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October 16, 2013Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson addressed the media late Tuesday afternoon, and was in a good mood after the Wolverines began the season 2-0, including a 3-1 upset win of No. 4 Boston College.
News: Sophomore goalie Steve Racine improved to 10-1-1 in his last 12 games dating back to last season after posting 3-1 and 7-4 victories to open the season. Racine made a career high 42 saves in Saturday's three-goal triumph over RIT, and has started the season with a .925 save percentage.
Berenson: "He's off to a good start, and good for him. It's a confidence builder to start 2-0. You're never ever set, unless you win 10 games in a row, and you can say you can't get any better than this. You're always trying to get better. We're still coming off a game that they scored four goals but it could have been six or seven had it not been for Racine. I think he's played well in these two games.
"He went through a tough stretch last year and part of the problem was he had a bad summer. He had surgery and he couldn't work out and by the time he got here, he was in poor shape, and really didn't have any momentum coming out of the summer, and it showed up when he played. The end of the year he got some confidence and momentum, got established a little bit.
"This year, he had a better summer. And he's coming back as a No. 1 goalie now."
Views: Racine was a difference-maker last Thursday in the win over the Eagles, helping to stake Michigan to a 1-0 lead after the first period despite the fact that BC had better chances. He would finish with 20 stops in the win and probably had four or five that should have ended up in the back of the net.
On Saturday, he allowed four goals, but three were on his defensemen. RIT's third goal was weak, and not the kind that any team can afford to allow, but Racine was again a big reason why his team eventually beat the Tigers.
The sophomore has the confidence of his teammates (and deservedly so), and that will be huge as U-M encounters a very difficult non-conference slate. A year ago, goalie play was a major issue the first four months, but this year, it shouldn't be.
News: After sitting out the first game due to suspension, junior forward Alex Guptill started on the fourth line. When freshman left winger Alex Kile suffered an injured wrist, Guptill moved to the first line, and had an immediate impact, assisting on senior right winger Derek DeBlois' goal.
Guptill finished with two helpers and was plus-2 while DeBlois had a goal and was plus-2 and first-line center Andrew Copp had a goal and an assist and was plus-2.
Berenson: "As far as I'm concerned, this was not a hockey matter. It was an off-ice issue that he got punished for just like anyone else. If someone misses a class or I find out they're messing around in class, then I'm going to sit them out, and this wasn't class related but it could have been.
"Guptill is still one of our best players, arguably in our top two or three, and he showed that again on Saturday in Rochester. I had him on another line to see where he was in terms of conditioning and game timing, but when he got the chance, he took advantage of it. He's all in, and he's in a good place right now."
Views: The Guptill case is closed. Time to move on and get back to hockey. The junior will likely start with the top line this weekend when Michigan travels to New Hampshire, and the combination of Guptill, Copp and DeBlois gives U-M a first line capable of scoring and shutting down an opponent's best.
As for where Kile fits in he certainly didn't deserve to lose his spot just because of injury, and he told the media Tuesday his wrist is fine and he should be able to play this weekend. But the chemistry Guptill, Copp and DeBlois shared dating back to last season is off the charts good, and Kile, for now, will likely have to settle for a role on the fourth line or potentially on the second if he takes junior Zach Hyman's spot at right wing.
News: Two hard-luck Wolverine forwards, senior Luke Moffatt and junior Phil Di Giuseppe, scored two goals apiece over the weekend, each finishing with two markers, an assist and plus-1 in the sweep of Boston College and RIT.
Berenson: "Those are two guys that have to have bounce-back seasons. They need to even have breakout seasons. That was good for Luke the game on Thursday and Saturday's game was good for Phillip. One game doesn't make a season but at least they're off to a better start."
Views: Moffatt was considered a high-end forward when he first arrived but after getting off to a slow start his rookie year, he never caught fire, scoring just 19 goals in 114 games his first three seasons while largely playing on the third and fourth lines.
He was sharp in the win over BC, netting two goals on goal-scorers' shots - accurate, missile-like that had a bulls-eye on the net - and that confidence not only helped his offense but also boosted his defensive awareness. It may have been the best game he played in four seasons.
Di Giuseppe was also a highly-skilled forward when he arrived, expected to be the top forward in his class. Instead, Guptill has outplayed him (on the scoreboard anyway) with 32 goals in two seasons compared to Di Giuseppe's 20.
The junior is one of those talents that can do things with the puck that few else can but he's had bad luck and that luck has sapped him of the confidence a goal scorer needs to play with.
On Saturday, one of his two goals was as pretty as they come, a move in front of the net where he looked to skate across the crease to the far side, only to stop, and slap it past an overcommitted netminder. It was the kind of goal he never would have scored the two years prior but may indicate where his confidence is this season.