 15th-ranked Michigan has shifted those frustrations to the offensive end of the ice in December.
Minnesota earned a 2-2 tie with the extra point in the standings going to Michigan, thanks to sophomore forward Josh Norris’ three-on-three goal in double-overtime on Friday night. The Gophers squeaked out a 4-3 win over the Wolverines on Saturday despite being outshot by U-M, 53-28.
While credit has to go to Minnesota junior netminder Mat Robson for turning aside a healthy barrage of Michigan shots both nights, the pattern of outshooting their opponents without a win to show for the effort has become a December pattern for the Wolverines.
Last weekend, Michigan followed the same pattern of outcomes with Michigan State, a loss and a tie, while outshooting the Spartans 82-48 over the weekend series. This weekend’s overall shot tally against Minnesota was even more slanted toward the Wolverines, 91-54.
“We’re making every goaltender look like an All-American,” Michigan head coach Mel Pearson said.
“Tough loss,” Pearson continued of the Saturday night defeat. ”Those hurt. Especially, as we told the team, after the game they played with that effort, with that energy, with that passion and with that conviction. We’ll win a lot of those games. We’ll win a lot more games than we lose.
“It’s just one of those nights where — and it’s been the same story for the last four weeks — we just cannot get any separation. We get the lead and the next goal is critical and we had a number of really good opportunities. We don’t get it [the goal] and you’re in a one-shot game. I think that’s the story of the game the last three weeks.
“We probably played well enough to win all the games. Tonight, more so than any of them.”
Michigan Hockey Three Stars Of The Weekend
First Star — Sophomore forward Josh Norris
Norris’ blistering shot during three-on-three play in double-overtime Friday provided Michigan with an extra point in the standings. Norris also set up the first Michigan goal with a feed to junior forward Will Lockwood. Friday’s goal was one of nine shots Norris directed at the Gopher cage over the two games.
Second Star — Sophomore defenseman Quinn Hughes
In addition to assisting on the Friday Lockwood goal, Hughes had seven shots on goal overall for the weekend and provided his usual puck control, benefiting the Wolverines in both the offensive and defensive zones.
Third Star — Junior forward Nick Pastujov
Pastujov chipped in a key goal Saturday night and continued his improved 2018-19 offensive showing.
Quotes Of The Weekend
“Quinn [Hughes] made a good play and banked it off the wall. I’ve been practicing that five-hole [between the goaltenders’ legs] move on our goalies so I’m glad it worked out.”
— Norris on his double overtime Friday night goal
”We’ve been in the situation before which is good for the next time we get it. We’ve learned to manage the puck in three-on-three which is also good for us.”
— Pearson on three-on-three play on Norris’s double-overtime goal Friday
“We’ve outshot [opponents] five of the last six games we’ve played. It’s frustrating to not get a win after playing so well.”
— Norris on the Wolverine’s offensive frustrations
Michigan’s student-athletes take a three-week break to take exams and re-fuel over the year-end holiday.
After the break, the Wolverines make their annual holiday trip to the Great Lakes Invitational Tournament in Detroit, this year played Dec. 30-31 at Little Caesar’s Arena. Michigan opens the tournament Dec. 30 with a 1 p.m. match against tournament host Michigan Tech.
Depending upon the results of the first-round games, the Wolverines will face either Lake Superior State or Michigan State mid-day Dec. 31.
Other Weekend Big Ten Hockey Action
@Wisconsin 5, Michigan State 3 (Fri.)
@Wisconsin 3, Michigan State 0 (Sat.)
No. 5 Notre Dame 5, @Penn State 4 (Fri.)
@Penn State 9, No. 5 Notre Dame 1 (Sat.)
No. 7 Ohio State — idle
Post-Weekend Big Ten Hockey Standings
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