Sunday, October 28, 2007

Michigan 6, Boston University 2

This one was never really in doubt. The Wolverines led 42 seconds into the game, had a two goal lead by the 2:25 mark, and after that the Terriers were only within a goal for about four minutes of game time. Michigan scored early and often on their way to a 6-2 win and their second consecutive series sweep.

Summers, Kampfer, Llewellyn, Naurato, and Fardig were the only players on the ice who didn't tally a point tonight (even Sauer had an assist) and just three players had multiple points in what was a complete team effort tonight.

Ben Winnett scored his second of the season on a great feed from Tim Miller. Shortly thereafter, Max Pacioretty got the first of his career on a very similar play; great feed from Aaron Palushaj, who kept up his strong play this weekend.

The Terriers got on the board after a bad turnover by Sauer behind the net. Michigan took the momentum back just four minutes later on a gorgeous homerun pass from Mark Mitera to Carl Hagelin to spring him on a breakaway. He went five-hole and had me yelling bork bork bork!

They blew the game open in the third with Caporusso knocking the puck out of midair into the cage, Turnbull beating a defenseman to the outside and slipping it into the net, and Kolarik scoring from a bad angle. The Terriers scored with just six seconds left to make the margin a little bit closer.

While last night BU dominated play for the first half of the game, tonight the Wolverines got on the board early and never really looked back. They did a much better job controlling guys like Yip and Bonino (despite his late goal). Those two were all over the ice last night and I barely heard their names during this game.

It was another solid defensive performance, allowing just 24 shots on goal--and more importantly not as many high-quality chances. Billy Sauer played a good game, but he wasn't tested nearly as much as he was last night. The first goal was extremely weak, but I'm more than happy to live with the "weak goal of the game" if he's going to play well the rest of the time. It's a lot easier to take when it's one bad goal out of two rather than three bad goals out of six.

Once again, Mark Mitera played a key role on the blueline. He was a +3, sprung Hagelin on the breakaway that pretty much gave us the momentum for good, and just played a solid overall hockey game. I don't remember any specific play, but I also thought that Kevin Quick was solid tonight. Or at least I think he was. It was hard to see numbers on the internet feed that I had blown up to full screen so I didn't have to hunch over my monitor.

One thing that I noticed this weekend, which was very nice, is that we had an absurd number of breakaways and 2-on-1s. The long passes were connecting. Last night they hit a couple people coming out of the box. Tonight it was more just in the flow of the game. But the "homerun" passes were working. I thought they really passed the puck well as a whole.

It looks like Max Pacioretty is starting to find his game after struggling a little bit in Minnesota. He was quite possibly our best forward this weekend. I had him as one of my stars last night and he was listed as the #1 star tonight by the media. I can't really argue with their picks of Pacioretty #1, Sauer #2, Hagelin #3, though I don't feel like defensemen with good defensive efforts get enough credit in the voting, so here's some love for Mitera as well.

I'm loving the competition on defense. I think it's really bringing out the best in all of them. None of the freshmen got beat badly tonight from what I saw. They're all playing really responsible hockey. And Chad Langlais had a really outstanding weekend. None of them look out of place in the college game, and that's nice to see because they all had their question marks coming into the season. For the record, Vaughan and Lebler sat tonight.

Brandon Naurato also deserves a call. No he didn't score, and yes he was a -1 (though that was on the meaningless goal at the end of the game) but I thought he looked really good out there with Palushaj, and he had a wonderful backcheck to break up a BU 2 on 1 that Llewellyn also played very well.

Matt Rust was solid once again and he and Caporusso were both dominant on faceoffs, winning a combined 21 out of 26.

Overall that was a great weekend of hockey against a team that I do think is much better than their record. We kind of ran them out of the building tonight, but last night they showed that they can be a very dangerous hockey team. As I said before, they're too talented of a hockey team to not get this turned around. I wouldn't doubt that they'll contend for a spot in the tournament by year's end once they cut out some of those mistakes on defense.

Sauer was strong all weekend, probably deserving of a star in both games. The power play connected on a few more occasions, and all our freshmen played well. At this point, I'm really not sure what is the proper level of excitement to have about this team. There's so much to like about the work ethic, the speed, the overall talent level, and the leadership of our captains. The play in net will always be a question mark based on past history, but Sauer has answered the challenge so far this season. I'm still taking it game to game, weekend to weekend, but I couldn't be happier with the start. I'm really enjoying watching these guys play. 5-1-0 for the month of October was pretty unexpected, and I'm thrilled.

Next week, it's back on the road as they head to Nebraska-Omaha, who is 1-2-0 on the season, beating Alabama-Huntsville while getting run by Miami (OH) twice. Friday night's game can be seen on CSTV, while Saturday's game can be viewed on the PPV B2livetv Network. The internet is a wonderful thing.

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