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October 10, 2013After missing the NCAA Tournament a year ago, the 10th-ranked Michigan hockey team knows it has to earn back respect and a postseason-worthy resume one game at a time. On Thursday, the Wolverines took their first big step, upsetting No. 4 Boston College 3-1 at Yost Ice Arena in the season opener.
"Our team knew we were up against a top opponent and knew we had to play better than we played Sunday [in a 2-1 exhibition loss]," head coach Red Berenson said. "There was a lot of respect out there for Boston College. The first goal was huge in the game, and then to play in a tight game was good.
"Both teams will get better because of that game. It's nice for us to come away with a victory, at home, with so many young players."
Michigan features a double-digit freshman class, and seven of them were in the lineup tonight, including three defensemen. Center J.T. Compher lived up to his billing as a heralded recruit while left winger Alex Kile showed a grittiness to his game that fit in nicely with sophomore center Andrew Copp and senior right winger Derek DeBlois.
Compher would finish with two assists, setting up Michigan's first goal when he delivered a crisp one-timer feed to senior forward Luke Moffatt for a power-play goal at 7:25 of the first period.
Sophomore goalie Steve Racine, who was rock solid down the stretch for the Maize and Blue in 2013, did the rest in the first, turning aside all nine BC shots he faced. The Eagles hit a few posts along the way, but Racine was a difference-maker in the game, recording 20 saves.
"That's what we expect -- if you're at Michigan, you know you need good goalkeeping," Berenson said. "Look what he did last year; he was 8-1-1 in his last 10 games. That's what we need from him. He went through his learning curve and hopefully he's ready to be more consistent."
Copp's line was maybe the best all night both offensively and defensively, generating eight shots on net while neutralizing 2013 Hobey Baker finalist Johnny Gaudreau and his linemates. Copp also put Michigan ahead 2-0 5:03 into the second when he rifled a shot off the back of Boston College goalie Brian Billett and into the net.
The Eagles inched within one halfway through the second, but to their credit, the Wolverines dialed up their intensity, playing their best period of the night in the third.
Moffatt scored his second man-advantage marker of the evening just 34 seconds into the final frame, and Michigan made it stand the rest of the way, holding the Eagles to just five third-period shots.
"That's when the game is on the line," Berenson said about his team's third-period performance. "I like the way our team stay focused for 60 minutes tonight and maybe played our best in the last period when Boston College turned up the heat."
Michigan moves on now to play at RIT Saturday night.