It is easy to get lost in the success of the 5th hockey team of Michigan. The individual struggle for many of his other players is covered by the overwhelming success of his top scorers.
But on the way to the end of the Spartan season in a game filled with fireworks, the depth of Wolverine has finally banished the old demons who are killing the score.
Michigan (27-9-1 overall, 16-8 Big Ten) defeated Michigan (12-23-1, 6-18), scoring four goals in the first five shots and winning 8-0.
“(It’s) extremely important,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson said. “It makes us a much more dangerous team when we have guys coming on the offensive.”
And against the Spartans to kill looked easy. The Wolverines knew they would probably come out victorious after defeating them in the previous five matches, but all eight goals were scored with ease. Most of all, Michigan got a customizable game before he hopes it’s a deep post-season run.
And from the first fall Wolverine’s puck maximized it.
Sophomore forward Thomas Bordella scored his first goal in five games in 54 seconds, bypassing defender Christian Krieger on the blue line and scoring easily. Then three minutes into fifth grade Mike Pastuzhov recaptured Michigan on a flat foot, dangling through defense, for his first goal in nine games.
But those downturns have paled in comparison to one downturn that has been cut short: junior Johnny Beecher’s goalless streak. He scored his first goal in 13 games – and his first empty net since Veteran’s Day – and opened the scoring in the second period. Celebrating, he jumped to the bench and clicked his stick against his knee, as if directly expelling his struggle. He also added another goal in the power play later in the period.
“The other day I was talking to Mattie Beniers in practice, and he just said,‘ Yeah, if you end up staying him here soon, you need to do something crazy, like click a stick on your knee, ’” Beecher said. “So it was a little bit for him and I’m sure it made the boys have a good laugh.”
And while Wolverines giggled on the bench, the game was not funny for the Spartans. They forced Michigan to pay by the boards, finishing checks and engaging in skirmishes in hopes of reviving the season’s hopes.
But the time of returns is long gone. Raamahi’s depth was so dominant that sophomore forwards Mattie Beniers and Brendan Brisan – two of his top scorers – did not score for all eight goals.
This does not mean that the usual Raamahi bombers did not need Saturday’s victory to polish their game. Sophomore Kent Johnson scored for the first time since leaving for the Olympics, stealing a suspended puck from goalkeeper Pierce Charleson behind the goal. While Johnson has scored countless goals for his teammates, restoring his own goal touches makes opponents think twice if he has a puck.
Interrupting long recessions with such great pleasure is important for Wolverine in the postseason. Their top line has shaped most of the looks, but scorers like Pastuzhov and Beecher could become much-needed X-factors in the lineup if Michigan want to make a breakthrough after the season.
“They have been such stones for us throughout the season,” said Bordelo. “And just seeing them kill, and seeing them kind of take the monkey off their backs, was nice.”
And after destroying their recessions, Wolverines is one step closer to getting those players to score deeper in the postseason.