Here it is: Michigan’s best chance of the year to come away with a win. Even though High Point has exceeded early expectations (already picking up a win and coming close in a couple other games), this is one that Michigan has to expect to win.
Hobart is an interesting one. The Statesmen have an uncompetitive loss to a mediocre Binghamton squad, but have also beaten a very good Colgate squad (you may have heard of this “Baum” guy they have) and smoked a Siena team that…. you guessed it, lost to the very same Binghamton team that smothered Hobart.
Regardless of their specific results against this schedule, the thing that is clear is the strength of it. Hobart has played some pretty good programs so far, so the stats should be representative of how they’d do against teams much better than Michigan.
|Faceoff Wins||46||Faceoff Wins||56|
|Offensive Efficiency||.288||Offensive Efficiency||.324|
Hobart is playing at a pretty standard pace through four games. They’re at a slight disadvantage in possession thanks to below-average faceoffs and a mediocre clear. Those two factors combine (and it’s important to note the tough schedule) to give them fewer chances.
As for what they’re doing with those chances, the Statesmen’s offense isn’t too bad at all, but the defense really is. Against Michigan, there’s a pretty good chance that the numbers improve.
Junior attackman Alex Love leads the team in scoring with 11 goals and five assists. He’ll be playing the role of Dan Lomas in tomorrow’s production of “Michigan v. High Point.” Classmate (and linemate) Cam Stone is second on the team in scoring with eight and three. Behind those two, there’s a bit of a dropoff. Freshman attack/mid Frank Young is next with four goals and two assists. The third starter on attack is another junior, Jake McHenry, who has four goals and an assist.
There are only two players on the entire Hobart roster with more assists than goals, so it’s clear that this is an offense that concentrates quite a bit on players winning individual battles. Well fewer than half of Hobart’s goals are assisted.
Given the recent play of Michigan’s defense, I’m not so sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. U-M’s close D has given up their fair share of wins in individual battles, and Gerald Logan can only do so much. Rebounding from recent struggles in one-on-one battles will be paramount.
This is not a high-pressure defense – the Statesmen cause turnovers on just 16.2% of opponent possessions. They also allow opponents to take a ton of shots. This is just not a good defense. Of course, against Michigan, it has the potential to look much better.
Senior captain Sean Regan, classmate Reid Rosello, and sophomore Eric Lombardo have been the starting close defense for the most part (Lombardo didn’t start against Colgate). Junior Peter Bolte is the starting LSM. None have put up huge GB numbers yet.
Despite the holes in the close D, the Statesmen have been able to keep opponent scoring to reasonable levels thanks to an excellent goalkeeper in junior Peter Zonino (Michigan fans are hoping his younger brother Robbie, a 2013 Michigan signee, is even better). Zonino is saving .505 of shots faced without much help in front of him.
This is a matchup similar to the High Point game, though I think since the HPU defenders were able to prevent Michigan from getting any good looks on Geisler, Hobart should be able to do much of the same for Zonino. However, Zonino ain’t Geisler, so the openings that Michigan does get should be a little easier to cash in on.
Two players have taken significant faceoffs for Hobart, and neither Gryphin Kelly nor Charles Sipe has approached the .500 mark. Brad Lott is chugging along at a consistent .500 when not playing Johns Hopkins and Unstoppable Faceoff God Mike Poppleton, so this could be a slight area of advantage if Lott and his wings are on the same page. Given that it’s the third game in less than a week, they should be.
Hobart’s clear has been mediocre, and they don’t emphasize the ride a whole lot. Michigan had been pretty good in both, but the clear fell apart against both Army and High Point. If that can get cleaned up – certainly no guarantee – Michigan should be able to “win” both of these phases.
Hobart is allowing and committing equal numbers of penalties, but is allowing opponents to convert at a higher clip. Slight advantage to U-M, though they haven’t been their typical clean selves in recent games.
At this point, every Michigan game until Delaware is pretty much conceded as a loss. This is one game where a win is possible. If U-M can steal one, the tenor of the season changes. A win for the Wolverines would go a long way toward building confidence, even if the season is not going to be a broad success no matter what.
Keeping things close – and hoping for the opportunity to sneak out with a win at the end – is the goal in this game (even though there are no moral victories, etc. etc.). There’s also a stealable game against Fairfield coming up shortly after this one, so building confidence is huge.
Like I said, every game until Delaware is conceded as a loss (and even the Blue Hens seem to be performing much better in their most recent couple games than they started the year).
- Michigan wins the possession battle despite continued struggles with the clear. Many of the turnovers against High Point were unforced, so even a Hobart team that doesn’t emphasize the ride should be able to earn some free possessions.
- Gerlad Logan outduels Robbie Zonino, even though he’s clearly not back to full strength yet. That includes making some saves he has no business making, but also letting down with a softie or two (as he did against High Point).
- The Michigan defense continues to struggle against skilled attackmen. This is just something that’s going to happen until young depth is able to step up (which might not come until next year).
- The Wolverines manage to get a goal from someone who hasn’t scored yet this season. My early thought is Brother Rice freshman Riley Kennedy, who made his first EMO appearances against High Point.
Coming off two straight poor performances, Michigan comes out and surprises a bit. Some things work offensively, and they get a nice stop or two. However, it takes more than that to pull off a win. Hobart takes this one, 13-8.