This… it went better than expected. Michigan kept things really close, and had a legitimate shot to win it in the fourth quarter. Is that progress, or just a random occurrence? We’ll have to dig deeper to figure that out.
From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:
|Faceoff Wins||13||Faceoff Wins||7|
|Offensive Efficiency||.250||Offensive Efficiency||.385|
For more, take a look at the game’s full tempo-free box on TempoFreeLax.com.
As expected, this was a pretty slow-paced game. That’s Fairfield’s M.O. – but has very much not been Michigan’s to date. Under 60 possessions is sloooooooow. Michigan controlled the majority of those possessions thanks to a very good day on faceoffs (as expected) and clearing slightly better than the Stags (probably not expected).
It’s what the teams did with those possessions that told the story of the game. Michigan had a decent offensive day, but the defense didn’t muster quite enough to shut Fairfield down those last couple times they needed to. With so few overall possessions, the difference in efficiencies seems a bit inflated.
There are no moral victories at the Division-1 level. A loss is a loss. The only victories are real ones, like when you end the game with more points than the opponent. However, this is as close as it comes to a moral victory, since it can be a real sign of growth. If Michigan comes out and lays an egg going forward (which is actually expected against really good teams in the next two), maybe it was just a good day. Who knows.
That said, this game brought a serious spotlight to the youth movement – even moreso than has already been there. With Thomas Paras still limited with a hamstring injury, underclassmen were the name of the game. Of Michigan’s 13 points (8 goals, 5 assists), seven (3G, 4A) were recorded by true freshmen, two (1G, 1A) by redshirt freshmen, and three (3G) by sophomores. Paras’ goal was the only point recorded by an upperclassman.
The players responsible for those points are interesting, as well. LSM Charlie Keady (playing on his home field from the high school days at Farifield Prep) and FOGO Brad Lott recorded their first points as Wolverines. Mike Hernandez (1G, 2A), David Joseph (1G, 1A), and David McCormack and Peter Kraus (2G apiece) were your scoring leaders.
U-M’s leading scorer on the season, freshman middie Kyle Jackson, was not among the scorers. While he’s obviously not happy with that performance, it’s probably not one you have to fear he’ll replicate. The young players have even more scoring potential as they continue to get used to the D-1 level. Clearly, more of them are getting into the mix.
Turnovers are stil a problem. Kraus committed five(!) and Hernandez four – though Kraus caused two on the other end to compensate a bit. Those two seemed to be forcing things at times against High Point, and that seems to have continued. The Wolverines committed 23 turnovers in 32 possessions, and cleaning that up will go a long way toward improving the overall offensive output (which is already on the way up).
Faceoffs were a big plus – as expected because Fairfield is an awful faceoff team. Brad Lott won 12 of 18 draws, and as noted above, turned one into his first collegiate assist. Kevin Wylie won his only draw, and longpole Chase Brown lost his sole attempt.
I was a bit surprised to see the clear/ride numbers turn out the way they did. I was just making assumptions when I guessed that Fairfield would clear well, so I’m not surprised to have been incorrect there. However, Michigan cleared pretty well – if not stellar – so there are a couple possibilities: 1) for whatever reason, Fairfield decided not to employ their (really good) ride, or 2) Michigan cleaned a lot of things up in the past few days since struggling bigtime against Army, High Point, and Hobart. Probably a mix of both. Again, young teams are going to be inconsistent, so “it is what it is.”
Fairfield’s Jordan Greenfield notched a hat trick on the day, and Michigan continues to struggle taking care of an attackman for the opposing team. Rob Healy played but may not be back to full strength, and J.D. Johnson is still out, but even with those guys in the lineup, opponents have been able to get one attackman plenty of goals. His linemates Sam Snow and Eric Warden also put together multi-point days. This is an area where Michigan just has to wait for talent and experience to get there.
Gerald Logan’s numbers were back in their excellent range after a slight step down against Hobart (though he had a good performance against the Statesmen, the numbers didn’t quite bear it out because he was getting shelled from close, according to a few people who watched the game in person). This outing was back into his 15-plus save range, and he made 17 of them, allowing 10 goals. Fairfield isn’t the best offensive team, but a .630 save percentage is nothing to sneeze at.
Michigan has a really tough task Sunday, taking on reigning Tewaaraton trophy winner Peter Baum and his Colgate Raiders. They aren’t as explosive offensively as they were last year, but Michigan has problems with exceptional attackmen, and, uh, yeah. Tewaaraton.
The game will air on ESPNU and take place at Citi Field (home of the New York Mets, owned by proud Michigan alumnus Fred Wilpon), so it’s a “big event” atmosphere. The Wolverines have a chance to make a statement, but it’ll be a tough one to pull off.