#2 Michigan vs. Northern Michigan Preview

Michigan skates at home twice this weekend in a two-game series with the Northern Michigan Wildcats. How do the No. 2-ranked Wolverines match up with the Wildcats, a team they swept early in the season? Is Michigan ready to get back on track with a two-game sweep of the Wildcats? How will they do as they prepare for Miami of Ohio?

After taking just one point from the Michigan State Spartans last weekend, the No. 2 ice hockey team looks to rebound with a pair of home games against the Northern Michigan Wildcats. How do the Wolverines match up against Northern Michigan in the week that leads up to the epic showdown between No. 1 Miami and No. 2 Michigan?

Series Notes
Records: Michigan (22-3-1, 15-2-1 CCHA), Northern Michigan (10-15-1, 7-11-0 CCHA)
Series vs. Northern Michigan: Michigan leads 29-16-3
Season Series: 2-0 Michigan
Series in Ann Arbor: Michigan leads 13-10-0
Last Meeting: 4-3 Michigan (10/20/2007)

U-M Offense vs. Northern Michigan Defense
F – Kevin Porter (22-17-39, +18)
F – Chad Kolarik (18-15-33, +16)
F – Aaron Palushaj (6-19-25, +4)
F – Travis Turnbull (9-8-17, +17)
F – Matt Rust (10-7-17, +10)

U-M Goals/Game: 3.9
U-M Shots/Game: 30.6

Northern Michigan Goals Allowed/Game: 3.0
Northern Michigan Shots Allowed/Game: 27.7

Outlook: Michigan's struggled to get scoring from lines other than the top one the last few weeks. The junior class will need to step up and get back on track, and it could be tough against a team like Northern Michigan, a team that prides itself on defense. Even if the Wolverines don't get that scoring back, Porter and Kolarik should be enough to provide the Wolverines with a solid advantage on the offensive side of the ice.
Advantage: Michigan

Northern Michigan Offense vs. U-M Defense
F – Nick Sirota (12-10-22, +1)
F – Phil Fox (10-3-13, +5)
F – Mark Olver (8-11-19, +4)
F – Matt Siddall (6-8-14, +1)
D – Erik Gustafsson (0-10-10, +11)

Northern Michigan Goals/Game: 2.3
Northern Michigan Shots/Game: 23.9

U-M Goals Allowed/Game: 1.7
U-M Shots Allowed/Game: 26.9

Outlook: Northern Michigan's offense hasn't been much to write home about. The U-M defense has been one of the best in the nation. As long as Michigan avoids letting in the cheap goal, this should be a huge advantage for the Wolverines. Keeping the Wildcats away from the net will be important for the Wolverines.
Advantage: Michigan

Billy Sauer
Record: 20-3-1
GAA: 1.68
Save Percentage: .937

Bryan Hogan
Record: 2-0-0
GAA: 2.01
Save Percentage: .920

Northern Michigan
Brian Stewart
Record: 6-10-1
GAA: 2.83
Save Percentage: .902

Reid Ellingson
Record: 4-4-0
GAA: 3.21
Save Percentage: .882

Outlook: Sauer has continued to be one of the best. It shouldn't change against Northern Michigan. I give Michigan a significant edge in this department. Should the Wolverines get the win on Friday night, don't be surprised if Bryan Hogan gets a start on Saturday night to rest Sauer for the big showdown with Miami next weekend.
Advantage: Michigan

U-M Power Play vs. Northern Michigan Penalty Kill
U-M Power Play: 21.2% (28-of-132)
U-M Shorthanded Goals Allowed: 1

Northern Michigan PK: 83.0% (100-of-137)
Northern Michigan Shorthanded Goals: 6
Northern Michigan PIM/Game: 14.1

Northern Michigan Power Play vs. U-M Penalty Kill
Northern Michigan Power Play: 12.7% (16-of-126)
Northern Michigan Shorthanded Goals Allowed: 2

U-M PK: 88.7% (125-of-141)
U-M Shorthanded Goals: 6
U-M PIM/Game: 17.5

Outlook: Special teams doomed the Wolverines last weekend. Skating with the penalty kill or the power play amplified Michigan's struggles in the face-off circle, and the Maize and Blue need that corrected this weekend. Michigan has an advantage on both aspects of special teams, but it's important to get hot with the critical series in Oxford on deck.
Advantage: Push

Michigan needs to rebound in a big way this weekend. Northern Michigan, who started out 0-6-0 in conference play, will be a good test. The Wolverines can't afford to drop a game in the series, and a two-game sweep gives the Wolverines a one point advantage in the CCHA standings heading into Oxford, Ohio. I think the Wolverines get back on track despite holding just a 13-10-0 record against Northern Michigan at Yost Ice Arena.
4-1 Michigan, 3-1 Michigan

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