Friday, November 30, 2007

Michigan vs. OSU Game One Live Blog

We're ready to faceoff in Game One of this weekend series between Michigan and Ohio State. The Buckeyes have a 13 man freshmen class. Strangely enough, they didn't have to pretend that any of them couldn't get into school there (riiiiiiiiight) since they oversigned.

Joe Palmer apparently goes by Joseph now. He's starting in goal for the Buckeyes.

First Period:
19:45: Porter has a chance right out of the shoot but flips it wide. Timmy Miller says "biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitch" to one of the Bucknuts while on the forecheck. Nice start for the good guys. OSU realized finally that their football helmets don't really transfer to hockey as well as ours have. They're just going with the reds tonight.

17:30: Quick gets a shot through and Kolarik dings one off the post on the rebound. I have a feeling Kolarik would roll anyone in the country in 3-bar. Wait a minute...Llewellyn, Vaughan, and Quick are playing tonight? That means that Kampfer isn't in the lineup after a pretty strong weekend in the Showcase. I wonder what the deal is there.

15:41: Tom Goebel goes off for elbowing. At least he's gotten a stellar education during his time at MSU and OSU. Big stop with the left pad by Palmer on Kolarik! Porter off the post! Pretty darn impressive looking power play. How'd Winnett not score there? Tough angle.

13:23: Power play is over, but we had our share of chances. POST. Geezus. That's three already and the game's eight minutes old. Not even Gordon Bombay and the Iceland coach were that adept at hitting the iron.

10:12: Mark Mitera's off for holding. This'll be an interesting penalty kill. With Mitera in the box, we've only got one non-freshmen to put out there on the blueline. Tim Miller breaks his stick and then holds a guy with his free hand. Buckeyes to a long 5 on 3. Wait, what dude? They put Chris Summers in the box. We now have a bunch of freshmen defenders left. Buckle up.

9:00: The Buckeyes have a couple of chances back door but nothing comes of it. 30 seconds left on the 5 on 3. Great job by the penalty killers diving into the shooting lanes. The Buckeyes had a couple of nice looks and couldn't pull the trigger. Summers is out of the box and the 5 on 3 is over. The crowd comes to their feet to applaud the efforts of the penalty killers.

7:30: Fred Pletsch indicates that Sauer is "right in the mix" to be named one of the USA goalies for World Juniors. I believe the team is going to be announced on Tuesday during the Wings game on Versus. He also said that Palushaj is "right there" for a roster spot. We'll see if that's accurate or if he's just pimping the conference a little bit.

5:25: Michigan to the power play. The OSU jerseys actually look like the same style Michigan and MSU were wearing at the GLI last year. I absolutely hated ours, but I think they work really well for the Buckeyes. Those are nice looking. Kolarik's dump in attempt is blocked and Goebel is off to the races. Sauer gets most of it and it appeared that it just trickled over the line. 1-0 Buckeyes on a shortie. Sonofa. Ken Daniels points out that that's the first short handed goal we've given up this year, after giving up 12 a year ago.

3:20: Power play is over and the Wolverines probably got away with too many men. That was a pretty lame power play. We didn't get anything going and gave up a SHG. Interesting story relayed by Pletsch. Last year, Elkins for OSU had a hat trick against Bowling Green and each goal came against a different goaltender. Michigan's offense has been stagnant ever since they had to kill off that 5 on 3. The first period ends with the Wolverines trailing 1-0.

Second Period:
20:00: Someone the little scrum at the end of the first period resulted in the Wolverines going on a power play. First shift ends with a lot of crisp passing but no great scoring chances. The second unit doesn't fare any better and we're back five a side. Great call by Sergott coming up here. A Michigan player dropped his stick. He went to pick it up and Albert kicked it away from him. Not a smart penalty and hopefully the Wolverines can capitalize on this one.

16:50: Buckeye penalty killers again doing a nice job. Langlais has resorted to firing the puck into the nearest shin pad. They're blocking a lot of shots. Mitera flubbed the puck at the blueline and Goebel nearly broke away again. Mitera got just enough of him to not let him get away and not draw a penalty, but the power play ends.

12:00: I'm starting to get frustrated. The Bucknuts are doing a really nice job not letting Porter or Kolarik get going. I think we really miss Louie Caporusso. I'd have to look at the numbers to confirm this, but I don't think our second and third lines have been nearly as effective since he left the lineup. Quick's going off for interference and the Buckeyes will head to the power play. He levelled a guy who never touched the puck.

11:00: Fox Sports says that Kampfer is a healthy scratch. That's gotta be a team rules or academic issue doesn't it? Kampfer has really been playing well for us. He's more than doubled last year's point total and he's been pretty good in his own end from what I've noticed. I'll be curious to hear what the story is. Albert comes down the left wing and rings one off the bar. Sauer reacted like he thought it was in. On replay it looked like it rolled right down Sauer's back. Probably caught a break there. Another chance and the puck is right on the goalline but it looks like Mitera might have kept it out. Sergott was right on the play and waived no goal. Mitera got a nice right hand punch in on Albert. Mitera saved a goal right there. That puck was going in and right on the goal line. Markell wants a review but Sergott isn't going for it. This discussion is taking just as long as the review would have taken. Porter sprung Kolarik but the puck just rolled off his stick. Penalty to Quick is over. We're lucky to get out of that one only down a goal.

8:27: Pacioretty with a nice feed to Kolarik and Palmer makes a nice save. That was a great scoring chance. Damn. I'm pretty sure Langlais just got hooked or slashed six times bringing that puck up the ice. Sergott called one of them and Michigan heads back to the power play. I think this is the first time I've seen Sergott do a game as a head referee. He's doing a nice job. I haven't had a problem with any of these penalties and there's only been like one no-call that I've noticed.

6:30: Naurato just had a wide open net and the puck bounced over his stick. Nothing else happens and we're -1 for 5 on the power play. Kolarik with a breakaway, he gets hooked but I guess he didn't have control of the puck enough for there to be a call. On replay, that's a pretty good no call. Great pass by Porter. They just show the stat that Joe Palmer hasn't given up a goal in 95:13 and Ken Daniels mentions the "s" word. That's a good sign.

4:51: Penalty coming to OSU and we'll head to our sixth power play of the game and at least the fourth of this period. Sims got his stick caught between Winnett's legs and spun him around. Brian Lebler gets called for a penalty. He hit that guy really late. Stupid, stupid penalty, especially with Michigan already on the power play. Lebler's not helping himself a whole lot by spending so much time in the box and getting ejected from two games. Great feed from Porter to Pacioretty and Palmer gets his right pad on it.

2:00: Sauer with a nice pad save on a shot from the point. He hasn't really been tested all that often tonight. Penalty's over and the Wolverines have another kill. Sauer fell behind the net but luckily there was no one forechecking. The second period ends and the Wolverines have some work to do if they want to win this game, let alone keep their streak of 3+ goals alive.

Third Period:
We're back underway and the third is Michigan's best period. They'll need to bring it strong here. Great give and go from Palushaj to Rust back to Palushaj and he sent it just high. Miller goes off for a hit to the head. Well that's a buzz-kill. Wow Travis Turnbull had a great opportunity and Palmer got over to make the save.

17:27: Wow Billy. He and Mitera got crossed up behind the net and neither one of them took the puck. Sauer nonchalantly skated back into the net and Goebel wrapped it around into the goal for his second on the night. 2-0 Buckeyes and we're officially in trouble.

12:40: We just kept the puck down in the OSU end for a good minute and a half but didn't get a good scoring chance out of it. What a frustrating hockey game. Any given night, eh boys?

12:10: Palmer just made a nice save on Hagelin and then robbed Tim Miller. Michigan goes back on the power play. We really need to capitalize if we're going to get back in this game. Block, block, block. Block. Block. Block. Block. I think Ken Daniels is having a relapse to the 2004 Red Wings. He's called Joseph Palmer "Joseph" on three occasions that power play. Either they're buddies or he thinks it's CuJo. Palmer made another couple saves. Palushaj had some nice chances. Great call by Sergott as Porter got knocked down when he didn't have the puck. That guy has really called a good game. Our last power play had some life to it. Maybe they can get one across the line this time.

9:09: More shots, traffic in front, but nothing doing. Shots on goal are the same as one of the great numbers in the history of the Michigan/OSU rivalry: 24-12. Unfortunately, the scoreboard is still 2-0 Bucknuts. Llewellyn big drive misses the net. Naurato had it in the high slot and fanned. Awesome. Sauer with a big save on Fritsche. This has been a pretty uninspiring effort. I guess we were due for one of those. Especially after a huge win last weekend over the Gophers.

5:38: Shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout. Shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout. Shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout. Shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout. Shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout. Shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout. Shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout. Shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout. Shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout. Can I jinx it? Porter in all alone, big stop Palmer. Guess not.

4:40: BIG save by Sauer on Elkins right there. That's been the first really huge one he's had to make tonight, but that keeps us alive. Not much time left, but 2 goals is still a manageable defecit if can find a way to get that first one. Naurato great feed to Llewellyn and Palmer denies him. Great stop there. Geezus. Did someone sneak Craig Kowalski in here? Breakaway feed for Kolarik, just couldn't quite handle it. That pass had to have some heat on it to get through two defenders and Chad couldn't find the handle.

2:40: GOAL!!! Kolarik puts one in and we've got a shot! Nice feed by Patch and Chad chipped it in. Let's go fellas!

2:09: Easy come easy go. Somma makes a great fake to get Miller and Sauer down. He pulled it back and put it high glove. Game over.

1:18: Or not! Kolarik breaks in again and pots another one! 3-2 with just over a minute to play. What the hell has happened in this game?!

0:53: Sauer on the bench but the Bucks have possession. Michigan gets a couple pops but nothing major and we've got a stoppage with 5.8 seconds left. Damn. Rust loses the draw and game over.

Gotta give Ohio State credit. They played the perfect game for a team with a lousy record going up against a highly-ranked squad. Solid defense, great goaltending, lots of blocked shots, and very good on the special teams. Their first two goals weren't pretty, but they were both off effort plays. Joesph Palmer played a great game and Michigan couldn't crack him until late in the game. We managed to get two in, but Somma scored a great goal in between them and that was the winner. The power play absolutely sucked tonight. The first and last advantages were the only ones that even looked like real power plays. The others were awful efforts.

This team clearly misses Louie Caporusso. Guys like Turnbull and Hagelin haven't been nearly as effective since he's been out. Faceoffs are key for a puck-possession team, and we've been losing more than we've won since his injury.

We were due for a downer. It's too bad it came against that team, but we really shouldn't be too surprised based on the track record of this series. Gotta regroup and get the game tomorrow.

Hoover Street Rag was Live Blogging the game as well. Geoff had the same thought watching the game that I did: It just seemed like Michigan was a hair off the entire night.

10 Things to Know About the Ohio State Buckeyes

1. They're really really bad. (Edit: I guess I should've worded this "Their record is really really bad) They currently sit at 3-10-1 and are 1-7-0 in the CCHA, ahead of only Alaska and LSSU in the conference standings. The wins came against Mercyhurst, Wisconsin (?!) and Western Michigan. They somehow managed to only take "one point" from a weekend series against Robert Morris. That said, we lost to BGSU last year when we weren't yet a lock for the tournament. I keep waiting for the youngsters to have a truly crappy game against a team we should slaughter. I'd prefer that this weekend not be it. These teams have split the last 3 series, so we'd be wise to take them very seriously, even though their record sucks.

2. OSU has one player who is a +, and he is +1.

3. They are scoring on 7.4% of their shots on goal this season. Michigan's team shooting percentage is 14.7%. OSU is averaging 2.1 goals a game, Michigan is at 4.3.

4. The special teams are at least respectable. 15.2% on the power play, 81.9% on the PK.

5. Student section: Tom Goebel is the guy you should hate. Not only is he the Buckeyes' leading scorer, he played for MSU for 2 years. A Spartan and a Buckeye? Make fun of him, and make fun of him lots. He's short, that's a good place to start, especially since Dirty Hobbit is gone.

Another target: Tom Fritsche, who missed half of last season with an intestinal problem. You probably shouldn't make fun too much because it was pretty serious, but if someone could yell "Blow it out your ass, Fritsche" for me, that'd be great. Those two combined are -19. Strong defensive work there, boys. Chris Kunitz would be proud.

Backup goalie Phil Lauderdale was born in 1983. Dude, get a job!

6. Goalie Joseph Palmer is better than his numbers--gotta believe the defense sucks. He has a 3.43 and a .877 save percentage. Eww.

7. Goebel leads the team with 5 goals, and 4 have come on the PP. They've scored just 30 goals this season (our top line alone has 28).

8. OSU's worst period is the 2nd, where they've given up 26 goals and have only scored 11.

9. They're very good on faceoffs, winning 56% as a team. McIlvane and Albert are their two main faceoff guys and they stand at 61 and 59 percent respectively.


Go Blue!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thoughts on Packers/Cowboys

This is the first time since 1990 that two teams 10-1 or better have met in the regular season, so I have to get a few thoughts down about the Packers/Cowboys game.

It really surprises me that so many people aren't giving Green Bay a chance in this game. Maybe it shouldn't surprise me, since the media is so in love with Dallas and some people still think that Green Bay can't run the ball (Grant has 3 100 yard games and an 88 yard game in his 5 starts--he now has more 100 yard games in his career than Cedric Benson, which is kind of funny even if it isn't saying much).

For me, and I do realize that I'm a homer, I like Green Bay's chances just because I think they match up really well with Dallas. Maybe tonight's not the night due to the injuries to Woodson, Jolly, KGB, Rouse, Collins and Franks (especially Woodson) but I like how we match up (and many of these reasons are why I think GB matches up with New England as well as any team in the league).

Dallas is effective running the ball because they can pound you with Jones and then bring in Barber once the defense is softened up. Green Bay has a very deep rotation on the defensive line so I don't think they'll get as worn out as normal teams.

They've got the cover guys to neutralize Owens and Crayton as well as you possibly can, and their ability to get to the quarterback just by rushing 4 will let them drop a lot of guys into coverage.

The weakness of the Cowboys defense is their secondary. Roy Williams and Ken Hamlin simply aren't that good in coverage. The Packers have the personnel to exploit that with their Big 5 set (Driver, Jennings, Jones, Robinson, Martin). Donald Lee has the speed to stretch the field and you have to believe that's another guy they'll be looking to tonight against Roy Williams. When Bubba Franks comes back, that also opens the door for the 3 WR/2 TE set that was so effective earlier this season.

The one matchup that Dallas has which really worries me is with Jason Witten. Green Bay has only allowed one WR to crack the 100 yard mark this year, but three tight ends have turned the trick against them. They've struggled for the past couple of seasons with covering TEs, particularly good ones, which Witten is. Rouse is a guy I'd love to have in the lineup tonight against him, but he's probably not playing. They'll have to use Hawk and Bigby in coverage, which isn't the strength of either player.

This game is for homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The winning team goes a game up in the win column and takes the tie-breaker, which means that for the losing to team to still have a shot at HFA, the other team would have to split their remaining 4 games. Dallas is at Detroit, has Philly at home, and then goes to Carolina and Washington. The Packers have Oakland at home, are on the road against Chicago and St. Louis, then finish with Detroit at home. I don't see either team dropping two games, so tonight is going to decide the #1 seed.

Things I expect to see tonight:
-Brett Favre throwing the ball 40-45 times to exploit mismatches in the Dallas secondary (this is the biggest advantage either team has in this game)
-Jason Witten with 100+ yards
-A big night for Greg Jennings, not so much for Donald Driver (who should have Newman on him)

If Woodson is healthy enough to be effective, I like the Packers. If he's not, then the Cowboys take this one. But either way, I'll like our chances in a rematch.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Media Roundup: College Hockey Showcase

No matter the records, it's a big weekend anytime you can get two against Wisconsin and Minnesota back-to-back. Here's what the MSM and the blogosphere are saying about it:

The best article of the bunch is about how the WCHA and CCHA are talking about how to provide more games between Big Ten teams. It's even possible that they'll eventually award a trophy to the "Big Ten" champion. I think it'd be a great idea to have some semblance of a Big Ten round robin, even if it's not a series against each team as the article suggests. Michigan and MSU already do play the other four Big Ten teams and Wiscy and Minnesota always play everyone but OSU (though they both met the Buckeyes this year). Sounds good right? Well, it's not this first time that this idea has been floated.

If I remember to do it, I'll compile the final stats at the end of the season since everyone plays everyone else at some point this year.

The Michigan Side:
MGoBlog doesn't really talk about the game as much he provides a typically well-written post about why this game meant more than the typical regular season game. At least to us fans. It sounds so very MSU-little-brother, but we needed that one. Even with the Gophers sub-par start, this win validates our excellent early season record.

WCH was able to get to Ann Arbor for the Showcase and Chris has a recap of each game. His sentiments about Turris ("wasn't that noticeable") were echoed by a friend I hit up for info about the game Friday night. "Noticed him maybe twice" was what my friend said. The Wolverines did a great job this weekend against the top players on the opposing team. Turris, Okposo, Barriball, and for the most part Wheeler didn't do very much.

I agree with Chris that the much-improved coverage in our defensive zone is a big reason for our success, but I think Sauer has improved by leaps and bounds over last year. The soft goals have been virtually non-existent thusfar. He's had maybe 5 (and only 2 or 3 that were truly bad). That was a weekend last year. It is helping to not have to face 4 odd-man rushes a night as well.

Kevin Porter and Billy Sauer were again honored as conference players of the week. I'm not sure when the last time was that a goalie won the award three times in a row (especially midseason when everyone is playing), but it can't have happened recently.

Edit: I neglected to include the Michigan Daily articles in my media roundup (How? Don't ask), so I've added them.

As was the case several weeks ago, the Wolverines still want to cut down on penalties, particularly amongst our fourth-liners. When you don't get a ton of ice-time and you're not counted on to score goals, the last thing you want to do is put the team on a penalty kill. Michigan's averaging 3 penalty minutes more per game than they did a year ago.

The good news is that we're pretty adept at scoring when a man down.

Billy Sauer is like me. He hates Minnesota.

More about our dynamic duo up front.

Antoine Pitts has been writing up a storm lately. The rest of the articles in the Michigan section come from him and the Ann Arbor News:

Anthony Cirualo has been effective in the lineup with injuries to Fardig and Caporusso.

Billy Sauer wasn't at the summer evaluation camp for the USA World Junior Team, but he has to get some consideration after the start he's had. Summers, Pacioretty, Quick, Rust, Palushaj, and Hagelin (Sweden) could also be named to the teams. Summers and Pacioretty probably have the best shot.

Red Berenson is as laughably pessimistic to the media about his team as Brett Favre. We're now "perhaps a top 10 team" and the Packers might be "pretty good" at this point.

Kolarik said that despite beating Michigan earlier in the season, the Gophers might have been a little intimidated Saturday.

Recap of the Wisconsin game. Maybe I missed it, and maybe the holiday had something to do with it, but I'm surprised there wasn't a little more about the Sauer/Connelly angle in the lead-up to the game.

The top line has scored at least one in every game of this twelve game winning streak. That's kind of dirty.

Kevin Quick doesn't think he'd repeat the mistake he made in the earlier Minnesota game, where he took one quick stride to try and get to the puck and it was just enough for Wheeler to beat him around the corner.

Yost Built favorite Carl Hagelin is adjusting to this country, and the size of our hockey rinks.

Stat Hunting:
All stats are culled from the MGoBlue stat page as well as the full PDF that accompanies it.

-Kevin Porter has 16 goals on 47 shots. To give that some context, if he had the same shooting percentage last year, he would have tallied 43 goals. Kolarik would have had 55(!) using that same shooting percentage. But Eric Ehn would still be in the Hobey Hat Trick ahead of them.

-Steve Kampfer has more than doubled last year's point total.

-Want proof that Aaron Palushaj is lethal on the PP? He's third on the team in points, but is the only player on the team with a minus rating (-1).

-Porter has 8 PPGs. The rest of the team combined has ten.

-Mark Mitera is a team-high +12 through 14 games.

-Billy Sauer now has a GAA just a tick below 2.00 with a .918 save percentage. By comparison, opposition goalies are stopping just 85.3% of the shots Michigan puts on net.

-Our 4.3 goals per game is actually ahead of last year's pace. And our goal differential is +2.3 (!!) compared with +1.1 last year.

-We're back below 50% on faceoffs (the loss of Caporusso doesn't help), but Porter and Fardig are the only players below .500 out of the eight who have taken more than 30 draws.

-Our top power play unit (8, 24, 39, 11, 7) have combined for 38 points on the power play so far this year.

-Porter has been held without a point just twice this season. Three times for Kolarik.

The Wisconsin View:
The official article.

Wisconsin put the "special" in special teams on Friday night. Kind of like our football team does on a weekly basis. Berenson said that he "can't remember the last time we lost a third period like that". True, true. Michigan has been money in the third this year.

Michigan fans weren't the only ones who didn't notice Kyle Turris. He's been invisible--along with the rest of his line--during their 5 game winless streak. Coach Eaves drew a comparison to Joe Pavelski and the way he cooled off after a hot start his freshman year.

More on the Badger special teams and a couple of "thank you Captain Obvious" quotes from captain Ben Street.

Wisconsin started their freshman goalie against the Spartans largely's quiet in Munn. No, really, that's why.

The Capital Times was blogging about the game.

The Minnesota View:
Gopher fans are split on if Frazee is the problem or not. I haven't watched them enough--and I haven't seen Kangas--to comment, but in the game against Michigan I don't think he was the problem. He didn't play well (and that third goal was horrible--great play by Porter though)
but they didn't give him a lot of help. And I have a hard time blaming the goalie under any circumstance when you only score once.

In addition to Connelly not playing, Sparty didn't see Frazee (good thing or bad thing??) or Wheeler this weekend. MSU tied both games this weekend, giving the CCHA a 2-0-2 weekend.

The STrib points out that the Gophers aren't exactly the model of perfection on special teams either. I'm not sure if these are just WCHA stats, but the Gophers have just eight PPGs and have given up five shorties. (This seems like an appropriate time to mention that if I were running things, you would subtract short-handed goals when figuring out PP% and add them in when calculating PK%)

Jeff Frazee said his stick got caught in the boards when he gave the puck away on our third goal.

Lucia credited the Wolverines with being hungry to win that game after the past history between these teams. The Pioneer Press has Porter as their early-season favorite for the Hobey. After what happened with Hensick getting hosed last year I wouldn't bet on it, even though he's clearly the best player in the country at this point. He leads the country in goals, points, and PPGs, is the best captain we've had since Ortmeyer, and is a great defensive forward to boot.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Weekend Recap: College Hockey Showcase Champions

I'm just getting back into the swing after attending that debacle of a football game, heading to Kentucky for Thanksgiving, and then coming home to witness our hockey team finally getting one against the Evil Empire. I've got a lot to catch up on, including an unexpected development on Signing Day, but first comes a recap of a weekend sweep against a couple of our traditional WCHA foes.

Saturday night's victory was about as big as a regular season, non-conference win can possibly be. We finally beat the friggin Gophers. And not just beat them, opened a can on them. That was a biggie because it keeps the momentum going, and it also gets the monkey off this team's back by finally beating a team that has absolutely owned them for the better part of the last decade. It's also good for the sanity of yours truly. I almost broke my foot from kicking a wall on the concourse the last time we lost to the Gophers at Yost. I'm not sure how I would've reacted to a 12-2 record with both losses coming against Minnesota.

Thankfully it was never really in doubt. It was obvious that the team circled this game after losing to the Gophers in Saint Paul, when we outplayed them for a good portion of the game. They wanted this one and it showed. Thanks guys!

By and large, this was an exhibition of how well our captains can play. Chad Kolarik got things going with a very strange goal when Kolarik sprung Kevin Porter, Porter was poke-checked and the puck went right back on to Chad's stick and Frazee couldn't get himself set to make the save. Porter found Kolarik again with a sweet pass as the late man on a rush and Kolarik lasered a shot past Frazee for a 2-0 lead.

The next goal was all Kevin Porter. He knocked the puck away at our blueline and then busted his ass to get in on the forecheck when Frazee came out to play the puck. When the Gophers' netminder fanned on a pass, Porter lifted his stick, stole the puck, and was able to quickly wrap it around and put it in the empty net. I was really hoping that Frazee would react by firing his mask in to the glass as he did when Michigan scored late to beat the NTDP when he was at USA, but it sadly wasn't to be. Add in another Porter goal on a gorgeous pass from Kolarik, a great feed from Aaron Palushaj to Ben Winnett, and a few timely stops from Billy Sauer and it was Michigan's biggest win over Minnesota since 1993, and their first at home since 1997.

The newly remodeled has video highlights which are awesome. Watch the Minnesota highlights, enjoy the fastest version of Hail to the Victors you'll ever see, and pay attention to Red in the background because it's pretty funny. Here are the Wisconsin highlights as well. Also, I know there are some readers who haven't gotten to see much of our team this year, but if you go back through the archive you'll find that they've added video highlights for a good number of the games this season and they're well-worth watching.

-4 guys that deserve all the credit in the world for their play this year: Kevin Porter, who has modeled this team in his image; Chad Kolarik, who has been a great leader as well as a great scorer; Billy Sauer, who would likely be in line for Most Improved Player if the NCAA gave out such an award; and Mark Mitera--the captain I didn't mention above--who is consistently in position, blocking shots, and making great outlet passes (and he does it despite not having the luxury of playing with the same defense partner every night).

-Blake Wheeler is an absolute monster. He had the puck, Porter got up a little steam and tried to hit him in the open ice, and Wheeler never broke stride as Porter bounced off him. That guy has NHL written all over him (I guess he should, being a top-5 pick and all), but I thought we did a pretty nice job against him.

-Despite 27 shots against, I thought the defense was pretty solid. You're going to give up some scoring chances when you play a team as talented as the Gophers but I thought they were pretty solid for the most part. Sauer had to make a few saves, but again, you're going to see that any time you play a good offensive team. I thought Minnesota had many more quality scoring chances the last time these teams met. Barriball did nothing apart from one chance coming out of the corner (BTW Billy, good job staying with him!), Wheeler was held in check for the most part, and we held them to 5 SOG on 5 power play attempts (and no goals). The one goal they did score was a weak shot that hit off Kevin Quick's skate and just eluded Sauer.

-Steve Kampfer is playing like a guy who deserved to be a mid-round NHL draft pick. I was skeptical, but he's really been good this season and the offensive part of his game is starting to reveal itself. He made a great outlet pass on Michigan's first goal of the night.

-Chad Langlais saved a goal in the first period, getting over to tie up a man in front of the net just as the pass was getting there. He scares me at times in our own end, but he's been a really, really great pickup. He had a rough shift in the third period, blocking a shot off his knee and then getting boarded by two Gopher players who were both penalized.

-That might have been the best game I've ever seen Steve McInchak officiate. The call on Flynn, which put us on the power play where we tallied our 4th goal, was really impressive. Flynn tried to slew-foot Naurato on two occasions at the drop of the puck and then subtley (is that a word?) rode him into the boards when Naurato tried to get to the outside of him. That happened by the near boards around the offensive blueline. McInchak was positioned on the goal line at the far side of the ice and there were four players between him and Flynn. I have no idea how he saw it, but it was absolutely a penalty and I was shocked he called it. It made it even better that they made Flynn pay because he was gooning it up in the third period.

-Ben Gordon played a pretty good game for Minnesota, but getting third star was a little much, especially since his goal was a total fluke. Sauer should've been #3.

-He got victimized on a bad, bad pinch on Wisconsin's second goal Friday night, but Vaughan also played a real good game Saturday. He's been a pleasant surprise.

-Aaron Palushaj is an assist machine. That kid is fantastic at finding guys cross-crease. He did it twice over the weekend. He makes a pretty, pretty pass. I love our top power play unit. We get our whole top line out there (Porter on the point) along with two great passers in Palushaj and Langlais. Amazing that a unit with three freshmen can be that effective.

For the Wisconsin game, I can only go by the box score and the video highlights but that's a game that we could've put up 8 or 9 goals very easily. Connelly made some dynamite stops and we hit at least a couple of bars. If you watch the highlights, pay attention to the number of stellar outlet passes by our defensemen and how often they spring guys on breakaways/odd-man rushes. I said this a couple of weeks ago: I don't remember the last time our defensemen were so able to hit on those homerun passes. It's really impressive. Also, check out that save Sauer makes at 2:40. Wow. That's an athletic play right there.

All of last year, Sauer gave up two or less goals 18 times and 1 goal or less nine times. This year, through 14 games (roughly a third of a season), he's given up two or less ten times and 1 or less on four occasions. He also just won CCHA Goalie of the Week for the third straight time.

It's still really early and they're yet to face the likes of Michigan State or Miami, but this team has the look of a group that could contend for a national championship. They're scoring a ton of goals, playing good defense, getting very solid goaltending, doing well on special teams, and they're doing most, if not all, of the little things right. The passing is crisp, they're playing smart hockey for the most part, apart from Saturday's game they've done pretty darn well in the faceoff circle, and quite frankly, you'd never know that Michigan is dressing as many freshmen as they are. But what I love the most is the heart. This team goes balls to the wall every shift, no matter if they're playing Minnesota or NMU. And the coaches and captains deserve a lot of credit for that.

Four more games--all of which we should win--until the GLI. And it would sure be nice to win one of those mofos. It's going to be interesting to see how many players we end up losing. I was commenting Saturday night that Sauer might even be a candidate with his play so far this year (Easy to forget that he's still young enough to play). It was discussed at length today on the Yost Post, and those who know better than I don't think it'll happen. But it's amazing that it even needed to be discussed!

I've been drawing parallels between this team and the Green Bay Packers all season. At this point I'm not sure which start I'm more shocked by. But hopefully the trend continues, and this monkey-killing victory over Minnesota is a sign of things to come against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday.

Still to come this week: An update on the players who have signed LOIs for next year, the media roundup, 10 Things to Know about the Ohio State Buckeyes and maybe a few comments about the rest of the sports world.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Weekend Recap: Sweep of LSSU

I know I write this every week, but once again, I'm speechless. I know we're not playing the toughest teams the CCHA has to offer. I know the majority of these are games that we "should" win. But how could anyone have predicted an 11-1-0 start to this season? The best CCHA start in the history of the team? The best start overall in 4 1/2 decades?

I swore, swore that Billy Sauer wouldn't "fool" me again. I wrote that at least a half-dozen times during the offseason. And I'm scared to say this, especially with Wisconsin and Minnesota on the horizon, but I'm starting to believe again. How can you not? His GAA through the first third of the season is 2.07 and his save percentage is up to .913! I don't know if it's the light finally going on (he IS only 19) or if Josh Blackburn is the friggin' best goalie coach in the history of the world, but this is getting scary. And if it keeps up, you're damn right that I'll be in Denver holding a "Sauer, I'm Sorry" sign, like Wings fans were doing with Mike Vernon during the 97 Cup run.

I had to listen to Friday's game driving back to Michigan from Madison. After not playing well early on (despite outshooting LSSU 12-6 in the first) and being down 1-0 after the first period--on a goal which Sauer supposedly had no chance on--the Wolverines just took over. Our top line had two goals in a two minute span, Kampfer sprung Turnbull for a breakaway goal, and shortly after that Palushaj had a breakaway of his own that he rung off the bar. Palushaj later lit the lamp on another breakaway.

Is it just me or have our defensemen just been dead-on on homerun passes so far this season? I swear we're getting an absurd number of breakaways and a lot of that is due to the passing ability of Langlais, Kampfer, and Mitera. Kampfer already has career highs in goals, assists, and points.

Tonight's game was more of the same. Got down early, scored 3 goals in the second period and never looked back. Sauer set a season high in saves, we somehow managed to go 10-10 on the PK (10 power plays? Really?), and we got more strong play out of the usual suspects: Porter, Kolarik, Pacioretty, Palushaj, Turnbull, Mitera.

And how bout that fourth line tonight? Anthony Ciraulo got to play with Caporusso being out, and the Lebler-Fardig-Ciraulo line combined for 2 goals and 4 assists on the night. When that line is contributing offensively, you know things are going well (and I don't mean that in a negative way, but that's not really their game).

I don't know what it is about playing LSSU, but it seems like we always end up on the short end of the power plays. It's completely the opposite of what you'd expect, since Michigan is clearly the more talented team, but it seems like we always are killing off a ton of Laker PPs. This weekend it was 15-6, last year was 15-13, the year before it was 8-4, and in 04-05 it was 15 apiece. It's just strange.

I'd venture a guess that it's not all that common for a team to get 3 power plays to the opponent's 11, had 2 PP shots to the opponent's 15, to have 40 PIMs to the opponent's 14 (granted it's skewed by Turnbull's 16 minutes at the end of the game) and win the contest.

With 5 blocked shots tonight, Chris Summers stopped just 4 less pucks than Laker goalie Pat Inglis.

Congrats to Zac MacVoy on a nice weekend (1-1--2 against his old team). Like I said, I always liked that kid and I really want to see him do well at LSSU.

How long til John Markell loses his job? I swear I'm not being bitter-Michigan-fan looking to tear down OSU (because it would be great for the conference to have OSU and Notre Dame be consistently good hockey teams), but they're 2-8-1 on the year, 0-6-0 in the CCHA, they got swept by Ferris and UNO, and just tied Robert Morris tonight. It seems like the Buckeyes are perennial underachievers (though I guess this is only going on 3 years since they were good) and with how much money they sink into the football and basketball programs (and not just into the players pockets!)--and the athletic department in general--it seems strange to me that they're not looking to get that ship righted in a hurry.

Blogging will probably be very light--if not completely absent--this week. I'm heading down to Kentucky tomorrow for the family Thanksgiving and I've heard rumblings that my grandma no longer has internet access. So we'll see. If there's no way for me to get online, it'll likely be Sunday before I can update--though I wouldn't miss the Michigan/Minnesota game Saturday night for the world.

As for football, that was a dreadful, disappointing performance. I'm more than ready for a regime change, but I'd also like to thank Lloyd for all his years of service to this program. It's sad to see him go out like this, but the memories have been much more good than bad--even if there was a lot of frustration. I'll let the other guys break down the game much better than I possibly could, but I swear our offense looks like a game of Tecmo Bowl--4 plays, and there's a 1 out of 4 chance that the offensive line won't block anyone.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone. It's beyond sappy to say, but I am thankful for each and every one of you who reads this blog. It's really rewarding to see the audience of this site continue to grow, even if I know it's never going to be huge do to it being as much of a niche site as you can possibly get.

Oh, and Go Packers!

Friday, November 16, 2007

LSSU Weekend Preview

I was going to write the "Ten Things to Know About LSSU" today, but my cousin just called and she came through with an OSU ticket for me so I have to get on the road. So here's a few quick hitters and then I'm off to Ann Arbor.

-Old friend Zac MacVoy now plays for the Lakers after transferring. He's played in 6 of the 8 games, has an assist, and leads the team in penalty minutes. Hopefully he's getting more of a chance to show what he can do. I always liked that kid.

-Jeff Jakaitis is finally gone. Sophomore Pat Inglis is 1-3-1 with a 3.88 and a .859. Safe to say, he's not Jeff Jakaitis. Freshman Brian Mahoney-Wilson, though, is 1-2-0 with a 2.06 and a .929.
-Sophomore Nathan Perkovich is playing the Rick Nash role with 7 goals and 0 assists so far. 4 of those tallies have come on the PP.

-You can view these games online through the B2Network for $6 a night.

-This is the first two-game series for Michigan at LSSU since 1996 due to the contract the Lakers had with Joe Louis Arena.

-If you're looking for any more information about the series, I'd turn my attention to's excellent preview of the weekend.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Media Roundup: University of Alaska Sweep

News and notes from Michigan's fourth straight sweep and this week so far:

The Michigan Side:

The big news is that Louie Caporusso injured his knee in practice today and will be out "a while", reports the Michigan Daily. Carl Hagelin will play center in Capo's absence, which is fine, especially since he's a great back-checker. It's definitely a blow to lose a guy who is our fourth-leading scorer, however. Hopefully "a while" is more like "a month or two" and not "the season".

Having played nine games he's probably ineligible for a medical hardship waiver, should this be a season-ending injury. You're only allowed to play in 20% of games, so we'd need to play 45 for him to be eligible. And the only way that's possible is if we don't get a first-round bye in the CCHA playoffs and continue on to the National Championship. Pretty unlikely.

During Friday night's win, the Wolverines held UA without a shot during Brian Lebler's 5 minute penalty. That's pretty hard to do.

Billy Sauer was named CCHA Goaltender of the Week and Aaron Palushaj was honored as CCHA Rookie of the Week.

The last time Michigan was 9-1-0 to start a season was 1999-2000. If we sweep the Lakers, it will be our best start since 1961-62.

MGoBlue has an excellent feature on Mark Mitera. Last week, I suggested that one of the video features The Wolverine is working on be about Mitera and what it's like to now be "The Guy" and how it is not having an everyday defense partner. This article answers all these questions and more.

Chad Kolarik is playing well enough that the Nanooks used their annual cheap shot against us on him, rather than our goalie for once. He's still going bombs away, with a full 33% more shots on goal than the 2nd place person on the team. Can't complain when he's playing that well.

Billy Sauer went 30 minutes longer without giving up a goal than he ever had at Michigan. If this was last year, I'd be making a "Wow, he went 31 minutes!" joke. But he's playing great, so I won't do that. I'm not prepared to live in a world where both Billy Sauer and Chris Osgood can be considered top goalies. He now has a 2.19 goals against (!!!!!!!!!!!). That'll do pig. That'll do.

The student section also got a "We hate Comcast" chant going during Friday night's televised game. I'm guessing only part of that had to do with the TV timeouts. Matt Rust was out with "flu-like symptoms" Saturday night. Please God don't let that actually be the flu (or something of the like) and not mono.....

Kolarik and Berenson are really impressed with the energy and spirit of this team. The lead of the article indicates that this is our best start since the turn of the century. That sounded a lot more impressive until I remembered that he's talking 2000 and not 1900. I feel old.

Of all the guys to score an overtime goal on a breakaway, Mike Komisarek's probably not the guy you're thinking of.

Stat Hunting:
Michigan has scored first in 8 of their 10 games this season. I guess that'll happen when you've only given up 4 first-period goals all year. They're 8-0-0 in those games.

Statistical oddity: We're 6-0-0 when allowing a power play goal.

Matt Hunwick became the 18th Wolverine to suit up for an NHL team this season, making his debut for the Boston Bruins. He had 1 shot on goal in 15+ minutes of work. He's now back in the AHL with Aaron Ward's return, but it's nice to add another Wolverine to the list of NHLers.

I laugh every time I pull up our statistics PDF and see "14,127" listed as the attendance for our game against Boston College. There were maybe, maybe 1,000 people in the building for that one.

Kevin Porter is the only player on our team with multiple power play goals, and he has 5.

I gotta post this again. Billy Sauer has a 2.19 GAA!

Maybe it's the number. Chad Langlais leads the team in assists with 8 in 10 games.

We have 12 players averaging at least a half a point per game thusfar.

The Opponent's View:

It's pretty darn tough to have a series against the defending National Champions and then play the #2 team in the country in their barn. Their coach says he's happy with the effort even if they haven't been rewarded with wins yet.

Two key members of the Nanooks sat out Saturday's first period after missing the bus to the arena when their alarm didn't go off in the morning. Add that in with a few injuries, and another player leaving the team for the WHL, and they were facing an uphill battle from the get-go.

The Nanooks always play hard, but that second goal Friday night was a back-breaker.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Weekend Recap: Sweep of UAF

I don't know how long this ride is going to last, but I sure am enjoying it. The Wolverines ran their winning streak to 8, with 4-0 and 4-2 wins over Alaska this weekend. Interestingly enough, the Friday night game was closer than the score, and the Saturday game probably wasn't as close as the score indicated.

The Wolverines led just 1-0 deep into the third period Friday before goals less than a minute apart by Travis Turnbull and Aaron Palushaj broke the game open and Porter scored the dagger with under two minutes remaining. Billy Sauer made 15 saves for the shutout--which was nice because he usually gives up 1 or 2 when the shot total is low, making his save percentage look like junk.

While they didn't score a power play goal, the first PP unit did connect just after a penalty ended. And again it was Chad Langlais and Palushaj assisting on a goal by Kolarik. Those two have been extremely effective passing the puck with the man advantage.

Saturday night's game I got to watch thanks to the Wolv-TV feed--highlights here--albeit with six people staying in my apartment this weekend and watching college football as well, so sadly you're not getting any hard analysis on this one.

Kolarik had another good game, putting in two goals--the first on a backhanded off a sweet little feed from Pacioretty (Langlais also assisted, giving him 8 on the season and 7 in the last five games), the second on a quick shot after he stole a pass. Kampfer continued his strong offensive play with a gorgeous pass across the crease to Brandon Naurato give Michigan a 2-0 lead. We're getting pretty good at scoring goals off passes coming from the corner to the goalie's left. They've had a handful the past two weekends. Palushaj tallied another goal to give him the Michigan freshman scoring lead.

And yet another strong game for Sauer. I'm really not sure what to make of this. Solid goaltending was most definitely not something I was counting on, particularly with Hogan's illness, but Sauer has been fantastic in the first quarter of the season.

Solid, solid performances this weekend. UA was a team that we were supposed to beat, especially at home and they never trailed. The guys who are supposed to score, scored. The goalie played well, and they only gave up like 35 shots in the two games combined. Next up is LSSU, where we haven't played a series in over a decade due to the Joe Louis Arena games. It's another team we're supposed to beat (they're 2-5-1, 0-2-0 and just split with Wayne State) but it's on the road in a tough environment.

The sweep, coupled with Miami's split against Notre Dame, means that we are just two points out of first place in the CCHA with 2 games in hand. We stayed at #2 in the USCHO poll, but grabbed 22 first place votes (out of 50) and sit just 3 points behind the #1 Redhawks. The USA Today poll has not come out as of this writing.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

University of Alaska Preview

Sadly, there will be no Q & A this week to get you ready for the Michigan/Alaska games. I was unable to track down a UA fan who was interested in previewing the weekend. I was successful, however, in tracking down an Anchorage fan who was interested, but alas, is an Anchorage fan, and we're not playing them. That's what I get for sending emails at 1 am.

So based on information I've been able to pull from the internet, here are the 10 things you should know about the Alaska Nanooks:

10. They currently sit at 0-4-0 on the season after being swept by Alaska Anchorage and Michigan State.

9. Their top returning goal scorer had 6 goals last year and their top returning point-getter had 22 points last year.

8. Chad Johnson and Wylie Rogers are splitting time. We'll probably see both of them this weekend. They posted pretty similar numbers last year with a slight edge to Rogers, but Ocho Cinco has been better this year.

7. Curtis Fraser is finally gone, so the Yost crowd has to find someone else to hate.

6. Their new coach, Doc DelCastillo played for St. Cloud and coached under Mike Kemp at UNO.

5. They were 3-7-2 last year in their first weekend in the lower 48 states after playing at home but were 5-5-2 the year before and 6-8-0 the year before that. So it seems they actually play fairly well the first games into a road trip. I can't decide if that surprises me or not.

4. Players to watch for: Defenseman Tyler Eckford is their leading scorer with 5 points in 4 games and is the top returning scorer on the team. Freshman Landon Notovney leads the team in goals with 3.

3. Michigan is 33-6-0 all-time against the Nanooks with a 17-3-0 record at home.

2. Chad Kolarik has 10 points in 9 career games against UA to lead Michigan. Billy Sauer has a 3-2-0 record with a 2.42 goals against and a .913 save percentage.

1. Alumnus of the then UAF program, Shawn Chambers, is the worst player in the history of video game hockey. Despite a pretty decent NHL career, EA Sports gave him a 1 rating in NHL 93.

Friday night's game will air on Comcast Local in Michigan while Saturday's game will be streamed for free courtesy of WOLV-TV on

The NHL: Once Again Throwing the Middle Finger to the Few Fans They Have Left

The NHL just blows my mind.

I've talked about how the schedule is completely nonsensical and provides a not-insignificant advantage to the Eastern Conference teams. I've talked about how it's idiotic that they're "showcasing the game" by having an outdoor game between two of the smallest markets in the league, opposite the biggest day of the college football bowl season.

This, however, is a new one. After a quirk in the schedule had the Wings not playing for almost an entire week, I fired up Center Ice last night, ready to watch my team play again, finally. But it was nowhere to be found. Not on Center Ice, not on Versus, not on NBC, not on Fox Sports North.

I pulled up Letsgowings to see if anyone else was having the same problem, and oh yes, yes they were. It turns out that the league picked this game to be "featured" on the NHL Network, which pretty much no one gets. And since it was a "national TV" game, viewers couldn't get it on Center Ice. I guess if Versus wasn't obscure enough, they needed to invent a network to make their games even less accessible.

Additionally, those people who are fortunate enough to get the NHLN weren't treated to the Red Wings game. Due to technical difficulties, most of the first period and part of the shootout weren't aired and the audio was off the entire game. At any point did they open up the Fox Sports feed instead? No sir.

I understand the concept of the NHL Network. The NBA has one, the NFL has one, hell, the Big Ten has one. But the NHL isn't a strong enough product to hold cable companies hostage over. Quite honestly, they should be essentially giving the broadcast rights away to get it into as many homes as possible. The NFL Network has struggled to take off and pro football is king in this country. The NBA at least provides NBA TV to everyone who subscribes to League Pass. But do the die-hard hockey fans--the Center Ice subscribers--get the NHL Network? No, no they don't. All the NHLN is doing is taking games away from people who have already paid for them and providing no alternate way to see the telecast.

Oh, it gets better.

The Red Wings--as if the league hasn't taken advantage of their fans enough--are scheduled for at least five more NHL Network games this season. Including, get this, Sunday's game. Meaning two games in a five day span will not be available on Center Ice if I'm understanding this correctly. Another game that they'll be showing? The one time this year that Red Wing fans get to see Alex Ovechkin play their team.

At the very least, this network should be included in Center Ice. It's absolute bullshit that in addition to the games on Versus, which I have to up my satellite package to get, they're taking another 5-7 games out of the Center Ice package and putting them on a network that I don't even have the option of getting.

Until they find a way to get the NHLN in a lot of homes--and I'm sure the cable companies are falling over themselves to sign up--all they're doing is taking games away from the people who actually want to watch them. You aren't the NFL. There's about 16 people in this country that haven't written off this sport and all you're doing is jerking around those who still care. Let's make the games harder to see and have as few out-of-conference matchups as possible so that Sidney Crosby can be seen by as little of the country as we can manage!

Even Peter King, a freaking NFL writer, pointed out that sometimes, the NHL just doesn't think. Yup, let's open the new Devils' arena the same night the Islanders and Rangers are both playing home games so the market is as divided as possible (the arenas are all within 30 miles). Here's an idea: Why not have Devils/Rangers be the game to open the new arena, since those teams are within ten miles of each other and it's presumably a pretty decent rivalry. Or would that make too much sense?

This league is batshit crazy. Nothing they do surprises me anymore.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Media Roundup: UNO Sweep

The media roundup is substantially late this week, but because of that, I've got a few more articles to point out.

The Michigan Side:

Antoine Pitts questions if the Wolverines are really deserving of the #2 ranking. Obviously they aren't the second best team in the country at this point, but based on their record, who they've played, where they've played them, and some bad losses by the other "elite" programs, you have to say that they "deserve" to be ranked where they are. This article also indicates that Caporusso sat because he missed a team meeting Thursday night. Nothing major. Also, Anthony Ciraulo might see action this weekend due to Fardig's broken knuckle.

Pitts did not attend the games this weekend so the Ann Arbor News coverage of the games themselves are from local reports.

Pitts also had a short article about the freshmen defensemen. Pretty clear that they're all talented and that Langlais has shown why he's in the lineup every night. He was honored with the CCHA's Rookie of the Week award for his play in Omaha.

The Daily also has an article about Langlais--who is now tied for the team lead in assists--with some very complimentary words from our captain. A poster on USCHO was saying that at the BU series, the NHL scouts sitting by him (Edmonton I believe) were wondering aloud "where has he been hiding?"

Michigan needs to cut down on penalties. The big revelation in this article though is that Billy Sauer's GAA has improved by a full goal since this time last year. He's got a 2.49 now, which, especially on a team like Michigan who scores so many goals, is great.

It's a good thing we're really good in the third period, because the second periods this weekend left something to be desired.

I thought that, while he made some huge saves on Saturday (especially the glove save on a breakaway), Sauer struggled somewhat with leaving rebounds. The Daily was more impressed. They break down the reasons for the 7-1 start.

Stat Hunting:
With points by Lebler and Summers this weekend, Llewellyn is the only player who has dressed for a game that doesn't have a point.

In 7 games, Louie Caporusso is halfway to matching the point total of last year's leading freshman scorer, Chris Summers (6-8--14 in 41 games).

Kevin Porter already has 5 PPGs. Last year, he had 6.

Travis Turnbull is +8 in 8 games, after being just +6 last year.

Steve Kampfer has already matched last year's point total. He also made a tackle on Louie Caporusso after the GWG against Boston College that was more impressive than anything our linebackers have done this year.

If you want an indication of how stats lie, despite dropping his GAA a half goal a game from last year, and despite the fact that he's clearly played much better hockey, Billy Sauer's save percentage of .896 is equal to what it was at the end of last year.

Our goals per game has dropped just .1 from last year's team, which led the nation in scoring.

We're depending much more heavily on power play goals than last year. 10 of our 33 goals have come with the man advantage. Thankfully our PP% is 5 percent higher than last year's mark.

We're outscoring our opponents 18-10 in the third period. We lead 7-4 in the first, and 7-6 in the second.

Porter, Caporusso, Hagelin, and Rust have combined for 19 goals on 57 shots for an impressive .333 shooting percentage. Hagelin and Rust are over 40%.

Only one player on our roster that takes more than 2 faceoffs per game (Fardig) is below 50% on draws. It's been a long time since we've been able to say that faceoffs are a strength.

The Opponent's View:

The OmahaHockey Weblog was much more impressed with Kaufmann than Dupont, which is hard to argue after that Kampfer goal on Friday night. Dupont is clearly talented though. The writer was also very complimentary about the Wolverines, especially their passing and how well they use the boards. I've noticed that as well. Maybe it's just that I'm seeing the games on TV so I have a better view of our defensive zone, but I swear we're using the boards to aid in passing a lot more this year.

The Mavs are a frustrated hockey team after playing fairly well and having nothing to show for it, after running into Miami and Michigan back to back. Sauer was the #1 star Saturday night, so perhaps I was a little harsh in my assessment. More than anything, though, that should be a compliment that I didn't think he played all that well. Last year, I would've done just about anything for a performance like that. This year, I was kind of m'eh about it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Guide to Madison, WI

With a game against the Badgers on the horizon, I thought it would be nice to put together a guide to Madison, WI for those of you who will be making the trek out to Wisconsin's capital for next weekend's game. I've only lived here since March, so I'm not completely versed in everything there is to do in this city just yet, but I can make some pretty solid suggestions. And if anyone has any specific questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section (or email me) and I'll be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.

Two good things about this city: All the restaurants/bars within the Madison city limits are smoke-free. It's the greatest thing ever. Also, there's a lot of parking downtown at night and it's really, really cheap.

The Route:
Google Maps will have you take 94 to 90 and go through Chicago, before hooking up with 39 North. Unless you're coming out at a time when traffic through Chicago will be minimal (read: 2:00 in the morning) I highly recommend ignoring this advice. I also don't recommend going north to Milwaukee and then over, simply because Milwaukee sucks apart from the Pabst Theatre and everything is under construction.

The way I come out here is probably 40-50 miles longer, but you almost completely avoid Chicago traffic, and once you get through Joliet you won't see any cars for a good two hours. And once you get through Rockford/Beloit, you won't see anybody until you get to Madison.

So you eliminate the risk of sitting on the highway for 2 hours going through Chicago, and this route offers ample opportunity to make up time since there's no traffic. The downside is it's boring as hell. I take 94 then stay on 80 West, go through Joliet, and take it until you get to 39-North. That will take you all the way into Madison. There's literally nothing along this route. Apart from some very cool windmills.

I don't usually see cops--or anything for that matter--along 39-North but Wisconsin cops do have a reputation as being fairly tough on speeders. I've been lucky so far ::knock on wood:: Also, a word of warning: Wisconsin drivers suck. Seriously, they blow. Never in my life have I been stuck behind so many people doing 10 under in the left lane, or seen so many people basically trying to ram into my car. Pretty much all of us out-of-staters are in agreement on this one (MHNet's response to a crack I made two weeks ago about the drivers here: "You're just now figuring that out? Whenever I see a bad driver (in Marquette) I figure they must be from Wisconsin"). They're great people here, but they can't drive for anything.

Places to Stay:
I would hope that you've already taken care of accommodations at this point, but there are a lot of hotels around here. When I was apartment hunting, I stayed at the America's Best Value Inn, just off The Beltline (US 12-18) and it was kind of ghetto, but not bad at all for the money (I think it was like $30/night). I've heard that people have been shot there in the past, but I think that was before ABVI took it over. They have Wi-Fi and the room was clean. The latter is all I look for when I'm going cheap. It also led to this amazing discovery:

Yes that is the Wi-Fi router, and yes it is sitting on a cardboard box in the middle of the hallway. It worked out great though. My internet went out during the evening, and I went out and reset the router myself. Don't get me wrong, it's plenty ghetto. But I've also stayed in worse places (::cough:: Red Roof Inn in Woodbury, MN ::cough::)

If you're looking to go expensive, the Hilton Monona Terrace is very nice, and overlooks one of the lakes. Otherwise we've got a wide variety of the usual hotels. The Sheraton is pretty nice too.

Places to Eat:
Now this is an area of expertise. Madison is famous for its restaurants. Frankly, I haven't been blown away, but there are a few places that I would miss if I moved back to Michigan. If you've got a ton of money laying around and are looking to invest in something, this city is ripe for a Mongolian BBQ. We have a similar place called the Flat Top Grille, but it's not nearly as good. Here are my favorite eateries around town:

Quaker Steak and Lube: It looks like a Quaker State oil change place (get it?), and it has the best friggin' wings in the world. I love B-Dubbs as much as anyone, but even though we've got two of them, I haven't been to either since I discovered Quaker Steak. Yum! The wings are awesome--I usually get the Ranch or Garlic ones, but they have "atomic" wings that are hot enough that you have to sign a waiver before they'll serve them to you--and they have pretzels with Guinness Cheese Dip that are absolutely to die for. This is where the Badger Coaches Shows are broadcast from.

The Great Dane: There are a few of these, I like the one downtown. This bar will also show up in the "stuff to do" section, so I'll just address the food/beer here. They have this wonderful invention called the Great Dane Brat and Bacon Pretzel Burger (Only in Wisconsin!). This little bundle of joy is 1/3 pound hamburger, 1/4 pound brat patty, bacon, and served on a pretzel bun. It'll take 5 years off your life and it's worth every second. They're also one of the biggest brew-pubs in the country, if I'm not mistaken. I like dark beer, and the porter and stout are awesome. They also brew their own root beer and cream soda, which are both excellent.

Delaney's Charcoal Steaks: Again, this is for if you're looking to do it up. Best steak place I've ever been to. It's expensive, but the food is amazing, they give you a lot of it, and the service is incredible. When we were there, they had Kobe beef that was out of this world. The lobster bisque is really good, as is the baked Alaska dessert.

The Prime Quarter: This is another steak place, but it's not as high-end as Delaney's. Here, you cook your own. They have giant charcoal grills throughout the restaurant, and you go to the cooler, pick out your slab of meat, and cook it any way you want. You also get a baked potato bar, salad bar, and they've also got loaves of Texas toast that you can slop butter and garlic salt on, grill it, and make your own garlic toast. The cool part is that it's the same price no matter what cut of meat you want. If you want the 8 ounce filet or the 22 ounce ribeye, it's the same price. They also have (I've been told) very good fish. And they have options for splitting steaks as well, if you're so inclined. It's a cool place.

Ginza of Tokyo: It's similar to Benihana, where they cook for you on the Hibachi grill at your table. I like Ginza better than Benihana personally (not as good as Shogun though). My girlfriend claims their sushi is second only to Yotsuba in Ann Arbor.

The Nitty Gritty: Great burgers (and some pretty unique ones, to boot). You also drink for free on your birthday, so if anyone has a birthday this weekend, this would be a good place to go. I linked the one in the suburb, but there's also one downtown.

JT Whitney's: Another brew pub, they've got really good root beer as well. I've only been there for lunch on weekdays, so I haven't tried the beer. They have good sandwiches, and outstanding garlic mashed potatoes. I'm a big fan of this place. I need to get there more often than I do.

The Pancake Cafe: Holy crap the Pancake Cafe. If you're looking for breakfast food, this is the place. If you've ever been to The Pantry in Sterling Heights/Warren, you know what I'm talking about because this place is very similar. The German Pancake is absolutely amazing. You could probably fit Peyton Manning's head inside of it. I have a hard time going there because there's so much I want to order. The chocolate chip crepes are amazing, and they've got the best hash browns I've ever had.

The best pizza place in town is Glass Nickel, though Pizza Extreme is very good as well (they're more similar to the Pizza House-style Chicago stuffed pizza). And there's no good Chinese food here. It's really unfortunate. Lucky freaking Kitchen looks like China Gate compared to everything here.

Stuff to Do:
So you took off work on Friday, you get out here Friday afternoon and you want to know what you should do Friday night or after the game on Saturday. A few suggestions:

The Great Dane: I mentioned it earlier for dinner, now I'll throw it out there again as probably the best spot to spend Friday night. The bar area is huge, they've got probably 8 or 9 pool tables, they usually have live music, but if not they've got one of those great internet jukeboxes, quite a few TVs and the best part of all is that they've got table shuffleboard. I had never played this before I moved out here, but now I don't understand when a bar doesn't have one of these tables. It's ridiculously fun. I'm not positive, but this is likely where I'll be Saturday night.

The Brass Ring: This is another fun bar around town. They've also got a shuffleboard table, but it's a shorter one that requires you to bank each shot. They've also got really good food and some nice beers on tap.

Vitense Golfland: It's probably going to be balls cold on Friday/Saturday, but if not, this place is pretty fun if you want to get your ass kicked by a miniature golf course. I'm not going to lie, I'm a great mini-golfer, but this course is pretty impossible. I'm pretty happy if I crack 60 there. It's a lot of fun though. They've got a course that is a Wisconsin theme, and they've got a hole designed like Lambeau Field. It's awesome. And the free game hole is strangely easy. I don't think I've paid for more than 2 rounds in the 5 times or so that I've been there. They've also got a very cool indoor course if it's cold and you have a hankerin' for some mini-golf.

EssenHaus: If you want a loud, rowdy, good time, this is the place to go. They have das boot of beer. It's kind of hard to hear yourself think in there--or at least it was the night I was there--but I know a lot of people that love this place (and I had a good time when I was there).

Badger Hockey: I'm not sure what the availability of tickets is, but on Friday and Saturday night, the Badgers welcome in the North Dakota Fighting Sioux for what should be an excellent weekend of hockey. See Kyle Turris before he's in the NHL next year.

State Street/Capitol Square: I think State Street is kind of overrated, but it is pretty cool. No cars can drive on it and there are a lot of shops and restaurants. Hawk's Bar was pretty good, there's a Spanish place that has the best smoothies ever strangely enough (though I forget the name), and Real Chili is pretty good as well. Also, visit the Capitol Square. The Capitol is pretty impressive. Somewhere on the Capitol Square is one of those Brazilian Steakhouses. I haven't been there yet, but a similar one in Birmingham, MI was one of the most amazing meals I've ever had. I find it hard to believe that you could go wrong with all-you-can-eat meat on a sword.

See the Lakes: The view coming into downtown Madison is pretty damn awesome. The best view I've seen of the city is to get off the Beltline Highway at the John Nolan exit. Go North until you run into the Sheraton Hotel and then hang a left. That will take you into downtown Madison. You'll come in across one of the lakes and it's absolutely beautiful.

The Mall: It's not The Mall of America, but West Towne Mall (or East Towne Mall if you're on that side of the city) is pretty nice. Plus there are a ton of restaurants, Best Buy, and all that stuff right around the mall. Nice way to kill some time.

Woodman's: If you need some food/liquor/beer for the tailgate, go to Woodman's. Yes, I am pimping a grocery store in my review of Madison. It's absolutely gigantic and the everyday price is better than most sale prices in normal groceries. They've also got the biggest liquor store I've ever seen, and so you can nab some of the many, many microbrews that we've got around here. Even the liquor is absurdly inexpensive. The only rub is they don't take credit cards (they do take debit though). The cheapest piss beer that they've got is called Beer:30. I've never been brave enough to try it, but a 30 pack is like $7.50. It's gotta be bad. I just think it's great that there's actually a Beer:30.

That's about all I've got for right now. I really don't know the best places to park for the game or the best tailgating spots since I haven't been to a game here since 2002. For that, I'd look around on the Wiscy message boards. But apart from that, I'd be happy to answer any other questions. Hopefully there will be a bunch of maize and blue faithful making the trip!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Semi Live Blog: Michigan vs. UNO Game 2

I'll be updating this one period to period as it's too hard to watch the game on my computer and blog at the same time.

First Period Impressions:
Danny Fardig is sitting out tonight. He injured his hand/wrist blocking a shot last night and so Caporusso comes in for him and Lebler and Naurato remain in the lineup. It's Llewellyn's turn to sit out on the blue line.

We looked much better in the first period than we did in the first two periods last night. UNO outshot us 9-6, but apart from one chance by Goulet, their shots were of the non-threatening variety.

Michigan got the scoring started 5:38 into the opening period when a UNO clearing attempt hit a Maverick player's broken stick and stayed in the zone. Langlais picked up the loose puck, had room and brought it into the zone enough to draw the goalie out of his crease to challenge, and then made a gorgeous pass to Porter for a one-timer into an empty net.

UNO went back in the box not too long after that, and the Wolverines again capitalized. Travis Turnbull made a nice pass over to Louie Caporusso, and his shot found a way to get through Kaufmann, who'd probably like to have that one back.

UNO's best chance of the period came just after we went up 2-0. A pass from behind the net got through both Michigan defenders and found Alain Goulet in the high slot. He had time to tee it up, Sauer got out to the top of his crease, and was able to make the save and smother the rebound.

Michigan had a couple of other chances deep into the offensive zone (Porter just missed getting a pass through to Kolarik who would've been in cold), but nice plays by Maverick defenders (and one good save by Kaufmann) kept this game 2-0.

Our defenders have done a really nice job at holding the puck in the offensive zone--and they've done a good job of getting the puck out of the zone as well. I thought Chad Langlais played a very good period of hockey. There's a reason that he has earned a permanent spot in the lineup and isn't involved in the defensive rotation of the other three freshmen.

Second Period:
That period sucked.

UNO was completely the aggressor in the second period. We're getting outshot by a ton (14-3 that period, 23-9 for the game), and this time, these were quality chances. Summers took an elbowing penalty early in the second and the Mavericks scored on the 4 on 3 PP. The pass came across to Mick Lawrence on the right wing and he made the same drag-it-across-the-crease-tuck-it-in move that Blake Wheeler and Benn Ferriero made during the Icebreaker. Like I said back then, this isn't NHL2k6. You're allowed to stop those.

Shortly thereafter, Michigan had a 3 on 1 break the other way. Hagelin made a nice feed to Turnbull who tried that same move and just sent it wide.

The Mavericks' second goal was a rebound on a nothing shot. The announcers have pointed it out several times--Sauer is really fighting the puck tonight. He's left a rebound on almost every shot and a couple of them have resulted in really good scoring chances (or that second goal). He got caught behind the net, but luckily recovered to make 3 stops.

To his credit, he has made some very good stops. With the score 2-2, Lawrence had a breakaway and Sauer stoned him with the glove. He also made a great save off a bad giveaway by Kampfer.

The Miller-Rust-Palushaj line has been great tonight. They haven't scored, but they're getting some good chances and were clearly the best line for us in the second period. Pacioretty drew a penalty with 8 seconds left in the period, so we'll start the third on a long power play. Last night, we were able to get a quick goal on a PP out of the gate. Hopefully it'll happen again tonight.

Third Period:
Michigan played much better in the third period. The ice was tilted in their favor for most of the final stanza. They didn't do anything on the power play that started the third period. Sauer made a nice save after Kampfer took the shooter on a 2 on 1 and the pass got across. UNO got a man advantage shortly thereafter.

While on the PK, Kolarik put one off the bar and Porter followed up with a post just after Rust stepped out of the box. Porter did some outstanding work on that penalty kill. Naurato and Turnbull did some nice work in front of the net and Wilkens missed what should've been an interference call, but nabbed Vaughan for tripping a few seconds later. Joey Martin took a penalty to even it back up, but Kevin Quick got caught pinching and a UNO player had a breakaway. Quick caught up but had to take a penalty and the Mavericks had a 4 on 3 power play. Sauer made a couple saves but nothing came of that opportunity.

With right around 3 minutes to go, Travis Turnbull centered a pass from the boards right at the goal line to the goalie's left. Somehow it found its way through to Carl Hagelin who BORK BORK BORKED it into the net to put the Wolverines up 3-2. UNO had some chances in the final minute, but Sauer stood tall and Mitera & Rust stymied the final Maverick opportunity. Despite getting outshot handily, Michigan got the 3-2 win and came out of this weekend with another series sweep.

Sauer wasn't nearly as good tonight as he has been. But just as his save percentage hasn't been good when he's played well, tonight he gives up just 2 goals on 30 or so shots and I didn't feel like he played great. He did make some very nice saves--probably 5 or 6 that were really, really good. But he also left a lot of rebounds on nothing shots and looked to be fighting the puck a little bit. Both goals were probably of the weak variety, but he more than made up for it with some top-notch saves when we needed them. Once again, we can definitely live with goaltending like that.

UNO is a pretty solid team and this was a nice sweep on the road. I really like that Goulet kid, and DelGrosso is just great. He was the best player on the ice for the Mavericks tonight.

It wasn't pretty, but it resulted in four more points in the CCHA for the Wolverines. It's pretty impressive that they've run their record to 7-1 despite only 2 games at Yost Ice Arena. Winning ugly is better than losing pretty, and the more games we get under our belts, the better the freshmen will be. I'm extremely impressed with how they've played out of the gates this season.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Live Blog: Michigan vs. UNO Game 1

We're doing this one live tonight, and hopefully tonight's game will be on the short-end of 2 1/2 hours or I'm not going to be able to see the end before I head off to my hockey game. Tonight's game pits the #2/#3 Michigan Wolverines against the UNO Mavericks, who are 1-2-0 after last week's sweep at the hands of the Miami (OH) Redhawks.

As MavRick had hoped, Jeremie Dupont gets the start in net for the Mavs. The ticker just flashed by and Miami is up 1-0 on Northern. Someone in the NMU organization pissed must have pissed off the CCHA, starting with Michigan, MSU, and Miami. Hello 0-6.

A whole slew of elementary school kids sang the national anthem. If this was an NFL blog, I'd be making a Travis Henry joke right here. Instead, I'll say that Red Berenson was over there, offering kids for a future recruiting class. I'm pretty sure Luke Moffat was in there somewhere.

First Period:
20:00: There's just something about a football player named Coker getting kicked off the team for drugs that just makes me laugh every time. How messed up do you have to be to get kicked off of Tennessee? Alright we're underway.

19:30: Someone needs to tell the play-by-play guy that it's Porter, not Potter. We've already heard him referred to that way three times and the game's not 30 seconds old. Is it me or is this camera really far away. 1-2! We want mooooooooooore players' names pronounced wrong. Longlais (sic) has been pretty solid for us, just so you know. For the record, this is a local crew, CSTV didn't send someone to cover the game. Purslow makes a nice pass and Naurato gets called for a penalty. Wilkens is the ref, so it'll be the first of many.

15:50: The penalty is over with no damage. Nebraska-Omaha had one good scoring chance, but Marshall couldn't get a hold of the puck. And sure enough, there's Wilkens with another call. This time it's on UNO, so Michigan heads to their first power play. Ten seconds into it, Kevin Potter, our excellent Canadian center (that one was courtesy of Matt Shepard, not these guys), buries a feed from Kolarik (they did get his name right, though) and it's 1-0 Michigan.

13:00: We're not as sharp in our own end as we have been this year so far. We've turned it over twice in our own end in the last minute. Luckily, nothing has come of it. Lebler and Vaughan make their first appearances of the night. Wait, Lebler and Naurato are in. Who's sitting out? A quick check of the Yost Post reveals that Louie Caporusso is sitting out, due to a "coaches decision". I wonder what that's all about. Scero and Lawrence create some chances, then our top line comes back the other way. Had a nice chance but the pass didn't make it. Scero crashes into the net and looks like he's hurting.

7:30: Great chance by Palushaj on a nice feed from Turnbull (it looked like). He cut in all alone, tried to drag it cross-crease and tuck it in on his backhand but Dupont got the stick over. Rust just got a penalty for throwing a guy down who didn't have the puck. He's strong.

4:00: Kolarik really does deserve a lot of credit for his ability to kill penalties. Not only is he really solid in general in that role, but he's a threat to score a shortie every time he's on the ice. And just like last time UNO was on the power play, the Wolverines kill it off and immediately get a man-advantage of their own. UNO got nothing going on that opportunity. 13 seconds have run off this penalties, so UNO is ahead of where they were last time we were up a man.

3:15: Nice chance for the Mavs 2 on 1. The pass gets through, but Kampfer got enough of it that the Omaha player couldn't handle it. Nothing doing on the rest of the man advantage and the teams are five-a-side.

0:34: Kampfer is going off for running Purslow to the middle of the ice and knocking him down after he dumped the puck into the zone. The irony wasn't lost on me that he's an Anaheim draft pick. Say what you want about Wilkens, but that was the Anaheim Ducks' play and Wilkens did something that NHL refs never do: Make that call. I tip my hat to you, sir. That's the end of the first period with the Wolverines up 1-0. 7-5 SOG in favor of the Wolverines.

Second Period:
The Qwest Center looks nice and all, but I still think there's something to be said for having a nice, small, intimate venue for college hockey. They might have a decent crowd there, but you'd never know it because it's such a big building. I thought the same thing about Ohio State's arena. Warts and all, I'll still take Yost anyday.

18:30: UNO's power play ends without them getting close to our net. The best chance was Timmy Miller stealing the puck at the UNO blueline, but he couldn't get by Goulet to walk in all alone. Goulet loves it when you call him big poppa.

16:41: Great block by Matt Rust to take away what would've been a nice scoring chance. Naurato and Martin go off so we'll play some 4 on 4. Naurato's been pretty active tonight. Omaha gets some pressure, they cycled the puck nicely on that shift, but with a lot of traffic in front, the puck gets deflected out of play. Miami now leads NMU 5-1. Totally a dynasty.

15:15: Not sure how UNO missed there. Sauer got out to the top of the crease and it looked like he got a piece of it. That's a really nice save if he did in fact get some of that shot. Llewellyn tried to throw it behind our net and it took a weird bounce off the boards and it ended up hitting Sauer in the skate. That could've been bad.

12:45: Koehler had a great chance, but the pass didn't connect. Omaha has been buzzing for most of this period. Bagron sent a pass into the slot, the rebound came back to him and he buried it. 1-1 now.

12:17: Miller is taken down on his way into the zone and the play ended up offside. That probably should've been a penalty. Miller "retaliated" with a little shove to Del Grosso, who took a dive that Kariya would've been proud of. Wilkens sends both of them. 4 on 4 again. Porter had a chance, but missed the net on what was a decent chance. Vaughan pinches in on a 2 on 1 and the shot went wide, but the Mavericks get called for another penalty. The Wolverines will have a 4 on 3 power play. Kemp's not happy about that one.

11:20: Mitera got a little impatient there and fired a shot right into the forward. No reason to do that when there's only 7 guys on the ice. UNO has done a nice job of keeping Michigan to the perimeter. We're back to 5 on 4 and Dupont makes a nice glove save. Skarica and Pacioretty get into a tussle after the play...Skarica didn't like Pacioretty taking an extra jab at the puck after it was covered. Pacioretty's helmet comes off and Skarica boots it into the boards after they're separated. Skarica gets a well-deserved ten minute misconduct for booting Patch's helmet. Everything else was evened up. Hagelin gets cross-checked from behind (luckily not into the boards) and we'll be going back on the power play. We really need to capitalize on one of these.

8:40: Porter was in cold turkey and shot it wide. That was a nice feed by Kolarik to get that up to him. He was slightly hooked, not enough for a call, but enough to throw him off a little bit. Omaha is back to full strength and another opportunity is lost.

6:45: Llewellyn makes a bad mistake at the offensive blue line and gets his shot blocked. The Omaha player was off to the races, Llewellyn hooked him at least four times. Possibly could've been a penalty shot, but there wasn't even a penalty call. Now Wilkens gives them the requisite penalty call--the problem is that he gets Mitera for this one. UNO digs the puck out of the corner and Purslow knocks in a rebound off a shot by Joey Martin just into the PP. 2-1 Mavericks. Sauer made a good save on the first shot, but he was off balance and couldn't get to the other post to stop the rebound opportunity.

5:35: Koehler and Mitera have words after the play, Mitera gives him a shove and Koehler hits the deck. They're both going off. Langlais made a nice play coming into the zone, drew the defenseman to him and fed Hagelin, but the Swede fanned on the shot. We've had some nice rushes in this game, but Omaha hasn't given us anything once we're set up in the offensive zone.

2:45: The Wolverines' top line had a potential 3 on 1 go by the wayside when the cross-ice pass to Kolarik didn't connect. We really haven't looked good this period. Marshall just walked in from the sideboards and Sauer aggressively came out and took the angle away. That was big, since we can't afford to go into the 3rd period down by two goals. Scero hasn't played since he got dinged up in the first period. That's a big loss for the Mavericks. Ohio State just lost 4-0 to Ferris. Maybe they shouldn't have let Scero go. We're getting outshot 15-6 this period.

0:00: Rust had an odd-man rush, but was slashed and lost control of the puck. The Wolverines get a late-second-period power play. Nothing comes of that 20 seconds, but we'll have 1:40 to start the third. End of the second period. That wasn't the best period we've ever played, but it's not like we're not getting chances. We've had plenty of power plays, had a few odd man rushes, and Palushaj and Porter have had partial breakaways that they couldn't bury. They need to keep their heads a little bit better in the third. But like I said in the preview, we were due for a stinker on the road, and I think we're seeing it. Hopefully they can come out a little bit stronger in the third and at least get a point out of tonight's game.

Third Period:
We've got 1:40 in power play time to start the third, and we'd be wise to go ahead and score on this one. Miami beat NMU 9-2 in Marquette. Yikes. Michigan listens and a Kevin Porter slapshot finds the twine. That was a bad goal. It was a one-timer but the pass was slow, he had plenty of time to get over, there wasn't a screen, and Dupont just missed it. 2-2.

17:45: That Purslow is a really good player. I suppose that's to be expected since he led the USHL in scoring, but he's drawn 2 penalties tonight, scored a goal, and just had a nifty little tip there that almost went in. He's been strong tonight.

16:37: !!!!!! WHAT A GOAL BY CHAD KOLARIK! He took that one end to end, side-stepped one guy at the blue line, got around the corner to beat the defenseman, then roofed it short-side. If anyone saw the goal by Hudler a few nights back, or the goal by Filppula late in the Calgary game, that was the same move Kolarik did to score. Yikes. True to form, Wilkens calls a penalty and UNO will have a chance to even the game back up.

15:52: Goulet takes a shot from the point that hit Kampfer on the way through and deflected up over Sauer into the net. Goulet puts his hands in the air since he thinks he's a playa and this game is all tied up. Well crap. Nice feed right there as Agosta beat Llewellyn down the wing, but the pass was slightly out in front of him, or he'd have had a golden opportunity for a tip in.

13:26: Another terrible goal given up by Dupont. Kampfer just threw a shot at the net from the corner down by the goal line and it deflected off the goalie and in. As good as he was in the first two periods, he's been that bad in the third. These might be those "higher highs and lower lows" that MavRick was talking about yesterday.

10:31: Ten and a half minutes left and I gotta leave in like 15 minutes for my hockey game. This game needs to hurry up. We need an 8 minute stretch with no whistles like in the Wings game the other night. Of course, if it's a stoppage for a Michigan goal, that'd be fine too. CSTV's ticker has been frozen for a good 10 minutes. Evidently something happened in the first quarter of Va Tech's win last night.

8:30: Purslow with another nice chance. I'm really looking forward to dealing with him until he's 25. Kolarik just missed on a backhand. It squirted just wide of the post. Rust just got hacked and whacked but stayed strong on his skates to get the puck deep. Penalty coming to the Mavericks, Palushaj in on a breakaway gets hauled down but I doubt we'll see more than one call. The announcers thought that call should've been on Michigan. 7:17 to go here, it'd be nice to bury one and get some breathing room. Or we could take a penalty 13 seconds later. Bagron has been a thorn in our side all night. He's got a goal and has drawn a couple calls himself. That kid is the type of player I his butt off at all times.

6:49: And Porter with the hat trick!!! Nice inside out move on the defenseman, got held, but the puck stayed in the slot and Porter was able to fight through the check and bury it. We're back 5 on 5 with under 5 minutes to go now. Rust's line hasn't done anything that's going to show up on the scoresheet, but they've been strong tonight. You know who has been really quiet tonight is Winnett. I saw one nice back-check by him, but apart from that I don't think I've heard his name called.

3:30: More steady play by Mitera, with another shot block. He's had another good game tonight, apart from when he lost his head a couple times. Purslow with another good scoring chance. We need to be better defensively as a whole tomorrow night though. UNO has scored 3, none of which were especially weak, and they've had a slew of other pretty decent scoring chances.

0:11: Lebler puts one into the empty net. This one's over and you can thank your lucky stars for Kevin Porter tonight. He scored a quick goal in the third period to get us back tied and the floodgates kind of opened from there. The top line as a whole was great tonight, and Kolarik's end-to-end goal was as pretty of a goal as we've seen in this young season. I gotta run, maybe more final thoughts later.