Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Announcement About Outdoor Game Coming

Thanks to Marshall for passing this along:
In today's Detroit News, there was an article about how the Wolverines are primed to make a run in the second half of the year. The bottom of the article has an interesting tidbit:

Officials from Wisconsin's athletic department will be making a formal announcement within the next two weeks regarding an outdoor game played at 80,000-seat Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., in February 2010.

Back in October, the Wolverines were mentioned as the likely opponent for this game. Mike Eaves said "We want Michigan" and Coach Berenson indicated that an outdoor game with Wisconsin is something they would definitely like to explore.

So it appears the game is on, but the opponent is unknown at this point. Wisconsin wouldn't comment and Mel Pearson wasn't available. Based on the stated mutual interest between the teams, however, I think it's pretty likely there will be an exciting announcement on the horizon.

Playing at outdoor game at Wiscy would be great for a few reasons: 1) Outdoor games kick ass. 2) I live in Madison. 3) Camp Randall seats 80,000+ so the game would likely break the record set at The Cold War, plus it would keep the Wolverines in the record book, since it was reported that the Germans would try to break the Cold War record in 2010 at the World Hockey Championships. The stadium that was being discussed as the location for the German game holds about 75,500. A game at Wiscy would likely put that mark out of reach. 4) We'd knock Sparty from the record book, which is nice.

Several future Wolverines are in action in the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge. The US is 1-0 with a 12-1 win over Finland. Jacob Fallon had 2 goals and an assist in the blowout. Luke Moffatt had an assist as well. Jack Campbell got the start for the Americans and made 25 saves. The Americans beat the Pacific Canadian team 11-0 in an exhibition. Campbell made 14 saves in splitting the shutout with Will Yanakeff. The Americans play Quebec tonight.

In the World Junior Championships, the Americans will face Canada tonight with a bye to the semifinals on the line. USA is 3-0-0 in the tournament. Aaron Palushaj has a 2-2--4 line and is +4. Matt Rust has a 3-1--4 line and is also +4. He scored with 1 second left in a 7-2 hockey game to make it 8-2 and scored with 4 seconds left in what ended up being a 12-0 blowout. Phil Kessel is officially impressed. Red Wing prospect Thomas McCollum has won all three games and has a 1.67 goals against and a .909 save percentage.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

GLI Championship: Michigan 5, MSU 1

That was what we call a beatdown. Michigan won their second straight Great Lakes Invitational championship by a 5-1 margin over rival Michigan State behind a complete team effort that showcased what a poor hockey team MSU really is.

It seems strange to say this in a game that was, by hockey scores, a blowout, but the score didn't accurately represent the dominance of the Wolverines. That was a hockey game that could have legitimately been something like 13-1. The Wolverines hit at least 4 goalposts and missed about 5 gaping empty nets. Final shots in the game were 54-20.

MSU took an early lead after capitalizing on a 5 on 3. But after Travis Turnbull tied the game with a great backhand shot, it was all Wolverines the rest of the way. Ben Winnett scored the game winner off a nice play from Turnbull and a pass from Naurato.

Naurato gave the Wolverines some breathing room with his fourth of the year. He was at the front of the net and found some open space by the faceoff circle to Lerg's left. Summers got it to him and he one-timed it into the net. Really nice awareness to get himself to an open area and a great shot.

Tim Miller kept the onslaught going a few minutes later with a diving shot that beat Lerg. Then Louie Caporusso scored his fourth goal on the weekend with a gorgeous rush. He deked to his backhand and put it where the peanut-butter is.

What was really beautiful about this game was that everybody contributed. When the Wolverines can get goals from guys like Winnett, Turnbull, Miller, and Naurato they're going to be tough to beat, especially since it's looking like Caporusso has officially ascended to elite status in the NCAA. He's just one goal behind Kevin Porter's pace of last year.

Beyond the guys who actually put the puck in the net tonight, Robbie Czarnik was just flying. He led the team with six shots on goal (and had a few good ones). The kid can't buy a goal and he's visibly frustrated, but if he keeps playing like that, eventually they're going to start going in. I really think that once he puts a couple in, they're going to start coming in bunches.

Wohlberg also had six shots on goal (and he put one off the pipe) and looked great once again playing with Caporusso. I also thought Lebler had a good game. He was banging in the corners and creating some space, but he didn't take any penalties. He's had an interesting season. He's played well quite a bit of the time, but got himself benched due to some awful penalties. When he's playing smart, he's actually pretty good.

Chris Summers had a Playmaker and was +3 on the night, earning himself a spot on the All Tournament Team.

And I'd be completely remiss if I didn't give a call to our fourth line. Glendening, Fardig, and Ciraulo were fantastic the entire weekend. Glendening picked up his third assist of the tournament on a great play on Turnbull's goal, but that entire shift for the fourth liners was fantastic. Those guys got an opportunity with Palushaj and Rust away and they really made the most of it.

How big of a beatdown was this? After the first period, the Wolverines outshot Michigan State by an incredible 36-5 margin. Yes, after the first forty minutes, we had 4 goals, they had 5 shots. MSU is a bad, bad hockey team. And they played undisciplined hockey. Twice they took penalties away from the play with under five seconds to go in a period. Crowder took a complete dip-shit elbowing call, Gentile kept being Brandon Gentile...I know they beat North Dakota on Friday night, but that to me doesn't look like a hockey team that is in any danger of snapping out of this funk in the near future. They were completely outclassed.

The Wolverines on the other hand look like a team that could make a run in the second half of the season. Unless Michigan sweeps Miami and Notre Dame, which is a tough chore, I think they've dug themselves too big of a hole to win the conference, but one sweep in those two series would put them heavily in contention for a top 2 finish in the CCHA. I don't know what it is, but they just play well in front of Bryan Hogan (Michigan scored as many goals this weekend for Hogan as they have the entire season for Sauer). Caporusso is arguably the best player in the country right now, Kampfer's return bolsters the defense, and the Wolverines are starting to get contributions from the supporting cast, which is a great sign.

After taking next weekend off, the Wolverines return to action the following Friday in a huge home series against the Miami Redhawks. In the meantime, we're GLI champs again and I'm really happy about it. I love that tournament and I love seeing that Michigan banner hanging from the rafters.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Michigan 5, MTU 0

A quick wrap-up:

Louie Caporusso gave Michigan all the offense they needed. He scored twice in the first four minutes and completed the natural hat trick just past the midway point of the first period. Anthony Ciraulo added another and the Wolverines went to the dressing room up 4-0.

They kind of put it on cruise control after that, from the sound of things. There was no scoring in the second period and Brandon Burlon scored his second of the year in the third, and the Wolverines advanced to the GLI Championship Game with a 5-0 win.

Caporusso now has 17 goals in 19 games to start the season (after scoring 12 a year ago). To compare, Kevin Porter scored 19 in 20 a year ago. It's amazing that Caporusso could actually match Porter's torrid start with a big game tomorrow night.

David Wohlberg kept up his stellar offensive play with a trio of assists (do they have such a thing as a Natural Playmaker to go with Caporusso's Natural Hat Trick?). He apparently stole the puck in the Tech end on both of the first two goals.

Luke Glendening scored the first two points of his Michigan career with assists on Ciraulo's and Burlon's goals. I think those were actually the first two Michigan goals he's been on the ice for, if I'm not mistaken. So congrats to Luke! Danny Fardig assisted on both of those goals as well.

Bryan Hogan made 15 saves for his second shutout of the season, but it didn't sound like he was ever tested. Tech had seven shots in the first, was held to just one shot in the second, and put another seven on him in the third. It didn't sound like any were of a "Grade A" variety, however. So an outstanding defensive effort--or just complete offensive ineptness on the part of the Techsters. MTU had several power plays and couldn't get anything going (Michigan didn't do anything on the PP either).

Steve Kampfer made his return to the lineup and absolutely lit up a Huskie in the third period. Nice to see that he's not gunshy about hitting after returning from that injury.

The Wolverines will get a chance to defend their GLI crown against either MSU or North Dakota in the Championship Game at 6:30 tomorrow night. The game will air on Fox Sports Detroit. It'd be good for the conference (and our strength of schedule) if MSU won tonight, but I have a feeling we'll be seeing North Dakota, who has gotten it together after a bad start. And the masochists who get to the Joe early would be seeing MTU/MSU. Take the under if that game happens.

Edit: It's Michigan/MSU. The Spartans got out to a 2-0 lead and held on for a 2-1 win. Good for the conference, good for attendance purposes, it's always good to quell some WCHA woofing, and it's good that one of the CCHA teams will win the GLI Championship. It's bad for Goon. It should be a fun one. I just hope that the Wolverines will bring a strong effort. They've had a couple of real stinkers against MSU in the GLI before and I don't understand how you could possibly NOT get jacked up for a game like that.

Scoring early would be big. Don't let Lerg get any momentum. Don't let the team start thinking that Lerg is unbeatable. Make State play from behind. If Lerg comes out and makes some big stops early, MSU could win one of those typical 2-1 games where Lerg makes 52 saves (30 of which were actual shots on goal). I would expect that Lerg will have to play a great game for MSU to have a chance, but then again, I fully expected to play North Dakota tomorrow, so that shows what I know.

It's strange that after back-to-back shutouts in the GLI last year, Sauer won't be making an appearance (barring a collapse--so let's
hope he doesn't make an appearance) in the tournament, since the radio reported that Hogan would be starting tomorrow if he won today.

The Wolverines move to 1-0 when I wear my new white jersey! Hopefully it's got some luck in it.

Michigan. MSU. GLI Championship. Gotta love it!

GLI Coverage, or a Lack Thereof

Sorry for the lack of coverage and for the lack of a tourney preview. I've been unexpectedly busy over the holidays and it just didn't get done. I'm not even going to be able to make it down to The Joe for the game this afternoon. I'd write up something about Tech, but the game starts in like 20 minutes so the chances of anyone reading it are slim and none. To the Hockey Gods: In no way should this be construed as me looking past Tech. If you have a problem with a lack of a preview, take it up with the D-Bag Leaving Fence Posts In Middle Of The Road Taking Out My Tire and Wheel and Making Me Get My Car Fixed Gods.

I'm heading back to Madison tomorrow and I have my DVR set to tape the Championship Game, so if the Wolverines win today, I'll at least be able to watch/cover the game tomorrow. But as much as I'd like to write a preview if we're going to be facing NoDak, I don't think it's going to happen. Goon's World is a good NoDak resource. Tech Hockey Blog will probably have coverage from our first opponent's point of view as well.

If we face Sparty, nothing much has changed since the last time we played them, except that they're two players lighter and they lost to the NTDP yet again.

Quick hitters:
-Kampfer is back, Vaughan is apparently the odd man out on the blueline.
-USA won their opener against Germany 8-2. Matt Rust had the ultimate "Kessel": An unassisted goal at 19:59 of the third period on an end-to-end rush. I'm surprised that didn't cause a fight.
-Mac Bennett is going to miss a couple of weeks with a sprained MCL.

Go Blue!

I hope everyone had a great holiday. I'll be back in full force soon enough!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Odds and Ends

Steve Kampfer is coming back. From the sounds of it, there's a good chance that he's going to play in the GLI. It'll be interesting to see how they handle the glut of defensemen. I seem to remember reading earlier in the week, maybe at The Wolverine, that Red said he wouldn't dress seven defensemen and that Kampfer's not just going to step in and play like he hasn't missed any time.

They could slide Summers back up front and have him available to move back to defense if Kampfer struggles--or if they need him on the PK or something. I like that option because it gets the best 18 skaters on the ice, though it's awful tough to move the guy who has been your best defenseman to this point.

Having Kampfer back will no doubt be a boost to the team. Even if his on-ice performance isn't up to last year's standards (or his first weekend's standards) right away, having him back out there should thrill everyone on the team. Not to mention the benefit that possibly having Summers at forward could provide. We're not that far away up front. Michigan has scored plenty of goals with Hogan in net, they just need the consistency. Another high-quality forward would help with that.

State lost to the NTDP (again). If they get swept at the GLI, that will be two full months without a victory.

Speaking of the NTDP, after a fairly slow start, Luke Moffatt now leads the U-17s in goals with 11. The other stats haven't been updated in a couple games, but Jacob Fallon is fourth in scoring and second in assists. Jack Campbell has also rebounded from a slow start. He has an 8-3-0 record with a 2.16/.902, which I believe are very, very solid stats for a goalie on the U-17s.

MHNet had a pu-pu platter of good stuff, mostly about ex-Wolverines.

I think this is a $ link, but The Wolverine had some good stuff as well, about Summers growing into a leadership role. There was also a nice tidbit about how the hockey team spent a lot of time ringing bells at Briarwood for the Salvation Army.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Michigan 5, MSU 3

Photo by Greg Sommers

With about 3 minutes to go in regulation the Wolverines were down by a goal and didn't show any signs of mounting a comeback. I was seething, but not at all surprised that we were about to lose to that dogcrap team in East Lansing. Then Ben Winnett hit Brandon Burlon who was streaking out of the zone like he was a forward, Jeff Petry needlessly pinched up, Burlon found Carl Hagelin and the game was tied.

Two minutes later, two more pucks had gone in the Michigan net and every member of the Wolverines was skating out of Munn with a win for the first time in their careers.

The first period was downright dull, especially thinking back to the hockey we saw at Yost the night before. There were a few power plays, but nothing much went right for either team. Shots after the first were 15-9 in favor of Michigan, but each team only had one truly great scoring chance: Summers with another breakaway for Michigan and a tight shot by Kivisto that hit the post to the right of Hogan.

By the way, I've long had a theory that MSU inflates the hell out of Jeff Lerg's stats and Saturday's game did nothing to change my mind. 15 shots in the first period for us? I would have estimated half of that. I don't buy it for a second that we had 15.

Michigan got a power play early in the second and got nothing more than a wrister from Burlon at the top of the circle. A few minutes later Tristin Llewellyn absolutely planted Crowder as he brought the puck into the zone. He then threw an elbow to Crowder's head for good measure. Crowder retaliated and punched him in the face a few times. Llewellyn did nothing after the initial elbow but was still assessed a Roughing ATW penalty to keep the MSU power play in tact. It was absolutely ridiculous and MSU scored on the subsequent power play, a great shot by Petry over Hogan's shoulder.

Thankfully Tweedle-Dumb and Tweedle-Dumber gave it right back to us a few minutes later. Petry hit Naurato with what looked like a hard, but clean, check and eight seconds later (keep in mind MSU had the puck the whole time) the back referee whistled Petry for elbowing. Petry was all the way at his bench when the whistle went, and he started cracking up. I haven't seen a look of disbelief like that since Jack Johnson's "For what?!" reaction after he got tossed for not hitting Howells from behind.

During the power play, Crowder cross-checked Chad Langlais, giving the Wolverines a 5 on 3. Greg Pateryn flipped a shot wide of the net. It took a big bounce off the end boards and popped back to the side of the net. Travis Turnbull was able to beat his man and knock it into the net with a little backhander. If you're counting, that's the fourth goal on the weekend that was a direct result of either a ref getting in the way of a puck or an absolutely abysmal call. Defend your boys, Pio. They were horrid all weekend. Luckily it went both ways.

The Wolverines stayed on the power play and were able to capitalize again. David Wohlberg flipped one to the side of the net and somehow Travis Turnbull was able to jam it in for his second goal in under a minute.

Czarnik had a great chance to make it 3-1. Hagelin wrapped around the net and slid it right through the slot. Czarnik couldn't find the handle, though. That's a kid that just needs someone to shoot one in off his butt or something. Once he gets one, I bet he gets it going. He hasn't been bad...the pucks just aren't going in the net for him. You can tell he's frustrated.

Later in the shift, he put one in the net, but the whistle had already gone. The puck was loose behind Lerg and was sitting right on the goal line. The whistle went before Czarnik could get there and tap it in. After two, the Wolverines had a 2-1 lead.

And just like that, they were down 3-2. Hogan gave up another really cheap goal. MSU dumped the puck in right on net. Hogan put it to his stick like he was going to move it up ice, but Leveille got on him pretty quickly. The puck was knocked loose and Gazely put it in.

Shortly thereafter, there was quite the turn of events. Wohlberg went hard to the net and raised his stick like he had scored. The puck didn't go in and MSU broke out of the zone. Scooter Vaughan went for the hit and missed and the Spartans came in 3 on 1. Llewellyn couldn't block the pass across and Gazely had another tap-in.

Nothing much happened--aside from Llewellyn lighting up Trevor Nill--until there were six minutes to go. It appeared the Wolverines were headed for a power play but Wohlberg got called for cross-checking after the whistle to even it up. Those knuckleheads don't deserve the benefit of the doubt, but I'll give it to them on that one. The only thing on camera was Wohlberg lightly brushing against a Spartan player. That couldn't have been the call if they were calling cross-checking, and we never saw a replay of the scrum.

That seemed like it might be it. Michigan threw away a shot at a power play and MSU was full-on into lead conservation mode. Miller had a chance at an open net but tipped it just wide. It was looking grim.

The Winnett hit Burlon on a breakout and the Wolverines won a game they absolutely had to have.

After Hagelin's goal, the Wolverines had the puck down in the MSU end and Aaron Palushaj, who had been AWOL most of the game, made a beautiful stick-lift to keep the puck in the zone. He fed David Wohlberg who slid a pass cross-crease to Louie Caporusso, who added yet another clutch goal to an ever-growing list of crucial tallies in his career. That was Wohlberg's third assist of the game, as he continues his phenomenal play. Travis Turnbull added an empty-netter for a hat trick and the Wolverines had a 5-3 victory, thanks to three goals in the final two minutes and change.

It wasn't a pretty win, but they found a way to pull one out in a place where they've struggled over the years. Michigan heads into the break tied for fifth in the CCHA with OSU and Ferris State (who has played 14 games to Michigan's 12). They're 1 point behind Nebraska-Omaha, three behind the surprising Nanooks, six behind Notre Dame, and nine behind Miami (with two games in hand on the RedHawks). They face an uphill battle to get back into the mix in the CCHA, but with two against Miami and two against ND still to play, all isn't lost. Just sweep Miami after the GLI, and we're 5 back of them with two games in hand. That first series of the new year looks very, very big if we're going to get back into contention for the conference title.

Michigan is off until after Christmas, when they'll face Michigan Tech and either North Dakota or Michigan State in the Great Lakes Invitational.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Michigan 6, MSU 1

You know what I loved about last night's game--beside the whole beating the ever loving piss out of MSU thing? I loved the fact that, for the first time in recent memory against the Spartans, Michigan came out and laid the wood to them. They were the aggressors. They were the ones making life hell on Spartan puck-carriers. Summers, Scooter, Digger, Wohlberg, Pateryn, Turnbull...they were all looking to hit the Spartans and make it hurt. Through two periods, shots were listed as 28-12 in Michigan's favor. Aside from general ineptitude on MSU's part, that was the biggest reason Michigan dominated the game last night.

The first half of the game was really entertaining from a hockey standpoint. The second half was really entertaining from a "**** MSU" standpoint. Through 25-30 minutes, that was about as good of a Michigan/MSU game as I've seen since the 5-4 OT game at the Joe a few years back. It was hard-hitting, back-and-forth, lots of good scoring chances, two shorties, and scrums after nearly ever whistle. They brought some nasty back into the rivalry, and I like that.

The only downer of the night was that our power play kind of sucked. Michigan got a 5 minute power play right out of the gate when Brandon Gentile was tossed for smoking Caporusso from behind. Aside from one chance for Summers, Michigan didn't get anything going the entire time. To make matters worse, a linesman got in Llewellyn's way leading to a 2 on 1 for the Spartans, which they capitalized on to take a 1-0 lead.

With Palushaj in the box for goalie interference (we'll get to that in a little bit), Summers lifted Schepke's stick and Hagelin was able to knock the puck away. Matt Rust corralled it and fed Summers in front of the net for a SHG of our own. That was a case of three great penalty killers getting rewarded for the effort.

Shortly thereafter, Summers was off to the races again. At the last second he tried to feed Wohlberg in front. Wohlberg got the shot off, but the pass was in his skates and he couldn't get that much on it. Summers just took off though. He was jumping up into the play quite a bit last night. It was really nice to see. As fast as he is, I feel like he should have the green light to go every now and then. He can get back on D.

Some great work by Palushaj and Caporusso led to the eventual game-winning goal. Palushaj did the dirty work behind the net and knocked the puck free. Caporusso dug it out and made a sweet little spin move to control the puck. He fired a pass to Wohlberg who tapped it into a wide open net.

The third goal was the result of the linesman returning the favor MSU got on their first goal as well as some dominant play by the Wolverines in the offensive zone. An MSU clearing attempt got into the linesman's skates and Michigan held it in. Play continued in the MSU zone for a full minute--this wasn't a power play, folks--and Michigan had at least 3 great scoring chances, including a post by Wohlberg, before Caporusso found Palushaj open for another tap in. The puck nearly came out with 8:45 remaining in the period, the goal was scored at 7:41. Great work by Palushaj, Caporusso, Wohlberg, Burlon, and Scooter. MSU had a couple chances to clear, but the D kept it in and the forwards had an incredible shift.

Hogan wasn't overly busy last night, but he did make two huge stops when it was 3-1. He made a nice save on Tropp and then robbed Crowder on the follow up. It kept MSU from gaining back any momentum. He also made a nice save on Turek as time expired in an MSU power play.

Lebler...what the hell was he thinking? He got tossed for a blatant hit from behind. The puck was 10 feet away at the time and he smoked the MSU player. Everyone knew it was going to be five, and, I honestly think he was kind of lucky he didn't get DQ'ed for that one. Jack Johnson would've gotten a 5-game suspension. He has to be smarter than that. Back to back games he's put us on a 5 minute penalty kill when the outcome was still in doubt. I know he was probably just trying to keep up with the physical trend of the game, but there was plenty of time to pull up on that one.

Thankfully, MSU's 5 minute power play went about as well as ours did in the early going. I don't think they really came near our net. They only registered one shot on goal on that power play. Fardig, in particular, did some great work toward the end of that PK.

I can't remember the exact play--pretty sure it was another occasion where he got in on the forecheck and stole the puck--but I wrote in my notes that "it's a crime against humanity if Carl Hagelin doesn't win Best Defensive Forward in the CCHA this year". He really is unbelievable.

We were awarded a 5 on 3 after a trip and a hit from behind that was called cross-checking (shouldn't have been five, so it didn't really matter what it got called). Michigan came out with their "Penalty Kill" power play unit and once the top line got out there, Hagelin was called for a crease violation even though he never touched the goalie and wasn't in the crease. That killed all the momentum and Michigan never really got control again on that man advantage.

Wohlberg buried another one after Winnett made a nice little deke to split two defenders. He slid it back to Summers who ripped one wide of the net. The puck took a nice bounce off the end boards and came out to Wohlberg on the other side of the net for yet another tap-in. Whether Summers meant to miss the net or not, Lidstrom couldn't have done that any better.

Just over a minute later, the rout was on. Pateryn sent a nice slap-pass to Naurato, who made no mistake. Lerg got hung out to dry an awful lot in this one. Hard to say any of these were really his fault. That got Mini-Me the hook and Palmisano came in.

Things didn't go any better for him. Brandon Burlon decided now would be a good time to get his first goal and absolutely undressed Justin Johnston and beat Palmisano over the glove. He was really excited about that one and rightfully so.

Scary moment when Caporusso limped off the ice and the announcers said it was a kneeing penalty coming to MSU. I was worried for a second until the replay showed it was Palushaj who got kneed. The impact spun him around and his foot went straight between Louie's legs. That hurt to watch.

Other stuff from the game:
-Blue Wall alert (as I roll my eyes)! At the start of the game, the comment was uttered that "The only difference between Jeff Lerg and Roberto Luongo is about 8 million dollars a year."

-Student section: The wave really doesn't have a place in hockey. Please stop. I'm begging on that one.

-Let's talk for a minute about the officiating. I take back what a said about last week's game at Wisconsin. Aaron and McInchak (and the linesmen) put on a clinic of how not to officiate a hockey game. I've never seen four guys get in the way of more pucks. Two goals were caused by the linesmen getting in the way. Aaron got in the way of a pass behind the net from D to D and it nearly led to an MSU scoring chance, except McInchak was out at center ice and whistled the play dead for absolutely no reason (the announcers thought the net came off, but no one ever touched it). He also got in the way of an MSU dump in on the power play, leading to an easy clear.

We saw Palushaj get hauled down, Wohlberg get round-housed in the ensuing scrum, and the penalties end up even (even though the original call was going against MSU). Amazingly, Tropp was called for holding on that one. And Wohlberg got 4 for slashing. And the original trip either wasn't called or they sent the guy off for "grasping the facemask"....hmm.

Crowder took a dip**** slash at one of our guys after the play, which was getting called. A scrum ensued, and only Llewellyn was given a roughing penalty, even though you know it would've been evened up had the original penalty not been called.

Palushaj got called for back-to-back goalie interference penalties, one of which was cheap, but slightly legit. On the other, he got drilled from behind into Lerg. Keeping with the trend, Lebler pushed a defenseman into the shrimp and he got called for goalie interference. Seems fair.

Bob Z got a ten minute misconduct for the crime of getting tackled, which was of course missed. Then there was that wonderful crease-violation-that-wasn't. The only thing those jokers got right the entire game was the five minute majors to Gentile and Lebler. It was an exhibition in incompetence from start to finish. To quote Lloyd Carr, "This is what happens when you hire stupid people." Pio, you need to come back. The fact that those two can get assigned to a Michigan/MSU game speaks to the sorry state of officiating in this league.

I'm not sure if my DVD recorder will allow me to put up video clips (it only takes DVD+Rs, my computer hates those) but if I can pull it off, I might have to make a montage. It was really special.

-David Wohlberg might be the best player on our team at the moment. He had open nets on both of his goals, but he continues to produce at an unexpected level, while being a great penalty killer and a very good faceoff man (even though he's not taking draws on the top line). It's amazing what confidence can do. 2 goals and 2 posts last night.

-Summers was amazing. He really had the after-burners going, scored a goal by jumping into the play, had a couple other nice chances, set the tone with a huge hit on a Spartan in the early going, and was as active as I've ever seen him from the defensive position. Usually he's just solid as a rock back there but you don't notice him all that much. He was all over the ice last night.

Stuff from the stats:
-With the score 3-1 and MSU on the power play for over two minutes to start the third, Michigan outshot the Spartans 13-3 in the third period and scored 3 goals to turn the game into a blowout.

-Our new top line combined for 3 goals, 5 assists, and a +8 rating. Caporusso had a play-maker.

-Palushaj has 16 assists in 17 games.

-Caporusso had 4 assists for the season entering the game and had 3 last night.

-MSU is now winless in 10. They've scored 13 goals in those games.

-Hogan has gotten 43 goals of support. 10 for Sauer.

According to The Wolverine, Red has indicated that Hogan will get the start tonight. I would imagine that we'll see Lerg again for the Spartans. He was hung out on pretty much all the goals and I've got to believe one of the reasons he was given the hook is that we'll be seeing him again tonight.

The Teddy Bear Toss was a rousing success last night, with a record number of bears being collected for donation to Mott's Children's Hospital. Nice job everyone!

The Hoover Street Rag liveblogged the game.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

10 Things to Know About Michigan State

A reminder: TV tomorrow is on FSN Plus but if you want to catch it on a dish or at a sports bar, check out Fox Sports Arizona or Fox Sports Rocky Mountain (1 hour tape delay). Saturday is on Comcast 900 or the NHL Network if you're in Canada. It'll be re-aired Sunday afternoon on the NHLN. Or you could buy tickets since there are still lots available for a game at Munn. I looked earlier and could still get 10 together.

1) MSU is 10th place in the CCHA with an overall record of 4-9-3 and a conference record of 2-6-2-2. They haven't won a game since Halloween night when they beat WMU 3-1. Since then they lost seven in a row, bookended by two ties. Before exploding for four goals in a 4-4 tie against Minnesota, the Spartans had scored 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1 goal in their last seven games. It's like they're starting Billy Sauer in net every night. They've scored more than 2 goals just three times this season. Wins: U-Mass, Mass-Lowell, NMU, WMU.

2) The other problem? They aren't keeping the puck out of their net. They haven't given up fewer than 3 goals in a game since November 1, a span of 8 games in which they've given up 31 goals.

3) For the season they've got 25 goals in 16 games and they've got 14 goals in 8 games of CCHA play. Only Michigan Tech (get your GLI tickets now!) and RPI have worse offenses. Defensively they're 27th at 2.69 goals per game.

4) Tim Crowder (he's still there?!) leads the team in points with 10. Daultan Leveille and Matt Schepke lead the team in goals with 5 apiece.

5) Jeff Lerg actually has pretty good numbers for a guy who has been getting shelled lately. He's got a 2.57/.920 for the year, but has just a 3-8-1 record. So much for that Hobey campaign. Tear. Freshman Drew Palmisano (who is from Ann Arbor) has a 1-1-2 record with a 2.40/.915. He played 3 games in November and got the start against the Gophers after Wisconsin presumably wore Lerg out, outshooting MSU 53-12.

6) For as bad as they are, they aren't taking a ton of penalties. They're just 38th in the country at 14.9 minutes per. The power play is just 10.5%, but they have scored 8 of their 25 goals with the man advantage. A couple guys have two, but no one is going crazy with the man advantage for them. The PK is surprisingly good, 88.6%, but no shorties for.

7) For the record, MSU hasn't finished sub-.500 since 1990-91. Michigan leads the all-time series 128-118-18 (MSU has it at 132-119-18), though it seems like all of those ties must have come in the past 5 years. Actually seven have come in the last 20 games.

8) MSU has played their opponents even in the first period with 7 goals for and 7 allowed. The rest of the game though? Avert your eyes. They have a 14-8 defecit in the second period and a 22-10 defecit in the third.

9) Michigan will be down their leading point-man against MSU. Mark Mitera leads the team with 8 career points vs. Sparty. Chris Summers is next with 3-3--6 in 10 games. Palushaj has 3 points in 4 games. Hogan has never faced the Spartans, but rumblings have been that he might get both games this weekend. Sauer has a 4-4-5 record with a 2.77/.900. He's been money against them in Ann Arbor, though it appears he's played his last game against Sparty at Yost.

10) The Spartans have been getting smoked on faceoffs this year, winning just 44%. Leveille takes the majority of the draws and he's an abysmal 37.1%. Warda is the only guy who plays that is over 50%. Tim Crowder has been the Wolverine-killer with 7-5--12 in 15 games, with 5 on the power play. Sucharski, who is out for the year, had six points. Jeff Petry has 4 points in 4 games. Jeff Lerg is 6-4-4 with a 2.51/.918 against Michigan.

Two other things:
Ryan Kennedy from The Hockey News did a feature story about Luke Moffatt. Moffatt apparently fancies himself as a power forward, which kind of surprised me because I was under the impression he was tiny. He's listed as 6'0" 165, so Jason Ryznar he is not. I guess he really likes Keith Tkachuk though.

I don't care for the uncertainty in this paragraph:

Moffatt’s next destination is still unsettled, but he could be staying right where he is, thanks to a verbal commitment to the University of Michigan, also located in Ann Arbor.

Also, Chris Dilks wrote a very nice piece as a diary entry over at MGoBlog about the fellas who are committed but have yet to put on the Michigan sweater.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Midweek Stuff

Lots of quick hitters today:

-Aaron Palushaj and Matt Rust were named to the USA World Junior team, so we'll be without their services for the GLI as they try to bring a gold back to the US. Rust will wear #9 and Palushaj will be #7. Louie Caporusso was not one of the players invited to the Canada try-out camp. Bad news for Louie, but good news for the Wolverines who need to get two wins at the GLI.

-Steve Kampfer is skating with the team, and he's not even wearing a red "no contact" jersey. He continues his remarkable comeback from a well-publicized off-ice incident. It's been reported he could possibly return for the GLI, but with twelve days between the annual holiday tournament and our return to CCHA action, it wouldn't be a shocker to see them be on the safe side. Still, I don't think anyone expected that he might return this soon. Having him back should be a huge boost to the team, and might even allow Summers to take another crack at forward. God knows our offense could use another scorer.

-David Wohlberg is going to get a shot with the top line. It's well deserved. Apart from Carl Hagelin, Wohlberg might have been Michigan's best player last weekend. He's been consistently great for over a month now. He'll get a chance to skate with Palushaj and Caporusso. I like it. Nothing against the guys he was playing with before--as the whole line was really great against Minnesota--but he's earned the opportunity to play with two of the best players in the country. I'm curious to see what he can do.

-TV for this weekend: Friday's game will be aired on FSN Plus in Metro Detroit. It's basically Fox Sports Detroit's overflow channel. Normally that would mean that those of us out of state (or with a dish) are out of luck, but for some reason, Fox Sports Arizona and Fox Sports Rocky Mountain are showing the game as well. I believe FSNA is showing it live and FSNRM is showing it on an hour tape delay. Maybe the people in Phoenix want to see Chris Summers play? Maybe Kevin Porter is that influential? I don't know. But I'm happy about it.

Saturday's game will be shown live on Comcast 900 (and the NHL Network in Canada) and then the NHL Network in the US on Sunday morning.

-If you're not doing anything on Saturday, I've read that there are a ton of tickets available for the game at Munn. As of two days ago, you could buy a block of 10 together. I can't imagine the Sparties have been falling over themselves to snap them up. Paint that arena maize!

-Michigan has (finally) launched an official photo store. This was a long time coming. It's a work in progress but there's already some great stuff up there. Some favorites:
If they get a photo of Desmond doing the Heisman pose or Woodson's "Hail Yes" up there, you know they're selling a TON. Pretty reasonable pricing too. The framed ones are kind of expensive but 14 x 17 (I assume) for $30 ain't bad at all.

-Lastly, I have to comment on Sean Avery. The dude is a complete boob, but to get suspended for that? Come on. It was funny! Off-color, totally unnecessary, but funny! You think guys don't say worse than that every game on the ice? If the NHL only suspended McLennan for the goon-fest that Calgary laid on Detroit in the playoffs a couple years back, it's absurd to suspend a guy for multiple games for saying that Dion Phaneuf is getting his sloppy seconds. (Tenuous Michigan connection: Mike Komisarek would have been getting his sloppy seconds as well...allegedly.)

I mean, isn't 2 games what Claude The Fraud ultimately got for breaking Kris Draper's face? (Granted they were games in the Stanley Cup Finals) Now we're suspending guys for being immature. The wussification of the NHL continues. He didn't even say anything that bad! Do you think Avery would get offended if Rod Stewart called him up and said, "You know Sean, you were getting my sloppy seconds too." (Thanks Scotty.) He didn't even go Adam Levine and talk about how so-and-so sucked in bed. This is up there with Nascar docking guys points for swearing on TV but allowing them to intentionally cause accidents with no penalty (::cough::DaleJarrettRichmond::cough::).

The NHL can claim he's bringing bad publicity to the sport, but I'm sorry, suspending Avery just drew more attention to his comments. Ignore it and it might get mentioned in the last minute of PTI and that's it. Suspend him and it's the top story on PTI, the top story on, and the sports world is talking about it. The only way they could have brought more attention to a nothing story would have been for Gary Bettman to yell out "I'M A MAN! I'M 40!"

Plus they denied me the sure 5 PIMs my fantasy team would have gotten when Phaneuf threw down with Avery.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Wisconsin 3, Michigan 0

So we really just can't score goals for Billy Sauer. Michigan has scored 10 goals in the 7 2/3 games Sauer has played, and eight of those came in the games against OSU and St. Lawrence. They've got two goals combined in the other 5 2/3 games.

Sauer was nothing short of fantastic between the pipes tonight, but when you get no offensive support it's hard to win hockey games. He gave up two power play goals that he had no chance on, and the Badgers added an empty-netter late.

Unlike last Friday against Miami, I can't fault the effort in this one. Michigan was trying out there, things just weren't going their way. They played a great first period, but things unraveled in the second. They took three penalties in quick succession and never regained the momentum after that.

I don't want to say a ton about the officiating until I go back and watch the tape--the game is reairing right now and I can't wait to see the replay of Lebler's clipping--yes clipping--penalty that he was assessed a 5 minute major for. At first watch, I thought the officials were horrendous. It seemed like Red, Mel, and David Wohlberg were equally happy.

The best player on the ice tonight, by far, was Carl Hagelin. That kid is an amazing hockey player and it's one of the most underrated joys in the world to get to watch him play in person. He's always going. I wish I had a count of how many times tonight he went in on the forecheck and somehow came out of there with the puck. I love him and Rust together.

Michigan really didn't end up with a ton of great scoring chances. Wisconsin is really sound defensively. We outplayed them 5 on 5, we just didn't have a lot of opportunity to play 5 on 5 sadly. 17 of Wisconsin's 30 shots (including 10 of their 12 in the third) came during their 19 minutes of power play time. You're just not going to win hockey games when you have to kill penalties for an entire period's worth of time.

What else, what else...I thought Wohlberg had another strong game. Palushaj didn't do much. The Kohl Center is beautiful. Their little power play song is pretty catchy even if we heard far too much of it.

The passing kind of sucked tonight. I don't know if the ice was chippy because of the basketball game earlier in the day--it was bouncing around quite a bit, at least in the end we defended twice--but they just weren't clicking tonight.

Worst smack of the night: "Save your voice for your bowl game....ohhhhh!" Umm...we beat you. I'm 26 and you've beaten us something like 4 times in my life. This was the worst team in the history of Michigan football and we still beat you. And you guys had a crap year least we had somewhat of an excuse. You were supposed to contend for the Big Ten. So yeah, probably not a great time to bring up football.

This season is giving me a headache. I feel so bad for Billy Sauer. He deserves a lot better than this. He was simply stellar in net tonight and they just couldn't help him at all. It's going to get to the point where they have to play Hogan just because he's the guy we play well in front of, but if we get to that point it's no fault of Sauer's. He's giving them a chance and they're not getting it done.

There's no excuse to not rail Michigan State next weekend...

Michigan 6, Minnesota 3

To quote the color guy, "WOOO!" He was saying it anytime there was a hard shot. I was saying it when the puck went in the net for us. Thankfully I got to say it almost as many times as he did!

As bad as the effort was last Friday against Miami, that's how good the effort was tonight. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a Wolverine that didn't play well tonight. The re-shuffled lines worked to perfection as Hagelin and Rust forechecked the hell out of the Gophers (what a bear of a line to play against) and Hagelin popped in a pair of goals, Turnbull had his best game of the season playing with Naurato and Winnett, Wohlberg was absolutely outstanding once again (and he was with Lebler and Fardig). The best part was that, until the goal that sealed it, it wasn't the Caporusso/Palushaj/Miller line doing it. The secondary scoring was out in full force tonight and the results were just as pretty as I had remembered.

The first goal was a pretty harmless looking dump-in that Ben Winnett corralled. He found Naurato streaking down the left wing and Naurato buried it. Good breakout, good dump that Michigan controlled, great pass, and the lamp was lit. Hard to complain about that one.

The second goal was all Turnbull. He got in on the forecheck, knocked the defenseman down, took the puck, and found Hagelin all alone in the slot. Hagelin made no mistake and the Wolverines were up 2-0.

Naurato had a great defensive effort to keep things that way. A pass was headed for an open Barriball, but Naurato got back and knocked it away. Barriball then went down with a scary looking injury, but he would later return.

Hogan then robbed Stoa on the power play. Huge stop to keep the momentum on Michigan's side.

Turnbull lost the puck on a breakaway and Rust put a hard shot off the bar. Michigan went into the intermission up 2-0 and I was officially having flashbacks to the 2003 Frozen Four, when the Wolverines dominated should have been up 3 or 4. We didn't put them away when we had the chance.

In the second, though, it was the same story again. Turnbull had Kangas beat clean and rung another shot off the bar and then Wohlberg made it 3-0 after a great fake to get around Ness down low. It wasn't a good goal to give up, but a nice individual effort to create the scoring chance.

The Gophers kept turning the puck over and Czarnik fed Turnbull who found Hagelin 10 feet from the net. Hagelin got that shot up quick, right up under the bar and that was it for Kangas.

The Gophers found the net on a 5 on 3, but Michigan answered thanks to some great work on the boards by Lebler and Fardig. Lebler dug the puck out, got it to Wohlberg and Wohlberg put another one into the top corner.

Minnesota got a little momentum heading into the intermission when a rebound hit off Llewellyn's leg and dropped right onto Stoa's stick for a tap-in.

A fluky bounce (but a nice tip) made it 5-3 and things got a little interesting, but once again the Wolverines were able to find a guy streaking alone into the slot. Miller got it to Louie, who tipped it up over Patterson and that was it. 13 goals for Louie this year, 12 with Hogan in net.

Hogan made one more stop, robbing one of the Gophers with the blocker and that was about it.

Stellar efforts all around, but I thought Turnbull, Hagelin and Wohlberg were particularly excellent. Wohlberg has been playing outstanding hockey after a bit of a slow start. I'm really impressed with him. Awesome on the PK, great defensively, great on draws, and he's got six goals now which is behind only Caporusso and Palushaj, two of the best players in the country. I knew the defensive game was going to be great, but he's been a pleasant surprise on the offensive end.

That was just flat out dominance by the Wolverines. They outshot Minnesota 43 to 25 and pretty much dominated play the entire night. Minnesota turned the puck over a lot, but Michigan was getting some great forechecking out of the usual suspects, Hagelin, Rust, Wohlberg, Turnbull.

Minnesota is going to do bad, bad things to Sparty tomorrow night. MSU was held to one goal once again, giving them 21 goals in 15 games. They've scored one or less in seven straight games. This was the first time since 1983 that Wisconsin gave us as few as 12 shots on goal. Final shots in the game were 53-12. Uhhh. Why do I get the sinking feeling that MSU is just waiting to erupt next weekend against us. Michigan just needs to absolutely bury them. But first it's a game against Wisconsin and a chance to defend our CHS trophy.

Quick hits about Wiscy. I'm too tired to do a 10 Things tonight.
-Wisconsin has improved to 6-7-2 after a putrid 0-6-1 start.

-They've been getting some really solid goaltending out of Shane Connelly (who split time in juniors with Billy Sauer). He's got a 2.97 goals against and a save percentage of 90.5 for the year, but his GAA has been right around 2 during this recent streak.

-In their streak of improved play, the Badgers have beaten NoDak, Tech twice, 3 points against Duluth, and a split with St Cloud before dominating MSU tonight.

-Their points are actually coming from the blueline. Jamie McBain and Red Wing prospect Brendan Smith are the leading point men, with 15 and 11 respectively and 4 of the top 6 scorers are D. That's kind of crazy actually. Blake Geoffrion (who I loved at USA) and John Mitchell are the leading goal scorer (7 and 6).

-Geoffrion has 5 of his 7 on the PP and Smith has all four of his goals with the man advantage.

-Michigan and Wisconsin have each scored 47 goals in 15 games to tie for 15th in the country.

-Their defense is tied for 41st at 3.20 goals per game.

-They're the most penalized team in the country.

-Decent power play at 17% but they've given up 5 short-handed goals.

-PK is solid at 89.5 and they've scored 3 shorties of their own.

That's all there is, there isn't any more. No TV for tomorrow night's game, but I'm going to get to see it in person and I'm really excited about it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

7 Things to Know About Minnesota

The Wolverines have headed West for the 16th annual College Hockey Showcase. The first opponent is the #1 ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers. Here's an abbreviated 10 Things to Know since we only play them once and I'm about ready to pass out from all the food I ate.

The game tomorrow night will be shown on the Big Ten Network (Gasp!!).

1) The Gophers are 7-1-4 on the season, with their lone loss coming in their most recent game when they went down 4-0 to the Denver Pioneers. They've tied Wisconsin, Minnesota State, New Hampshire, and Michigan Tech. Interestingly enough, their only sweep of the season was the first weekend of the year when they beat St. Cloud twice. They had three point weekends against the teams mentioned above and a split with DU.

2) Ryan Stoa has bounced back very nicely from the injury suffered against the Wolverines last season which cost him the season. He has 10 goals and 9 assists in just 12 games, tying him for second in the nation in points per game amongst guys that don't play for Air Force. Freshman Jordan Schroeder has 17 points thusfar, giving him a five point gap on the second-highest scoring freshman in the country. Cade Fairchild and David Fischer have 10 and 9 points respectively back on the blueline.

3) The Gophers might be the first team we've played where there's no question about who will be in net. It's been Alex Kangas all the way and he's got a 2.03/.929, which are pretty darn good numbers. He's given up fewer than two goals in a game just twice this season, though he's given up exactly two in seven of his 12 starts. The Gophers are giving up almost 30 shots a game and they've given up fewer than 25 shots on just two occasions, so we'll probably get our chances.

4) They've got the 10th ranked offense in the country at 3.25 goals per game and they're 14th in defense at 2.08 goals per game.

5) For the second straight week we're facing a team with strong special teams. As you'd expect with a high-powered offense, they're very good on the power play: 9th in the country at 20%. 16/80 on the year. On the PK, they're even better, ranked 5th in the country at an impressive 93.7%. Stoa leads the way with 4 PPGs on the year.

6) They dared to have two players from outside the State of Hockey on this year's team. Freshman Sam Lofquist is from Wisconsin and rookie Grant Scott is from Pennsylvania.

7) Michigan trails the all-time series 115-127-15. With a win tomorrow, the Wolverines would take over the winning percentage lead in the history of the College Hockey Showcase. We're one win up on the Gophers in that column.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kevin Clare Commits to Michigan

All your NTDP are belong to us.

Kevin Clare became the fifth member of the NTDP's Under 17 team to commit to Michigan. He'll join Jack Campbell, Jon Merrill, Luke Moffatt, and Jacob Fallon in the incoming Class of 2010 (Mac Bennett is in the class as well).

He's a 6'1" 189 defenseman from New York. As of the last update to the NTDP site, Clare had 2 assists in 16 games this season. He also has 16 PIMs.

He previously played for the Tier III New Jersey Hitmen. They won the Eastern Junior Hockey League championship and were the runner up for the Tier III Junior A National Championship. Clare was the youngest player in the EJHL and put up a 3-13--16 line in 37 games.

From the Jersey Hitmen Head Coach Toby Harris:

"Kevin really deserves this," commented Hitmen head coach Toby Harris. "Last season he did everything we asked of him. He embraced the program, he competed hard and most of all he consistently came to work everyday, something that you do not see in such a young man. I am very proud of Kevin and what he has accomplished thus far. I am very happy for the Clare family and know that Kevin will be very successful in every facet of life whichever path he chooses. The Hitmen organization wishes him all the best!"

OHL Watch: He was a 4th round pick of the Erie Otters and according to Head Coach Bob Bassen, "He told us he wants to play Junior A when he's done [with the NTDP]." I guess he had a change of heart.

USHR was pretty impressed with him during the Select 16 Development Camp, saying that he's "smooth and dishes out crisp hits".

The Terrier Hockey Fan Blog wrote the following about him in March:
Another Hitman defenseman, Kevin Clare, is regarded as one of top blueline prospects in the East for 2010. Clare, who USHR reported has visited both BU and BC and also is interested in Michigan and Notre Dame, is from New Rochelle, N.Y., hometown of BU freshman Kevin Shattenkirk.

I guess he ultimately picked Michigan over UNH and Vermont.

Other Stuff:
-Matt Hunwick scored again tonight for the Boston Bruins. He has points in five straight games. He has a 3-3--6 line in 10 games and is +7.

-Steve Kampfer is back on the ice in full pads, though he's only skating on his own at this point. Still, it's looking pretty promising that he'll be able to return this season, hopefully in the next couple of months. That's really great to hear...

-Have I mentioned that I love Tristin Llewellyn? I've had this classic quote of his in my signature on The Yost Post for awhile--"Nobody likes them and I've always dreamed of beating the crap out of Minnesota. I've played with guys from Minnesota and guys that went to Minnesota and never liked one so it was very satisfying."--and he was on the warpath again:

“I personally hate Minnesota,” sophomore defenseman Tristin Llewellyn said. “I played juniors, played with all those sort of guys. Minnesota was godly. They always called it the ‘U.’ That really got under my skin.

“We hate them as much as we hate (Michigan) State.”

He rules.

-Also in that Daily article, the lines have been jumbled again. Rust and Hagelin are back together (YES!) with Czarnik on the other wing. I like it. Three guys who need to get jump-started, but Rust and Hagelin have always been good together. That might be just the ticket to get the two of them going--and to get Czarnik going as well. That has the potential to be a really good line.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Miami 2, Michigan 1

I was pissed off when I was done watching this game. But after a little more reflection, I have no problem with this loss. If you show up and play a pretty good game against a very good hockey team on the road and just get happens. The other team is on scholarship too.

And I do think we played a pretty good game last night. The start was pretty rough. Miami was outshooting Michigan something like 17-4 at one point, but that was largely aided by a slew of power plays.

If you want one positive to take from this weekend--a sign that this season is going to turn around--I think you can look at our penalty kill and feel great. The RedHawks had the best power play in the country and they were 0 for 12 on the weekend, including two very long 5 on 3s. The Wolverine penalty killers, specifically David Wohlberg, Matt Rust, Carl Hagelin, Travis Turnbull and Tim Miller, were absolutely outstanding the entire weekend.

Hogan was very good in net last night, making 32 saves. The first goal came after Brandon Burlon failed on two occasions to get the puck out of the zone. Carter Camper was left alone in front of the net and he tipped in a pass from the side boards. The other goal was a rocket from Tommy Wingels, who I was really impressed with this weekend. I think I liked him last year too. He's a nice player.

I had a big problem with the officiating this weekend. I thought Rust getting tossed for his hit from behind was absurd. He basically shrugged his shoulder and the kid fell into the boards. Later in the game, Turnbull got called for hitting Roeder from behind. That one was borderline. To me, he got him in the shoulder. But it was a hard hit. If you think he hit him from behind, how do you not view that as worse than what Matt Rust did and kick Turnbull out of the game? It was either a hit from behind or it wasn't. And if it wasn't, why'd you call it? If it was, why was it only two? Then we get Naurato's hit on Roeder. #1) It was in the shoulder. #2) Roeder was turning his back anyway. It was ridiculous. I thought Hill and the other joker were pretty awful overall. They started giving Michigan some calls later in the game, and I'm most definitely not trying to say that it cost us the game or anything--you score 1 goal in two games, you don't deserve a road win--but they were bad. In my notes, I wrote the following after the Naurato penalty: "G** D***. This is why you don't have Brian f***ing Hill do a series like this. F*** this. I'd rather watch Aaron Rodgers cost the Packers another game and have everyone make excuses for him than watch this s***." Some of that was frustration with the way the game was going, but those guys called an awful series. So many questionable hits both ways and then we get a call like the Summers penalty early on where he kind-of obstructed the guy but didn't affect the play in any way. The best one was the play that KC8NIY mentioned in the comments from Friday night when Palushaj got lit up after an offsides and even though he didn't have the puck (so the hit wouldn't have been legal even if the play was still live) it wasn't whistled. It's like they gave the guy a break because it was just after the whistle, and ignored the fact it was illegal anyway. Rust getting tossed was a big loss for us though. Oh, it's also worth pointing out since there were a parade of hits from behind in this game that they missed a blatant one by Cannone on Chad Langlais in the first two minutes of the game. Cannone was a friggin' goon this weekend. I was really surprised at that, since he's such a skilled player.

I'm really impressed with Miami. Honestly, I think they're light years better than they were last year, even with all the losses they had. They were hitting this weekend and it really caused Michigan some problems in their own zone (and when they were trying to gain Miami's zone). Their defense was outstanding. They're getting great goaltending and great play on special teams. Even though they aren't scoring a ton of goals like they were last year, at least based on what I saw this weekend, I think they're better equipped to perform well in the NCAA Tournament.

Quick hitters from my notes:
-Rust saved a goal with a great backcheck. He might not be performing offensively, but he's been great on the defensive end.

-Turnbull had a great chance in the first period when he blocked a shot and was off to the races. He tried to go 5-hole and it was there, but he didn't quite hit it. He almost shattered his stick after that one.

-Miami's physicality caused the second goal. Hagelin got absolutely destroyed on a clearing attempt and then Langlais's second attempt was picked off. They fed Wingels and he uncorked one into the back of the net.

-Burlon had a beautiful play to break up a 2 on 1 caused by Langlais pulling a spin-o-rama at the Miami blueline and accidentally flinging the puck back to center ice.

-Turnbull and Miller did a nice job answering the big hits by the RedHawks. There was a 2 or 3 minute stretch in the middle of the game that was as hard-hitting as any stretch of hockey I've seen in a long time.

-I'm an angry young man. This was the emotional reaction I had after the Wolverines finally got a power play: "The crowd starts chanting "Bull****". Sure. Start an investigation to see if Brian Hill went to Michigan too ya ****ing hillbillies. You know, maybe UAH would fit in in this conference, since we've got 3 Ohio teams. Ohio is basically the Arkansas of the North, so Alabama would fit right in." That was a bit harsh. I don't actually have anything against BGSU or Miami. I was just slightly angry with how the game was going at that point....just slightly!

The Wolverines finally got on the board thanks to a PPG by Chris Summers. The puck don't lie. We were on the PP because Cannone put a BC-two-handed across Caporusso's wrist. That was as bad as the one that Norway put on Adam Banks in D2.

Michigan had a 5 on 3 of their own for 1:20 with a chance to tie the game. The unit we sent out: Pateryn, Summers, Naurato, Turnbull, and Czarnik. 4 goals between them this year. That was curious for such a critical situation.

Michigan had two great chances late in the game but Caporusso put both of them off the bar. Beat Knapp twice, and had some of last year's luck. That's part of the reason I didn't feel so bad about this loss. Michigan had their chances to tie/win the game and they just didn't have the puck luck.

Pateryn took a dip **** penalty with about 3 1/2 minutes left. He went to check Vaive and punched him in the face instead. To Vaive's credit, he rolled around like a soccer player for about 3 minutes even though he's the biggest guy on the ice.

Hogan made a huge stop on Mercier to keep us alive and after Knapp gave up a big rebound on a 100 footer, Winnett was in all alone and may have gotten the post. We pulled the goalie but the only chance Michigan had was when a faceoff was won to Naurato, who was in a great shooting position, but he couldn't find the handle.

Michigan drops 9 points behind Miami in the CCHA (with two games in hand). Rough weekend. They're clearly not playing the hockey they need to be playing, but there's a lot of time left. I like the way the defense has performed. We've gotten fine goaltending, though they need to cut out some of the softies. And we've got a line as good as any in the country. Just gotta get that secondary scoring going. Once Kampfer comes back, they probably can move Summers back up front and that should really help. They've got to find a way to get Rust, Turnbull, Winnett, and Czarnik going though.

Weekend summary: Awful effort Friday night. That one was as embarrassing as it gets. The loss last night though? That was a good effort against a very good hockey team. Disappointing to lose, but nothing to be ashamed of. It just puts a lot of pressure on Michigan to win both games against Miami at Yost in January.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Miami 2, Michigan 0*

Sauer got the nod and we're no closer to finding out if we can't play in front of him or if we can't play on Friday. One thing's for sure, this team has big-time problems on Friday nights.

That's 10 goals in 6 2/3 games we've scored for Billy Sauer. He's now surpassed last year's loss total, with 5 in just seven starts. But it's hard to blame him. He was pretty good tonight. The first goal was horrid, but he made something like 26 stops and a good number of them were big. He was a little shaky in there--he looked behind him on at least a half dozen of his stops--but again, the supporting cast let him down.

Side note: I'm still watching the NHL Network. Matt Hunwick has a goal and three assists and is +5 in his last three games. Really nice work out of Huddy. I'm happy to be wrong about him. I never thought he'd crack the league, and here he is playing for one of the hottest teams in the NHL and doing really well. Porter and Hilbert also had goals tonight. Nice to see the lack of offense hasn't carried over to our NHL players.

Back to this abortion.

Things actually started out really well. The RedHawks were whistled for a penalty something like 12 seconds into the game and Michigan had 5 great scoring chances on that power play. Reichard make four stops in a row, point blank, including one where he just robbed Brian Lebler with the glove. They finally showed a replay after the first period and it was about as good of a glove save as you'll ever see.

Unfortunately that was about it for Michigan's offense. After taking 8 shots at the net in the first three minutes, the Wolverines had just 12 the rest of the game, and aside from a goal that was waived off (terrible call, IMO) with 25 seconds left I don't think we had a great scoring chance.

Call us Stevie Weeks, because we shot our load offensively very early on.

Michigan looked to be in the weeds in the first period, facing a long Miami 5 on 3, but there was some great work out of Wohlberg, Rust and Langlais and they were able to kill it off. The Wolverines were outshot 13-2 in the last 17 minutes of that period, but we went to the intermission knotted up at 0.

The second period was pretty boring outside of some big hits by the Miami defenders. There were no great scoring chances, and I realize that Miami had a goal in the period. Miele took the puck behind the net, Sauer slid to his right, Miele brought it back to the left side of the cage and put it in with no problem. Horrible goal to give up. He should've just knocked the net off like Reichard did earlier in the game when he was beat on a would-be wrap-around.

Roeder was absolutely demolishing Wolverines throughout the night. He was really impressive.

The highlight of the period was Louie Caporusso busting his ass on a back-check to break up a 2 on 1. The pass got through and Vaive would've been in all alone but Caporusso broke up the play.

The teams combined for 8 shots in the second period. I couldn't name a single one of ours. I have no idea how ONN (more on them later) had four scoring chances for us in the second. We didn't come near their net.

Miele ended any hope of a comeback (that's how bad we've been on Fridays...two goals is an insurmountable lead) a couple minutes into the third. We didn't get a great replay but it looked like he just got a tip on the shot.

Honestly, at this point I think Chris Osgood could finally give up fewer than 3 goals if he faced us on a Friday.

Scooter Vaughan wins the Not-Smart-But-Strangely-Effective Play of the Night award for selling out to hit a man when Miami had a 3 on 1. He got a piece of the Miami player but they were going to have a 3 on 0. He got just enough of the RedHawk that the puck skittered away from him and it took a few strides before it was corraled. They were in too deep to do anything but pass, so it was a pretty easy read.

Honest to God, I don't think we had possession within 40 feet of the net in the first 11 minutes of that period.

I guess Sauer made a brilliant stop to keep it 2-0. We were getting a shot of Scooter Vaughan in the corner at the time, so I'm not sure.

From 3 minutes into the game until there were 3 minutes remaining in the game, Michigan had 10 shots on goal.

The Wolverines appeared to crack Reichard with 25 seconds remaining, but the goal was waived off due to Chad Langlais being pushed into the crease. Not that it mattered, but that was a pretty weak call. It was actually a nice play too. Turnbull fed Caporusso cutting down the right wing. He put a shot on net and Palushaj buried the rebound.

I amused myself through this debacle by compiling a list of the reasons that this broadcast (it was ONN's feed that the NHL Network was showing) was awful:

1) There were more pronounciations of Brandon Burlon's name than Michigan had quality scoring chances. Here's the list:

We also had Sarnik, Langlay, and Pah-tahr-in out there.

2) The giant ONN graphic in the upper left hand corner actually covered the net for a good portion of the second period. Not that we were going to miss a Michigan goal or anything.

3) Good portions of the first period had the puck off camera.

4) When Naurato got 2 and 10 with three minutes left in the game, the announcers had a long discussion about how they didn't have any idea why he left. He's not Randy Moss, guys. They also commented on an interference penalty, "Quality hit, clean hit, the guy just didn't have the puck."

That said, video coverage is better than no video coverage and I love the NHL Network for showing college games.

Most of the Michigan fans in the crowd were in standing room once again. I really hope Michigan jacks Miami on tickets for our series later this year. They screwed us on tickets last year too.

There's a reason I'm not the coach, but I'd seriously think about reuniting that Hagelin-Rust-Palushaj top line. Hagelin and Rust have been next to invisible offensively since they broke that pairing up. Hagelin has 2 points in his last six and Rust has one point in his last 8. Holy buckets, Rust was even 2/15 on draws tonight. Yes the Caporusso/Palushaj pairing has been great, but Louie had his share of goals even before they were united.

In addition to Rust and Hagelin, someone really needs to wake up Turnbull, Winnett, and Czarnik offensively. Mitera, Kampfer (and Moffie?) can't get here soon enough. We gotta get Summers back up front. We need another quality forward in the worse way.

This game could be summed up by one play. I believe Michigan was on the power play. Two Wolverines were fighting with Justin Mercier in the middle of the ice out by the blueline. Mercier willed that puck out of the zone and in the process showed more heart than the entire Michigan team played with tonight. What a weak effort outside of the first three minutes. This reminded me so much of that game against MSU a couple years ago in the GLI Championship. They just didn't bring it, and it's alarming to see a lack of anything resembling positive play in such a big game.

I have to give Miami a lot of credit. That defensive effort was incredible. They just didn't let the Wolverines anywhere near the net outside of the first few minutes and Reichard made a few truly great saves in the early going. If he doesn't rob Lebler, this could be a completely different game. If Michigan pops one in in the first two minutes, memories of last year come flying back. But he stoned him and that was pretty much that.

I don't think you can call a game a must-win this early in the season, but a loss tomorrow night would drop us 9 points behind the RedHawks. That's a big deficit. And we currently sit 2 points out of 10th place in the jammed up CCHA. It'd be nice to have something positive before we head out to take on the #1 team in the country next (OMG) Friday.

The one positive to take from tonight was that our penalty kill was pretty great. Miami has the #2 power play in the country and Michigan shut them down for the most part. The 1:49 5 on 3 was a great kill. So maybe the PK has turned it around....that's something at least.

And as long as I'm bitching, here's a non-sports one for you. ABC, die in a fire. Canceling Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, and Dirty Sexy Money in the same day (and being so kind as to do it after they've filmed their now-final episodes, so I'm sure we'll get a ton of closure) is right up there with jerking around Traveler, dumping Boston Legal when it's still one of the funniest shows on TV, and not allowing The Nine to try a timeslot that wasn't the death-slot after Lost. I guess my DVR just got a whole lot less cluttered. I don't know why I even bother with TV anymore. Every time I actually care about the long-term plot of a show, it gets yanked and I get no answers. I know they've got to worry about ratings and it's all about making money, but man, what a bummer. Just another frustrating thing to happen today....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

10 Things to Know About Miami (OH)

First off, congrats to the Michigan basketball team on a huge win against #4 UCLA tonight (Michigan's first win against a top-five team in almost 11 years). I haven't written about basketball much because it's not a sport I know a whole lot about, but I've been genuinely excited about the prospects this season. I was looking forward to this game all week, bet on Michigan outright at Centsports, and I was thrilled that they pulled this one off. It's amazing that we actually have an offensive system that isn't "Dribble out the shot clock and jack a bad three", we have a defensive system that actually confused a high-quality team, guys have improved in the offseason. The whole second half I was waiting for the long drought and it never came. Douglass's three pointer? Nails. That one-touch pass to Sims for the flush was the nicest Michigan basketball play that I've seen since before Ellerbe was coaching. Big win and I couldn't be happier for those guys. I was looking forward to wearing my new maize Michigan hockey jersey tomorrow, but I think I might hafta bust out the bball jersey instead. Huge win, especially since they don't even have Lucas-Perry yet.

Now on to hockey and 10 things to know about the Dynasty that we're facing this week.

1) Miami is 6-3-3 on the season and 6-2-2-1 in the CCHA, putting them 5 points ahead of us (we have two games in hand). They're actually just 2-2-1 at home, however. They've got two impressive road sweeps (Notre Dame and MSU), but lost at home to Ferris and Alaska, and took just one "point" during a road series against Vermont.

2) They're breaking in two freshmen goalies and the kids got off to a rough start, giving up 3,3,4,3 in the first four games. Since then, however, Miami hasn't given up more than two goals in a game (a streak of eight games). Those games came against the #12, 25, 40, and 57 (only RPI is scoring fewer goals per game than MSU...) ranked offenses in the country.

3) Their goal-scoring has been a little hot and cold. They scored just five goals in sweeping Notre Dame, put up 1 and then 5 against UA, 2 and 1 against Ferris and then popped in 8 against MSU. Overall, they rank #17 in offense, .16 goals per game behind Michigan.

4) I have to give their defense credit. I was skeptical before the season due to the youth in net, but they currently have the #12 defensive team in the country and are allowing fewer than 2 goals per game. Both goalies have save percentages in the 92-93% range and both have GAAs below two. Cody Reichard has been playing Fridays and Connor Knapp has been playing Saturdays, so I imagine that's what we'll see again. Knapp has given up just three goals in his last four apperances.

5) This shouldn't be a shocker, they're led offensively by Pat Cannone (6-10--16) and Carter Camper (6-8--14). They've also got the ever dangerous Justin Mercier and Andy Miele (who was awesome in our series against them last year). Nine different players have scored PPGs, and eight have seven or more points. Ganzak and Martinez are gone, so they lost a lot of points from the blueline (61 from that duo alone), but freshman Chris Wideman has eight points (all assists) in 12 games to replace at least some of that scoring.

6) Looooooots of penalties so far. Miami is the third-most penalized team in the country at 22 minutes a night. Fortunately for the RedHawks, they have the #1 PK in the country at 96.1%, and if you factor in short handed goals that they've scored, they're just -1 on their opponents' 76 power play chances this year.

7) They're also great on the power play, #2 in the country at 22.9% (second to BU, and I think we can take credit for their #1 ranking). Four of Mercier's five goals have come with the man advantage. Cannone, Camper and Palmer also have multiple PPGs.

8) We have Honeybaked, they have the Cedar Rapids Roughriders. Seven of Miami's players played for Cedar Rapids right before they came to Miami. 17 of their guys have come from the USHL.

9) Michigan leads the all-time series 66-18-3. Aaron Palushaj had 2-1--3 in the three games against the RedHawks last year. He's actually the only player on our roster with more than 1 career goal against Miami. Hogan has never faced Miami but Sauer is 3-2-1 in his career with a 3.13/.897. He was strong in both of our wins against the RedHawks last year.

10) Both games this weekend can be seen on the NHL Network. Friday night's game will be shown live and Saturday's game will be live in Canada and shown on tape-delay Sunday afternoon in the United States. Let me say again, I love the NHL Network.

Other stuff:
The Wolverines received signed letters of intent from Chris Brown, AJ Treais, and Kevin Lynch, all members of the USA NTDP Under 18 team. Lee Moffie will be in at some point, it's just a matter of when ($ link), which is interesting.

Also, Steve Kampfer was given the go-ahead to remove his neck brace. A reader who has been very accurate in the past wrote in to say that if all goes well, he could be back playing very early in the new year, which would be amazing. Clearly they'll be careful with him, but it's really great to think that he should be able to see the ice again this season. If we can get Kampfer and Mitera back at some point, Summers probably gets to move back up front again, which helps the offense as well. In the meantime, you've got to like the improved play of Greg Pateryn.

The Middletown Press had an article about Lee Moffie and his success at the Junior A Challenge.

I think that's all I've got for tonight. It'll be interesting to see if Michigan sticks with Sauer Friday and Hogan Saturday or if they change it up at all. Miami may not be the offensive powerhouse they were last year, but they're getting great goaltending, playing good defense, their special teams are outstanding, and you know they're going to be looking to make a statement after they fell flat on their face against Michigan last year. Michigan better come out with a much better Friday effort if they expect it to be a game tomorrow.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Michigan 5, WMU 0

So this team is officially schizo. One night after scoring just one goal at home and losing to FREAKING WESTERN MICHIGAN, Michigan had enough goals to win after 14 seconds. Bryan Hogan made 20 stops and the Wolverines popped in 5 to silence the Lawson Lunatics.

This weekend was more support for the theory that either Michigan can't play in front of Billy Sauer or Michigan can't play on Friday night. Hogan has allowed just two fewer goals than Sauer, but he is 6-0-0 while Sauer has matched last year's loss total with a 2-4-0 record. But the goals of support? Michigan has scored 10 goals with Sauer in net and 30 for Hogan.

I'm of the belief that it's a Friday/Saturday thing more than a Sauer/Hogan thing. There are only a few guys on this team who weren't on the roster last year, so most of the team knows how good Sauer can be and how unbelievable he was for all but one period last year. I don't think they've lost their confidence in him. We've seen Michigan teams have this problem before. I can't remember if it was 2000 or 2001, but that was a team that was great Friday night and horrible Saturday night. I'm sure they'll get it together, but it doesn't help our CCHA Title hopes to drop games to the 10th, 11th and 12th place teams. But then, as it is we're only 5 points behind Miami with 2 games in hand (so we could be just 1 point back).

One thing is for sure, after they fell flat on their face during their "Validation Weekend" last year, the Red Hawks are going to bring it against the Wolverines down in Oxford this weekend, so we'd be wise to show up Friday night ready to play no matter who's in net.

Stuff from the game, which I couldn't watch or listen to:
-David Wohlberg kept up his strong play in the offensive zone by notching his 4th goal in 5 games. I gotta say, I didn't think he'd outperform Czarnik, especially in the offensive end. But he has 4 goals to Robbie's 1 at this point.

-Louie Caporusso put the game away with a natural hat trick in the third period. He has matched last season's goal total in just 12 games. I knew he was poised for a big season, but I didn't have him at a goal per game. He's tied for the national lead in goals (and Palushaj is the national leader in points with 20).

-I didn't think that anyone would have a prayer of competing with Aaron Palushaj's effort against St. Lawrence for "Goal of the Year" but Tim Miller could at least be in the conversation. He scored Michigan's second goal of the game by spinning around to receive a pass from Caporusso, splitting the defense, spinning back around, and tucking it through Riley Gill. I think I'd severely injure myself if I ever tried something like that.

-Caporusso's second was off a beautiful feed from Palushaj. Palushaj cut in and darn near scored himself, then he went and corraled the puck, brought it back toward the front of the net and fed Caporusso for an easy tally.

-Good work on the special teams: 2-7 on the PP, 6-6 killing penalties (and 10-10 on the weekend), though the Broncos did take 12 of their 20 shots when they had the man advantage.

-Here's an interesting stat: The Wolverines took 8 penalties in the game and not a single one was on a defenseman. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it's nice to see Summers and Llewellyn go the whole weekend without getting sent to the box.

-Some cool stats courtesy of KC8NIY:
-I don't care that he plays the PP and doesn't play much on the PK, the fact that Aaron Palushaj has been on the ice for 26 of our 40 goals and just 4 of the 31 we've allowed is damn incredible.

-The surprising one is that Lebler has been out there for 10 of our goals and just 2 that we've allowed. I kind of thought he might be the odd man out on a lot of occasions this season, but if I remember right, he was one of the guys the coaches cited as having had a great offseason and it looks like it's paying off.

-Bryan Hogan has given up 4 goals combined in the first two periods, but 10 in the third. But Sauer's best period has been the third (5-8-4 goals allowed in the three periods). I think I have a solution to the goalie controversy!!!!

Links and whatnot: did a really cool feature on what our white sweaters have looked like over the years. The link takes you to the hockey page, and the link to the video is a few items down the Multimedia list.

Also, I got the question as to what font Michigan is using on the white jerseys this season, so that one could be customized. I found out that the lettering and numbering is actually the Green Bay Packers font this year. I guess we're just making the rounds through the NFC North.

The Port Huron Times-Herald did a story on local product and future Wolverine netminder Jack Campbell. I provided a couple of quotes for the story. It's a nice read if I do say so myself!

Mike Milano was charged with with two crimes, including one felony, in the incident which left Steve Kampfer on the injured list. Red hinted that there might actually be a chance that Kampfer will return to the ice this season, but that's still really up in the air, and I'd imagine it will depend in part upon how his re-evaluation goes. I'd expect they'll treat that one very carefully.

Friday, November 14, 2008

WMU 2, Michigan 1

Screw this, you're getting a copy and paste job from my notes. I don't feel like reliving this one again to formulate a usual post-game wrap. There's a little analysis at the end...

I wish Hagelin had scored on an opportunity in the early part of the first period. He took the puck backward at center to build up some speed, moved through center, split the D at the line, lost control, regained the puck back in the corner, got away from two guys there, and then thought about wrapping it around before bringing it out in front of the net. He tried to chip it short side and Gill stopped it. It would've been one for the highlight reel for sure. Great play nonetheless and some hard work out of a guy we've come to expect it from.

Ice is tilted our way in the early going. WMU has had one rush but that's about it. Michigan has been buzzing, but no grade A chances just yet.

WMU seems pretty content to sit back and play D right now. They're playing solid defense, but they haven't had anything even approaching an offensive opportunity.

Really good work by Hagelin and T-Llew. They've got Cirualo in for Fardig tonight. I wonder if that's an effort to change things up on the PK a little bit.

Good kill. WMU didn't get any chances on that one.

There's a big save by Gill late in the period. Wohlberg knocked the puck into the slot and Rust had a couple pops at it. The second one was a REALLY nice stop. Wohlberg has been strong in the last few games.

It's been that kind of year for Travis Turnbull so far. He turned the puck over deep in our offensive zone with 20 sec left in the period and then took a slashing penalty away from the play on a nothing rush. WMU has 1:50 on the PP at the start of the 2nd.

Nice step up by Llewellyn to break up a potential scoring chance. Gambled, but it paid off. Summers with another nice play on the 2nd PK of the period.

Three good kills so far tonight. WMU had a couple opportunities on that last one but I don't think they've gotten a quality shot off this whole game so far.

Summers just gave a glimpse of why we want him playing forward. He went FLYING down the left wing and tried to stuff one five hole. Palushaj tried to jump on the rebound and ended up in the net.

We're outshooting them pretty badly but a good number of our shots have been from the perimeter.

Great feed by Palushaj to Caporusso for a shot right at the periphery of the crease but he didn't have much space to work with and Gill made a good save. That's been our best chance so far.

WMU just had their best chance. They found Clackson in front with a pass from behind the goal line and Sauer was strong making the stop point-blank.

Woot! PPG! Lebler from Langlais and Palushaj. Nice to see Lebler get rewarded. I think he's been playing pretty well. Gotta admit, I looked up at the Wings game for a second and missed what happened, so no comment on the goal itself.

Shots are 22-6 right now. WMU just isn'tvery good, but they're playing a solid enough game for a team that's overmatched in talent. Michigan's only had about 3 real good chances. They're giving up shots, but they're playing solid enough defense that they aren't a bunch of high percentage chances.

WMU back to the PP. High hit by Miller. Not real smart.

Big block by Winnett after a turnover by Vaughan. Hagelin has really enjoyed playing the puck back into his own end on these PKs (he is European, after all). It's worked pretty well but it almost bit us there when Vaughan toe-picked. Another really good kill. WMU hasn't gotten anything going on the PP. Or even strength.

Summers with a partial breakaway stoned by Gill. He's jumping up some tonight and I like it. I feel like Summers should get the Jack Johnson green light to jump into the play a little more often. Maybe you have to curtail it with the injuries on our blueline, but I really like what he brings when he jumps into the play and he hardly ever does it.

End 2 with Michigan up 1-0. That goal just might hold up (errr.....nope!) with the way WMU is playing offensively, but I'd prefer to pop in a few more and end this thing.

Wow. Billy was down and out there and Squires tried to bring it around the net and tuck it but Sauer somehow got over and gloved it. Beautiful save on a scary moment. Holy buckets!

And they score 2 seconds later off a draw. Awesome. Got tipped in front.

Great (scary) individual effort by Caporusso out by the blueline. He shrugged off 2 WMU players and got it to Hagelin. He had an open lane to shoot but it looked like he tried to pass it and fanned. Later in the shift, they hit on a really nice cross ice pass and tried to go back into the slot. Hagelin's shot was blocked.

I really like watching Robbie Czarnik skate. He's so smooth out there. Really random comment but I thought that at least 3 times tonight...

WMU is really buzzing. Our defenseman fell and led to a great scoring chance but the guy didn't get it on net. Then the puck came back out in front and Sauer made a couple of saves.

I dunno why we can't score when Sauer is in net for us. Michigan has given him NO goal support this year. Then again Jeff Lerg would probably take the goals we've given him. Still, 12 in 6 games is not the way to win hockey games.

Caporusso just beat their whole team. I have no idea how that stayed out. He is crafty. We're all over them, but it's still tied with 7 min left.

Sauer with a nice save on Galivan when he cut to the middle on Langlais.

I don't think Sauer's play has been that different from Hogan's this year, butHogan is so much better at handling the puck. Sauer scares the hell out of me when he goes behind the net.

Wow wow wow. He might have been screened but if he wasn't, sweet Jesus was that a bad goal. Oh, Billy, Billy....No replay, so it's hard to really comment on it. I hope he was screened because that was just bad.

2 goals by their D, who had 2 goals the whole year combined. Stellar.

And this is why you can't let teams hang around. A faceoff win and a fluky goal and suddenly we're losing to the worst team in the CCHA.

Czarnik set up Hagelin from a bad angle but Gill was there. He's been pretty darn good tonight.
Rusty was in cold turkey and Gill made the stop. Getting some chances, but they just can't solve Riley Gill.

Can't even get Sauer of the net. This is really nice. Icing with 18 seconds leftand we'll get one more crack.

Won the draw but nothing much comes of it.


Gotta give WMU credit. They played the perfect game for a 1-6 hockey team. Play solid defense, keep yourself in the game and see what happens. They've scored just 12 goals in their last 7 games, but they've actually managed a win and three ties in those seven games. It means they're getting some solid play in net and that they're not all that bad defensively.

I don't understand why we can't put the puck in the net when Sauer is in there. I have to believe it's more of a Friday/Saturday thing than a Sauer/Hogan thing, but they need to get it together. You can't crap away points to the WMUs and Alaskas of the world...and we're still the only team in conference that NMU has beaten (btw, they're 1-5-1-0 in the about underachieving). This isn't the time to be pissing away points.

This might be a knee jerk reaction, but I think I liked Palushaj better with Rust. Caporusso is good enough that he doesn't really need Palushaj to create for him (he had like 5 goals before Palushaj was moved to his wing). Rust has had a couple chances, but has otherwise been pretty invisible lately. He's only got one point in his last six games.