As is customary when Michigan wins big, the next night was much closer. The Mavericks didn't roll over and die after the second-worst loss in the history of their program. They came out with a much guttier effort, Kaufmann actually stopped some pucks, and they gave the Wolverines a big scare before falling 2-1.
The game was supposed to air on Comcast, but something got screwed up and it didn't come on (to my knowledge) until there were about 6 minutes left in the game.
To me, the first player that deserves mention for Saturday's game is Billy Sauer. I didn't see most of his twenty-six saves--and I'll grant you that Al Randall can make a dump-in sound like someone just scored the Cup winner in OT--but it sounded as if he was huuuge for us. I know he stopped a Mick Lawrence breakaway in the second period, made a couple of big stops late, and, well, only let in one goal against the #12 offense in the country.
If there was a guy who was mentioned constantly has having great chances, it was Louie Caporusso. He couldn't buy one last night. He hit the bar, had the dman steal one by just getting his stick, got robbed a couple times. He had a ton of chances this weekend, and I view that as a good thing. I'm sure he was frustrated at times--especially when he rung one really late in the game--but he's playing good hockey.
Hagelin was awesome at center this weekend. We're going to be in good hands at center for a few years with the kids we've got as freshmen this year.
Brandon Naurato gets a call as well. He's getting on the score sheet and I've noticed him doing some good things defensively the past few games I've gotten to see.
Where is this Mark Mitera offense coming from? He's had a goal and nine assists in his last five games. I didn't realize that Jack Johnson came back.
The big downer of the game is that Max Pacioretty was involved in a fight with Nick Van Bokern and will miss our game against Northern Michigan. I appreciate that he was sticking up for our captain, but in college hockey where fighting draws a suspension, at some point you have to realize that you're a star player in this sport. You don't need to get yourself ejected for fighting a scrub on a team that's going home for the season.
I can only go off what I heard (and what I've read) on this one, but it appears that this game was yet another fine example of Matt Shegos's incompetence. No real specifics (apart from the odd-man rush we had broken up due to UNO having six guys on the ice), but I find it impossible to believe that a team that can't play defense only committed one infraction warranting a power play in the first 55 minutes of the game. The Michigan crowd is clearly biased, but I can't imagine they were wrong every single time they started booing--and it happened a lot. It got bad enough that the "Fire Shegos" chant was very, very audible on the broadcast. Can't say I've heard the fans go that far in a long time. Again, Miami fan, I'm pretty confident that you would find a lot of support in Ann Arbor for a rule banning Matt Shegos from working our games.
Michigan now advances to take on Northern Michigan, who upset Spartina in their best of three series. (BTW, after all the Brian Aaron/Ed Hightower talk this weekend and Izzo's sobbing, I'm pretty sure you're never allowed to comment on Michigan/Michigan fans disliking the officiating in football, Sparty) Notre Dame will face Miami in the other semifinal. As the #1 seed, Michigan gets the benefit of playing the 4:30 game on Friday (giving them more recovery time for a theoretical championship game appearance). That sound you heard is the management at Joe Louis Arena swearing. Michigan in the early game and no MSU? The attendance is going to be nothing on Friday. The start time is actually bad news for my ability to watch. I have a hockey game at 7 on Friday, so I'll likely have to leave after the second period.
Other happenings from Saturday and Sunday: Clarkson lost their first round series, meaning that the ECAC will more than likely get two teams into the tournament, moving the "bubble" to 13 in the PWR. Also, currently-out-of-the-tournament Boston University or Vermont is guaranteed to make an appearance in the Hockey East Championship, so the bubble could rise even further. Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota State, and Wisconsin all lost their match-ups. At this point, Duluth is done for and MSU-M and Wiscy are tied for the 13th spot, giving the edge to MSU-M. I'm sure someone will crunch the numbers, but it's looking pretty bleak for the Badgers and pretty good for my chances to see Michigan in Madison sans Wisconsin.
I'm not really going to get into the whole Jim Carty thing this time, unless something he says reaaaally pisses me off. That snake doesn't deserve acknowledgment, though frankly, if I thought it would help him get that bigger gig that he's clearly been angling for for years, I would link every story he writes.
I will say this: It may be premature to comment before I've read all four stories, but assuming the first article included the big guns, which would make sense, if that's all you could come up with after seven months of investigating, I feel pretty good about our program. The story allegedly started out as an investigation into the General Studies major. Having found nothing, they then went with the "Well they had a few easy classes" story. I doubt we'll see any "Whoops, BGS actually is a legit major" stories coming from the Ann Arbor News, however. I would imagine if you gave a reporter with an agenda seven months to come up with something at any major institution, they'd find out a lot worse than this.
I'm also willing to put up with any embarrassment these articles may cause as part of the cost of not having Jim Carty write articles for a good portion of the winter. I will say that it ain't just athletes that can get easy credits in independent study. I'm not going into details about my own experience, but let's just say the words "Merry Christmas" were used at one point.
Am I troubled at all by the report? Not especially. Ideally, all athletes would be model citizens and great students as well as great players. They aren't. There are ways to get easy credits in college and I would suspect that every student passing through has found a few of them. The fact that they didn't do as much work as the guidelines suggest doesn't bother me. They also tell people that we should be studying a minimum of 2 hours a week per credit hour and there were a lot of weeks I wasn't studying 30 hours.
The only thing that even slightly bothered me was when the number of independent studies being taken was extremely high--and I can't say I even care that much about it (especially considering this is the big "GOTCHA!" out of Carty. A couple of easy independent studies? It's a non-issue to me.
But the report also doesn't trouble me because I don't trust Jim Carty to not be lying, distorting facts, and skewing things to fit his agenda, since he did it constantly with the Harbaugh stories. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what MGoBlog has to say about this. It's gonna be good. Aside from that, I'm just hoping this smug little worm finds his bigger gig ASAP. Even though he'd probably end up going blind.
Edit: The CCHA and MGoBlue now list our game as the 8:05 start, I assume due to attendance concerns. So forget what I wrote about the #1 seed getting the extra time to prepare for the next game, should they make it. It's all about the attendance.