Michigan has the talent to run with a team like Hopkins (which, if you look at the record, might not be saying much, but that’s one of the country’s most talented squads, at the very least), but not the depth. They also have a few key failings – that have recurred all year – that prevent them from reaching their potential.
Young program, growing program, but this really felt like the year they might take that big step forward(they’ve taken some smaller ones), and yet they’re probably one year off.
From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:
|Johns Hopkins 2015
Hopkins basically dominated the possession game thanks to a strong performance on faceoffs. Michigan managed to keep things under control by clearing well and forcing a handful of Hopkins failed clears on the ride.
Still, the efficiency marks tell the bigger story: Hopkins was the better team. As to whether some of that comes because Michigan was worn down by always being on defense is another story.
So at this point in the season (second- or third-to-last game, I’m really going out on a limb here), I’m willing to say Michigan stinks at faceoffs. Yes, they’ve gone up against some of the best specialists in the country, but it takes more than that to see the levels of possession deficit they’re experiencing. Brad Lott went 1/5, Mike McDonnell 4/12 (though he did show some signs at times), and Chase Brown 3/10. Plenty of those were ground balls that UM just got out-competed for, as well.
As mentioned above, Hopkins really seemed to wear down Michigan early in the game. They didn’t build a big lead (3-3 tie after the first quarter and 8-5 at the half), but the Wolverines’ D was run ragged to a degree, and that allowed the Blue Jays to play with confidence – if not too much more output – after the break. They knew they could dominate the ball and score if it came to that, so they managed to slow things down a bit while Michigan unsuccessfully struggled to play catch-up.
This was a bit of a reverse of the standard Gerald Logan experience (in part because of the above-mentioned weardown factor), wherein he started the game very well – kept his team right in it through the first, in fact – but faded later in the contest. He saw a lot of rubber – 27 shots on goal, 11 of which he saved – and after the first quarter, didn’t do much to save his team’s bacon.
Longpole Stefan Bergman had an outstanding four caused turnovers and four ground balls on the game, while Mack Gembis had one and four in those categories, respectively. When the opposition puts up 16 goals on 39 possessions, you’re looking for any sort of silver lining, I guess.
Hopkins hasn’t been a great defensive team this year, but Michigan did have a nice output in scoring, especially given that they were out of the contest pretty early and you often see a team wing ineffective shots at the keeper just to feel again, man in that situation. If you excise the fourth quarter (when both of the Wolverines’ failed clears took place, along with just one goal), Michigan scored eight goals on 20 possessions. Against a team with Hopkins’ talent (if not results), you can see where they’re just a player or two away from a breakthrough.
David Joseph (2G), David McCormack and Mikie Schlosser (1G, 1A each) were your only multi-point scorers. Only three of Michigan’s nine goals were assisted (the other assist went to Ian King, who I believe was held goalless for the first time he’s been healthy enough to play in an entire game).
Hopkins is having some goalie issues this year, but switched goalies in the first to oft-maligned Drew Schneider, who you could make an argument helped win the game. Starter Will Ryan saved zero of three shots faced, while Schneider made 13 saves and allowed just five goals in just over three quarters of action.
The Brothers Stanwick were standouts, with three goals and an assist (Wells) and a goal and two assists (Shack). Holden Cattoni and John Crowley had two goals and an assist apiece.
Boxscore. U-M recap. Re-watch the whole darn thing. Hopkins recap.
U-M’s final regular-season game has huge implications for both teams. The winner between Michigan and Penn State will see its season continue with a berth into the Big Ten Tournament, where Maryland (top seed), Ohio State, and now Hopkins (Nos. 2 and 3, depending on results this weekend) have already secured bids.
Penn State has the same league record as Michigan: 1-3, with the lone victory over Rutgers, so the head-to-head game will vault one to 2-3 and the conference tourney and the other to the end of its season.
The game is a Sunday night game at home for the Maize and Blue, and should feature one of the best atmospheres – especially given the stakes – of the year.