ANN ARBOR, Mich. — As season tune-ups go, this one was a dandy.
Michigan senior Luke Moffatt scored twice on the power play and sophomore Andrew Copp had a goal and two assists to lead the Wolverines past Boston College 3-1 in the Big Ten’s first official Division I game, a contest that coaches of both teams said will help each squad in the coming months.
“I thought Michigan played a little bit better than we did tonight and won the special-team battle – that’s always a battle within the battle,” said BC coach Jerry York. “They played a little bit hungrier than we did. A lot of positive things we gained during the 60 minutes, breaking in a lot of young kids like Michigan is also, and I think we’ll grow from the experience.
“It’s a big part of the early season – find some good opponents, play against them, and then say, ‘Alright, here’s what we have to improve on.’ You can’t do that playing teams that you can easily beat, so I think we’ll learn a lot from how Michigan played and break our game down.”
Michigan coach Red Berenson said that his team knew it was up against a tough opponent.
“To play in a tight game, I think was good,” said Berenson. “Both teams are going to get better because of that game, but it’s nice for us to come away with a victory and at home and with so many young players and they all played.”
The freshman class for each team was key in this contest. Rookie JT Compher was instrumental in each of Moffatt’s goals, setting up the senior’s back-door goal to make it 1-0 at 7:25 in the first and feeding Copp – who then provided his own sweet cross-crease pass for the first assist – on Moffatt’s second goal to make it 3-1 just 34 seconds into the third.
Boston College’s lone goal was freshman defenseman Ian McCoshen’s first, at 10:05 in the second when the Eagles were trailing 2-0.
On Copp’s goal early in the second, Michigan freshman defenseman Mike Downing earned his first collegiate point with the second assist.
“The freshman class, these guys stepped up,” said Moffatt. “They may be freshmen off the ice, but on the ice, they’re not playing like it. That’s what it all comes down to. I was playing with [Tyler] Motte and Compher, two freshmen, and it felt like they could’ve been seniors with me, in my class. They were hard working out there, grinding, getting their noses dirty and not letting anyone beat them on battles.
“Obviously, our defensemen also played good – [Kevin] Lohan, Downing, and [Nolan] De Jong. They all stepped up. They were key parts of our team and that’s how it’s going to be all year.”
The Wolverines led 1-0 after the first on Moffatt’s first goal and 2-0 until the middle of the second, when McCoshen scored. The early third-period goal put Michigan ahead 3-1 for good, but the Eagles still had their chances.
“I still felt we were involved in it, 3-1,” said York. “I thought that if we could just get that 3-2 game and then I’d get a chance to pull the goaltender. I thought about pulling the goaltender with three minutes left. We had a TV timeout, but I thought if we could wait one more minute to get it to 3-2.”
“We had a good amount of chances throughout that third period,” added BC junior Johnny Gaudreau, who had the first assist on McCoshen’s goal. “If we had a couple bounces here and there, it might have turned out to be a different game. We should have finished our chances. That’s probably one of our biggest concerns tonight.”
Michigan outshot Boston College 32-21. Sophomore Steve Racine had 20 saves for the Wolverines, while junior Brian Billett stopped 29.
The Wolverines next play this Saturday on the road against the Rochester Institute of Technology. Next up for the Eagles is a road game Sunday against Rensselaer.