By Michael Caples –
ANN ARBOR – In some aspects, it was exactly the start the Wolverines were looking for.
In others, it was exactly the opposite.
The University of Michigan started their 2012-13 campaign with a 7-3 exhibition win over Windsor Tuesday night – a convincing victory that saw plenty of ice time for the new members of the team, and plenty of offensive output.
Yet the Wolverines are now wondering about the health status of top defenseman Jon Merrill, who crashed awkwardly into the boards during the second period of Tuesday’s contest.
Freshman forward Justin Selman was also injured late in the win, after what coach Red Berenson said was a cut on his leg from a skate.
“Overall, it was good for our team to get a game under our belt where we are playing against someone else other than each other,” Berenson said after the game. “Even though we got down in the game I thought we played pretty well in the first period and then our chances started to go in. We got a little more momentum as the game went on, and then we got a little sloppy as the game went on further and we left our goalie out to dry a little bit in the third period.
“But overall I thought it was a good test for our team. We had to play with five defensemen after Merrill left the game. I’m worried about him and I’m worried about Selman, Selman got a big cut on the back of his leg, I think a skate cut, so we’ll see where we are tomorrow. These games, you just hope, that’s the one thing I told the other coach before the game was that I hope we have a good game, and nobody gets hurt, and sure enough.”
Forwards Luke Moffatt and Derek DeBlois led the way for the Wolverines, recording two goals apiece. Selman, Phil Di Giuseppe, and Andrew Copp added the other goals in the 7-3 win. All seven Michigan goals came in the final 40 minutes of play; Windsor held a 1-0 lead at the conclusion of the first period.
“I think we came out a little bit slow in the first, but then got our legs under us in the second and third,” DeBlois said. “I think we kind of took it to them from there; we had some good goaltending from some young guys stepping up – it’s good to see that.”
Arguably none of the freshmen stepped up more than defenseman Jacob Trouba. The prized recruit and Winnipeg Jets prospect had three assists in his first game at Yost Ice Arena.
“He is going to live up to expectation,” Berenson said. “He is a big time defenseman and he likes the physicality and he likes to jump up. He can really shoot the puck and he is just a gamer, he loves to play.”
Berenson split the time between the pipes amongst three goaltenders; Jared Rutledge, Steve Racine, and Adam Janecyk played a period apiece in that order. Rutledge stopped eight of nine shots, Racine stopped all seven, and Janecyk stopped 12 of 14.
“I thought they all had their moments,” Berenson said of his goaltending crew. “I think that it is early in the year and none of them have really had much game time. There is a sense of urgency that shows up, that maybe we look slow or too deliberate or whatever, but I thought (Jared) Rutledge had a fine first period. The first goal was a goal that we shouldn’t have given up, and our team shouldn’t have given up. I thought (Steve) Racine was sharp in the second period. (Adam) Janecyk — that is a tough period to come in — he hasn’t played in two periods and he comes in and our team is laying back a little bit and we give up two goals. I’m not happy about the goals against, but I think our goalies are right there.”