Junior winger Phil Di Giuseppe is second of scoring for Michigan with five points. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)
Ann Arbor — The Michigan hockey team is off to a 3-0-1 start and No. 4 national ranking thanks, in part, to its large freshmen class.
A pair of freshmen — Tyler Motte and Zach Nagelvoort — helped Michigan beat New Hampshire to salvage a 1-0-1 mark last weekend.
Motte scored the winning goal and Nagelvoort stopped 22 shots filling in for injured starter Steve Racine (groin). Nagelvoort replaced Racine in the third period of the tie, stopping all 15 shots he faced, including a penalty shot.
“I had no choice,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said of putting Nagelvoort into the pressure situation. “And, he played well.”
Berenson said Nagelvoort (1.41 GAA, .949 save percentage) will start against Boston University Friday and possibly against Massachusetts-Lowell Saturday.
Berenson put together an all-freshmen line last weekend with JT Compher centering Evan Allen (Sterling Heights) and Motte (St. Clair). All three played on the U.S. National Development team program.
“I just didn’t think we were getting the most out of everyone, so I tried to put guys together that might be a little more familiar with each other,” Berenson said.
“I knew they could play well together.
“Motte’s one of those players who does everything well. He’s just an all-around good player. ... J.T. is a force. He’s really driven. He can score. He makes plays. ... And, Allen is more of a sniper. He can really shoot the puck and is really dangerous around the net.”
Motte, who has three goals, loves the opportunity to play right away.
“It’s great,” he said. “Coach Berenson likes to play freshmen early and give us the opportunity to contribute early and often, and we’re trying to fill in that role.”
Compher has four assists and Allen has one goal.
So, how does Motte feel about playing ranked teams?
“That’s the reason you come to Michigan, to win games like that,” he said of schedule that has included now No. 5 Boston College and No. 14 New Hampshire. “That’s why the guys are here.”
Michigan State opened its season getting swept at Massachusetts last weekend.
The Spartans special teams unit was 1-for-9 and allowed five power-play goals, four in one game.
Sophomore Jake Hildebrand stopped 32 shots in Game 1, and Will Yanakeff had 28 saves in Game 2.
MSU hosts Lowell Friday and BU Saturday.