Sunday, December 07, 2008

Michigan 5, MSU 3

Photo by Greg Sommers

With about 3 minutes to go in regulation the Wolverines were down by a goal and didn't show any signs of mounting a comeback. I was seething, but not at all surprised that we were about to lose to that dogcrap team in East Lansing. Then Ben Winnett hit Brandon Burlon who was streaking out of the zone like he was a forward, Jeff Petry needlessly pinched up, Burlon found Carl Hagelin and the game was tied.

Two minutes later, two more pucks had gone in the Michigan net and every member of the Wolverines was skating out of Munn with a win for the first time in their careers.

The first period was downright dull, especially thinking back to the hockey we saw at Yost the night before. There were a few power plays, but nothing much went right for either team. Shots after the first were 15-9 in favor of Michigan, but each team only had one truly great scoring chance: Summers with another breakaway for Michigan and a tight shot by Kivisto that hit the post to the right of Hogan.

By the way, I've long had a theory that MSU inflates the hell out of Jeff Lerg's stats and Saturday's game did nothing to change my mind. 15 shots in the first period for us? I would have estimated half of that. I don't buy it for a second that we had 15.

Michigan got a power play early in the second and got nothing more than a wrister from Burlon at the top of the circle. A few minutes later Tristin Llewellyn absolutely planted Crowder as he brought the puck into the zone. He then threw an elbow to Crowder's head for good measure. Crowder retaliated and punched him in the face a few times. Llewellyn did nothing after the initial elbow but was still assessed a Roughing ATW penalty to keep the MSU power play in tact. It was absolutely ridiculous and MSU scored on the subsequent power play, a great shot by Petry over Hogan's shoulder.

Thankfully Tweedle-Dumb and Tweedle-Dumber gave it right back to us a few minutes later. Petry hit Naurato with what looked like a hard, but clean, check and eight seconds later (keep in mind MSU had the puck the whole time) the back referee whistled Petry for elbowing. Petry was all the way at his bench when the whistle went, and he started cracking up. I haven't seen a look of disbelief like that since Jack Johnson's "For what?!" reaction after he got tossed for not hitting Howells from behind.

During the power play, Crowder cross-checked Chad Langlais, giving the Wolverines a 5 on 3. Greg Pateryn flipped a shot wide of the net. It took a big bounce off the end boards and popped back to the side of the net. Travis Turnbull was able to beat his man and knock it into the net with a little backhander. If you're counting, that's the fourth goal on the weekend that was a direct result of either a ref getting in the way of a puck or an absolutely abysmal call. Defend your boys, Pio. They were horrid all weekend. Luckily it went both ways.

The Wolverines stayed on the power play and were able to capitalize again. David Wohlberg flipped one to the side of the net and somehow Travis Turnbull was able to jam it in for his second goal in under a minute.

Czarnik had a great chance to make it 3-1. Hagelin wrapped around the net and slid it right through the slot. Czarnik couldn't find the handle, though. That's a kid that just needs someone to shoot one in off his butt or something. Once he gets one, I bet he gets it going. He hasn't been bad...the pucks just aren't going in the net for him. You can tell he's frustrated.

Later in the shift, he put one in the net, but the whistle had already gone. The puck was loose behind Lerg and was sitting right on the goal line. The whistle went before Czarnik could get there and tap it in. After two, the Wolverines had a 2-1 lead.

And just like that, they were down 3-2. Hogan gave up another really cheap goal. MSU dumped the puck in right on net. Hogan put it to his stick like he was going to move it up ice, but Leveille got on him pretty quickly. The puck was knocked loose and Gazely put it in.

Shortly thereafter, there was quite the turn of events. Wohlberg went hard to the net and raised his stick like he had scored. The puck didn't go in and MSU broke out of the zone. Scooter Vaughan went for the hit and missed and the Spartans came in 3 on 1. Llewellyn couldn't block the pass across and Gazely had another tap-in.

Nothing much happened--aside from Llewellyn lighting up Trevor Nill--until there were six minutes to go. It appeared the Wolverines were headed for a power play but Wohlberg got called for cross-checking after the whistle to even it up. Those knuckleheads don't deserve the benefit of the doubt, but I'll give it to them on that one. The only thing on camera was Wohlberg lightly brushing against a Spartan player. That couldn't have been the call if they were calling cross-checking, and we never saw a replay of the scrum.

That seemed like it might be it. Michigan threw away a shot at a power play and MSU was full-on into lead conservation mode. Miller had a chance at an open net but tipped it just wide. It was looking grim.

The Winnett hit Burlon on a breakout and the Wolverines won a game they absolutely had to have.

After Hagelin's goal, the Wolverines had the puck down in the MSU end and Aaron Palushaj, who had been AWOL most of the game, made a beautiful stick-lift to keep the puck in the zone. He fed David Wohlberg who slid a pass cross-crease to Louie Caporusso, who added yet another clutch goal to an ever-growing list of crucial tallies in his career. That was Wohlberg's third assist of the game, as he continues his phenomenal play. Travis Turnbull added an empty-netter for a hat trick and the Wolverines had a 5-3 victory, thanks to three goals in the final two minutes and change.

It wasn't a pretty win, but they found a way to pull one out in a place where they've struggled over the years. Michigan heads into the break tied for fifth in the CCHA with OSU and Ferris State (who has played 14 games to Michigan's 12). They're 1 point behind Nebraska-Omaha, three behind the surprising Nanooks, six behind Notre Dame, and nine behind Miami (with two games in hand on the RedHawks). They face an uphill battle to get back into the mix in the CCHA, but with two against Miami and two against ND still to play, all isn't lost. Just sweep Miami after the GLI, and we're 5 back of them with two games in hand. That first series of the new year looks very, very big if we're going to get back into contention for the conference title.

Michigan is off until after Christmas, when they'll face Michigan Tech and either North Dakota or Michigan State in the Great Lakes Invitational.



Anonymous said...

The Red Cedar Message Board over at is pretty pissed that Michigan fans showed up in decent numbers and made more noise than any visiting foe in years. I just loved how reactionary the students cheers became once we took the 2-1 lead. They seemed pretty dumbfounded that we had the audacity to make noise in their rink.

That was a fun, fun trip up to Munn. Many kudos to the row of guys near the top of Section F, the Dekers, and everyone else who showed up with voices. Job well done... and what a helluva way to win the game :)

Packer487 said...

I had written a paragraph about how impressed I was with how loud the Goal Count cheers were on TV, then I deleted it to reword and got distracted by a bright shiny object (or something) and forgot to rewrite it. You guys were awesome!

Anonymous said...

Yes, even on USCHO there was chatter in the Sparty thread about how "loud" their student fans were for this game... did go on to point out the idiot fans dressed in maize pjs being stupid and mocking their cheers.

Also, chatter in the game thread about how bad the officiating was and that this was the primary reason the spartys lost. Not that they suck or anything...

One last commentary... I have been pretty vocal on USCHO about how Anastos has really screwed up with this shootout thing. For instance: UNO and UA tied twice this weekend and both won shootouts. Three points each. How friggin bogus is that? Each team gains valuable points on this artificial way of instilling conference parity. What if a team like ours loses first round home ice because either one of these jockstraps play for ties and goes for the wins in a shootout? We had our crack at UA and I think they are a decent team, and I know we'll have our shot at UNO at Yost, but man, this just isn't right. If you want to award an extra point, make a team earn in in OT, no matter how long it takes.

We'd be in 4th place under the old point system.

Absolutely crap IMO.

joen05 said...

I can't believe with the kind of talent that UM has, their skaters came away with their first wins at Munn? Incredible... but good for the Wolverines. It was fun when you came to Boston too.. :-)

In any case, I'm glad to hear you guys were louder than the State fans at the arena. BU fans did the same thing last week when we went to BC. Of course, their fan base did have some football game or something they lost in the morning...

Good post!


Let's Go Terriers