Michigan @ RIT – 10/12/2013 7pm (Blue Cross Arena – Neutral Site)
#1 Steve Racine (G) – He was tested a fair amount in the early going even though his team took a 4-0 lead thru one period of play. He was tried for 16 shots in the opening frame and looked solid. He played shots well by allowing no rebounds and taken whistles when needed. He also anticipated a play well as he moved to his right quickly across the crease to make pad save when his team led 2-0. It was golden opportunity for RIT but he shut the door and in fact could have changed the pace of the game if he would have allowed goal. Now the wheels kind of feel of the wagon defensively and discipline wise as penalties came into factor. RIT scored 2x on the PP in the middle frame and although Racine could have played some shots better by staying up like on first goal against, it wasn’t entirely his fault. He then matured quickly for the third period and locked it down to preserve the win.
#4 Kevin Claire (D) – He is not the flashy upscale D-man that will produced a lot of points. This wasn’t his game at NTDP and it isn’t his game now in the NCAA. The thing with Clare you like is that he shows smarts out on the ice with good puck decisions. He picked a few assists (3) in the game by simply moving the puck up ice to the forwards quickly and efficiently. He played steady defensively too at the back end leading all players with +3 on the night. Clare skates fairly well and has decent size on the blue line too.
#5 Mike Downing (D) – First saw Downing a few summers ago at USA Hockey’s Select 17s Camp and he was a dominating D-man that played with confidence and punished opponents. In his freshman season at Michigan he looks OK. He likes to still play the body in good form yet I thought he could have been a bit more fleeter on his feet and made some better decisions with the puck. He received a lot of preseason hype in draft year and can see why he fell to the 4th round. He looks to be an average middle of the row player right now, but again it’s early in his NCAA career. (Florida Panthers 4th Round – 2013)
#6 Brennan Serville (D) – He is a good size blue liner that skates fairly well. He isn’t overly aggressive with his big frame but laid a few nice hits around the ice. He looks to be a steady two-way D-man. Not sure if the offensive output will be there yet he’ll make the outlet pass and take away time and space with long reach and stick. (Winnipeg Jets 3rd Round – 2012)
#7 Phil Di Giuseppe (D) – Personally I thought Di Giuseppe was a step above the competition on this night and priming for the pro ranks. He potted 2 goals in the first period in close. The first received the pass coming down slot he recognized he was all alone and made quick FH/BH move and easily slipped it in the open net as goalie badly misplayed. His second tally he took pass again all alone, this time standing on top of the crease 1-on-1 with the goalie. He made a nifty backhand fake getting the goalie to bit hard and simply went to forehand quickly and scored in open net. Later in the period he started the entire play on the 4th goal by Nieves #12 as he smartly broke puck out at the hash mark off the puck board thru his legs on BH right to his centerman as he pivoted his body as the D-man pinched on him. This lead to a 2-on-1 goal from the far blue line in. Late in the game when the Wolverines were up two goals and in command he tried a crafty move. Coming down off wing he cut in sharp to his forehand at the dot on a 1-on-2 situation. He then flipped the puck up in the air a few feet to try and place puck and get around the two defenders. It didn’t work but the creative instinct was there. He definitely showed his offensive know-how on the night. (Carolina Hurricanes 2nd Round – 2012)
#9 Luke Moffat (F) – He fired the biscuit on net a few times with the insurance marker by Motte #14 coming off his stick in rebound fashion. He has been highly touted since the teen years, but to me he looked average and all honestly didn’t write a lot of notes on him. (Colorado Avalanche 7th Round – 2010)
#11 Zach Hyman (F) – He was kind of slippery player that you don’t really notice until you ask yourself who just made that pass. He set-up Di Giuseppe nicely as he had the puck high in offensive zone with defenders approaching, but quickly recognized his teammate all alone out front and made pass high-to-low for the tally. He also perfectly played the 2-on-1 with Nieves #12 with a couple quick tic-tac touches thru neutral zone that got D-man overwhelmed that produced the 4th goal for Michigan. He might have more offensive potential in his stick. (Florida Panthers 5th Round – 2010)
#12 Boo Nieves (F) – I have watched Nieves a handful of times over the years. In this game he was active on the puck and making things happen. He was utilizing his powerful skating stride to break away and body to protect the puck. He is probably one of the most explosive skaters in the NCAA. This past summer at Team USA’s NJEC he looked complacent yet vs. RIT he turned it up a notch. He got an assist on the 1st goal as he possessed puck coming into the zone to pick up secondary helper. He then scored a beauty on a 2-on-1 with Hyman #11 as they feed the puck back-n-forth thru the neutral zone before Nieves crossed the blue line with the puck release a quick snap shot high, blocker side to make it 4-0 Michigan. He shows good speed as his best asset. Probably could think shot more first though has good vision and two-way game. Although he was good on the night, you always come away knowing that he has more to show and produce on the score sheet. (NY Rangers 2nd Round – 2012)
#14 Tyler Motte (F) – He plays a solid two-way game. He isn’t anything special here but sealed the game with smarts as he went to the net in the 3rd period to pick up the rebound off a Moffat #9 shot. He showed a good move in the 2nd period as well as he drove wide around the D-man but unable to finish as he shot wide. He is not overly big in size but competes and will play all three zones. (Chicago Blackhawks 4th Round – 2013)
#15 Evan Allen (F) – Previously had seen Allen with NTDP and All-American Prospects Game last year where I was more impressed with his game. His skating looked average here as appeared a step behind, though received PP time but displayed nothing high-end and those factors and size could be reason bypassed at last year’s draft. He did end up scoring the game winner late in 2nd period as he recognized the goalie off-balance and quickly fired the puck on net as the goalie was unprepared. Hats off for the awareness piece on the goal and that’s what Allen brings is pretty good hockey sense with offensive upside.
#17 JT Compher (F) – Compher is what most teams desire, a player that never quits and plays with spunk. He has a nice set of wheels and seems to always be in on the play whether it’s on the forecheck or trying to set the play up. He showed good vision on the power play and compete level. (Buffalo Sabres 2nd round – 2013) Note: Watched Compher vs. UNH this past Saturday on TV, as he set-up GWG in OT to DeBlois #19 from behind the goal line with nice pass after eluding defenders behind the net with good skating ability and puck protection.
#18 Andrew Copp (F) – He played an average game and ended up scoring ENG at the end. He did force turnover that led to the second goal with the help of Guptill #27 in corner. Will makes checks and plays a two-way game. (Winnipeg Jets 4th Round – 2013)
#19 Derek DeBlois (F) – He competes well and knows how to get himself open for opportunities. He isn’t superfast with slick stick skills or anything but plays smart. He recognized the turnover to score 2nd goal for Michigan as he set himself at top of circle and then quickly fired a wrister top corner by the goalie’s glove. He simply did not give the ‘tender time to get set, placed the puck well, and released rapidly. He isn’t big but plays wise. Note: He again almost scored in same place on Saturday vs. UNH in OT as took pass from behind net from Compher #7 and quickly fired on net, apparently Motte #14 was credited for goal though.
#21 Nolan De Jong (D) – He played fairly well although he did get undressed 1-on-1 in the 2nd period that supercharged RIT’s 4-goal outburst. Otherwise he is decent and made nice transition passes thru the neutral zone to his forwards that quickly started Michigan’s offensive. (Minnesota Wild 7th Round – 2013)
#27 Alex Guptill (F) – He was back in the line-up after missing Michigan’s first game vs. BC. He is a good sized winger that has good skill sets as well. He skates well, can handle the puck, plays strong along the wing, and has nice vision too. He set-up the first Michigan goal finding Di Giuseppe #7 coming down the slot all alone and quickly threaded pass on his off-wing on the PP. Later he made nice pass out of the corner on the 2nd goal off a turnover to DeBlois #19 at the top of the circle for the goal. There is definitely pro material in Guptill. (Dallas Stars 3rd Round – 2011)
#37 Mac Bennett (D) – He leads by example out on the ice. Like the other senior D-man, Clare, he will not “ahhh” you with high-end offensive skills and rushes. Instead he will play good position wise, makes the outlet passes, closes gaps, uses an active stick, and plays the body effectively. He is steady and although not on the score sheet here, he will chip in here and there in production. (Montreal Canadians 3rd Round – 2009)
RIT Tigers –
#2 Nolan Descoteaux (D) – He definitely stepped his game up on this night from two nights earlier. Like many was a bit culture shocked in 1st period but then better in later 2/3 of the game. He made a strong rush in the 2nd period taking it deep into offensive zone and tried the warp-a-round that was denied at the last second. He would then a few shifts later score on the power play as he parked himself off the side of the net and batted the puck out of mid-air about waist high of a net rebound scramble. He also made a couple of good plays defensively as he broke up plays simply utilizing stick well with the poke check. But there are times where he has questionable gap control and agility to stay with the quicker forwards.
#4 Mike Colavecchia (F) – He is a player that energizes his team and definitely brought a better game than two nights ago vs. Colgate. After RIT was completely overwhelmed in the 1st period going down 4-0 to Michigan, Colavecchia was the one that got the comeback started on a great individual effort to get RIT on the board finally in the 2nd period. After he picked up good speed thru the neutral zone with the puck, he undressed Minnesota’s 2nd rounder, De Jong #21 D-man, with a nice inside/outside move and then quickly drove the puck to the net hard getting the goaltender (Racine #1) down and finishing short-side, high for the unassisted PP tally. He picked up a power play assist too. His compete level was better though he was caught on ice for two of Michigan’s seven goals.
#5 Brad Shumway (D) – He is a decent sized RH D-man for the Tigers. He was average on the night. He skates OK and moves the puck decent enough as gets PP duty at the point. For me he just doesn’t move efficient enough on his skates or with his vision. Also on the defensive side will get beat by the quick, shifter players.
#9 Matt Garbowsky (F) – Again for the 2nd night of watching RIT, I thought he was the best player for the Tigers. He skates well, is shifty, and protected the puck. He has good hockey IQ as goes to the right places. He opened up the 2nd period with RIT down 4-0 with a quick shot that found the post but got the crowd excited. On the same shift he also threw a big hit for average sized player that motivated his team as well. Later in the period, he would find the back of the net as he took a pass off the wall from line mate #7 McGowen. In the slot he quickly spun around in a half circle and fired low that caught the goalie off-guard with some net front traffic. He also found the pipe in the 2nd period too. You like him because he competes hard each shift and has offensive creativity to go along with his physical play.
#10 Anthony Hamburg (F) – For being an NHL Draft pick and the handful of times I have seen both last year and this season, he seems to get limited ice time and a player that just plays the 3rd-4th line role of simply getting pucks in deep and changing. No real offensive style to his game. (Minnesota Wild 7th Round – 2009)
#15 Ben Lynch (F) – He is the captain and plays a reasonable game overall, nothing on the high-end but solid. He scored the 2nd Tigers goal as Michigan got a little sloppy behind the goal line and Lynch caused turnover that eventually ended up in the net off a fortunate bounce and lacking goaltending. He also picked up a secondary PP assist later on 4th goal. He tries to be a leader on the ice by competing hard and mixing it up.
#40 Jordan Ruby (G) – He was completely a deer in headlights for the 1st period. You could tell the mental focus was non-existent early on in the game as he surrendered 4 goals but cannot blame him totally. The entire Tigers team was in “ahhh” of the prolific Wolverine draft picks. He was going butter-fly too early as a couple of goals found the top of the net. At times he was completely out of position and flopping like a fish in his crease. Amazingly RIT came back to tie game but Ruby gave up a sloppy goal with under 1 minute remaining in 2nd period that deflated the sails. As the puck went from one corner to the other, rimming around puck boards, Ruby pushed off from middle crease to post and appeared to catch an edge throwing him off balance and into the post. Instead of focusing on the puck he tried to regain balance and fix net, meanwhile the Michigan forward (#15 Allen) fired from bad angle on wall into the net on the goalie that was not ready. In 3rd period he gave up rebound goal that was deciding back breaker in the game. In two game viewings, I have yet to see the complete game solid mental focus needed by a goalie to win games.