Friday, February 29, 2008

Know Your Opponent: Ferris State Bulldogs

The subject of my interview for this edition of Know Your Opponent works in Ferris State's athletic department. He's a big Michigan fan, however, as you'll see later in the interview. So, as with my interviewee who talked about Miami, he can provide a unique perspective on this weekend's games.

1) First off, thanks for helping us out with Miami. I figured Ferris would grab at least a point in that series since you guys are tough at home. I even thought they could steal a win. Didn't see a sweep coming. What the heck happened? You guys were 1-4-3 over eight games and then you go 3-0-1 against ND and Miami. Seriously though, what were you guys able to do against Miami to take them down? Were the Bulldogs scoring ugly goals, doing the hard work around the boards, crashing the net, or was it more run and gun? By the box scores they look like they were pretty different games. Ferris jumped on em Friday and then kind of hung on for dear life on Saturday with Miami peppering them. We're kind of a similar team to Miami, so that series is probably pretty relevant to this weekend.

The Miami weekend was very strange for Ferris' standards. The first game Miami started Effinger instead of Zatkoff. As a result Ferris was up 3-0 due to 3 soft goals on Effinger's part in the first 6 or 7 minutes. After that Zatkoff came in, Miami battled back, but any team that goes up 3-0 at home is hard to beat. Miami also killed themselves by allowing 2 PP goals in the 3rd, which resulted in the game winning goal.

Game 2 was all goaltending. You could tell Miami was very pissed off, and played much better, but Pat Nagle stood on his head, and had 37 saves in a 3-1 win. Both goals Zatkoff let in he had no chance, one was a breakaway, and the other he had a lot of traffic. The 3rd goal was a empty netter. FSU is like MSU if you get in those low scoring games they have a chance to slowly take you down.

2) What style are you guys playing this year? I honestly can't say I've seen Ferris a single time. By the looks of it (31st in offense, 11th in defense) you're getting by more on your goaltending/defense than the offense. Do you not really have the personnel to be an offensive team or is it more style of play than anything? I assume you've seen Michigan a few times this year (correct me if I'm wrong). Any thoughts on where Michigan will have an advantage, or are there any areas that you think FSU just might have the edge?

FSU is built from the net out. In my opinion their style is similar to MSU's. They do not have the personnel on offense to be able try and get in shootout with some teams. Scoring 6 on Miami was a fluke. U-M will definitely have a advantage on FSU with their speed. The whole defensive unit is very strong, but while watching them this year if you have a fast line you should get your chances. Porter/Kolarik would have been killer for FSU. Earlier this season I remember Crowder's line (MSU) giving them problems all night long because of his lines speed. Another advantage U-M will have is obviously their depth. Can't really say FSU has any clear cut advantage, but they are strong in low scoring games.

3) Tell me a little bit about your offense. What forwards should we look out for? Anyone in particular especially fun to watch?

Ferris does not have a single player on offense that makes you say "Wow!" You have to watch several of their games to start to appreciate any of their forwards. Cody Chupp is team leader in points, and is an extremely hard worker on both sides of the ice. He keeps improving every game. Another is Brendan Connolly (2nd in points). He probably has the best set of hands on the team, and is above average for speed, but he lacks size. Scoring for Ferris is like picking a name out of a hat. Anyone could do it at anytime. It could be Miller, Riley, Lewicki, Chupp, Connolly, or anyone else. In my opinion 2 younger guys are steeping up as of late, and that is Fillinger, and Menke. Fillinger's stats aren't showing it, but he has had some great chances.

4) Defensively, do you have a checking line that we'll expect to see against our top line, or does Daniels like to go more strength against strength? Who's on the top D pairing?

I don't think you will see a special line to go up against Porter's line. Most of the forwards are solid two way players. I expect Chupp's line to play the most against it though. Not sure who will be on Chupp's line this weekend, but good chance it's Miller/Menke. Lewicki is also a good defensive forward so he may be one against the top lines. I think Daniels will be playing pure defensive hockey, and just wait for a potential break/scoring chance.

The top defensive pairing was 3 year captain Adam Welch, and Scott Wietecha, but Welch is out for the year with a knee injury he suffered against LSSU. Now you will see a mix of Wietecha, Redmond, Case, Jorgensen, and Spezia. All these guys are above average. Non are pro prospects, or Jack Johnson hitters, but they all work their tail off when out there, and it shows. Wietecha is a freshmen, and I think he has a bright future. He plays every situation.

5) When I think Ferris/Michigan, I'm thinking there'll be some hard hits, some goonery, and some scrums after the whistle. Any "goons" or really good hitters?

You will definitely see some rough hockey/scrums. They are 3rd in the CCHA in PIMs. No real goons on the team, or heavy hitters, but they play chippy and physical.

6) The goaltending...I assume we'll see both keepers this weekend since Nagle fared so well against Miami in the Saturday contest. Do they differ in style at all? O'Keefe has the better numbers, but Nagle is pretty solid as well despite some "freshman nights" from the looks of it. Do you prefer seeing one in net over the other? Does Nagle have the look of a future starter, or will you be keeping your fingers crossed that the new kid coming in next year is a stud?

U-M should see O'Keefe, and Nagle this weekend. O'Keefe has been great all year. Top 5 in GAA/Save% in the CCHA. I think he's one of the most underrated players in the CCHA this year. Until the last two weekends it looked like Nagle hit the freshmen wall and was finished, but won the 2nd Miami game on his own, and had a 2-1 victory over Bowling Green. I think Nagle can be a future CCHA star. He has been a winner every place he has went (NAHL/AAA National Champion, and ranked 4th best North American goalie according to INCH). With that said though I prefer O'Keefe between the pipes. He had a rough year last season, but turned it around, and is playing very confident. (Sounds familiar! -ed.) Both goalies are similar, both butterfly goalies. O'Keefe is bulkier and great at his positioning. Nagle is very quick side to side. I can't really pick out a weakness on him yet, because he plays 50/50.

I will also bring up Derek MacIntyre. He is a SJ draft pick, and started the final month of last season, and played great (going 7-3 last 10 starts). He has only started one game (a loss to Union), but since Ferris clinched home ice and it will be his final game in Big Rapids there could be a chance he plays. Mac has poor rebound control, and doesn't make himself big in the net. Also lets a lot of goals in down low. When he's on top of his game though he can play very well. He showed that by beating MSU last season. On the other hand, he let in 9 goals in at Yost last season. It's always hard to say what you will get with Mac.

7) What players throughout the CCHA have impressed you this season?

I enjoyed watching Ryan Jones this year, although I thought he acted like a jerk on the ice. Although his stats don't pop out at you I always thought Jeff LoVecchio from WMU was a good player too. Derek Whitmore (BG), and Justin Abdelkader/Crowder stuck out to me too when they visited. Saving the best for last is obviously Porter/Kolarik. Was at both days of the GLI, and loved watching them play.

8) Michigan's on spring break this weekend, so the number of students there Friday night will probably be pretty low. How bout you guys? Will the Dawg Pound be out in full force? You've been to games and Ferris, you've been to games at Yost. Which student section you taking? And how biased is the answer? (FTR, I've only been up there one time and I couldn't make out any of the chants since the glass blocked a lot of them and we were at the far end of the rink....I enjoyed it though!)

Sadly the Dog Pound will probably be half empty. Haven't sold out once this year, even when they were on CSTV. Only around 1,100 fans watched Miami fall. I'm taking Yost as best student section in the doubt about it. The only chant I enjoy by the FSU students is when a ref makes a bad call they chant "We want Shegos!" There has been a fall in attendance in the student section due to Ferris' president banning many of their chants, and kicking many people out of games. A large group of students wrote a big letter to the school, and complained. (This is definitely something that I haven't heard about. It looks like Ferris was more gung-ho about changing the chants than Michigan, though I haven't heard any talk about the student section at Yost this year, which is a really nice change. With it being Senior Night against the #1 team in the country, I gotta believe they pack em in this weekend. Then again, 1,100 against Miami is kind of sad. -ed.)

9) Anything else that we should know about you guys? Care to offer up a prediction on this weekend? Also....who ya rooting for?

Basically all you need to know is if they game is low scoring it benefits Ferris State. Nagle/O'Keefe can steal games. If U-M go can up 2-0 there is a 90% chance the game is over. I will be rooting for U-M. My whole one side of the family donates to the school, and has had season football tickets for 33 years. I would be disowned if I rooted against them! On top of that I've watched FSU beat Miami twice, and ND so I'm happy for the year! I am predicting a U-M sweep. I believe U-M got the message from Red after their loss to MSU, and Ferris will run out of gas after their great 3 week run. If Ferris gets any points it will probably be in Big Rapids. (No prediction out of me because things tend to not go so well when I offer one up, but I'd much prefer to just go ahead and get a win Friday night so there's no pressure Saturday. With the way we usually play up at Ferris, I really don't want Michigan to have to win there to clinch the title. -ed.)

Thanks again to my interviewee. I really enjoyed this interview and I think there was some good information about a team that I rarely get to see play. Then again, I'm not sure I'll get to see em this weekend either. No TV coverage (thanks BTN) Friday night, and I'll probably only pay to watch on B2Network Saturday night if the game means something in the standings. Might as well use that night as a way to build up some credits with the gf since the playoffs are coming!

Since there's no chance of archived video this weekend, I'll probably save the "Going Upstairs - MSU Weekend" for next week sometime. I finally fixed my laptop, which will drastically cut the amount of time it takes me to do those articles, but it needs a new network card before I can get online.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Debunking the WCHA Myth

Let me be perfectly clear about this at the outset: I do think the WCHA is the best conference.

Where I disagree, however, is with the people who think that the mediocre teams in the WCHA are better than they are, solely because they're in the WCHA. I also disagree that the CCHA is a joke and that outside of the top 4, it's a horrible conference.

One of my favorite things to do is to take a look at numbers, with almost no idea about where they're going to lead me. I did it with the CCHA officials and I think that piece ended up being fairly interesting. The majority of this article was written over at USCHO in the "Minnesota State is over-rated" thread, which was basically making fun of the WCHA fans.

I find it amusing that when Miami loses to Ferris or Alaska, it's evidence that they're overrated and supports the idea that the CCHA sucks. But when CC loses to Michigan Tech, it's evidence of how deep that conference even the bad teams are still really good.

The strength of schedule of the WCHA is part of the reason that everyone thinks they're so good, and why there are so many teams in position to make the tournament. I decided to take a closer look at things to see what I found. It was pretty interesting. At least to me.

One of the best ways to compare teams between the conferences is to look at how they did out of conference.

CC beat Clarkson twice, RPI, Air Force, and Bemidji. Lost twice to UNH and lost to UMass.

NoDak killed MSU, beat Northeastern, split with UNH, swept Bemidji and tied BC.

Denver swept Maine, split with Notre Dame, beat Sacred Heart, Bemidji and Dartmouth. And lost to Air Force by 3.

Wiscy beat Notre Dame, swept Robert Morris, beat BGSU, tied MSU and Colgate, lost to OSU and Michigan.

St. Cloud swept Bemidji, beat Harvard, took 3 of 4 points from Canisius, split with Clarkson and lost to Miami.

Those are the top five teams in the WCHA and they have a stellar 25-10-4 record out of conference. But what do you notice? Lots of games against Bemidji, lots of games against the smaller conferences and the EZAC. What happens when they play the other "power" conferences, the CCHA and Hockey East? Well, they're a combined 8-8-2 (3-3-1 against the "Big Four" in the CCHA). That's hardly dominance.

To keep going, MSU-Mankato is 6-2 out of conference. Really good right? But. The wins came against UAH (2), Bemidji (2), Princeton and Yale. Whoa daddy stand back. They are 0-2 against Hockey East and the CCHA, both losses to 8th-place-in-the-CCHA Nebraska-Omaha (they're tied for 5th at the moment but are locked into the 8th seed).

These next two hurt my argument but I'll include them in the interest of being fair since they're in the tournament hunt as well. Minnesota-Duluth is 4-1-1 and 3-0-1 against Hockey East and the CCHA. The Gophers are 6-2-2 and 3-1-1 against the other two major conferences--though they lost to fricken RIT.

Still, the top eight are 14-11-4 against the CCHA and Hockey East (and the top 4 are 8-7-2). That doesn't paint the picture of WCHA dominance that people would have you otherwise believe.

To compare, here are the top 8 in the CCHA against the other 2 conferences:
Michigan: 7-1-0 overall, 7-1-0 against the WCHA/HE
Miami: 8-0-0, 3-0-0 (4-0-0 if you count a non-conference against OSU as a win over a "power" conference team)
MSU: 4-3-2, 0-3-2 (thanks for helping the cause, Sparty)
Notre Dame: 7-3-0, 1-3-0
BGSU: 3-3-0, 0-2-0
NMU: 3-4-1, 2-1-1
Ferris: 3-2-1, 0-0-0 (awesome schedule)
UNO: 4-3-0, 2-0-0

That's 15-10-3 against the power conferences (11-7-2 for the top 4), if you don't count Miami's win over OSU as a "good" win.

.552 winning % for the OMG TOURNAMENT BOUND WCHA teams.
.589 for the scum-sucking CCHA teams.

What's especially interesting is that while the CCHA and WCHA teams are both playing Hockey East, the CCHA teams have to go up against the theoretically tougher WCHA teams in this comparison, whereas the WCHA teams get to take on teams from the CupCake Hockey Association.

And even if you take out Michigan, who has clearly carried the banner (and whom, I assume, most WCHA fans would have no problem admitting is a legit team), they're still at a .475 against the WCHA and Hockey East (or 3 points out of 40 from having the same winning % as the WCHA teams...and that's without Michigan).

Take out Michigan and the WCHA's best team against good conferences (Duluth at 3-0-1) and it's:
.475 for the remaining 7 in the CCHA (.500 if Miami's win counts)
.500 for the remaining 7 in the WCHA

Straight up WCHA dominance.

I would also like to point out that the four teams tied for fifth in the CCHA right now are a combined 4-2-1 against WCHA squads, including UNO's two wins over Minnesota State.

In my view, a mediocre team is a mediocre team no matter what conference they play in. Just because NoDak, CC, and Denver are tough doesn't mean MSU-M and St. Cloud are better than their record appears.

It looks great that the top 8 in the WCHA are 41-15-7 out of conference. But when you break it down, maybe it's not as impressive as you'd think. I'd also point out that almost a quarter of those out of conference wins are against Bemidji State (9).

The WCHA is better top to bottom than the CCHA, but they're really not as different as people want you to believe. The WCHA will get more teams in, but of the true contenders, you've got one really scary team from each conference (Michigan and North Dakota), one team from each that looks good but has a question mark due to their play out of conference (CC and Michigan State), and one team from each that is highly ranked but a question mark due to recent play (Denver and Miami).

I'm sure I've opened a can of worms, but the numbers just don't show this WCHA dominance that the Westerners love to throw out there. The conference is the best top to bottom, and it deserves respect having won five of the last six and six of the last eight titles (by four different teams to boot). But I think it's a tired argument that the middle of the CCHA is crap and the middle of the WCHA is phenomenal. Some years, they're right. But an average team is an average team and this year I think we've got a little SEC syndrome going on in the Dub. The top couple teams are really good. The next couple could get a little rowdy. After that, you've got some average teams that everyone elevates far too much just because of what conference they're in.

Media Roundup: MSU Series 2

It was interesting, given the way that the rivalry typically goes, that both of these games ended up with a three goal spread. MSU got the first one, Michigan the second. It was enough to eliminate the Spartans from contention in the CCHA. Time to check out what people had to say about these contests.

The Michigan Side:
Official game stories, quotes, and highlights from Friday and Saturday. Palushaj and Pacioretty are the first freshman duo at Michigan to score 30 points apiece since Kosick and Langfeld. What happened that year? Hmmmm....

The Daily live blogs Friday and Saturday night.

Game stories from The Daily as well.

No features from them this week due to Spring Break.

Kind of ridiculous that Red has been our coach for 40% of the games in Michigan's history.

Ann Arbor News articles from Friday and Saturday night. Red was going to kill them if they didn't win Saturday. Message received.

Article from the Freep on Saturday's game. BLUE WALL! Friday's article was shorter! Some good quotes from Red in Saturday's.

The Grand Rapids Press had an article about Kolarik being on the bench. Sounds like the players really like having him there. Have we ever done that with an injured player before?

The MSU Viewpoint:
Spartan fan in a nutshell. I'm surprised they didn't just come out and say that they'd rather see Michigan lose than have MSU win.

Lansing State Journal's take on Friday and Saturday. Lots of comments on the Munn crowd from Friday. I really wonder why it can't be like that more often. Red was upset that the team wasn't humiliated to walk out of Munn having lost by 3. I'm with ya Coach.

State News stuff from Friday and Saturday. Some really classy quotes from Comley this time.

Other Stuff:
Good article on 2009 recruit Chris Brown. He's gonna be a good one. He's already big. Sounds like a good kid too. I always get a kick out of guys who became interested in Michigan because of their helmets. You never know what will make an impression on someone when they're little. Hell, I'm a Packers fan because when I was like 5 my zone soccer team was called the Packers.

MHNet points out that since Michigan is on Spring Break, WOLV-TV will not be covering the Michigan/FSU game this weekend. Bummer. I believe Saturday's game is on the B2Network. If it matters in the standings I'll probably buy that one. He also dug up a nice (well, kind of) quote about Czarnik from Red Line.

Not the best news on Kolarik from Saturday's game. They need to send him to Arnie Kander or something.

Given that the WCHA has the ten best teams in the country and the successful CCHA teams are just benefiting from an easy schedule, it's kind of amazing that our 8th place, below-.500-in-the-CCHA team (UNO) just finished a season sweep of the .500-in-the-WCHA, T-5th MSU-Mankato.

Also, how bout BU? I suspected that they'd be much better than their early-season record, and they've risen up to .500 overall, second place in Hockey East, and T-16 in the PWR.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Michigan 5, MSU 2

Much, much better.

As they did with Miami during the Friday night game a couple of weeks ago, Michigan blitzed their opponent in the first period, scoring three goals in the opening stanza to take a commanding lead into the intermission. MSU was able to pull back within one, but Pacioretty's goal late in the second period pretty much sealed the deal.

First and foremost, I feel as good for Tim Miller as I do about the win. Miller has always been one of my favorites on this team and it was nice to see him finally get pot one. In the past, I've always disagreed with people who have believed that you have to play the game to comment on it. I still do disagree, but one thing that I have learned since I've been playing hockey is just how frustrating it can be to go through a huge scoring drought. And when it finally ends, sometimes it can really help your play for the next few weeks. It really wouldn't shock me if the old Tim Miller is back for the rest of the season now, and that's a big boost to this team. I doubt he matches last year's goal total (7), but if we make a deep run into the tournament, I bet he approaches it.

Next up, Carl Hagelin. He didn't get an assist on it because he didn't touch the puck, but--much like Caporusso's goal against LSSU which couldn't have been scored without Turnbull pinning a Laker's stick on the faceoff--Palushaj's goal was completely set up by Hagelin's forecheck. He came flying in there, forced the turnover--which went right onto Palushaj's stick--and Pal buried it. I wish they could award assists on a play like that. Just another great example of why stats don't always tell the whole story.

Chris Summers, whose availability was in doubt after an injury Friday night, set the tone early with a huge hit on the first shift of the game. Without watching the tape again, I thought Summers played a really good game Saturday night. He was a team-high +3, so I imagine that's a pretty accurate statement.

Brandon Naurato had a huge goal late in the first period. It was on a power play thanks to an absolutely moronic penalty by Justin Abdelkader (who played like an idiot all weekend) and Michigan made him pay. Naurato tied for the team lead with seven shots on goal, and he made that one count.

The goal that clinched it was a beautiful Tomas Holmstrom-style tip in by Max Pacioretty. Mitera got one to the net, and Pacioretty tipped it up over Lerg's glove very late in the second.

No doubt MSU fans are going to be less than thrilled with Steve McInchak about the four straight power plays that Michigan got, but those were legit calls. Kennedy bumped Sauer and put both hands up into his mask and pushed him down. Abdelkader plowed Sauer. Sprague' s boarding call was a no-brainer, but it took the AR at center ice to call it. All three of those were dumb dumb dumb. MSU was playing stupid hockey for a lot of that game. And to be fair, McInchak also let a couple of blatant penalties go during Michigan power plays that would've put us up two men. I can remember a cross-check in the back in the middle of the offensive zone, as well as one of our players getting hog-tied around the boards. And the call on Llewellyn that led to MSU's second goal was on the weak side. I'll probably end up reviewing the calls again if I do the "Going Upstairs" feature this week, but I don't see much of a case to be upset about Saturday night's officiating.

Sauer made 26 saves and couldn't be faulted on the second MSU goal. That shot hit him in the mask and deflected right into the slot. Not much he could've done on that one. The first goal was one you'd like to see stopped. I know it's tough when the player shoots with his back to the goalie, but an unscreened backhand from outside the hash marks? You'd probably like that one back. Especially in a 3-0 hockey game. That goal gave MSU some life and they got back into the game with a PPG a couple minutes later.

Also, Mitera was much, much better Saturday night than he was on Friday night. Maybe he's still adjusting to his leadership responsibilities with being a captain--which have probably increased with Kolarik out? I have every confidence that he'll get back to being Mark Mitera before the tournament.

By the way, it was also nice to see Chad Kolarik in the Charlie Conway role, behind the bench Saturday night. I love that move. It's pretty well documented that he's a vocal leader, so why not put him behind the bench?

The win eliminates MSU from contention in the CCHA and means that Michigan needs just two points next weekend against Ferris State to clinch the CCHA title.

Friday, February 22, 2008

MSU 5, Michigan 2

I've got 10 minutes to get my thoughts down before I head to my hockey game. The score could've changed, I don't know. I turned it off after the fifth goal.

That sucked.

I don't know what it is about this team, but they just get off to crap starts when they face MSU. I remember last year, I was really upset that Michigan failed to put out any effort against the Spartans one game--it wasn't that bad tonight, but MSU clearly brings it when they play the Wolverines and Michigan just doesn't live up to their end of the bargain most of the time.

Mitera needs to find his game, quickly. He's been off for a good portion of the new year. It's at the point where I'm hoping that there's nothing wrong that we don't know about, because he seems really off. Hopefully it's just a hockey thing. He made a terrible play early on that led to a great scoring chance. Left his guy wide open on the MSU goal. Then missed a Spartan player coming out of the box and gave up a breakaway. That was in maybe the first ten minutes of the hockey game. That led to my first "Maybe he stole someone's credit card" joke of the night.

We just didn't play smart tonight. Lots of dumb (legit) penalties, the worst of which was Hagelin's checking from behind call while we were already down a man. That led to goal #5 and me shutting the TV off. Uncharacteristic.

Sauer looked like Billy of last year. He couldn't do anything on either of the first two goals, but the third was probably the worst goal he's given up all year and you simply can't do that in a 2-1 hockey game against a rival. The fifth goal wasn't much better.

Winnett missed an easy chance which could've made the game 2-2 heading to the second intermission. He made up for it, kind of, with a gorgeous goal where he dangled through a Spartan, cut in on net and somehow got one in. That's the first time he's shown anything the entire season and he scores this beautiful goal out of nowhere. Very Tyler Swystun of him.

Kampfer was strong tonight. Pacioretty had a nice goal off a good feed from Palushaj. Turnbull looked good up on the top line, at least on the first watch. We had a bunch of chances in the first two periods, just couldn't capitalize on most of them. Rust put one off the bar. We probably had Lerg beat 5 times, but only put one in the net.

Shots were like 27-8 through 2 periods. I think that's somewhat inflated as part of the Lerg For Hobey Finalist campaign, but we definitely carried the play to that point, save two errors by the defense that ended up in our net.

They really need to suck it up and get a win tomorrow. Based on past history against MSU at the Joe it's probably not likely, but they really need to respond to this. Come out and look like you actually want it, guys. This really is pathetic. I feel like every single time we play MSU, I feel the same way whether we lose or tie. MSU clearly has this team's number, and they bring it when these guys get on the ice. Gotta credit them for that.

I Just Can't Help Myself

The Miami folks are at it again.

The "dynasty" stuff was absolutely amazing. Then the writer came out with another article, discussing if officials should be allowed to work the games of their alma mater. Apparently there have been lots of complaints in a Facebook group due to the fact that Matt Shegos, a Michigan alum, was allowed to work the Michigan/Miami series, where Miami was fortunate to come away with a point.

Now, we get a Letter to the Editor from Rebecca Luzadis, an Associate Professor of Management at the school. She tries to explain how bias isn't something you can control and, despite the best efforts of the CCHA, bias in Matt Shegos still exists.

My question to those who were bitching, and those who continue to bitch: Did you, ya know, watch the games?

During Friday night's game Miami had seven, SEVEN, power plays in the the third period, which allowed them to make a game out of it.

The next night, he missed a blatant trip against Hagelin which started the rush on Miami's first goal. One of his linesmen tripped Mitera on Miami's second goal. And the fourth goal very possibly hit the netting out of play.

For the weekend, Michigan had a whole one more power play opportunity than Miami, which, when you look at the track record of the series, is actually below the usual amount that we get when non-Michigan-alum refs do the game.

Over the past 5 years, Matt Shegos has done 28 Michigan games. In that time, the Wolverines have been given 14 more power play opportunities than their opponents, or 1 additional opportunity per weekend. Not at all an unreasonable amount, given that Michigan has been one of the top programs in the country. They clearly play less-talented teams more often than not, so it's not absurd that they're getting more power plays than their opponent. Quite honestly, it's expected.

Additionally, in Michigan/MSU games, where you would expect Shegos's so-called bias to shine through, the Wolverines have actually had four fewer power play chances than the Spartans, including a game at Yost where the Spartans were given eight power plays to Michigan's four. Does it mean he screwed up? Absolutely not. But I'd also argue that if he were truly biased, he'd find a way to put Michigan on the PP a lot more often than he does. There are a number of refs who are more generous to Michigan with power play opportunities than Matt Shegos. Steve Piotrowski was by far the most kind to Michigan, and he was considered to be the best ref in the conference (Ferris State grad, for the record).

Where would this ban stop? Should Michigan State alums not be allowed to do Michigan games, since they generally would rather see us lose than have MSU win? Should a Michigan alum be allowed to work Ohio State games? Should Tom Anastos be allowed to rule on matters that could benefit Michigan State?

Miami's biggest problem in that series was that Jeff Zatkoff's glove was too slow. Not that Matt Shegos was the ref. If you don't like the way the games were called, chances are it's because Shegos is an idiot. Not that he's biased.

I'd be a lot more inclined to be sympathetic if anybody could point out some examples of this blatant bias that has led to all this talk. At least two, if not three, of Miami's goals Saturday night were official-aided. There's simply no way to watch that series and think "Man, I bet Shegos went to Michigan with the way he's calling this game."

Miami fan, I'm sorry your team choked when they were on the national stage. Get over it, try and do better next time. You've got a really good hockey team. Stuff like this letter to the editor and the column preceding it just make you look like Penn State football fans. To be clear, I don't think the article was especially bad, just that I think it's absurd that it was even discussed after that weekend of play. Matt Shegos has been a ref for a long time, and he's done Michigan games for a long time. What about those games warranted even bringing this up? Apart from the fact that Miami got pretty much dominated.

I'm as big of a Michigan fan as there is, and I'd gladly support a ban on Matt Shegos doing our games. That alone should tell you that he's not calling games blatantly in our favor.

10 Things to Know About Michigan State Part Deux

The weekend is finally here and it's time for Michigan to play MSU in a series that won't see Chad Kolarik on the ice, will see Red Berenson coach his 1,000th game tonight, and might see the Wolverines clinch a CCHA title.

8:05 puck drop tonight on CSTV, 7:05 tomorrow on Fox Sports Detroit. You can also watch tonight's game on CSTV PPV for $7.95.

10 things to know about MSU and this weekend in general:

1) As I said, tonight will be Red Berenson's 1,000th game behind the bench at Michigan. Congrats to Red on a great milestone. As for the CCHA title, it could conceivably happen as early as tonight if Michigan wins and Miami somehow loses to WMU. On our end, two points this weekend eliminates MSU. Four points wins the title.

2) Spartina is now 20-8-5 on the season (16-5-3 in the CCHA). Since we last saw them, they've split with Omaha, been swept by NMU, and swept WMU, outscoring their opponents 16-15 in that six game span. They've moved up to #6 in the USCHO and USA Today polls, and sit 7th in the Pairwise.

3) MSU will apparently be without freshman forward Dustin Gazely, who injured his knee in practice. He has 3 goals and 11 points in 32 games. There's been some question on USCHO if this report is accurate.

4) The Spartans have 8 players with 20 or more points, led by Tim Kennedy with 14-18--32 in 33 games. Benedict Lerg leads them in goals with 17. Mike Ratchuk is their leading defense scorer with 6-15--21. Jeff Lerg is 19-8-5 on the year with a 2.25/.922.

5) Lerg, Crowder, and Kennedy have fared the best against Michigan in their careers. Lerg has 11 points in 18 games (seems like about 30 points to me). Kennedy and Crowder each have 10 points in 11 games. All three players have six tallies against the Wolverines. 5 of Crowder's have come on the PP. Want a candidate to end up in the box? Justin Abdelkader, who hopefully will be moved at the deadline by the Wings, has taken 13 penalties in 12 games against Michigan. Ratchuk is -5 in 8 games and has just 1 point--a goal. Go after him! Jeff Lerg is 5-3-4 against Michigan and has somehow given up 2.43 goals per game. He has a .917 save percentage and 2 shuouts.

6) After this weekend, Michigan and MSU will have played 269 times, according to MSU's records which include 5 extra games (and 4 Michigan wins). That's second all-time to North Dakota/Minnesota as the most-contested series.

7) Michigan ranks second in the country in scoring offense (3.88 goals per game) while MSU comes in 11th (3.21 goals per game). It's the same rankings on the defensive side. Michigan is second in the country at 1.97 gpg (wow) and MSU is 11th giving up 2.36 gpg.

8) The power plays are very close. Michigan is 5th nationally (21.3%) and MSU is 6th (21.2%). The Spartans have given up one additional short-handed goal. They've had 184 power play opportunities to our 174 this year.

9) Michigan is 10th nationally on the penalty kill (88.7%) but has tallied seven shorties. MSU is further down the list at 22nd (85.5%) and has four short-handed goals. They've been short-handed 35 fewer times, however.

10) Over the past five years, and 22 games, Michigan has had nine fewer power plays than MSU. There have been 9 games where Michigan has had more man-advantages, 10 where we've had fewer, and three where the teams have been equal. On average, there have only been about nine power plays combined, per game. Quick rule of thumb: Smile if it's Aaron (+2 over 2 games) or Hall (+3 over 2 games). Frown if it's McInchak (-5 over 3 games) or Shegos (-4 over 9 games). Chances are, we're getting Shegos, since he's apparently the best ref in the conference. Just tell your crew not to trip our defensemen tonight, kay?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Media Roundup: LSSU Sweep #2

Michigan won two games but lost their second best player with Chad Kolarik going out for at least a month. Time to take a look and see what the media is saying:

The Michigan View:
Official game stories and highlights from Friday and Saturday. We're 10-1-1 as the #1 ranked team in the country. That's much improved over previous efforts. Read Kolarik's quotes from Friday night. What a great kid. Red was asked Saturday about Miami being swept by Ferris. His response was much classier than, "Should we have a moment of silence?"

Great article about the Michigan coaching staff.

Ann Arbor News game stories from Friday and Saturday. Interesting that Kolarik said a bunch of people fell during the warmup Friday night. There were a bunch of people falling in that end during the game too. I wonder if there was an issue with the ice. It would make sense.

Crowds at Yost have been huge as of late, even for the lower-ranked opponents. Nice to see. Only four of our home games this year have played to a below-capacity crowd. Antoine also makes mention of the "Free spear" Dan Eves was allowed to give. Not sure how you let that happen. He should've gotten a DQ if it was severe enough to warrant calling 5 and a game after the game was over.

Article on Kolarik's hamstring injury. From this article, it seems that 4-5 weeks is the far end of the spectrum for amount of time they expect Chad to miss. That would be really huge if he was back in time for the Joe, if we make it. It'd be nice for him to be able to lace them up for one more game at Yost though. No sense in rushing it, but it'd be sad for him to not be able to play there one last time. No one wants to be helped off during their last game there.

Hogan >>>>> Jakiel. Also, note the weird start times for this weekend's games. 8:00 Friday, 7:00 Saturday. The players also got a visit from Gordie Howe. It looks like Turnbull gets first crack at filling Kolarik's spot. Well earned. He's been stellar this year.

Quick was arraigned on identity theft charges amongst other things. He used the card to pay down his own card and to pay a traffic ticket. I'm not commenting on this situation again but you can probably figure out what word I'm thinking of at the moment.

Daily Liveblogs for Friday and Saturday.

Daily game story from Friday and Saturday.

Palushaj wins CCHA Rookie of the Week.

Kolarik's injury leaves a hole on the ice. Even in practice. Even though he can hardly put on his socks right now, he hasn't lost hope of being able to play on Senior Night. Just don't push it Chad. We need you healthy to take a run at the big prize.

Four points in the last four games wins the CCHA title. Don't take it for granted.

Red has been impressed with the way Caporusso has come back from his injury. And a classy quote from Jim Roque about Kolarik's injury.

Mgoblog updates us on the PWR again. Long story short, root against CC and NoDak. Don't get swept by Sparty. We're in great shape to get one of the coveted top 2 seeds.

Also, root against Wisconsin since I want us to be in Madison, but I don't want the Badgers there. Not a far drive for M fans, Saturday/Sunday regional, and lots of really cheap tickets if Wiscy misses the tournament. Plus Madison is a cool city. Lots of fun bars to go to celebrate/drown sorrows at after the games. The fun thing is that since we've played Minnesota twice and Wiscy once, rooting against Wisconsin this weekend helps us too! Even if it means we have to root for Minnesota. It'd be really fun to see those bastards finish ninth in the WCHA. I guess either way we win this weekend!

The LSSU Side:
Official game stories from Friday and Saturday. Game story from the Soo Evening News. Nothing overly interesting in any of those articles. No coverage from the LSSU student paper.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Moffie to go with our Moffatt

On top of things as always, Bob Miller from the Yost Post has reported that Avon Old Farms defenseman Lee Moffie has committed to the Wolverines. According to the Avon Old Farms roster, Moffie is a junior right now, so that would put him in the entering Class of 2009.

Avon Old Farms is kind of gross. They stand at 22-1-0 on the season with their lone loss coming against Matt Herr's Kent squad in the championship game of the Christmas Holiday Classic. There are two games left in their regular season before they attempt to defend their Founder's League title.

Moffie has posted a 7-24--31 line in 23 games back on the blueline.

In August, McKeen's wrote the following about him:
08/06/2007 - Big and strong defenseman with intriguing raw ability .. awkward but powerful skater who needs to refine his foot work .. owns a pretty good top gear .. has a lot of talent but he doesn't think the game well.

Last week, they also profiled some of the Avon players, including Moffie, and were pretty complimentary.
Continues to have a strong offensive season and as of 1/30/07, Moffie totals were 6–19–25 in 19 games .. logs a lot of icetime .. his best asset has been his skating, as he is a fluid skater with a nice stride .. has the ability to skate the puck and really move up ice for a quick transition into the offensive zone .. has a good shot from the point and it is accurate .. the lone issue with his game is in the defensive zone .. would like to see him be more physical, although a mean streak does come out once in awhile .. also on 1-on-1 situations, would like to see him play the body more, along with a little more urgency in the defensive zone

They list him at 6'1", 200 lbs.

I don't subscribe to The Scouting News, but they have an article titled "14 Reasons Why We Love Lee Moffie's Game" so I think it's safe to assume they're fans as well.

It appears based on comments here and there that UNH was after Moffie as well. He sounds like a player with a lot of potential. With Burlon, Pateryn, Moffie, Bennett and Merrill committed, along with three freshman defenders on the team, the future of the Wolverine defense corps is coming into shape. And it looks pretty damn good.

Moffie joins Chris Brown, Kevin Lynch, AJ Treais, and perhaps Greg Pateryn as a member of the 2009 class.

Going Upstairs: LSSU Series

These games weren't nearly as interesting as the ones we played against Miami, but I think "going upstairs" to review the goals, penalties, and anything else that might be interesting while I fast-forward is reasonable enough. There are few circumstances that would compel me to rewatch an entire game against the Lakers.

Friday Night:
Simon Gysbers got thing started for LSSU just 2:20 into the game. This goal came as a result of about 35 seconds of play with the puck in the Michigan zone. The Lakers dumped the puck in, and it looked like the puck took a bad bounce when Michigan tried to clear it around to Travis Turnbull so it stayed in the zone. Lake State just kind of mucked with it in the corner for a little while. Summers knocked Blain to the ice in the corner to Sauer's left but Blain was able to shield the puck while he was down and he popped right back up with it on his stick. Caporusoo was down in the corner with his man, as they had battled with Summers and Blain for the puck. Kampfer was guarding the front of the net, so Naurato came down to take the guy in the slot and left the point open. Blain brought it slightly around the boards and a lane opened up to the right point. Summers moved to take the guy in the slot, Naurato couldn't get to the point in time, so Gysbers got the shot away and it looked like it hit something on the way through but I can't tell what. Sauer got a piece of it but not enough.

I'm not sure there's any blame to be assessed on that one. It was just nice work in the corners by the Lakers. Possibly Naurato could've gone right to the point instead of stopping at Acton in the high slot but I'm not sure he would've gotten there. And with Caporusso in the corner, he probably prevented the pass from going to Acton initially anyway. Acton was calling for it.

Also of note: When the puck went in, Caporusso was going to be called for interference. It would've been a good call. He hog-tied his man.

The first penalty of the game came off a faceoff that was won by LSSU. Their point man took a shot that was blocked by Caporusso or the guy that was tied up with Louie. Naurato came back and dug the puck free and was hooked when he tried to skate away with it. Definitely a penalty. Also, I don't think I mentioned this last week, but Naurato had a couple of really nice defensive plays. He was back-checking hard. Nice effort out of a guy not known for his defense or skating.

We went to another power play when on the breakout, Turnbull threw the puck into the corner in an attempt to dump-and-chase. Caporusso beat his man into the corner and Oleksy got his stick around Caporusso and pulled him down. Another good call.

At this point, Kolarik was sitting on 20 goals. By the end of the night he'd match his number (24). Michigan scored on a delayed penalty so Oleksy came out of the box and Cowie went in. On the goal, Langlais hit on a cross-ice pass to Palushaj, which also spanned the length of the neutral zone. He got past Cowie and cut in on Mahoney-Wilson. In an effort to prevent Palushaj from getting a shot off, Cowie hauled him down. Pal still got the shot away and as Cowie and Palushaj slid into Mahoney-Wilson and pushed him to the right side of the net, the puck drifted out into the middle of the crease. Kolarik was following the play and had an easy tap-in. Good penalty call too.

Mahoney-Wilson made the save of the night on the ensuing power play. Palushaj set up with it in the left corner. He went down low to Kolarik who centered the puck to Pacioretty in the slot. He got off a weak shot as he was harassed by the defenseman. Rather than cover up, Mahoney-Wilson poked it out to his left right onto Porter's stick. Porter got the puck up high like he wanted to, but Mahoney-Wilson saved his own bacon by diving and knocking it out of the air with his trapper.

Michigan nearly took a lead at the 2:37 mark of the second period. Turnbull carried the puck into the zone and threw a bad angle shot at the net. The rebound kicked out into the slot right to Caporusso who rung a wrist shot off the bar.

Lake State got their first power play off a turnover by Pacioretty. The Lakers were breaking out down the left wing side. Summers went for the hit (which was fine because he had help). He kind of missed and as he was going by, swept his left leg and tripped up the Laker player. Clearly a call.

Too many men was called on LSSU. They don't usually get those wrong and this was no exception. The announcer spotted it right away, and it was obvious on the telecast. You couldn't see it develop, but it looked as if a Laker defenseman went to change, Michigan started to break out and he changed his mind, but not before someone else jumped on.

Kolarik's second of the night was all Kevin Porter, just 30 seconds after Porter barely missed hooking up with Pacioretty on a 2 on 1. Kampfer blocked a shot, Kolarik chipped it off the boards to Porter who went flying down the right wing. He and Pacioretty came in two on four, so Porter took the puck into the corner and then stopped and curled back to get himself open. He then slid a pass to Kolarik at the top of the circle and Kolarik unleashed his deadly snapper from the hash-mark. Is there a more lethal player from that distance in all of college hockey? Probably not.

Just a few seconds after the goal, Summers went to the box again. Lake State was working the puck in behind the Michigan net. Both Summers and Llewellyn were checking their men. The puck slid out to the left of Sauer and the Laker then threw it back behind the net to the other corner. Summers just pinned his man against the boards and took him to the ice. Pretty clear he interfered.

Into the third period, Michigan received a very rare 2 minute 5 on 3. Two penalties were called on the same play and they were both legit. Llewellyn was able to win a battle on the boards and throw the puck into the zone. Pacioretty went in after it and pretty much just got jacked in the head on a hit by MacVoy. Play continued and Porter made a great feed to a streaking Llewellyn who put the shot on net. The rebound popped up in the air and as Kolarik went to grab it, Gysbers grabbed him around the neck, pulled him down, then pushed him in the face which basically guaranteed he was going to be called. I'm not sure if Sergott called the first Gysbers infraction or the second, but they were both legitimate penalties, though I can definitely understand only calling one of the two. What makes it worse for Gysbers is that I think he called the second infraction based on the fact that it was called CTH-Roughing. Neither was smart, but the punch to the face was completely unnecessary.

Michigan didn't capitalize, marking the second week in a row they failed to score on a LONG 5-on-3. Their best chance was right off the faceoff. Kampfer sent it to Mitera at the left point who went down low to Turnbull. Turns immediately fed it through the slot to Caporusso. Mahoney-Wilson was down sliding post-to-post and if Caporusso could've gotten a shot upstairs, he had the whole net. It just rolled off his stick, however, and he didn't get a good shot off.

All wasn't lost, however, as Michigan brought the puck up late in the penalties. Kolarik threw one toward the net, it was knocked off Mahoney-Wilson's pad right onto Porter's stick. He had a goal, but Schwab was able to get his stick onto Porter's right when he was shooting and the puck went behind the net. Kolarik scooped it up, threw it toward the slot and it deflected off Mahoney-Wilson's stick and in.

Just after that goal, MacVoy headed to the box for hooking. Summers had the puck in his own end, MacVoy came in on the forecheck. Summers spun and MacVoy hooked his arm. If there was a penalty in this game that was on the weak side, this was the one. Summers got tugged, it threw him off for a split-second and then he made the play he would've made anyway. The hook didn't affect the play from what I could tell, but by the rules it was a hook.

On the delayed call, Michigan set up behind the net and they were able to get it to Caporusso coming down the right wing. He took it behind the net and tried to wrap the puck around and in. This one wasn't as close as the one on Saturday night, but it went right through the goal mouth, hit Rust in the skate, stayed there, and even in the scrum somehow stayed out of the net.

Lake State got back within one with about five minutes to go in the game. Miller had the puck right in front of the Michigan bench and looked to go to Lebler. Perkovich made a really nice play to get Porter's stick, deny the ability to make a pass, then took the puck. He carried in and got it to Schwab in the middle of the ice, who sent a shot wide of the net. It caromed off the end boards and back out to Perkovich. Sauer had gone down on the original shot and couldn't recover as Perkovich lifted it into the net. When Perkovich originally passed the puck, Mitera lunged out with his stick in an effort to block the pass. That was enough for Perkovich to get around him and Mitera wasn't able to get back to prevent him from putting the puck in the net.

Late in the game, LSSU got one last chance when Matt Rust was called for interference. This is at least the third or fourth time this year Rust has ended the game in the penalty box. He needs to stop doing that. Rust got tied up with his man coming into the zone and lost his stick. Play continued down into the low circle and Rust did too good of a job tying up a guy without the puck and was called for interference. I'm iffy on this one. I'll put this in the same category as MacVoy's penalty earlier. Yes Rust interfered with the guy, but he didn't prevent a scoring chance, he didn't prevent a pass from connecting, he didn't prevent a pass from behind made. When Rust was interfering, Michigan was busy winning a battle for the puck in the corner. There was no way what he did had any effect on the play. You kind of make yourself a target when you don't have a stick, however. Not a fan of the call, especially in the waning minutes of a one-goal hockey game.

It didn't matter, however, as the Michigan penalty killers never let LSSU near the net. After clears by Kolarik, Summers and Mitera, Summers tried to ice it again. Gysbers jumped and kept the puck in at the line, but when he tried to move it, Porter blocked the attempt. Kolarik snuck in there, dug the puck away and took it end to end, putting it safely into the empty net for his fourth of the night, and fourth short-handed goal of the year.

A big surprise when I looked at the stat sheet after the game was that Dan Eves was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for spearing at the 20 minute mark. It wasn't caught on film. As I mentioned before, my big problem with this penalty is that Eves wasn't given a DQ and forced to sit Saturday night. Spearing is one of the most serious things that a hockey player can do. There's a reason that it's an automatic five and a game. It's dangerous. The game was over. Giving him five and a game misconduct there doesn't even slightly penalize him. Give him the DQ, make him sit the next night. Especially if he speared someone after the final horn (I'm not sure, I guess it could've taken place during the last few seconds).

Saturday Night:
The first penalty of the hockey game came about 13 1/2 minutes in. Pacioretty was bringing the puck into the zone and got checked by Stonehouse. He chipped it in deep and as he tried to get into the corner after it, Stonehouse took him into the boards again. Not a flagrant penalty but clear obstruction.

Michigan capitalized on the chance, with Caporusso's unassisted goal. Caporusso lost a neutral-zone faceoff, but Turnbull tied up Gutwald's stick just inside the blueline. Caporusso was able to grab the puck, bring it into the high slot, get Inglis down, carry it around the defenseman and put it past the flailing goalie. That's a play that Turnbull doesn't get an assist on, but he should. He was crucial to the puck ending up in the net. If he doesn't tie up Gutwald, the puck comes right back out of the zone and it's a nothing play. Instead, Louie grabs it and it's 1-0 Michigan. Again, Travis Turnbull finds a way to turn hard work into a goal for the good guys.

It was 2-0 less than a minute later. Summers sent a crisp pass to Palushaj who tipped it to Rust in the middle of the ice. Kaunisto had come up to lay a body on Palushaj, so MacVoy was back playing defense but it was like he wasn't there. Rust vs. MacVoy in skating? No contest. Rust took it to the outside, got around him, transferred it to his forehand and snapped a shot through Inglis's five-hole. Not a goal you want to give up. Perhaps he was a split-second late going down due to what had just happened a moment ago where Caporusso didn't shoot and got him out of position?

Lake State got their first chance on the power play late in the period when Langlais got called for slashing. Scrymgeour brought the puck up ice two on two. He dropped it for his teammate as they criss-crossed. Langlais went to hit him but didn't get very much and was beat. Sim got the pass back across to Scrymgeour and Langlais slashed him, then tripped him to prevent a scoring opportunity.

Fardig got called for tripping early in the second. He went to hit Stonehouse, who had thrown on the brakes. Digger's foot tripped him up. Have to call that.

Michigan then got called for another too many men on the ice penalty (no replay, but I assume it was legit), and this one bit them as LSSU scored on the power play. They dumped the puck in behind Hogan and Hogan came out to play it. He dumped it toward the boards but it hit Sergott and stayed in the zone. The next clearing attempt hit MacVoy. Gysbers made a nice play to hold the puck in at the line on clearing attempt #3. Acton one-touched it to MacVoy, who faked a shot, got Vaughan down, went around him and passed it to Eves back-door for the slam dunk. The back-door was open because Mitera had come up to play Acton. If he didn't move the puck to MacVoy quickly, Mitera probably gets him. Instead Eves was left open for the goal.

Michigan's next power play came when Porter was tripped. He was carrying the puck away from the boards and stepped on Schofield's stick and fell to the ice. That was more incidental than anything else, but it's always going to look bad. Probably didn't warrant a call. The biggest qualm here is they got the wrong guy. After sending Schofield (#23) to the box, they grabbed Oleksy (#22) and put him in instead.

The eventual game-winning goal was a bad break for LSSU. Turnbull threw the puck into the corner and we really didn't have anyone chasing it. Gysbers went back to get it and blew a tire. His defense partner had cut in front of the net because he thought Gysbers was going to grab it and take it behind the goal. So when Gysbers wiped out, Turnbull, skating hard as always, was able to sneak in there and throw the puck into the slot where Caporusso one-timed a wrist shot up into the top corner. Another big effort play by Turnbull who was originally just skating to go lay a hit on a defenseman that never showed up. He ended up assisting on the game winner. And a great shot by Louie, who could've had a hat trick really easily.

Early penalty in the third on Langlais, who hooked the guy when he was back-checking. A little on the weak side, Chad didn't like it, but he hooked him. Probably doesn't get called unless the guy falls, but he fell.

LSSU was a little slow on a line change and got called for a too many men penalty. They had seven on the ice, five well into the play, and the other two were filing in through the bench door. The play was going right by the LSSU bench and Sergott had a great view of the change. From what I saw, it was maybe a weaker too many men penalty, but the replay didn't really catch the change. The guys coming on must've pushed it too far, because based on where the five guys on the ice were, I'm not sure how the players coming off weren't off yet.

Less than a minute later, Langlais got called for another penalty and he didn't like this one either. I think he had a case on this one. They didn't show a replay, but I didn't see anything that looked like holding. I could've seen interference right when his man touched the puck because it was a shove right after the guy knocked it ahead, but that would've been borderline as well...

The problem was compounded when Summers went off right after for holding. Legit. He grabbed the guy. This set up the five on three where Kolarik got hurt. After he was injured, he wins for effort play of the year. Despite an injury that will keep him out for a month or more, he was able to get his stick on a pass and knock it away and then was able to break up a pass that would've created a great scoring opportunity. God bless his cotton picking maize and blue heart. He just stretched really awkwardly. Tough break for Chad and I hope to God he's back for the tournament. Right now they're saying 4-5 weeks. I hope so. Four weeks would put him back for the second round of the CCHA Tournament. So if it's five or more, he's played his last game at Yost and that's really sad. It's a major bummer that he won't play on Senior Night. And this derails any shot he had of jumping into the conversation to be in the Hobey Hat Trick--or probably one of the ten finalists. Disappointing, because it would've been very deserved. He said his goal was to help win Kevin Porter the Hobey. He's done a lot of good in that regard. Hopefully he passes that message on to whomever takes his spot on the top line, likely Palushaj, who filled in the rest of the game.

LSSU closed back within one off some good work along the boards. MacVoy was able to dig it out and get a shot on Hogan. The rebound came out and Eves chipped it back to Kaunisto at the point. His shot hit Schofield on the way through and it ended up in the back of the net.

Things got a little hairy a moment later when Palushaj got called for hooking. There was maybe no specific hook that deserved to be called, but as the LSSU player was skating up ice, he tugged at him three or four times. That's probably getting called no matter what. On the PK, Kampfer had a great block and Hogan made a fantastic stop on MacVoy when the puck was cleared right onto his stick. He couldn't have anticipated a shot coming from there, so he had to be very quick with the toe.

Stonehouse was called for an obvious trip late in Palushaj's penalty.

Great chip by Winnett off the glass to Turnbull, who buried a shot from center ice into the empty net right as he was being mugged. Winnett didn't have a passing lane but he played it perfectly off the glass.

So overall, Kolarik was clearly our player of the week. Four goals Friday night and a ballsy play Saturday to block a shot even as he was injured. Porter assisted on three of Kolarik's four Friday. Palushaj had some beautiful plays both nights. Turnbull had more of his trademark effort plays and he was rewarded with a goal and an assist Saturday. And if you could get an assist without touching the puck, he would've gotten another assist in that game. Caporusso had a pair of goals Saturday and could've had a couple more on the weekend.

Sergott called a great game Friday. Only the late call on Rust was iffy. All the others were legit penalties, even if he could've let one of them on LSSU go. Saturday I didn't think he was as good as he called a couple in the third that were of the weak variety and got in the way of a clearing attempt which ended up costing us a goal (though I can't say that puck would've gotten out of the zone...they had a player at the right point). I still think he's very possibly the best ref in the conference. Definitely toward the top. I doubt they'll trust him to do a big game in only his second year, but it's really not even close between him and Shegos, McInchak, Aaron, and Hall. Apart from this weekend he's only done three Michigan games, but I believe I echoed similar praise after the OSU weekend.

Two big wins. It wasn't pretty. We let LSSU get back into both games and gave them a late PP down by one each night. But you could do a lot worse than 4 points coming off an emotional weekend (and before playing Spartina). Just ask Miami.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Michigan Sweeps LSSU

Though Michigan played a thoroughly uninspired pair of hockey games this weekend, they were able to come away with a pair of 4-2 wins (each with an ENG) against a feisty Lakers team that wouldn't go away.

They fared much better in a "letdown" weekend than their previous opponent, Miami, who was swept up in Big Rapids by the Ferris State Bulldogs. How big were those losses? The RedHawks are no longer even a #1 seed in the PWR ranking (I don't believe either Alaska game has been entered yet, so I guess that could change). Michigan is now 5 points ahead of both Miami and Michigan State with all schools having 4 games left to play. Notre Dame is nine points back and has been officially eliminated from contention. That means that Michigan needs only split their last four to win the CCHA title outright, and can finish no worse than 3rd in the conference. MSU needs at least a win and a tie next weekend against Michigan to remain in the race. Also of note, Boston University has battled back to become a TUC, which gives us 2 extra wins in that category.

As for our games, we got wins and that's the most important thing. Actually I take that back. I would gladly trade a win tonight for Chad Kolarik's health. He went down awkwardly while killing a 5 on 3 and really struggled to get off the ice, even with the help of a couple of players. Red called it a groin injury and said that "obviously it's pretty serious". You'd like to have him back for MSU next weekend--I'm sure he doesn't want to miss what could be his last chance to play the Spartans--but thinking long-term, we've got four weeks until our CCHA Tournament games and we're six weeks away from the NCAA Tournament. Hopefully we'll have him back when we start playing for keeps, because that would be as big of a loss to a Michigan team as I can remember.

I don't have a whole lot of thoughts on the games this weekend. I thought we played a pretty crappy first two periods Friday night. Kolarik carried this team again (4 goals??!!), and I completely agree with Mike Spath that he should be given serious consideration as a Hobey Hat Trick candidate. Porter should win it, but Kolarik has been our best player over the last month. He's right up there in the statistical categories, he's been incredible on the PK, and he's more than lived up to his end of the bargain as a captain.

I thought Mahoney-Wilson made some nice saves to keep them in the game--particularly his diving stop on Porter after he knocked that rebound right onto his stick. Even though they platoon, I was kind of surprised he didn't get the nod tonight. That kid should probably be their starter.

Another bad bounce off a ref tonight. This time a clearing attempt hit Sergott and stayed in the zone, where the Lakers were able to score. I will say that I think Sergott just might be the best ref in the CCHA, which I actually mean as a compliment. He called an excellent game Friday night and even though we got called for a ton of penalties tonight, I thought most of them were legit. One small complaint: If you're going to call a guy for spearing after the game is over (as he did with Dan Eves last night), he probably should get the game DQ instead of a misconduct. It's a dirty, dangerous play and if you just give him the game misconduct, he really doesn't get any punishment whatsoever. If it was severe enough to call despite the game being over, it was probably enough that he should sit the next night.

I thought Hogan played pretty well tonight. It's tough when you only get in once every few weeks but he's performed admirably when he's gotten a chance. I suppose it's possible we'll see him one more time this season if we have the CCHA locked up with games remaining. Otherwise, I think he's shown that he's a goaltender capable of playing on this level and he'll be ready if we need him.

Was it me or did it seem like the ice wasn't all that great this weekend? I noticed it more Friday night, but it seemed like players were falling all over the place, particularly in the end Michigan defends twice.

It might not be feasible since you'd have defensemen from three pairings out there at the same time, but I'd like to see Summers get a shift up front on the 2nd PP unit once in awhile. It kind of surprises me that a guy with that much offensive talent doesn't play the PP--though to be fair, Hagelin-Caporusso-Turnbull is a pretty good group.

Speaking of Caporusso, couple of pretty goals tonight. The first one was a nice move around the defenseman, which fooled Inglis way too easily. The second was a great shot off a nice hustle play by Turnbull, who seems to be good for a few of those a night. Everyone says Hagelin is the hardest worker on the team, but Turnbull has to be right up there. He always seems like he's making things happen for us.

I have to credit Lake State. That team has some moxie and they showed a lot of heart coming into Yost and playing Michigan really tough both nights. Especially battling back each night after we took a 3-1 lead. I really thought Michigan would have an easier weekend, given LSSU's track record against the "Big Four" this season. But they gave us 2 tough games. It wasn't pretty, but the Wolverines got four HUGE points and are now on the brink of winning their third CCHA title in five years.

Hopefully they didn't lose Kolarik in the process.

Friday, February 15, 2008

10 Things to Know About LSSU

For the third time this season, Michigan will be going up against an opponent that we've already seen this season (Minnesota, Northern Michigan). Without further ado, here are 10 things to know about the LSSU Lakers:

1) Links of note: MGoBlog's weekend preview (including a nice PWR breakdown, which I'm not smart enough to do, so thanks for that!), My recap of the last series,'s weekend preview, as well as their recap of the last series, The Wolverine's weekend preview.

1) Michigan cruised to 5-1 and 6-2 wins up at the Soo, despite coming out -9 on power play opportunities (LISKO!!!). Because that makes sense and all. Michigan actually trailed both games after the first period (1-0 Friday, 2-1 Saturday) before building two-goal leads during each second period and cruising to easy wins. We somehow held them without a PPG Saturday, despite giving up 10 PP opportunities, and 15 power play shots. Note: The 7 fewer power play opportunities that we had in Saturday night's game was the biggest deficit we've had in five years.

2) In their earlier series, Kevin Porter had 2-1--3 in each game and the top line combined for 5-7--12 in the two contests. The zinger of a stat from Saturday night: In blocking 5 shots, Chris Summers stopped just four less pucks than Laker goalie Pat Inglis. We saw each goalie, lit em both up. Michigan also had a slew of breakaways, most of which they buried. For the Lakers, Zac MacVoy and Rick Schofield each had 1-1--2 and Dan Eves had a pair of assists. On faceoffs, we were -2 and -6 against LSSU before.

3) LSSU comes in unbeaten in five, but as MGoBlog points out in the article I linked above, it was a split with OSU (with the win coming second, obviously), and three point weekends against Ferris and Western Michigan. I'll give them credit for that though. Ferris isn't a bad team and WMU is tough at home (coming into that weekend they were 6-8-0 at home vs. 1-11-2 away from Lawson). They've also given up just 8 goals in their last four games after giving up 20 in the previous 4.

4) Against the "Big Four" in the CCHA, they've gone 0-9-1, with the lone tie coming against MSU. In those games they've been outscored 52-17. Amazingly, they gave up exactly 11 goals in four of those five series. So I've got a guess at how many goals we'll put up this weekend.

5) LSSU is 6-16-6 overall, but just 2-8-5 away from home. They're 4-13-5 in the CCHA and are in tenth place in the CCHA, without much hope of hosting a first round series. Their wins came against Clarkson (nice win, I also think that says something about Clarkson), BGSU, WMU, Ferris, OSU, and Wayne State. They also tied Minnesota-Duluth, who would like totally win the CCHA because all WCHA teams are awesome.

6) Zac MacVoy leads the team in scoring, with 8-10--18 in 26 games. They've also got three guys with 17 points. Nathan Perkovich leads the team with 13 goals. If you count just his performances in the two games against LSSU, Kevin Porter would rank T-5 in goals (with 4) and T-10 in points (with 6) on the Lakers. That might be the meanest stat I've ever come up with.

7) Brian Mahoney-Wilson is 4-8-3 on the year with a 3.13/.895 and Pat Inglis is 2-8-3 with a 3.97/.873, ranking 58th and 69th in save percentage respectively (there are 59 teams). Jeff Jakaitis they are not. Mahoney-Wilson was in net for the wins over OSU and Ferris (as well as the nice wins against Clarkson and BGSU). It seems they platoon, however.

8) Perkovich does rank in the top ten nationally with 8 power-play goals, but the Lakers as a whole are 52nd in the country in offense, averaging 2.25 goals per game. It's not better defensively where the Lakers are 57th in the country, giving up 3.57 goals a night.

9) Their power play is middle of the pack, putting in goals on 15.6% of their opportunities. If someone would like to inform me how LSSU has ended up on the power play 147 times this year (14th in the country), I'd love to hear it.

10) As you'd expect with a team toward the bottom defensively, they tend to get killed when they're short-handed. They rank next-to-last in penalty killing at 71.6% (note: The next team ahead of them is 76.0%). Only Alabama-Huntsville is worse.

Anything less than 4 points is absolutely a disappointment, and probably costs us the CCHA title.

Just keep your fingers crossed that we don't see Craig Lisko skate onto the ice tonight. Over our last 10 games against LSSU, we've had fewer power play opportunities than the Lakers in four of them, and he's been the ref for three of those. We're -13 in the three games he's done, +6 in the other 6 (and that includes a -6 out of McInchak--the second biggest deficit we've had in the last five years).

I'm serious about wanting someone to explain this to me....

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Going Upstairs: Michigan 4, Miami 2

Now it's time to take a look at Friday night's contest:

The "big stop" Sauer made on Kaufman in the opening moments of the game actually was blocked by Chad Kolarik's stick. Kolarik blocking shots is a recurring trend in this game. I think he was only credited with a couple, but it seemed like he was closer to a half-dozen.

Wingels called for triping. No replay, but it looked to be a good call on the live shot. It appeared that the players went knee to knee.

Summers goes off for hooking. Meh. I guess. It's one of those calls that "by the book" it's a penalty, but it didn't really affect the play and if you're calling that one, then there should be at least a dozen hooking calls every night. Instead of 2. Kind of like the Datsyuk one late in game 5 of the WCF last year. If you're calling that, you better not be letting anything go.

Michigan got on the board when Caporusso barreled through 2 defenders on his way into the zone. The puck was knocked off his stick but it stayed in. Naurato tried to go back to Caporusso, who was off-balance but it hit a RedHawk and came right back to him. A lane had opened up and he brought it into the slot, fed Turnbull who got a nice shot away. Turnbull went in the corner, dug it back out, and threw it into the slot. The guys who were on Caporusso both left him, and he was able to sneak in behind the defense and whack the puck in, relatively unmolested.

Hagelin made two plays to set up our second goal. He got his stick on an attempted pass by a Miami player and Palushaj intercepted. He threw a shot in which deflected wide. He went and got it and another shot attempted was blocked to Hagelin behind the net. He carried it out to the right half-boards, going around two guys, and Palushaj was able to sneak through 4 guys to head to the back post. Hagelin lifted a beautiful saucer-pass to him, which Palushaj stopped with his skate and then got off a quick shot past Zatkoff.

The next goal was pretty simple. Porter is out by the point, Kolarik blocks a shot, Porter takes off, they hit on the homerun pass to spring Porter on a partial breakaway, he puts a shot high glove and we're up 3-0. Eww.

Mercier then went off for holding. He basically got Langlais in a headlock and facewashed him enough that his helmet came off. They aren't missing that one. Good call and it bit them a minute later.

The fourth goal was pretty unlucky for Miami. Langlais caught to up Jones on a breakaway, took the puck from him and started it back the other way to Kolarik. Kolarik walked the blueline and fed it left side to Palushaj. Palushaj fanned on an attempt into the slot but it bounced over a Miami stick and Pacioretty was able to knock it home.

Lebler's hitting from behind penalty was next. Palmer was bringing it up the boards, Lebler started to line up the hit, and at the last second Palmer pulled a 180. Lebler got him half in the back, half in the left shoulder. I don't particularly like this one, but we got one back a little later. The color guy seemed to think it was a good call.

Langlais interference. No replay. Looked like he assumed the puck was going to get to his man and he hit him. But the puck got knocked down before it got there.

Sauer made a great save on this power play. Cannone snuck in the back door and when the Miami player brought it behind the net, he fed him. Sauer was moving post to post anyway, but that was a big-time stop.

Then the penalty parade started with four straight calls against Miami in the second half of the period. Martinez for tripping, no replay. He either got our guy's skate or it was a dive. Hard to tell. Replays would be nice. Oh, and the score graphic & ticker take up 20% of the screen. I measured because I'm a dork. That's too big. ESPN's bottom line is annoying at times, but they can get away with it because it's really small. This one is constantly on the screen and it's 4x the size. They could make it a lot smaller with no problem.

The charge on Steffes was borderline. Llewellyn played the puck by the boards and Steffes was a foot from the faceoff dot and ended up hitting him. It was a hair late, but he wasn't taking strides, he just kind of glided in there and put a nice hit on. That's another that falls into the "you could let that go" category. If you haven't noticed, I'm a fan of letting the players decide it when it's two equally matched teams, and I don't think plays like that need to be whistled.

Jones is called for hitting from behind. Absolutely not. He hit him in the shoulder. The way our player fell made it look like the hit was from behind, but that was clean. That said, if you think it's a hit from behind, I'm not sure how that wasn't 5 and a game. That was pretty violent. Shouldn't have been a call, but if you think he hit him in the back, he should've been tossed.

Roeder's interference penalty was a good one. He killed Rust before the puck got there. Pacioretty for a trip, no replay. Looked like he got him though. Jones back off for kneeing. He stuck the leg out. Good call. Then we get Mitera for tripping and Summers for cross-checking sixteen seconds apart. Yeah. Miller had two huge plays to negate scoring chances and Miele went off for knocking Kolarik's dropped stick away from him. Best call of the hockey game by Shegos right there.

Vaughan's hitting from behind major was the most legit of the ones we've seen thusfar. When he had Mercier lined up, he was going for the shoulder, Mercier turned to play the puck and Vaughan hit him. I don't know how it's five if the call on Jones wasn't. I have to believe that because Mercier got dinged a little, that influenced the call. Either we have no-tolerance on these or we don't. And if we don't, then that should've been 2.

Miami cut the deficit to three on a lucky goal of their own. Kampfer had to leave the front of the net to chase the puck, it ended up on the other side of the net. They threw a shot on net, which hit Sauer in the blocker then deflected up into the face area of Jones and into the net. Kampfer didn't have time to get back.

Great play by Mitera to create a shorthanded scoring chance. He blocked a shot, controlled it with his feet and carried it up ice. Instead of just going full-steam ahead, he waited for help and eventually sent it to Rust, the late man who was uncovered (the defenseman back went with Porter). Rust got a shot off and Zatkoff made a good save. We had three deep though and Miami transitioned it for a scoring chance of their own. Llewellyn had a solid play to knock the puck-carrier off the puck and end the threat.

Miller's hitting from behind penalty was just a stupid play. The guy had his back to Miller the whole way. Right to be 2 minutes, but a dumb penalty.

The penalty to Lebler was absurd. He came in on net, got the shot away but it was deflected by the defenseman coming back. Lebler goes to turn, the defenseman gets into him, Zatkoff is out past the top of the crease, and Lebler's leg hits Zatkoff's pad on the way by. To make that call is a case of reffing the score and nothing else.

And as long as we're calling everything, Rust broke away with Porter (I believe) 2 on 1. The defenseman coming back dove to knock the puck away from Rust and took out his feet as well. Rust ended up offsides. I thought in college that was an automatic penalty, but I guess not. Miami scores a few moments later in the power play that shouldn't have happened, or should've been negated at the very least, and ends up getting back into the game because of it.

Palmer's goal was a beauty. He got around Kolarik, dangled his way around Hagelin immediately after, then beat Llewellyn and put a wrister into the top corner of the net. Sauer might have gotten the angle wrong--it looked like he got too deep and drifted too far to his left--but it might not even have mattered. That was a helluva goal by the Miami player who was as good as anyone on their team apart from Miele this weekend.

Robbins got called for interference. CSTV showed him bumping Porter just after he played the puck, but I don't think that was the call. If it was, it was one of the worst calls ever. I'm pretty sure he called him for grabbing onto Kolarik though. And that's a call that has to be made, given what we've seen called in this game.

The penalty on Llewellyn late was really iffy. The violent twist by the Miami player, I'm pretty confident he did on his own. It looked like Llewellyn was already playing the puck when the Miami player spun. It looked bad initially, but on the replay, it was a minor hook. And short of Mitera going Crash Davis and calling Shegos a "**** sucker", how are you giving a captain a ten-minute misconduct at that stage?

So what did we learn today?

More of the penalties were legit than I had originally thought. A lot still fell into the iffy category however, and I'd much prefer to not see 19 power plays in a 1 vs. 2 matchup. I think he started reffing the score somewhat, as I'd like to believe that Vaughan and Lebler's penalties wouldn't have been called the same way had it been a 3-3 game. Miami, though, has as big of a beef with the officiating as Michigan does. To be fair, the penalty that led to the Michigan PPG was very legit and Miami's first PPG would've scored whether Vaughan's hit was 2 or 5. The last Miami goal was the only one that came off a questionable penalty.

Michigan's players were great with their sticks in our own end. There were a lot of plays broken up due to a guy just getting a stick in there. Kolarik, Miller, Langlais, Porter--they all had some great defensive plays. Sauer outplayed Zatkoff both nights, which bodes well for a future matchup between these teams. The defense played really great as well. Miami didn't do anything 5 on 5. And Kolarik was just outstanding for Michigan both nights. When a star player is blocking shots like that, it has to motivate the rest of the team. He did a great job of leading by example and I think he keyed this great defensive effort.

Going Upstairs: Michigan 5, Miami 5

This is the first time I've attempted this feature on The Blog That Yost Built. I don't usually rewatch a game after it's been played (sometimes that shows!) but the games this past weekend were big enough and good enough that I'm going to take a trip down memory lane to see if I learn anything that I missed on the original broadcast.

Credit where credit is due: It's totally based on UFR at MGoBlog.

Why am I looking at the 5-5 game first? 1) It was a helluva lot more interesting. 2) I've got a copy of it on my computer so it's a lot easier to review, given that my laptop took another crap.

The goal is to mainly review the goals, scoring chances, and penalties to see why they happened, who should be credited, who was at fault, and if the penalty was legit or if Shegos is just a moron.

Let's see what I learn:

17 seconds into the game, Ryan Jones is called for high-sticking. The camera panned away before you could see the hit, but it appeared that he was raising his arms and the hit was well after Summers played the puck. Probably unnecessary to make that hit.

For Michigan's first goal, Caporusso lost the draw, Ganzak dumped it around the boards to Mercier. Mitera pinched in to block Mercier's ability to throw the puck up the boards and out of the zone. He instead had to wrap it back behind the net where Ganzak was open. Naurato snuck back there at the last second, intercepted the pass, and threw a no-look pass to Turnbull cruising in from the far boards. He was able to deke Zatkoff and put the puck 5-hole when he started to move. Really nice plays by both Mitera and Naurato to close off Miami's ability to make a play to get the puck out of the zone. And Naurato made a great feed to Turnbull.

3 1/2 minutes into the game Michigan came thisclose to jumping ahead 2-0. Miami was bringing the puck up ice on a harmless looking 2 on 2 (Langseth didn't trip our defenseman this time, so it stayed that way. The Miami players tried to criss-cross, but Langlais read the play, and picked off the pass. On the original breakout, Kolarik had laid a hit on a Miami player, so he was a bit behind the play. He just got back on-side when Langlais intercepted and it appeared Miami forgot about him a little bit. Langlais made a good pass to spring Kolarik in all alone. With a defenseman coming back, Kolarik got to the hashmark and had to let the shot go. He beat Zatkoff clean, high on the blocker side, but it rang off the crossbar and came back out. Immediately after was when Porter rocked Nathan Davis.

Porter's chance about 6 1/2 minutes in came when he blocked an attempted pass by a Miami player and immediately jumped up ice. The puck went right to Chad Kolarik who hit a streaking Porter. Because he was so quick to recognize the opportunity that was there, he was able to get a step on Kevin Roeder and Kolarik made the feed. Ganzak was back as well, so he was limited to a wrist shot from the left faceoff dot.

Pacioretty ended up in the box shortly thereafter. Porter was forechecking, Ganzak got around him and when Pacioretty came flying in to try and pick his pocket, his stick caught Ganzak's skate. Legit call.

Unfortunately with Pacioretty in the box, the RedHawks capitalized. Kolarik and Hagelin went up ice on a 2 on 1. Ryan Jones was able to get back and force Kolarik to hold up just inside the Miami zone. Hagelin ended up at the front of the net to the right of Zatkoff. Kolarik got a shot off which went wide of the net and deflected into the corner on Hagelin's side. When Martinez spun around to go after the puck, his stick caught Hagelin's skate and sent the Swede for a tumble, otherwise Hagelin would have had a very good chance at getting to that loose puck. Langlais had come into the zone and the puck was chipped off the boards behind him by Jones to Miele. Langlais gave him a tug to try and recover, which was called a penalty. Miele looked to pass the puck but Kampfer got his stick on it. The deflection went right to Jones who unleashed a shot from the top of the circle which went in.

The trip on Hagelin absolutely should have been called a penalty. He would've had a great chance to get to the loose puck, but instead was taken out of the play. Credit Jones for a great read to chip the puck by Langlais at the blue line and then for getting himself back into the play. Why didn't one of our forwards pick him up? Perhaps because Hagelin was on the ice after being tripped. He came into the picture about a second after the goal was scored.

Now, was the call on Langlais the correct one? It was an extremely weak call, given that Hagelin had just been taken down at the other end of the ice, but Langlais did hook him. It didn't really affect the play because Kampfer was the last D back and couldn't press Miele, but it could have made a difference. I have a problem with the call because Hagelin was tripped and it wasn't called. If Shegos had let both infractions go, fine. I'm still a little upset in that case because our guy had a shot at the puck, but I ripped him the night before for not letting the teams play, so I'm ok with the non-calls. But you can't let the Hagelin trip go and then whistle what Langlais did. Awful. Langlais had to serve his penalty, since Pacioretty came out of the box on the goal.

Porter saved a great scoring chance by back-checking and getting the Miami player's stick. Both our defensemen were caught behind the goal, the puck came out in front and Mercier was wide open, but Porter was able to get back. I believe Llewellyn probably went the wrong way on this one. Summers was in the right corner and wrapped it around the boards to his left. Llewellyn was stationed by the right post and when Michigan wasn't going to get possession on the left boards, he went behind the net to go try to get to the play. That left the middle wide open.

Now here's Miami's infamous second goal. It was worse than I remember. In my head, I thought Miami was carrying the puck up on a 2 on 2. They were. The RedHawks didn't even have possession of the puck. Palmer simply chucked it up the boards to get it out of the zone. Plain and simple, Langseth was out too far. After watching the replay I don't think he was trying to avoid a Michigan player jumping off the bench. I think he just got his right skate caught up with Mitera. Once Mitera biffed, the puck slid into our zone. Vaughan had gone to his right to cover Miele who was coming through the middle of the ice. When Mitera fell, Vaughan had to come left to pick up Cannone. He got the pass over to Miele who shot it off Sauer, then the bar. It fell back into the crease. It appeared to deflect off Sauer's back and into the net. Vaughan slid in to try and keep the puck out but it looked like he was too late. I don't believe Vaughan knocked it in as I originally thought. Pretty unlucky play all around.

Langlais got tripped in almost identical fashion to Pacioretty's penalty. Good call. And a nice rush by Langlais. He went through 2 or 3 guys before getting dumped.

Caporusso gets a break the other way after a blocked Miami dump-in. A defenseman recovered and he had to shoot from the left dot. This was the play where it appeared as if Turnbull held the puck in at the line, setting up Caporusso and Miller on a 2 on 1, but it was whistled off-sides. Upon further review, I think they got that one right. It's really had to see the puck against Michigan's dark jerseys/socks, but I think I saw a flash of it going off his left skate, which was out of the zone.

Pacioretty's goal was pretty easy. It was a standard dump in by Michigan (though credit whichever Michigan played tipped the puck on its way into the zone, or it might be icing--I think that was Kolarik). Ganzak was on the left boards and had 2 players uncovered going up the right side. He tried to send it over there but Pacioretty was coming back up the middle of the ice, picked off the pass and roofed it up over Zatkoff's glove.

Palushaj's nifty stick work nearly resulted in another goal that was off a nice keep by Langlais. He chipped the puck back in to Hagelin, who sent it to Rust. Rust got the shot away but it was blocked onto Palushaj's stick. He didn't really have anywhere to go with it, so he tried to put it through his own legs to find an opening. It didn't work, but it would've been a gorgeous goal if he'd pulled it off. It was thanks to Langlais holding the puck in. Prediction: At some point in his career, Palushaj will pull off a goal in tight quarters that makes everyone's jaw drop. He's crafty.

Naurato got sent to the box. Legit call. Looked like the guy took a tumble, but Naurato hooked enough of his glove that it pulled him off-balance. He gets credit for covering Llewellyn's point when Llewellyn stepped up to hold the puck in at the other end. That wasn't a bad play either. He held the puck deep in the Miami end. Possibly he should've come back out of the zone when Caporusso got in deep to fight for the puck, but Naurato had his point.

Great penalty kill by Michigan that time. Hagelin and Rust did a nice job, and Langlais came up big as well. He picked off a pass at the end of the penalty, brought it into the zone, and threw one in front that nearly connected.

With 11 left in the second, the freshmen line (8-19-12) had another great shift. I think we've got something there. They're relentless on the forecheck and they were creating opportunities most every shift at this point in the game. Langlais had another gorgeous keep at the blueline.

Miami's third goal came off a screened shot from the point. This is one of the areas where the college game could be very different from the low-level hockey I play, but I feel like Pacioretty probably got too deep into his defensive zone and lost contain on the point twice, the second time resulting in the goal. The first time, he was below the bottom of the circle really not even doing anything. It looked like he kind of just drifted down there. Miami got control and because all five Wolverines were within a foot of the goalline, they were able to chip it back to the Robbins no problem. Once the Michigan players reset, Robbins rolled it back into the corner to Sauer's left. Again, Pacioretty went deep. They chipped it back to the point again and this time, Robbins was able to take the pass in the middle of the ice, with no Wolverine higher than the faceoff dot. He was able to get a clean shot through. Porter screened Sauer pretty much the entire way, and I don't think he ever even knew which side of the net the shot was heading toward. It may have even hit Porter on the way through. It's entirely possible that Pacioretty did what he was supposed to do on that one, but to my untrained eye, it looked as if he drifted too deep and left the point as a viable passing option. The second time it bit us.

With the score 3-2, Sauer came up with maybe the biggest stop of the hockey game. Miami breaks out, Miele looking for Lacombe. It wasn't a very good pass and for a split-second Kampfer thought he could get there. He stopped heading backward and went for the puck but he never really had a chance. Lacombe carried it with speed into the Michigan zone 2 on 1. He never really looked for the pass, but Langlais was back. Sauer robbed him with the glove to keep it a one-goal game.

I'll interject a couple of random thoughts here. 1) It's nice not having the flow of this game broken up by constant penalties. Both teams are playing clean, not a lot of hooking and holding, and there's a nice pace. 2) If CSTV could learn one thing: It's a whole lot easier to watch a game with the Fox Sports graphics package than it is with theirs. CSTV's score bar is huge, and the ticker at the bottom is also huge and distracting. A guess, it takes up 1/8 of the screen. Fox has a very thin bar, and that's it. It's a much cleaner look. I don't think anyone has ever watched a game and thought, "Boy, I wish there was more crap taking up big portions of the screen!"

Kolarik's goal came due to an offensive zone faceoff win. Michigan won the draw and Summers threw it toward the goal. It deflected to the side and Porter got it at the half-boards. He sent it down low for Pacioretty, who won the battle along the boards and fed Summers at the point. He let the shot go. It went wide and the rebound came out to the near boards. Llewellyn came in to keep the puck in the zone and gave it to Kolarik. Palmer put a hit on Llewellyn, which opened up the middle of the ice. Kolarik brought it to the middle and uncorked a great shot into the top-corner, glove hand.

This penalty to Miami was on the weak side. Langlais was going toward the puck and Miele gave him a little slash on the stick. Langlais lost his stick and Shegos whistled it. It was the type of play that they're going to call every time. If Langlais doesn't drop his stick, it doesn't get blown dead. Usually you get away with that little slash, but if the guy loses his stick or the stick breaks, they're going to call it.

Michigan had a great opportunity early in this power play. Porter fed Pacioretty by the post to the right of Zatkoff. Rather than shoot, Patch looked back across crease to Kolarik. If the pass connected, Kolarik had a wide open net. However it looked like Pacioretty had some space up high to shoot. Probably should've let that one go.

Palushaj got called for a trip. He dove and swept his stick, the guy fell. They're calling that one every time.

Here's what you might call "The hidden game". Travis Turnbull made a game-changing play, which didn't even take place on the same shift as the result. He fought through a check to keep possession of the puck and put a weak shot on goal. The result was a faceoff deep in Miami's end. Hagelin won the draw and on the ensuing possession, Musitelli got called for hitting from behind. 5 and a game. This major was a turning point. Legit call by the way. Much more of a clear cut major than the one Vaughan was called for the day before. Musitelli had him lined up for a long time and aimed right for the 4 on Summers's back.

Porter's slam dunk goal off that beautiful passing play came off another great keep at the blueline by Langlais. He won't get a point, but he kept the play alive. He walked along the blueline and chipped it down to Pacioretty along the boards. Pacioretty got it cross-ice to Kolarik who was able to draw the defensemen towards him, leaving Porter open back-side. His pass was picture-perfect and Porter buried it.

Pacioretty's second on the night was a bad goal. It was a pretty nothing play. Pacioretty pushed it back to Porter at the point. He tried to get a shot through but it was blocked. He then passed to Patch instead, and Patch just let one fly from the boards north of the hash-mark. Palushaj may have screened Zatkoff, but it was yet another goal that went high glove.

Another legit call against Miami. Roeder probably didn't mean to do it, but he basically tackled Naurato from behind, giving Michigan a 1:45 two-man advantage. This was where they failed to finish the game when they had a chance. Palushaj fed Pacioretty at the top of the right circle. His shot deflected off two Miami sticks on the way through and then hit the crossbar. Patch raised his stick, I jumped into the air and yelled, but it clearly did not go in. It fooled me too, Patch.

Here comes the play I've been really looking forward to taking a close look at: Miami's 4th goal. It was just an innocent dump-in by Steffes. It hit Sauer's stick and deflected up. When it came off the netting/glass, it didn't bounce back very hard. Sauer tried to catch it, the puck went in and out of his glove and fell into the slot where Miele buried it. Now, did it hit the netting or the glass? The Michigan players seemed to think it hit net. It's really hard to follow the puck on the replay because there's a dark reflection in the top of the glass, but after watching it at least a dozen times.....I'm not sure. I had a paragraph written about how I was convinced it hit the netting. Then I erased it and wrote a paragraph about I actually think it hit the glass. Now I've erased that and I'm unsure. It's really close. It doesn't deflect like I would expect a puck hitting glass to. It looks like it almost rides upward for a second before coming back out, which makes me think it hit the net. But it wouldn't shock me if it got the very top of the glass either. Either way, a horrible no-call and an official's error cost us two. This would make it three if it did hit the netting, but if it's that hard to tell on slow-motion replay, I can't completely fault them for missing (?) it live.

Miami's fifth goal was another unlucky break. Miami threw one into the zone. It hit Sauer either in the chest or on his blocker and deflected into the slot. Rust picked it up and even though there were four Wolverines deep, two uncovered, he threw it around the boards to Sauer's right. Miami kept it in and Mercier threw one to the net that hit Mitera's skate and went right onto the blade of Palmer. He went-cross-crease to an open Davis for the goal. Vaughan had gone to the boards to try and retrieve the puck when Rust dumped it. Mitera was patrolling in the middle and had to pick up Palmer. Rust recognized that Davis was open but couldn't quite get there. He actually just missed corralling the centering pass.

Rust, Hagelin, and Palushaj really had a nice game. Our chance with about 50 seconds left came, once again, off great work along the boards by that trio.

Early in OT, Palushaj made a great recovery to stop Miele from walking in and having a brilliant scoring chance. Summers couldn't get the puck out. Rust went toward the boards to help out, but the puck chipped down low. The Miami player fed it to an uncovered Miele in the middle of the ice. He walked in all alone, but Palushaj was able to dive and disrupt him enough that the puck skittered away.

Caporusso had a great chance off a turnover in the Miami end. He pounced, shot it quickly, and Zatkoff made a nice save.

On the inexcusable too many men penalty, I have no idea what happened. It looked like Rust went for a change and two guys must've jumped on. Possibly Caporusso and Porter. Turnbull was out there, so Caporusso's line was probably up next. If I had to guess--and this is a complete guess--they wanted Porter out there for the last shift of the game. It didn't get communicated to Caporusso, and both centers jumped on for Rust.

So what did I learn?

Mainly that it takes a damn long time to do breakdowns like this.

But also that the no-call on the first goal was worse than I thought. The rush Miami had going on the second goal before Mitera tripped wasn't even a rush. They just dumped it. The fourth goal is really hard to tell. Langlais made some great plays at the blueline. The freshman line was outstanding along the boards and on the forecheck. The top line was incredible. Palmer, Miele, and Jones are all really impressive players. Most of the penalties in that game were completely legit, unlike what I think I'll find on Friday's review. Miami scored two goals in the third based on throwing the puck at the net, and their second goal by throwing the puck up the boards, which turned into a 2 on 1 when Mitera fell.

And it was just as disappointing of a tie watching the replay.