So, Detroit removes itself from Reverse Survivor contention (as expected). A dominating defensive performance and a more-than-good enough offensive output were the story of the day.
From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:
|Faceoff Wins||8||Faceoff Wins||12|
|Offensive Efficiency||.171||Offensive Efficiency||.289|
Detroit did just about everything as expected except score. Faceoffs were better than .500, and the ride was ramped up for really the first time this year.
The defense was borderline dominant (thanks in no small part to that ride), and the offense did enough to get the win, for sure. However, against what had been the second-worst defense in the country, more scoring could have been kinda nice.
It would be unfair to him to start with any player other than Jamie Hebden. The Brother Rice grad set a new program record with seven caused turnovers, and he added six GBs. Thats, like, kinda good. Teammate Jordan Houtby (previous holder of the CT record) caused three himself. Two other Titans, longpole John Dwyer and goalie(!) A.J. Levell caused two apiece.
Speaking of Levell, he had a very nice performance, making 10 saves without seeing a whole lot of the ball. Only one of VMI’s five goals on him was assisted, but since I didn’t get a chance to see the game in person, I wouldn’t pin that on softies (though Levell has been known to let in one or two, while evening things out by stealing a goal or two). Damie Danseglio got his first action of the year in relief, allowing a goal and making one save.
On faceoffs: Damien Hicks had an excellent day, winning 11 of 15 draws. Brandon Davenport was 0/1 and Ryan Tarzia 1/4 in relief, making VMI’s numbers a little prettier. Had Hicks played the whole game, this would have been the margin I expected. Tyler Corcoran did not see game action.
Offensively, the Titans shared the load – again, if they had leaned on stars, the output could have been a bit better. Alex Maini and Tom Masterson had two and two apiece to lead the way atop the scoreboard with four total points. Andy Hebden and Scott Drummond (both underclassmen, I’ll note) had three apiece. Brandon Beauregard had a goal and an assist.
This one was decided early. The Titans led 7-1 early in the third, and let off the gas. VMI scored three straight in the late third to bring things within 7-4, but never seriously challenged. UDM’s offense looks disappointing on its face, but clearly the Titans could have poured it on had they chosen to.
The defensive renaissance, as predicted, returned. The Keydets turned it over on .829 of possessions (every possession that they didn’t score on, though there is obviously some noise within the data), 20 of them forced by the Titans. After seeming passive this year, ramping up the pressure – especially against the weaker foes of conference play – will be the key to success.
Overall, it’s hard to peg this as a disappointing performance, even though the numbers may not jump off the page (at least offensively). VMI’s adjusted defense improved significantly based on the game, but again, what would UDM have gained by winning 14-4 instead of 11-6? Probably not a whole lot.
The “just get a win” monkey is off the Titans’ back, and don’t look now but they’re playing pretty well in the last two or three games. Turning that momentum into results is another story altogether, but there’s certainly no risk of pitching an 0-fer. Getting to 3-3 in-conference seems reasonable with a stolen game or two, and that means a chance to participate in the MAAC Tournament.
The next test comes on the road against a middling Jacksonville team. While the Dolphins have been a better team than UDM to date, that’s a winnable contest, as much as almost any (conference outing) left on the schedule. Get the W, and a three-game winning streak is on the line the following weekend against Manhattan. Add in a mid-week contest at Michigan following a trip to Siena, a game at Marquette, and the Titans can really rebound to close the year.