Yost to host AIC-Michigan Hockey


Seth Dussault, Sports Editor

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—It will be a matchup of the two longest-serving coaches in college hockey when 31-year veterans Gary Wright and Red Berensen send their squads to do battle in a weekend set at the historic Yost Arena between AIC and the University of Michigan.

AIC is coming off of a 7-1 loss at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst that featured their worst first-period performance of the season, allowing four goals on odd-man rushes. There were bright spots in the game, including the continued play of sophomore winger Austin Orszulak, who scored a power-play goal and now is tied for the team’s lead with six points through the first eight games, and the perfect 4-for-4 penalty kill.

The Wolverines are likewise coming off of losses, having just been swept by Michigan Tech, 4-1 and 6-2; Nolan De Jong had a pair of assists on the weekend, but the team as a whole struggled, particularly on special teams where they were 0-for-13 on the PP and allowed four goals to MTU’s man-up unit Saturday.

Zach Hyman and Alex Kile lead the Wolverines with three goals; Hyman and Dylan Larkin have five assists to top the squad as well. Kile and Zach Werenski are second on the squad with four assists.

The Wolverines have perhaps been unlucky rather than bad in terms of scoring. They average 33.1 shots per game, but have just 19 goals to show for it through seven games. Part of the issue is the 3-for-28 power play that averages just 1.5 shots per man advantage and has conceded a pair of shorthanded tallies.

One of the great strengths of Michigan is in the faceoff circle, where the Wolverines are winning draws at a 55.1% clip, one of the best in the nation; Larkin and Andrew Copp are both above 58% on draws and have combined to win 150 of their 256 faceoffs; comparatively, AIC is just 40.4% as a team on faceoffs, which could prove problematic for possession in this series.

In net, Zach Nagelvoort and Steve Racine have split time; Nagelvoort has a .889 SV% and 3.68 GAA but a 0-4-0 record while Racine has a .877 SV% and 3.88 GAA but is 2-1-0 on the year.

AIC is led on the offense by Orszulak and his classmate, winger David Norris, who paces the team with six assists. Senior center Alexander MacMillan has five goals on the season to lead the team, and freshman Johno May has a goal and four assists for five points to tie with MacMillan for second place on the squad in points.

The Jackets have drawn just eighteen penalties on the year and scored on three of them, and have killed twenty of the twenty-five shorthanded situations they have faced. As a whole, the team has struggled to put pucks on net, averaging just 23.4 shots per game.

Still, AIC is one of the least penalized teams in the nation, averaging just 7.3 PIM per game. Michigan takes many more penalties than the Jackets do and if AIC can draw those penalties—something they have struggled to do at times—then it will level the playing field considerably.

Freshman Alex Murray seems to have taken the reins in goal, having started the last three games; in spite of a rough outing against the Minutemen where he got pulled after allowing five goals, he still boasts a .934 SV% and 2.66 GAA with a 2-2-1 record.

AIC and Michigan play Friday and Saturday at 7:35 p.m. in Ann Arbor.