This was really a game Michigan should have won. The Wolverines dug themselves into a hole a couple times, and couldn’t recover. The wounds were mostly self-inflicted, and now the window for picking up victories this year is closing.
From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:
|High Point 2013|
|Faceoff Wins||13||Faceoff Wins||14|
|Offensive Efficiency||.270||Offensive Efficiency||.333|
Faceoffs were almost dead even, but Michigan’s ineptitude on the clear tilted the possession game slightly in the direction of High Point.
From there, early defensive struggles out of the Wolverines – High Point scored four goals on 11 first-quarter possessions – sealed the deal defensively, and eventually the team wore down trying to play catchup.
Speaking of the clear, what the hell was the deal with that? Michigan was a very poor clearing team last year, but had improved by leaps and bounds through four games. Suddenly – against a ride that is decent but certainly nothing special – everything went to hell. Many of the turnovers (especially in the second quarter) were totally unforced, too. A real head-scratcher.
Offensively, this was the Mike Hernandez and Kyle Jackson show. Will Meter did not dress due to injury, and Thomas Paras is still not back to 100% with his hamstring. Hernandez scored four goals, while Jackson had a goal and four assists.
Michigan took the good with the bad from the dynamic pair of freshman middies. Both were high-volume players, taking 10 shots apiece, and while many of those shots were on cage, only five total beat the keeper. There were some problems getting separation from a pretty good High Point defense, and keeper Austin Geisler (13 saves, 10 goals allowed) lived up to expectations.
Hernandez’s volume performance also included some unquestionably bad moments. He committed three turnovers, and though I believe all of them were forced by High Point players, they were due dodges into traffic that were poor decisions in the first place. This was a problem with much of the Michigan team on this day.
Brad Lott was solid on faceoffs. At times it seemed like High Point’s Jamie Piluso was getting the better of him, but he also won a few clamps that his wing players didn’t reel in. Even when Michigan lost faceoffs, they were causing immediate turnovers just as often as not until the fourth quarter.
The defense. Yikes. Early, there were a lot of problems dealing with a dodger from behind cage. The first four High Point goals came on easy finishes or dishes from that situation. I figured once U-M settled down and fixed that issue, they’d be able to lock it down a bit. Instead, other holes in the dam opened.
Gerald Logan is clearly not 100%, and the extra padding on his shoulder is not the only evidence of that (though when he went down with just a couple minutes left in a game his team had already lost, it was scary as hell). Maybe it was the night game factor, but he didn’t appear to be seeing the ball as well as usual. He let in a couple goals that he wouldn’t have in other games this year, and a couple goals could have been the difference in this one.
Coming into the game, I noted that Dan Lomas and Matt Thistle were not Garrett Thul. On this day, it didn’t really matter. Everything still came relatively easy for that duo. Lomas scored six goals while Thistle had four and two assists.
Michigan’s brutal road swing continues Saturday. The Wolverines head to Geneva, N.Y. to take on conference foe Hobart. While the Statesmen have established themselves as probably the second-worst ECAC team, they’re still a ways ahead of Michigan.
This is the most winnable game for a while, but if you’re not beating High Point… just hold out hope for Delaware, UDM, or St. Joseph’s.