Last year, Michigan kept things very close against the Buckeyes, and although the Wolverines weren’t in position to steal the win, it was a definite sign of progress.
Not so much this year. Not a whole lot of defense, and a whole lot of Logan Schuss.
From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:
|Ohio State 2013|
|Faceoff Wins||22||Faceoff Wins||6|
|Offensive Efficiency||.425||Offensive Efficiency||.267|
A decent offensive day for Michigan was overshadowed by a couple factors: terrible defense and getting smoked in the possession game. That’s going to make it pretty tough to win.
Coming into the game, I didn’t think Michigan had much of a shot at slowing down Logan Schuss… and they didn’t. He had a casual 10-point day with five goals and five assists. When he wasn’t scoring himself, he facilitated much of the offense, assisting on three of Turner Evans’s four goals, and one each for Michael Italiano (his only goal) and Jesse King (one of his two total). Schuss is a really good player, and that matchup is why I thought Michigan would have a poor defensive day. That turned out to be correct – not that I was going out on a limb or anything.
What was very encouraging was Michigan’s performance on the other side of the ball. The Buckeyes have had a really good defense all year, so U-M reaching a .267 efficiency mark is not half-bad. The primary factor that was notable? Only seven turnovers all game, something that had previously been killing the Wolverines. Three of those were in the defensive end on the clear, so they’re not even on the offense. Huge improvement there (though Ohio State also isn’t a defense that thrives on turnovers, you take the small victories where you can get them).
The leader offensively was senior captain Thomas Paras. He’s returning from a knee injury suffered early in the year, and finally rounding back into form. With four goals and an assist, it’s safe to say he’s getting there. It would have been awful for the guy if his senior year had been pretty much completely lost to injury.
The freshman duo of Kyle Jackson and Mike Hernandez was solid as usual – and now featuring fewer turnovers! Jackson had two goals while Hernandez had two goals and an assist. Hernandez had the only turnover between the duo, and they weren’t even really volume shooting, with 11 combined shots (six on goal) against a really good defense.
Speaking of defense, shall we not speak too much of what does not exist? As mentioned above, anybody’s going to have trouble matching up with Schuss, and it’s simply a fact of life for Michigan this year that good teams are going to pummel them. The Wolverines are finally back to something approximating full strength, and it’s a bit easier to have chemistry as a unit when you have a consistent lineup (and Logan Schuss isn’t on the other team). We’ll see how that develops.
Poor defense and Logan Schuss meant a rough day (as expected) for Gerald Logan. He’s no longer the national leader in saves per game, making only 10 while allowing 18 goals Saturday. It’s a little interesting to me that he hasn’t been pulled in some of the games where he’s just been pummeled, in order to salvage a bit of confidence and keep him healthy. I don’t think the confidence has been an issue yet, but you never know how things can add up (and this clearly wasn’t his best performance).
Faceoffs were another ugly factor in this one. Brad Lott won just five of 15 draws, and was yanked for not only ineffectiveness (his replacement, Kevin Wylie, was even worse with a 1/11 mark) but also because he committed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that gave Ohio State a bit of momentum. The game was tied 2-2, the man-up goal made it 3-2 Buckeyes, and although Mike Hernandez stemmed the tide with a goal to make it 5-3, it was 12-3 practically before you could blink.
Those big opponents runs (especially when Michigan strikes first – a kind of odd coincidence spanning two years now) have become a way of life. Committing tons of penalties, however, was a new feature for Michigan. Eight penalties for 6:00 nears a season-worst (Army was eight penalties for 7:00). Playing as an underdog, you have to be clean, and an unsportsmanlike and two unnecessary roughness calls won’t get it done.
Ohio State’s win, coupled with their victory over Penn State earlier this spring, earns the Buckeyes the Creator’s Trophy, contested among the three Big Ten schools. Penn State took home last year’s award, and the future of it is a little muddled with changes to the Big Ten on the way.
The official boxscore. Michigan official site recap. Official photo gallery. Ohio State recap. Ohio State photos. The biggest athletic department is too cheap to put together video highlights from the game. Consider yourself #blessed.
Today’s the day: Titans v. Wolverines from the Big House. First night game, etc. I should have lots of preview content rolling out throughout the course of the day, so stay tuned.