To quote the color guy, "WOOO!" He was saying it anytime there was a hard shot. I was saying it when the puck went in the net for us. Thankfully I got to say it almost as many times as he did!
As bad as the effort was last Friday against Miami, that's how good the effort was tonight. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a Wolverine that didn't play well tonight. The re-shuffled lines worked to perfection as Hagelin and Rust forechecked the hell out of the Gophers (what a bear of a line to play against) and Hagelin popped in a pair of goals, Turnbull had his best game of the season playing with Naurato and Winnett, Wohlberg was absolutely outstanding once again (and he was with Lebler and Fardig). The best part was that, until the goal that sealed it, it wasn't the Caporusso/Palushaj/Miller line doing it. The secondary scoring was out in full force tonight and the results were just as pretty as I had remembered.
The first goal was a pretty harmless looking dump-in that Ben Winnett corralled. He found Naurato streaking down the left wing and Naurato buried it. Good breakout, good dump that Michigan controlled, great pass, and the lamp was lit. Hard to complain about that one.
The second goal was all Turnbull. He got in on the forecheck, knocked the defenseman down, took the puck, and found Hagelin all alone in the slot. Hagelin made no mistake and the Wolverines were up 2-0.
Naurato had a great defensive effort to keep things that way. A pass was headed for an open Barriball, but Naurato got back and knocked it away. Barriball then went down with a scary looking injury, but he would later return.
Hogan then robbed Stoa on the power play. Huge stop to keep the momentum on Michigan's side.
Turnbull lost the puck on a breakaway and Rust put a hard shot off the bar. Michigan went into the intermission up 2-0 and I was officially having flashbacks to the 2003 Frozen Four, when the Wolverines dominated should have been up 3 or 4. We didn't put them away when we had the chance.
In the second, though, it was the same story again. Turnbull had Kangas beat clean and rung another shot off the bar and then Wohlberg made it 3-0 after a great fake to get around Ness down low. It wasn't a good goal to give up, but a nice individual effort to create the scoring chance.
The Gophers kept turning the puck over and Czarnik fed Turnbull who found Hagelin 10 feet from the net. Hagelin got that shot up quick, right up under the bar and that was it for Kangas.
The Gophers found the net on a 5 on 3, but Michigan answered thanks to some great work on the boards by Lebler and Fardig. Lebler dug the puck out, got it to Wohlberg and Wohlberg put another one into the top corner.
Minnesota got a little momentum heading into the intermission when a rebound hit off Llewellyn's leg and dropped right onto Stoa's stick for a tap-in.
A fluky bounce (but a nice tip) made it 5-3 and things got a little interesting, but once again the Wolverines were able to find a guy streaking alone into the slot. Miller got it to Louie, who tipped it up over Patterson and that was it. 13 goals for Louie this year, 12 with Hogan in net.
Hogan made one more stop, robbing one of the Gophers with the blocker and that was about it.
Stellar efforts all around, but I thought Turnbull, Hagelin and Wohlberg were particularly excellent. Wohlberg has been playing outstanding hockey after a bit of a slow start. I'm really impressed with him. Awesome on the PK, great defensively, great on draws, and he's got six goals now which is behind only Caporusso and Palushaj, two of the best players in the country. I knew the defensive game was going to be great, but he's been a pleasant surprise on the offensive end.
That was just flat out dominance by the Wolverines. They outshot Minnesota 43 to 25 and pretty much dominated play the entire night. Minnesota turned the puck over a lot, but Michigan was getting some great forechecking out of the usual suspects, Hagelin, Rust, Wohlberg, Turnbull.
Minnesota is going to do bad, bad things to Sparty tomorrow night. MSU was held to one goal once again, giving them 21 goals in 15 games. They've scored one or less in seven straight games. This was the first time since 1983 that Wisconsin gave us as few as 12 shots on goal. Final shots in the game were 53-12. Uhhh. Why do I get the sinking feeling that MSU is just waiting to erupt next weekend against us. Michigan just needs to absolutely bury them. But first it's a game against Wisconsin and a chance to defend our CHS trophy.
Quick hits about Wiscy. I'm too tired to do a 10 Things tonight.
-Wisconsin has improved to 6-7-2 after a putrid 0-6-1 start.
-They've been getting some really solid goaltending out of Shane Connelly (who split time in juniors with Billy Sauer). He's got a 2.97 goals against and a save percentage of 90.5 for the year, but his GAA has been right around 2 during this recent streak.
-In their streak of improved play, the Badgers have beaten NoDak, Tech twice, 3 points against Duluth, and a split with St Cloud before dominating MSU tonight.
-Their points are actually coming from the blueline. Jamie McBain and Red Wing prospect Brendan Smith are the leading point men, with 15 and 11 respectively and 4 of the top 6 scorers are D. That's kind of crazy actually. Blake Geoffrion (who I loved at USA) and John Mitchell are the leading goal scorer (7 and 6).
-Geoffrion has 5 of his 7 on the PP and Smith has all four of his goals with the man advantage.
-Michigan and Wisconsin have each scored 47 goals in 15 games to tie for 15th in the country.
-Their defense is tied for 41st at 3.20 goals per game.
-They're the most penalized team in the country.
-Decent power play at 17% but they've given up 5 short-handed goals.
-PK is solid at 89.5 and they've scored 3 shorties of their own.
That's all there is, there isn't any more. No TV for tomorrow night's game, but I'm going to get to see it in person and I'm really excited about it.