I was pissed off when I was done watching this game. But after a little more reflection, I have no problem with this loss. If you show up and play a pretty good game against a very good hockey team on the road and just get beat....it happens. The other team is on scholarship too.
And I do think we played a pretty good game last night. The start was pretty rough. Miami was outshooting Michigan something like 17-4 at one point, but that was largely aided by a slew of power plays.
If you want one positive to take from this weekend--a sign that this season is going to turn around--I think you can look at our penalty kill and feel great. The RedHawks had the best power play in the country and they were 0 for 12 on the weekend, including two very long 5 on 3s. The Wolverine penalty killers, specifically David Wohlberg, Matt Rust, Carl Hagelin, Travis Turnbull and Tim Miller, were absolutely outstanding the entire weekend.
Hogan was very good in net last night, making 32 saves. The first goal came after Brandon Burlon failed on two occasions to get the puck out of the zone. Carter Camper was left alone in front of the net and he tipped in a pass from the side boards. The other goal was a rocket from Tommy Wingels, who I was really impressed with this weekend. I think I liked him last year too. He's a nice player.
I had a big problem with the officiating this weekend. I thought Rust getting tossed for his hit from behind was absurd. He basically shrugged his shoulder and the kid fell into the boards. Later in the game, Turnbull got called for hitting Roeder from behind. That one was borderline. To me, he got him in the shoulder. But it was a hard hit. If you think he hit him from behind, how do you not view that as worse than what Matt Rust did and kick Turnbull out of the game? It was either a hit from behind or it wasn't. And if it wasn't, why'd you call it? If it was, why was it only two? Then we get Naurato's hit on Roeder. #1) It was in the shoulder. #2) Roeder was turning his back anyway. It was ridiculous. I thought Hill and the other joker were pretty awful overall. They started giving Michigan some calls later in the game, and I'm most definitely not trying to say that it cost us the game or anything--you score 1 goal in two games, you don't deserve a road win--but they were bad. In my notes, I wrote the following after the Naurato penalty: "G** D***. This is why you don't have Brian f***ing Hill do a series like this. F*** this. I'd rather watch Aaron Rodgers cost the Packers another game and have everyone make excuses for him than watch this s***." Some of that was frustration with the way the game was going, but those guys called an awful series. So many questionable hits both ways and then we get a call like the Summers penalty early on where he kind-of obstructed the guy but didn't affect the play in any way. The best one was the play that KC8NIY mentioned in the comments from Friday night when Palushaj got lit up after an offsides and even though he didn't have the puck (so the hit wouldn't have been legal even if the play was still live) it wasn't whistled. It's like they gave the guy a break because it was just after the whistle, and ignored the fact it was illegal anyway. Rust getting tossed was a big loss for us though. Oh, it's also worth pointing out since there were a parade of hits from behind in this game that they missed a blatant one by Cannone on Chad Langlais in the first two minutes of the game. Cannone was a friggin' goon this weekend. I was really surprised at that, since he's such a skilled player.
I'm really impressed with Miami. Honestly, I think they're light years better than they were last year, even with all the losses they had. They were hitting this weekend and it really caused Michigan some problems in their own zone (and when they were trying to gain Miami's zone). Their defense was outstanding. They're getting great goaltending and great play on special teams. Even though they aren't scoring a ton of goals like they were last year, at least based on what I saw this weekend, I think they're better equipped to perform well in the NCAA Tournament.
Quick hitters from my notes:
-Rust saved a goal with a great backcheck. He might not be performing offensively, but he's been great on the defensive end.
-Turnbull had a great chance in the first period when he blocked a shot and was off to the races. He tried to go 5-hole and it was there, but he didn't quite hit it. He almost shattered his stick after that one.
-Miami's physicality caused the second goal. Hagelin got absolutely destroyed on a clearing attempt and then Langlais's second attempt was picked off. They fed Wingels and he uncorked one into the back of the net.
-Burlon had a beautiful play to break up a 2 on 1 caused by Langlais pulling a spin-o-rama at the Miami blueline and accidentally flinging the puck back to center ice.
-Turnbull and Miller did a nice job answering the big hits by the RedHawks. There was a 2 or 3 minute stretch in the middle of the game that was as hard-hitting as any stretch of hockey I've seen in a long time.
-I'm an angry young man. This was the emotional reaction I had after the Wolverines finally got a power play: "The crowd starts chanting "Bull****". Sure. Start an investigation to see if Brian Hill went to Michigan too ya ****ing hillbillies. You know, maybe UAH would fit in in this conference, since we've got 3 Ohio teams. Ohio is basically the Arkansas of the North, so Alabama would fit right in." That was a bit harsh. I don't actually have anything against BGSU or Miami. I was just slightly angry with how the game was going at that point....just slightly!
The Wolverines finally got on the board thanks to a PPG by Chris Summers. The puck don't lie. We were on the PP because Cannone put a BC-two-handed across Caporusso's wrist. That was as bad as the one that Norway put on Adam Banks in D2.
Michigan had a 5 on 3 of their own for 1:20 with a chance to tie the game. The unit we sent out: Pateryn, Summers, Naurato, Turnbull, and Czarnik. 4 goals between them this year. That was curious for such a critical situation.
Michigan had two great chances late in the game but Caporusso put both of them off the bar. Beat Knapp twice, and had some of last year's luck. That's part of the reason I didn't feel so bad about this loss. Michigan had their chances to tie/win the game and they just didn't have the puck luck.
Pateryn took a dip **** penalty with about 3 1/2 minutes left. He went to check Vaive and punched him in the face instead. To Vaive's credit, he rolled around like a soccer player for about 3 minutes even though he's the biggest guy on the ice.
Hogan made a huge stop on Mercier to keep us alive and after Knapp gave up a big rebound on a 100 footer, Winnett was in all alone and may have gotten the post. We pulled the goalie but the only chance Michigan had was when a faceoff was won to Naurato, who was in a great shooting position, but he couldn't find the handle.
Michigan drops 9 points behind Miami in the CCHA (with two games in hand). Rough weekend. They're clearly not playing the hockey they need to be playing, but there's a lot of time left. I like the way the defense has performed. We've gotten fine goaltending, though they need to cut out some of the softies. And we've got a line as good as any in the country. Just gotta get that secondary scoring going. Once Kampfer comes back, they probably can move Summers back up front and that should really help. They've got to find a way to get Rust, Turnbull, Winnett, and Czarnik going though.
Weekend summary: Awful effort Friday night. That one was as embarrassing as it gets. The loss last night though? That was a good effort against a very good hockey team. Disappointing to lose, but nothing to be ashamed of. It just puts a lot of pressure on Michigan to win both games against Miami at Yost in January.