I was going to open this article with a bad pun about how Matt Rust was out of the lineup and the Wolverines weren't Rusty, but I can't do it.
10-1? For real? When the score line's (1-800-555-TELL) automated voice says that Michigan "opened a can of whoop ass" instead of the standard "downed" or "beat", you know it's bad. I think West O Mike at Mavpuck put it best:
I don't think Patrick Roy or Dominik Hasek in their prime could have saved UNO tonight. In fact, I think the Weasels could have pulled Sauer at the start, gone 6-on-5 the whole night and won 18-5. UNO's only hope was that Sauer would have switched places with Charles, the WOLV-TV "sideline" reporter. Sauer probably would have been more informative on the webcast, and UNO might have scored enough goals against the reporter to make the game a little more competitive.
Poor Charles. He did kind of have "Boom goes the dynamite" potential though. At one point, I believe his report was, "Eric Elmblad is playing in his first game tonight. He had a nice hip check, though a penalty was called on the play. He really hasn't done anything else. Back to you."
What a performance out of the Wolverines though. Where do you even start? The obvious place is with Chad Kolarik, who put in three goals in his first game back and pretty much ended UNO's chances early on. Believe it or not, Kolarik actually leads the nation in goals per game now and is just one behind Kevin Porter for the team lead--and two behind Jones for the national lead--despite playing four less games than each of them.
How bout Steve Kampfer at +6, plus an assist on the game's first goal (which was a PP tally, so he was actually out there for seven of our ten goals)? Porter and Pacioretty +5 with two points apiece. Llewellyn, Kolarik and Mitera all +4.
The scary thing? It could've actually been worse. I only saw the first two periods, but Michigan missed several glorious scoring chances, the most notable of which was Caporusso putting one off the bar when he had a wide-open net. Lebler had a great chance on the doorstep as well.
Stat of the night: Michigan scored as many goals as basketball had field goals. Their 10/40 shooting percentage was also better than basketball's 10/50. That really shouldn't happen. The Hoover Street Rag has more fun hockey vs. basketball stats. Eww.
Stat of the night #2: With two assists tonight, Aaron Palushaj passed Brendan Morrison on Michigan's freshman assists list. He's now 5th nationally in assists and just one out of a tie for second. But let's not put him on the CCHA Rookie Team. That's cool.
Stat of the night #3: As a freshman, Steve Kampfer was +3. He was +6 tonight alone.
Stat of the night #4: In just three games (tonight, the first game against LSSU, and the second against WMU), Chad Kolarik has scored enough goals (11) to better Maine's leading goal scorer this season (10). How exactly does that team recruit forwards?
Kudos to Eric Elmblad and Shawn Hunwick who played in their first career games tonight. Hunwick stopped both shots he faced and Elmblad didn't hurt us. He took a penalty (which seemed really iffy, though I admit that the streaming video isn't exactly HD...sure looked like the guy he checked had the puck though).
Also, holy crap Carl Hagelin! He was all over the place tonight and he scored one of the prettiest goals of the season. He took the puck short-handed, brought it outside of the defenseman, swept behind the net, brought it out the other side and roofed it up over Kaufmann. That was enough to chase Kaufmann.
If you're UNO, though, don't you have to come back with Kaufmann tomorrow? Dupont got lit up even worse, which sent his save percentage down to .813 for the season (uhhhhh).
Reminder to all the young Wolverines, however. Please don't get over confident. We saw this same situation just a couple years ago--beat ND 10-1 in Game One of the playoffs, had outscored them 39-7 to that point, and then had to go to OT to win 1-0 the next night. BTW, that Notre Dame squad was very possibly the worst CCHA team I have seen in my eight years of really following college hockey.
All the talk has been about the offense tonight, but how bout the defense? UNO had just 2 shots after the first period (one of which was actually a dump-in). They had just 7 shots through two, and we held them to 15 on the night. Pretty impressive against the #12 offense in the country. Moreso, they held the #1 PP in the country to 1 for 6 on the night. And we didn't take a too many men on the ice penalty tonight, which is a plus.
It's pretty clear that the loss of Bryan Marshall is just devastating to that team. It wouldn't have mattered tonight, but when the odds are already against you, you don't need to be down your top playmaker. Mick Lawrence was invisible in the part of the game I saw.
I'm sure we'll get a much better effort out of them tomorrow, but if Michigan plays the same way, it's not going to matter.
A parting thought tonight: It's going to be an absolute travesty if/when Kolarik isn't one of the Hobey finalists. He's #6 nationally in points, #3 in goals, #1 in goals per game, #5 in points per game, #1 in game winning goals, and he's arguably the best penalty killer, one of the top defensive players (just 5 minors the entire season), and a captain on the best team in the country.
Porter, Jones, and Lamoureaux are the obvious choices. Then you've got Gerbe as your Hockey East guy, and Cruthers as the token small conference guy. Zatkoff and Bachman should probably be in based on stats and three goalies is about right. You gotta have a WCHA forward since it's the best conference in any sport ever, so
You probably need a defenseman, but who? Hillen from CC has the most points, but 35 isn't an exceptional number (Johnson had 39 last year, including 16 goals, and no one was putting him in the Hobey race). And I don't know if there's a defensive defenseman that's well enough known, though I could easily be forgetting someone. Say you find one, that's 9. Tell me someone that's more deserving than Chad Kolarik. There probably should be someone from the ECAC, but who?
I'm not holding out any hope that he'll be honored in that way, but quite honestly, he should be. I'd put him ahead of any forward not named Porter or Jones--and I'm not so sure you couldn't make a strong case for him as the #2 forward. Then again, Kolarik, Jones and Gerbe should all be disqualified under the Hensick Rule that you're not allowed to get a misconduct.