When I pleaded with the Wolverine hockey team to "Pretend we're Holy Cross" on Saturday night, I was referencing their hockey team from last season. Not their 2003 football team.
What a brutal result. I figured a loss was coming. I didn't see 8-2 though.
It's another disappointment against the Gophers, but a loss wasn't that shocking. It was the last of a brutal five-games-in-nine-nights stretch, and the Wolverines were finishing up with the best team of the stretch (and in the country) and on the big ice to boot.
I was watching the game in a bar (plug for Joe Koolsky's in Troy…great place, great food) so the details of the game are a little fuzzy. But my overall impression was that they soundly outplayed us, but it was more 5-2 bad rather than 8-2 bad.
The big difference in the game was that Minnesota converted on seemingly every breakaway and odd-man rush that they had, while Michigan didn't. Tim Miller had a glorious scoring chance right off the bat and Briggs made a fantastic save. Johnson (I think) had a breakaway and didn't convert. Cogliano had at least one breakaway and didn't score. Meanwhile, Minnesota got us with the old "Alley-Oop" play from The Mighty Ducks.
We've obviously got big-time problems with allowing short-handed goals. You never like to see one allowed—and we've seen that far too many times this year. Three is completely inexcusable.
I can't say a whole lot more than that. It's hard to get a read on actual players' performances when you're sitting at a bar and also trying to watch the Wings, Pistons, and USC/Notre Dame.
Kyle Okposo, Jim O'Brien, and Mike Carmen were extremely impressive in that game. I always liked Carmen at USA. I think I'm in agreement with WCH on this one that it is hard to believe that O'Brien hadn't scored coming into this game. He's a good player—and it's scary that he's on the fourth line. Damn that's a talented hockey team.
As for the Wisconsin game, I didn't get to watch it. But it says a lot about our team that they were able to come back against the defending champs in their house, after getting down by a couple of goals. I know Wisconsin is struggling right now, but I would gamble that by the end of the season that's going to look like a very nice win for us. I think it already does, despite the Badgers' record.
Overall I'm very happy. Playing Michigan State, Wisconsin and Minnesota in a five day span is no easy task and I said coming into the week that I wanted to see 2 wins. We got them. We were clearly overmatched against the Gophers, but we're not nearly as bad as that score looked. I'm sure that was a tired hockey team, and that's not a good thing when you're going up against a team that's that talented—and you're on Olympic ice.
I feel good about the direction of this team. They've been playing better and better. After going what seemed like 12 years without beating MSU, now they've taken two in a row. They're winning close games. They've shown that they can come back against solid opponents. They've won some low scoring games—which is great to see because it means that Sauer and our defense are playing well. They took 3 road games against Ferris and Wisconsin—places where we've had trouble in recent years. The setback against Minnesota was disappointing but they were due. Now it's time to regroup, play strong hockey heading into the break, and dare I say…get that GLI monkey off our back?