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December 14, 2012

Hockey team searching for answers after 4-1 loss

The losses continue to pile up for the Michigan hockey team, which dropped a 4-1 decision to Western Michigan Friday night at Yost Ice Arena. The Wolverines are now 5-9-2 and haven't won since Nov. 21 while falling to 4-5-0 at home this season.

"I sit up here like I'm supposed to have wise words but I really don't have any wise words," head coach Red Berenson said in the post-game press conference. "I just feel like we're making too many excuses game after game.

"Tonight, it was the second period, and special teams were a factor again. We moved the puck pretty well on the power play but couldn't score, and they do.

"We get good chances in the third but it was tough to score, and the puck didn't go in. Our overall team effort and our execution has to be better. I know we didn't play for two weeks but that's an excuse."

After a week layoff in which the Maize and Blue said they had regrouped and felt they had shorn up many of the vulnerabilities that had been plaguing them, they were intent to come out strong in the first period Friday.

Instead, they fell flat on their face, surrendering a pair of weak goals while the lowlight of the period actually occurred on a 5-on-3 as U-M failed to generate a single shot in 1:14 of time and allowed a breakaway that was a post away from sending the crowd to their cars before the first intermission had even arrived.

In total, Michigan went 0 for 5 on the man-advantage, with a mere four shots on the goal. Just something else broke that the Wolverines have no idea how to fix.

"Whatever it is, we're not getting the job done right now," senior forward Kevin Lynch said. "We're playing on the perimeter too much and not getting shots to the net. We're trying to make cute passes, passing the puck through sticks, and we just need to get pucks on net because we're not getting enough shots."

Trailing by three midway through the second period, Michigan actually sprang to life briefly when sophomore forward Phil DiGiuseppe pounced on a loose puck and fired it into the net at 13:49, ending a personal hell of 13 games without a marker. However, U-M couldn't capitalize on its momentum and would put up very little fight in the third period.

In the aftermath, the players held a lengthy meeting in the locker room to address a dying season.

"We just spent a long time talking about guys buying in," Lynch said. "It's easy when things go wrong for guys to get upset with each other and get down. We need to come together.

"The only ones who are going to help us are ourselves. We don't have any players coming in. We have to come together as a team.

"I think we had a really good talk and guys are excited about [Saturday's game]."

Berenson's message, meanwhile, was straight to the point.

"We're not getting enough second efforts, and the second efforts are the guys diving in front of pucks, they're going all out; they're taking the hits, making the hits, they're winning all their battles, winning the races, and they stand out," he said.

"If you're going to pick three stars most nights it will be guys that played second-effort hockey. The Michigan teams that have done well had a lot of second-effort hockey in that locker room and we're just not getting that now.

"Did we bring our 'A' game tonight? Your 'A' game has to happen on the ice, and you have to make it happen. Sometimes you feel like you can't do anything right, and other nights you can't do anything wrong, but the harder you work the more success you're going to have."

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