By Michael Caples –
ANN ARBOR – There was some doubt surrounding the University of Michigan hockey program after the Wolverines lost to Waterloo in their lone exhibition contest.
After Thursday night’s performance, however, opinions should change in a hurry.
The No. 10/11 Wolverines beat No. 4 Boston College 3-1 at Yost Ice Arena, thanks to two goals from senior Luke Moffatt and another from sophomore Andrew Copp (Ann Arbor).
Michigan took control of the contest 7:25 into the first period on Moffatt’s first of the season, and maintained their lead for the duration of the game.
“You know it was the first game of the season; we played a great opponent, and it was really great to get those first ones under my belt and under the teams belt and get out to an early lead,” Moffatt said. “Also felt great to play in such a great atmosphere here at Yost tonight.”
Michigan out-shot the opposition every period, finishing with a 32-21 final margin. A large reason for that was the Wolverines’ ability to hold Boston College star Johnny Gaudreau at bay; the Hobey Baker finalist picked up only one assist and was limited to one shot on goal.
“Gaudreau is a great player, and I can’t tell you we did anything special,” Wolverines coach Red Berenson said. “We respect him, we had different defensemen on the ice at times, and we tried to play Andrew Copp’s line against that line so Derek DeBlois, who’s our senior right winger, played against Gaudreau. But he’ll show up at the end of the year like he’s a great player, but if you’re going to win games you can’t let the other team’s best players have their best games.”
Instead, it was the Wolverines’ stars that shined, thanks in part to two power-play goals on five chances. Moffatt scored both of those man-advantage markers, and the first had a lot to do with freshman forward JT Compher.
Compher, a product of the National Team Development Program, skated deep into the Eagles zone in the first period, and his patience with the puck allowed Moffatt to get free in front of the opposing goal for a one-timer strike.
Compher would also pick up a secondary assist on Moffatt’s second goal of the night, another one-timer, this time set up by Copp 34 seconds into the third period.
“I’ve been waiting to play for this school for a long time, and to finally get on the ice in a big game against Boston College, I was just so excited,” Compher said. ”Having the opportunity to play in front of a full house, all those fans, all the students; my blood was just pumping. I was so glad to get out on the ice and try and hit anyone I saw.”
Copp scored between Moffatt’s goals, recording the Wolverines’ lone tally in the second period. After a flurry of chances, Copp, who ended up below the goal line, managed to bank the puck off of a body in front and into the Eagles’ goal.
“Obviously, it’s a great to win a game, but we have to realize that we have to get better at certain things we didn’t do well tonight. I mean it’s nice to open up the year with a win, especially against a team like Boston College. It’s good to get it under our belt, but we have to continue to get better.”
Steve Racine stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced against Boston College. His counterpart, Eagles goaltender Brian Billett, stopped 29 of 32.
“I think that’s what we expect,” Berenson said of his goaltender. “If you’re at Michigan, you know you need good goalkeeping. Look what he did last year; I think he was 8-1-1 in the last 10 games. That’s what we need from him. He went through his learning curve last year, and hopefully now he’ll be more consistent.”
The Wolverines now prepare for their first road test of the season; Michigan heads to Rochester, N.Y., to take on RIT this Saturday.
“Well, we’re going to go on the road sooner or later,” Berenson said. “We’ve only played one home game really that matters, but this is part of the schedule. We’ve got a tough goalie on the road; we play RIT Saturday, and then the following Friday and Saturday we’re at New Hampshire. So these will be three huge games, and it starts at RIT. They’ve got some veterans in there, they learned how to play on the road at the end of last year, and I think we’ll be fine. RIT is a good team; they came in here and beat us last year, so we have enough respect for them.”