First off, about the arena and crowd: They have to be disappointed with the showing last night. The student looked great, and the middle of the arena was full, but from about the faceoff dots in the zone on around behind the net, there were a LOT of empty seats. If you can't pack the place for Michigan, something's wrong. The concessions there are awesome. Damon's is their vendor, so they have BBQ, and you can even get a full slab of ribs if you want. But all the praise they get from me on that goes away when you take into account that THEY DON'T SELL PUCKS. What's wrong with these people? What's going to sell more? A bright orange t-shirt with "Western Michigan" on it in white writing (that was fugly by the way) or hockey pucks at a hockey game. Strong work.
On to the game:
That was a lot more like it! That's as good of a game as this team has played in a long time. They got it started right away with an absolutely gorgeous pass to Hensick for the breakaway goal.
The 4th goal of the night was also an excellent passing play. Great play by Turnbull to beat the WMU player to the puck, and then to have the vision to see Hensick coming behind him and the presence of mind to drop it to him...then TJ makes a great feed to Porter for the goal. Niiiice. Thing of beauty. Porter is just so effective and yet not even remotely flashy. Our sophomores are playing great, great hockey right now.
It was hard to see too much else, since most of the play was down at the other end of the rink and we didn't have a great view of it. Johnson made a great fake on his goal to get the WMU player to go down, then he walked right around him and had a clean lane to shoot.
Ruden was outstanding last night. They didn't have a ton of chances but he still made quite a few outstanding saves. It's nice to see a goalie have 2 good starts in a row. No question he starts vs. LSSU in my mind...hopefully he'll have a strong weekend and solidify himself for the playoff run. I wanted Sauer to win the job, but he never did it, and I think you have to go with Ruden at this point.
Fardig had a great game as well. He does such a nice job on those penalty kills. I get the feeling that he and Porter will be our go-to guys on the PK next year with Ebbett and Kal gone. It was completely obvious that Cogs was going to get a SH breakaway at some point last night. He just missed breaking up 2 passes out by the point or he would've been gone. He did manage to get one on that same PK though.
McInchak cracks me up. He didn't call a BAD game last night, it was just funny what he called and what he let go. Cook high sticks a guy...he's looking RIGHT at it. Nothing. Fardig gets a guy in a full nelson and hauls him down. He's looking right at it. Nothing. Ebbett gets his hand taken off, nothing. One of the WMU players loses a glove on a slash, nothing until 5 seconds later when he called something ticky-tack.
It makes me really happy to see Johnson and Hunwick split up--I think we're a much stronger defensive team because of it. I also think that rotating 5 defensemen for the most part is helping this team, though I'm not entirely sure why (Is it forcing guys to be more aware b/c they're not used to their partner? I don't know). Montville is not hurting this team one bit though. He had a great breakup of a budding 2 on 1 in the early stages of the game. Cook, Dest and Johnson all had outstanding defensive plays during the course of the game.
Nice to see Hensick get it going. He's been coasting way too much the last few weeks...whether it be injury or something else. We NEED him to be a threat if we're going to go anywhere in the postseason.
The defense as a whole was good. Actually, as it turned out, most of the breakdowns we had were while we were on the powerplay. WMU's only goal was shorthanded (albeit with a delayed penalty so it was 5 on 5), and they had a couple other shorthanded chances. But overall, our defense didn't give them a ton. I think all 6 of our defensemen can walk out of that building saying they played a good game. Our forwards were also being responsible for the most part--someone coming back when one of the defensemen would go. It was very nice to see.
Johnson with Mitera is working...Jack would go flying into the zone and Mitera would back completely out. They compliment each other well.
The scary moment for Michigan was when Cook, Dest, Rohlfs, and Fardig were all in the box, so we had to kill a penalty with only 4 D (including Montville, and both our emergency defensemen were in the box as well). Montville did fine though and we killed it off.
Good win, they took care of business against a much lesser team and were never really threatened. Gotta keep the momentum going into the weekend against LSSU. We really need 3-4 points this weekend.