Guy Gadowsky’s team is playing as well as anyone could have possibly hoped. The only blemish on their record is an overtime loss to Arizona State, a team that has been very strong so far this year.
At 8-1, the Lions enter a critical stretch in the early season. The next nine games will feature four series with conference foes and then the final regular-season non-conference game with Princeton before the Christmas break starting on December 15.
With 27 regular-season games remaining on the schedule, it is far too early to start projecting which teams will be atop the B1G by the end of the year. This series will be the first step in the process of determining the pecking order.
The Wolverines are a very strong hockey club, but have a record of 5-4. After starting the season ranked No. 4 in the USCHO.com poll, the team has fallen to No. 16 in the early-going. Michigan dropped the first game it played at home this season to Vermont, then lost the most recent game, the second in a split series with Notre Dame. The other two losses came on the road against Lake Superior and Western Michigan. None of the losses were particularly surprising but the team was probably hoping to have a win or two more than it does at this point.
Josh Norris leads the team with 6 goals and 13 points. Three players are tied with nine points and two with seven for the Wolverines, as the scoring has been spread out among several players. Many of the recognizable names from recent years have moved on to the NHL but there is a great deal of talent on the roster.
In net there is a two-goalie platoon, with junior Hayden Lavigne seeing time in five games and freshman Strauss Mann appearing in five as well. While Mann has a slightly higher winning percentage and save percentage, Lavigne has a shutout to his credit and has seen the tougher starts in net thus far.
Michigan has out-shot its opponents 35-26 this season but the Lions lead the nation with 42.7 shots per game. The Wolverines have scored just 5 goals in the third period compared to Penn State’s 22; it may be in the best interest to focus on defense early and try to pull away as the game plays out.