Michigan 3 - Northern Michigan 2
After the break: Recap and Thoughts
Anyone who had seen a Michigan-NMU game before tonight knew that it wasn't going to be easy. The difference in talent means nothing when these two teams play because NMU always brings the energy when Michigan is the opponent and tonight was no exception.
I'll admit that after the first period I thought we would coast. It seemed like every bounce was going Michigan's way and early in the first Merrill was credited with the games first goal, later a shot from Treais would find Lynch all alone and the Michigan lead was two goals. At this point Michigan was outskating the Wildcats and it just looked like their talent would be too much to handle. Later in the period a shorthanded goal from Lynch looked to have all but put the Wildcats away, but they still had some fight left in them
The big difference between periods was the forecheck. Northern Michigan made a great adjustment going into the second period, with Michigan's forwards staying in the zone but the defensemen backing off it allowed Northern more space to breakout if they could get the puck to the blueline. All of a sudden Northern was easily getting out of their zone and attacking Michigan. Even after the Wildcats found the scoreboard on a tipped shot from the blueline, Michigan was still willing to sit back and play conservative.
Later in the second period Northern got another off of a shot from Darren Nowick and the lead was one. This began the slowest, most agonizing period of the season. Michigan played it safe and let NMU come to them while the Wildcats were content to oblige, they flew into the Michigan zone and kicked and scratched to get the tying goal. The feeling was that if they had enough time eventually it was coming, but the Wolverines bent but did not break.
This was an extremely slow paced game after the first period and a half so this section will be combined. The biggest difference tonight was that Michigan and Northern Michigan needed a senior leader to step up and steal this game. With a powerplay goal and a shorthanded goal Michigan got theirs from Kevin Lynch, without Matt Thurber the Wildcats didn't get theirs. Both goalies were outstanding tonight with each giving his team a chance to win this game, Steve Racine is playing with more confidence every night and he is giving every indication that he could be the guy moving forward.
No player really stood out to me tonight but that's not always a bad thing. Nobody had the "wow" play besides the Lynch SH goal, but there weren't any glaring mistakes either. I think Serville played one of his best games as a Wolverine and is starting to get back to where he was before the injury, his progression is going to be huge for Michigan moving forward.
We have the chance tomorrow to sweep the series and move on, let's keep the dream alive.