Sunday, December 28, 2008

GLI Championship: Michigan 5, MSU 1

That was what we call a beatdown. Michigan won their second straight Great Lakes Invitational championship by a 5-1 margin over rival Michigan State behind a complete team effort that showcased what a poor hockey team MSU really is.

It seems strange to say this in a game that was, by hockey scores, a blowout, but the score didn't accurately represent the dominance of the Wolverines. That was a hockey game that could have legitimately been something like 13-1. The Wolverines hit at least 4 goalposts and missed about 5 gaping empty nets. Final shots in the game were 54-20.

MSU took an early lead after capitalizing on a 5 on 3. But after Travis Turnbull tied the game with a great backhand shot, it was all Wolverines the rest of the way. Ben Winnett scored the game winner off a nice play from Turnbull and a pass from Naurato.

Naurato gave the Wolverines some breathing room with his fourth of the year. He was at the front of the net and found some open space by the faceoff circle to Lerg's left. Summers got it to him and he one-timed it into the net. Really nice awareness to get himself to an open area and a great shot.

Tim Miller kept the onslaught going a few minutes later with a diving shot that beat Lerg. Then Louie Caporusso scored his fourth goal on the weekend with a gorgeous rush. He deked to his backhand and put it where the peanut-butter is.

What was really beautiful about this game was that everybody contributed. When the Wolverines can get goals from guys like Winnett, Turnbull, Miller, and Naurato they're going to be tough to beat, especially since it's looking like Caporusso has officially ascended to elite status in the NCAA. He's just one goal behind Kevin Porter's pace of last year.

Beyond the guys who actually put the puck in the net tonight, Robbie Czarnik was just flying. He led the team with six shots on goal (and had a few good ones). The kid can't buy a goal and he's visibly frustrated, but if he keeps playing like that, eventually they're going to start going in. I really think that once he puts a couple in, they're going to start coming in bunches.

Wohlberg also had six shots on goal (and he put one off the pipe) and looked great once again playing with Caporusso. I also thought Lebler had a good game. He was banging in the corners and creating some space, but he didn't take any penalties. He's had an interesting season. He's played well quite a bit of the time, but got himself benched due to some awful penalties. When he's playing smart, he's actually pretty good.

Chris Summers had a Playmaker and was +3 on the night, earning himself a spot on the All Tournament Team.

And I'd be completely remiss if I didn't give a call to our fourth line. Glendening, Fardig, and Ciraulo were fantastic the entire weekend. Glendening picked up his third assist of the tournament on a great play on Turnbull's goal, but that entire shift for the fourth liners was fantastic. Those guys got an opportunity with Palushaj and Rust away and they really made the most of it.

How big of a beatdown was this? After the first period, the Wolverines outshot Michigan State by an incredible 36-5 margin. Yes, after the first forty minutes, we had 4 goals, they had 5 shots. MSU is a bad, bad hockey team. And they played undisciplined hockey. Twice they took penalties away from the play with under five seconds to go in a period. Crowder took a complete dip-shit elbowing call, Gentile kept being Brandon Gentile...I know they beat North Dakota on Friday night, but that to me doesn't look like a hockey team that is in any danger of snapping out of this funk in the near future. They were completely outclassed.

The Wolverines on the other hand look like a team that could make a run in the second half of the season. Unless Michigan sweeps Miami and Notre Dame, which is a tough chore, I think they've dug themselves too big of a hole to win the conference, but one sweep in those two series would put them heavily in contention for a top 2 finish in the CCHA. I don't know what it is, but they just play well in front of Bryan Hogan (Michigan scored as many goals this weekend for Hogan as they have the entire season for Sauer). Caporusso is arguably the best player in the country right now, Kampfer's return bolsters the defense, and the Wolverines are starting to get contributions from the supporting cast, which is a great sign.

After taking next weekend off, the Wolverines return to action the following Friday in a huge home series against the Miami Redhawks. In the meantime, we're GLI champs again and I'm really happy about it. I love that tournament and I love seeing that Michigan banner hanging from the rafters.

1 comment:

J said...

Sure, we won win the CCHA regular season, but, people seem to be overlooking what I consider the very distinct possibility we can come back to what are sure to be pretty Michigan-leaning crowds at the Joe in March and take a couple games as streaking underdogs, thus earning us a spot, and huge momentum, in the NCAA tourney.