If you ask me, there are a few ways to look at this result. First is that Michigan regressed slightly from what had been rapidly improving form. Another is that Loyola played things a little slower and choked the life out of the game, leading to a less-than-impressive score (that, we can detrmine from the numbers). A third is that Josh Hawkins is simply that important to the Hounds, and it was his absence that led to mediocre early-season results from Loyola. I think we’ll see it’s a combination of all three.
From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:
|Faceoff Wins||11||Faceoff Wins||6|
|Offensive Efficiency||.313||Offensive Efficiency||.100|
As you can see, the slowdown factor was certainly in play. This was Michigan’s second-slowest game of the year, behind only the Fairfield slugfest (that one, of course, felt a little better since U-M stayed close).
The Greyhounds’ offense was very good, but actually held below its season average output, a very good performance for a struggling defense. The U-M offense was semi-inept, however, and was one of the big differences in the game.
So, let’s take a look at what Hawkins did to determine how much Loyola has (possibly) missed him. This was by far the Hounds’ best defensive performance of the year (albeit against the worst offense). Point, Hawkins. He also caused two turnovers and picked up three ground balls. Point, Hawkins. He added a goal. Point (literally) Hawkins. While Michigan still isn’t winning this game without Hawkins in the lineup, he’s clearly a boost for Loyola. Even without adjusting for his return, Loyola is expected to win almost every game left on their schedule, so look for a strong run to close the year.
Going to Michigan, the star of the game (as always) was Gerald Logan. He stopped 15 shots, and of the ten he let in, four were assisted. He also caused a turnover and picked up seven ground balls (meaning many of his saves likely ended Loyola possessions). That’s good. When the defense in front of him continues its trend of growing up, he’ll eventually be a star.
Michigan had no multi-point scorers, so I might as well name everybody who got on the board. Peter Kraus, Will Meter, and Thomas Paras (welcome back!) each notched a goal, while Kyle Jackson had the team’s only assist.
There were negatives: Volume shooting was an issue, for one (though a reminder that it’s not necessarily a bad thing, just a thing, without reviewing the film you can’t add negative value to shots not on goal). Meter took four shots, only one on goal, Paras took five, three on goal, and Mike Hernandez took seven shots, only two of them on goal, and didn’t find the back of the net.
Turnovers were depressed slightly, though the pace of play comes into that as well. Kraus, Meter, Hernandez, and Paras each committed two, while David McCormack had four. U-M mostly held serve with Loyola from that perspective, since I’m not expecting them to go toe-to-toe with one of the better teams in the nation.
Defensively, Mack Gembis and Chase Brown each caused two turnovers, while Charlie Keady and Logan had one apiece. Logan’s seven ground balls led the team, while Dan Kinek was the only other Wolverine with more than one.
Speaking of getting smoked in the ground ball battle, that surely plays into a poor faceoff percentage for Brad Lott to a degree, and he went 6/17 on the day. The faceoff unit will be one that steadily improves as Michigan’s team toughens up and simply improves its skill on ground balls.
Staying on the topic of ground balls and moving into discussion of Loyola players other than Hawkins, longpole Scott Ratliff gobbled up eight GBs on the day, more than a quarter of his team’s total. That’s a heck of a day, especially considering he captains a defense that was stout all afternoon. JOe Fletcher, not to be outdone, caused three turnovers and picked up four GBs. The goalies were hardly tested, letting in three goals and making seven saves.
Mike Sawyer and Matt Herrewyers each had three goals for the Hounds, while Justin Ward added two. No other Loyola player has a multi-point output.
The official boxscore. Michigan recap. Photo gallery. Loyola recap. Herreweyers and Fletcher picked up conference honors thanks in part to their output against U-M. Game highlights may be added on mgoblue.com, but for now those with all-access can re-watch the entire game.
The numbers don’t like Michigan very much, but this weekend’s matchup against Air Force is likely the best shot at a conference win this year. The Falcons are the ECAC’s second-worst team by the numbers, and the home game factor (in what should be much better weather, hopefully drawing a bigger crowd) could give Michigan a slight boost.
Still, unless Hawkins’ return and the grind-it-out style of the Loyola game were bigger factors than you’d think, Michigan’s slight backslide in this one means I have a hard time seeing the Wolverines win. Returning to the form of the previous four games – and learning to seal the deal – will be the minimum for staying competitive, much less getting the win.