Sunday, November 09, 2008

UA 4, Michigan 1; Michigan 3, UA 2

The Friday coverage is going to get the shaft around here when the games aren't archived online or I can't DVR them, so I apologize for that. All I really know about Friday night is that the first UA goal was gorgeous, the second goal was terrible (but probably unlucky), the fourth goal was an ENG so it wasn't as bad as the score, and the team seemed to actually be fairly happy with the way they played.

The turning point in the game was that in the second period up 1-0, we outshot the Nanooks 11-4 but got outscored 2-0, and both their goals came really quickly. It sounded like Johnson played very well--he stoned Langlais on a breakaway (the rare breakaway for a defenseman--especially when he wasn't coming out of the box or off the bench) when the game was still in doubt--and I guess he made a few big stops when it was 1-0 Michigan.

The thing that was kind of remarkable--Michigan didn't take a single penalty Friday night and only two penalties were called on UA. For a year that has seen a ridiculous amount of calls, what with the two ref system and everything, it's crazy that we made it through a game with only 4 PIMs for the teams combined.

Tonight wasn't a perfect game, but I thought Michigan played pretty well for the most part and even though it was a 3-2 hockey game (only the 5th one-goal game in the history of the series) I thought we carried the play for the most part.

The night started on a strange note with the game being delayed by a half hour due to a power failure. The announcers said that if the game couldn't start by 9:00 (which would've been an hour and a half later than it did) it would've been postponed and they probably would have played in the Detroit-area sometime during one of UA's two-week trips to the lower 48. Luckily they got the game in. Though it would've been fun to get an extra home game, I don't think anyone would have been very happy going all the way up to Alaska for one game.

The ice seemed kind of crappy tonight. I would imagine it had something to do with the power failure and the compressor being off for the better part of an hour, but maybe not. Either way, we were having trouble hitting on passes for a good portion of the game. They were especially struggling on the cross-ice breakout pass out of our zone. I also saw Palushaj badly miss Caporusso on a 3 on 2 break. Not something you usually see...

David Wohlberg potted goals in both games. It was nice to see him score tonight, especially since it was in doubt about if he was going to play tonight due to an injury suffered in last night's game. I guess he was ok. Rust was banging at a loose puck in front of the net and it skipped out to Wohlberg for an easy tap in. I thought Turnbull might have gotten a stick on it to send it over to him but they didn't announce an assist for him, so maybe it hit the dman instead.

We were all over them in the early-going. Only had one goal to show for it, but we were took 9 of the first 11 shots in the game.

Our penalty-killing still leaves something to be desired. The first goal was a nice tic-tac-toe passing play. The UA forward got a step on Vaughan and he couldn't recover. Hogan went for the poke-check and missed, and Langlais was just a split second late getting Knutsen's stick. He slid it to the left of Hogan to tie the game. Alaska added a second PPG later in the game when our defenseman set a beautiful screen on Hogan on the way toward clearing the UA guy out of the crease. Hogie never saw it. You gotta love a 5% power play going 2 for 4.

Hogan made some big stops. He made a great save on a partial breakaway just after UA's first goal when it was 1-1 and he ROBBED Naglich on a breakaway with the glove. He had another save later in the game where it looked like he lost sight of the puck after the initial save. It kicked to the left of the goal and the UA guy had an easy tap in but it bounced over his stick. He connected on the second crack at it and Hogan dove to his left just in time to nab the puck right at the goalline. He might scare me sometimes, but Hogan has a knack for making some huge saves. He was strong tonight.

The second period was kind of blah for the first half. Neither team got a whole lot going and I think we had one decent scoring chance in the first twelve minutes. That was Caporusso splitting the defense and somehow getting off a good wrist shot even as he was being hip-checked.

Caporusso had something for UA a few minutes later though. He took a pass from Palushaj at center ice and cut to the right wing side. He beat the defender to the outside and then cut back toward the net at the last second, protecting the puck as he pulled it. He dragged the puck cross-crease, got around Johnson, and tucked the puck into the far side of the net. He probably learned how to pull that move off by going up against Sauer in practice day in and day out.

Aaron Palushaj darn near made it 3-1 in the waning moments of the second period. Michigan had a PP and Palushaj had the puck on the left wing. He cut to the middle of the ice and lost Johnson. He nearly had a wide open net to shoot at but the defenseman had collapsed into the crease and the shot hit him in the chest. Palushaj put both hands on his head after that one. He couldn't believe that one didn't go.

With one second left in the power play, however, Michigan capitalized. Palushaj sent a centering pass toward Lebler and it got caught up in the defenseman's skates. Lebler got control if it with his back toward the net and got off a pretty hard backhanded shot that snuck into the net. Johnson would probably like that one back, but those shots when the guy has his back to you can be trickier than they look like they should be.

Alaska was getting a little bit frisky after their aforementioned PPG that made it 3-2 but Sova took a stupid retaliatory penalty with 3 minutes left in the game, so UA had to spend the majority of the remaining time killing off a penalty. Once the penalty was killed, Tim Miller and David Wohlberg did a pretty good job of killing off the final minute.

Big win on the road after a tough loss the night before. The win pulls us into a five way tie for second place in the CCHA with LSSU, Ferris, MSU, and OSU. OSU has played 8 games, the rest of the teams have played 6. Miami leads the conference with 11 points in 8 games. Miami and MSU both lost tonight, so it was big to take two points heading into next weekend against WMU in a home-and-home.

The win takes Bryan Hogan to 5-0 on the season. For the most part, I've thought that the goalies have been pretty equal in their play, but Hogan is 5-0 and Sauer is 2-3. Kind of weird...just the way hockey goes sometimes I guess.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't really comment on much, having missed the first 2 periods of game 2, and listening to the UA radio feed all weekend. They made it pretty difficult for me to get a read on our play. The few glaring things that stand out to me:

UA's defense combined with Chad Johnson will make for a healthy opponent to everyone this year. If they can find a way to bury the puck more often, watch out.

Sauer still seems pretty "meh" to me this year. He hasn't been bad, but he hasn't been great either. I think he is really struggling with the limited playing time. It just doesn't seem like he's been able to muster any confidence in his own play. Conversely, Hogan has taken advantage of what he's been given. Although the disparate records between the two don't entirely signify the differences between them. It's much closer than it looks on paper.

Speaking of paper...stats:

We sucked at the dot this weekend, with 57% of faceoffs lost. That's our worst this year. Louie was the lone bright spot, at 21 for 35. Again, puck possession starts at the drop, and it didn't sound like UA was coughing the puck up unnecessarily very often.

50% on the PK, and one of UA's 4 opportunities was only 10 seconds. Ouch. Whatever momentum we may have gained last weekend was lost up north.

The 3rd period continues to be our worst period defensively. With exception of OSU (1), we've given up 3 goals in the 3rd period each weekend thus far. Thankfully, it's also our best period offensively.

With as many complaints as Sergott and Hall have received elsewhere in the league, they've treated us very fairly. Heh, I guess that depends on your definition of "fair" :) In 3 games, they've only called 23 total penalties, with Michigan sitting for an extra 5 minutes above the opponent. I'm sure you all can figure out who the worst is/are.

So yeah, that's all I've got. I know I sound pretty negative these days, and frankly I think that's because our potential is higher than what has consistently been displayed. There are certainly bright spots, and I think we'll see much more of those in the near future. Our first line matches up better than any other in the league, and we'll be on fire once the rest of the cogs fall into place.