NCAA Tournament | Keys to the game: Air Force vs. Michigan

1. Michigan’s speed

As one of the top programs in the nation, No. 3 Michigan can consistently recruit the biggest and fastest players in the nation and regularly sends players to the NHL. Michigan’s team averages 192 lbs, compared to No. 18 Air Force’s 152 lbs. Yet Michigan is held up as one of the fastest teams in the nation. Air Force’s defense, led by senior Greg Flynn, must try to contain the Wolverines’ attack.

2. Special Teams

Air Force’s most potent weapon is junior Jaques Lamoureux, who leads the nation with 32 goals scored. Air Force’s best chances may well come on power plays, since Michigan holds such a speed advantage in 5-on-5 play. The team scores an on an impressive 20.6 percent of power plays, yet Michigan fends off 88.3 percent of shorthanded scenarios. This battle of special teams play may well decide the outcome of the early game.

3. NCAA History

Michigan is a powerhouse. They are participating in their 19th straight tournament, the longest streak in the nation. The school has won nine national championships and attended 23 Frozen Fours. Air Force has made three straight tournaments by winning three straight Atlantic Conference tournaments. They have lost in close games to Miami (Ohio) (3-2 in OT) and Minnesota (4-3). A hungry Air Force team may catch Michigan off guard.

Quick Hits

Michigan is coming off a 5-2 loss in the CCHA championship game to Notre Dame, the nation’s second-ranked team.

Michigan’s sophomore goaltender Brian Hogan won his spot from senior Billy Sauer midway through the season. He has an aggressive style that has contributed to more offensive opportunities off his skating.

Louie Caporusso, a sophomore at Michigan, was named a second team All American on College Hockey News.

Prediction

MICHIGAN 4, AIR FORCE 1

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