Monday, December 28, 2009
Sorry about the last month. Real life got in the way and I had a hard time motivating myself to write things like "Yup, split another weekend. Shocking." or "Nope, not making the tournament".
Anyway, the Wolverines (finally) return the ice tomorrow to take on the RPI Engineers in the semifinal of the Great Lakes Invitation, a tournament that Michigan is looking to win for the third year in a row.
One plus is that for the first time in over a decade, the Wolverines come in to the GLI with their entire roster. Yes, that's right. Michigan did not lose anyone to the World Junior Championships.
Their first opponent is in the nightcap tomorrow. Here are ten things to know about the Engineers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute:
1) They come into the GLI with a 9-9-1 record on the season (3-4-0 in the ECAC). After a pretty good start that included a wins over UNH and Yale, and a tie against Alaska, RPI has lost six of their last eight (though their last win came against the defending national champions--yeah they're down this year, but it's still a win over BU). Four of those six losses were by a single goal.
2) They're paced offensively by junior Chase Polacek, who has a 12-14--26 line in 19 games and comes in riding a 13-game point streak. He ranks 15th in the country in points per game. Freshman Brandon Pirri has 18 points, which is seventh amongst freshmen in points per game. He was a second round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks. Another freshman, Jerry D'Amigo, will miss the GLI as he is playing for Team USA at the World Juniors.
3) Goaltender Allen York (a Columbus draft pick) has lost six straight starts after winning his previous five, giving up 23 goals in that span. He was in net for the win over UNH. Freshman Bryce Merriam made 32 saves in the recent win over BU, but has only played 4 times this year. He does have a 3-1-0 record with a 2.27/.898 however. York is 6-8-1 with a 2.93/.895.
4) RPI's 55 goals in 19 games rank them 26th in the country in offense at 2.89 goals per tilt. Michigan is just a little further down the list at 2.78 (ugh). Defensively they're 28th at 2.79 goals per game. Michigan's team defense is actually pretty good, ninth in the country at 2.28.
5) The special teams: 22nd in power play at 20.2% (they have the same number of goals in the same number of chances as Miami). Way down the list in 46th on the PK at 76.9%. They've given up 24 power play goals in 19 games. By comparison, Michigan's anemic power play is at 16.9% (37th in the nation) but they rank second in penalty killing at an impressive 91.0%.
6) The last meeting between these teams was in 1986, an 11-10 overtime victory for the Wolverines. That game was the last time Michigan trailed by 4 goals and came back to win. They were down 4-0 in that game. Michigan trails the all-time series 3-6-1. All four of RPI's previous appearances at Joe Louis Arena came in the 1985 calendar year. This is their second appearance in the GLI. They knocked off Michigan in their previous appearance.
7) Junior defenseman (and captain) John Kennedy is the only Michigan native on the roster. He hails from Saginaw.
8) You want to see patience? Senior defenseman Christian Jensen was drafted in 2004, by the San Jose Sharks in the ninth round.
9) RPI has not won a game the entire season when they've scored fewer than three goals. They're 0-6-1 in those contests.
10) The goals that they've scored and allowed are fairly consistently spread out through the game. They've scored 17 in the first, 19 in the second, 17 in the third. They've allowed 14 in the first, 19 in the second, and 19 in the third.
A few things from the Michigan perspective:
-Louie Caporusso has 5 goals in 4 career games in the GLI. Lebler, Langlais, Glendening, Summers, and Wohlberg all have 3 career points in the holiday tournament.
-Bryan Hogan is 2-0-0 with a 0.50/.971 in the GLI.
-Caporusso is at 57% on draws this year and Rust is at 55.2%. Nice!
The semifinal games and the third place game are not televised. The championship game will be shown on Fox Sports Detroit.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Maybe it's too soon to proclaim that all's well in Ann Arbor, but the Wolverines sure gave their fans a reason to be thankful this past weekend with a 6-0 win over the Gophers and a 3-2 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers.
Bryan Hogan responded to his future competitor's decommitment by reminding everyone that even though he's has a disappointing season to this point, he's still a quality goaltender when he's on. Maybe we'll point to a shutout of Minnesota and 39 saves against Wisconsin as the turning point in his season.
Thoughts on the Minnesota game:
-First and foremost, even though it ended up being a complete beat-down, you have to give Hogan credit. He made several outstanding saves, including several in the first half of the game when the outcome was still in doubt. Minnesota had some success planting a guy in the low slot and getting the puck to him. Hogan got square to the shooter and in most cases not only stopped the shot, but smothered the rebound as well. He was fantastic, even if the shot total might not have been that high. I know at one point the Gophers had 14 shots on goal but were credited with 12 scoring chances.
-Next up, Carl Hagelin: His line (with Matt Rust and Chris Brown) gave Minnesota fits with their speed. Hagelin ended up with two breakaway goals on the night. On the first, Lee Moffie made a great pass to spring him. He got hauled down from behind but still managed to score. That was probably a penalty shot if he doesn't bury it. On the second, Rust and Hagelin broke out 2 on 3 and it ended up in a Michigan breakaway. Rust was able to get away from two defenders and then led Hagelin with a perfect pass. Hagelin beat his defender and he put it in. That was impressive.
-My other favorite Hagelin play of the night: Fisher had the puck for Minnesota and he was carrying it behind his own net. Hagelin was a couple of strides behind him and looked perfectly content to just follow him behind the goal. Fisher took a little bit of a wide arc behind the net. Hagelin took two quick strides, caught up to him, lifted his stick, and stole the puck. He was on him in a flash. Nothing came of it--he immediately turned it over--but it was the type of play that makes him such a joy to watch.
-I've gotta admit, I'm really enjoying how we've gone from losing to Minnesota every time we play them to absolutely housing them on a yearly basis.
-It was absurd the number of odd-man rushes the Wolverines had. I can think of at least 6 that the Hagelin line had alone. Lynch had a breakaway, Wohlberg was in cold turkey a couple of times, Glendening got a shot away on a 2-on-1. It seemed like Michigan had guys skating free at will.
-There were parts of the game where it was just a constant stream of guys to the box. Good ole Shegos. My favorite call was when the Gopher defenseman completely toe-picked, fell backward onto Treais who was skating by, and Shegos got Treais for tripping. It was classic.
-He gave up a couple of really soft goals, but Alex Kangas was really fantastic for a lot of the game, especially in the first period. I have no idea how he managed to give up that goal to Wohlberg late in the period, but the Wolverines could have easily been up by 3 or 4 goals at that point. His best stop was when he robbed Chris Brown on a partial breakaway.
-The Wolverines were really trying to work the pass through the slot for a slam dunk when they were on the power play. It worked (kind of) on one occasion when Caporusso's pass hit a defenseman's skate and ended up in the back of the net. Michigan didn't connect on many of them, but there were opportunities. The power play ended up 2 for 7, and while they got off to a slow start, they were generating scoring chances and they were doing something different. It was nice to see.
-The Gophers have 20 players on their roster that have been drafted. If you need any proof that it takes more than talent to make a team, look at Minnesota.
-You know, I may be missing some things behind the play that you don't see on TV (or on an internet feed), but I think Scooter Vaughan is doing pretty well at forward. Every game I watch, it seems like he does a couple of nice things. He sprung Ciraulo on a break, broke in short-handed for a nice scoring chance, and had a couple of nice back-checks.
-Chad Langlais had a really nice play to break up a breakaway. He caught up to a Gopher from behind, dove, and knocked the puck away. And unlike a few weeks ago, Hogan was able to keep tracking the puck and keep it out of the net as the players collided with him.
-Hopefully Kevin Lynch is more mentally tough than Robbie Czarnik because he's snake-bit right now.
-Winnett sniped one late in the game. He took a shot, it got blocked and came right back to him, and Winnett put one up top. He also put a shot off the bar in the waning seconds.
-Brandon Burlon has had a bit of a sophomore slump, but he had a goal, was +2, and blocked four shots in the game. He laid down in front of an absolute bomb, got most of it, and Hogan was able to corral the puck. It took some nuts to lay down in front of that shot.
-Hogan earned CCHA Goaltender of the Week for his performances against Minnesota and Wiscy. Steve Kampfer was CCHA Defenseman of the Week thanks to his 3 assists and +3 rating.
Rust, Glendening, and Caporusso tallied goals for the Wolverines against Wisconsin and Hogan had a career-high in saves, as Michigan completed the sweep and won the College Hockey Showcase.
Caporusso and (very quietly) David Wohlberg have four game point streaks. Wohlberg has 7 points in his last 7 games. The power play has also tallied in four straight games.
The offense is now up to 25th in the country (and are just .07 goals per game behind The Dynasty). The defense is tenth.
I talked with Yahoo's Puck Daddy about the Wolverines' season (prior to the CHS). I probably would've been a lot less snarky if we did the interview this week!
Lucas Lessio will be on Team Ontario in the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. He has 17-24--41 in 24 games for the St Mike's Buzzers.
Monday, November 23, 2009
It was announced today that sophomore forward Robbie Czarnik has left the team to join the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL. Additionally, uber-recruit Jack Campbell was not among the future Wolverines who signed a letter of intent and is likely to join the Windsor Spitfires instead.
Reaction? Don't worry. I'm not gonna do what you all think I'm going to do, which is, you know, flip out!
I'm really bummed about Campbell, mainly because I wanted to get to regularly watch him play--even if only for a year--and be able to claim him as an ex-Wolverine when he goes on to the NHL.
It kind of surprises me, but it surprises me that it didn't happen sooner. It was clear that Campbell wasn't going to be a four-year player, and him leaving after one year wouldn't have shocked me a bit. With a 2-year starting goalie returning for his senior season, six months ago this wasn't all that attractive of a situation for a potential one-and-done player. But through 12 games, it was looking like Hogan was ripe to be Billy Sauered his senior year and that Campbell could have seen a good 30 games between the pipes next season.
I don't know what it's like to be a blue-chippah, but I'd love to know all the stuff that goes into these decisions. As recently as October we heard that Michigan was the place. Not going to the OHL, no sir. I'd really love to be a fly on the wall and know what changed. The OHL didn't change. Michigan didn't change, beyond stumbling out of the gate. I'd be really curious to know why all of a sudden Windsor became the best option.
I'm disappointed, but it would be horribly hypocritical of me to rip the kid when I've defended Brett Favre to the death over his right to have a change of heart. (Not to mention he didn't sign anything.) It doesn't screw us all that badly for the 2010 season. We'll still have Hogan for his senior year. Though I'm not exactly high on Hogan at the moment, he's still a pretty good goalie. I don't know what the goalie class for 2011 is like, and how many of them have already been snapped up. I know both goalies for the U-17s have committed elsewhere.
In terms of a stomach-punch it's up there, because this is a recruit that I've been looking forward to watching for a long time. But it's not like we're left without a goalie for next season and it's not like this happened during the summer. There may even still be time to find someone for next year. Just looking through the USHL rosters, the CSS's #4 USHL goalie is still available. And the guy with some of the best numbers in the league (11-2-0, 1.92, .930) hasn't committed either. I've never seen either of them. Don't know if they're any good--or looking to go the college route--but there may be guys out there.
I wish Campbell well, and still hope he shows the world how it's done in the international tournaments this year. But he doesn't get to be JMFC anymore. I officially un-dub thee.
As for Czarnik, I'm less understanding. I realize I just said I understand when people have a change of heart. But you're in the middle of a season. You've made a commitment to the school and to your teammates, and you're going to bail after 12 games? If you were that unhappy last season, the time to make this decision is during the summer. Not when it leaves a gaping hole in the current lineup.
To some degree, it's hard to fault the kid if he feels like it's the best thing for his career, but the timing is absolutely abysmal. Plymouth acquired his rights today, the same day he announced he was leaving school, so you have to believe he made it known he would report if they got him. You're telling me that's not something that could have been done a lot sooner? Like...in the offseason? I can appreciate not wanting to be somewhere that you're not happy, but he knew he wasn't happy last year according to the report. If you come back to campus, suck it up and stick it out for the season.
Impact: According to the article in the Daily, this might mean that (once again) the Chris Summers to forward experiment has a chance of happening. Some were already calling for it in an attempt to revitalize the stagnant offense. Now we might not have a choice. The downside is moving Summers doesn't help the defense, which hasn't exactly been the strong point that everyone expected it to be. Then again, team defense doesn't just mean the rear-guards, and it's not like Summers can't back-check. Dammit. It's a crappy situation to be in.
Czarnik ends his Michigan career with 8-14--22 in 51 games. Despite the low numbers and the fact that he underachieved in his brief career in the maize and blue, he's a loss. He had definitely improved from a season ago. His speed was always a factor, and he showed glimpses every now and then of being a star player at this level. It's not Kevin Porter that we're losing, but this still doesn't help the cause one little bit. Absolutely fantastic.
On the plus side, the Wolverines received letters of intent from Mac Bennett, Jacob Fallon, Kevin Clare, Jon Merrill, and Luke Moffatt. Czarnik leaving frees up another scholarship. Derek DeBlois should be able to come in next season if needed, and Lessio could always accelerate. (I still don't know how he plays two years at St. Mike's with the OHL salivating over him.)
And yes, I know I didn't mention the win over BGSU on Saturday. Didn't see it, didn't get to listen to it. It sounded like they played very well. I'm not getting excited about a split with Bowling Green. Win the Showcase, jail sex an equally struggling Minnesota team, and we'll talk. For me personally, this is the biggest "weekend" of the season. I despise the Gophers and I live in Madison. Beating the Gophers and Badgers makes my life a lot better.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Things were going well, Michigan was up 2-1 in the third period and with Lee Moffie in the box, Steve Kampfer took as dumb of a cross-checking penalty as you're ever going to see. Michigan goes down two men, BGSU scores just before Moffie's penalty ended. They stay on the power play, score again. Then Hogan leaves a juicy rebound and gives up his token soft goal another minute or so later. It's suddenly 4-2 bad guys, and a previously 1-8-1 hockey team who got blown out by the effing NTDP was skating out of Yost with a win.
Not to say there weren't positives. Louie Caporusso woke up offensively with a highlight-reel goal, where he split two defenders, danced around a diving defenseman, and then slid it into the net while he was falling to the ice. Robbie Czarnik had a freaking laser into the top corner to put us up 2-1. The two of them also did some great work on an first period penalty kill. The power play showed signs of life and even scored a goal (!) (Caporusso's). Even Hogan made some big stops in the first couple of periods.
But none of it matters. Too many odd-man rushes given up. Too many penalties--and stupid-ass penalties to boot. Too many rebounds. Too many soft goals. Not enough offense.
Five losses in a row. Four losses at home in a row. 4-7-0 on the season. 11th place in the CCHA, 14 points out of first. 28 goals in 11 games. This is a complete disaster. There's still time to fix this (again, I'll bring up that North Dakota seemingly does this every year) but the margin of error in order to make the tournament is slipping away. We've already got seven losses (more than we had in the Frozen Four season two years ago, by the way). Miami squeaked into the tournament last year with 12 losses. This can get fixed, but it needs to get fixed quickly, or this will be the first Michigan team in two decades to be sitting at home come tournament time.
Lucas Lessio was named to Team Ontario for the World Under 17 Challenge.
McKeen's just spoke with Mac Bennett. They offered up this glowing assessment:
Bennett has already impressed by displaying a level of puck poise rarely seen by defensemen in their rookie USHL season, even if his 1 goal and 3 assists in 8 games prior to playing for Team USA at the 2009 World Junior A Challenge weren't on pace to match those of his RoughRider predecessors Donovan and Phillips. However, the Montreal Canadiens prospect's future looks every bit as bright, if not more so, than the New York Islanders' Donovan or the Chicago Blackhawks' Phillips.
NTDP Coach Kurt Kleinendorst offered up his assessment of his players that were ranked highly on the CSS list, including Jon Merrill and Jack Campbell. He said he's never seen a goalie his age handle the puck so responsibly. He also said you could make a case for Merrill as the #1 defenseman on the list, instead of the seventh spot where he's currently ranked.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Ortmeyer wears extra padding on the ice and compression socks when he travels. He must monitor his diet. To check for clots, he has monthly ultrasound examinations on his legs and abdomen. He times his injections so the medication, which is legal in the N.H.L., is theoretically out of his system when he plays, a plan Morrissey said was not guaranteed to be safe.
Best captain ever.
Speaking of captains, the team voted on alternates. The winners: Carl Hagelin and Luke Glendening. Hagelin isn't a surprise. I've had him pegged as a future captain for awhile now. Everyone says he's a great kid and he's probably the best case of leading by example since Ortmeyer. Glendening is a surprise, but it makes sense if you think about it. Recruited walk-on, plays his way into a major role on last year's team, works his butt off. That's a pretty great honor to get voted as a captain, especially as a sophomore. The MGoBlue release that's linked above indicates that he's the first sophomore to wear a letter since David Harlock in 90-91.
Jack Campbell was named the top goalie prospect in the USHL by the CSS (PDF file).
"He's got good size, doesn't beat himself, his positioning is very good, great butterfly style -- a blocking-style goalie," Jensen said. "Good quickness in recovery, but he's not all over the place. He'll make the saves."
Jon Merrill is the #7 ranked skater in the USHL, Luke Moffatt is #13, and Derek DeBlois is #24.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
We're 4-6-0, we're 13 points out in the CCHA already (though with 2 games in hand), and there's a pretty good chance that we're 0-6 against teams that will be under consideration.
They have to get the power play fixed. 0-11 on the weekend, which makes them an abysmal 7/57 on the season (and six of the seven PPGs were against LSSU, Alaska-Anchorage and Niagara).
To his credit, it sounded like Hogan played very well tonight--making a few huge stops in the third period to at least give Michigan a prayer of coming back. But Palmisano made a few good saves at the other end, getting the shutout.
I've got nothing. This is frustrating. I can deal with football being down in the dumps, but hockey is supposed to be the consistently good team that I don't have to worry about losing four friggin games in a row, including three at home.
We get Bowling Green next week in a crucial series. We have to get six points and "get healthy" against the Falcons. Anything else is a disaster.
The penalty kill is the only phase of the game that's solid. Probably because they're getting so much practice.
I've only seen 5 periods of this season so far (this game and 2 periods against Niagara), and I'm yet to be impressed. The goaltending has been sub-par, the defense has been shockingly careless with the puck, the power play sucks per usual, and we don't do anything on offense.
I'm going to talk about certain guys, but I'm certainly not singling them out. I don't think there's a single player on the team would can say that they played a good-to-great game tonight. But just a few comments:
-We have to play smarter hockey. I mean, right out of the gate, Llewellyn drills a guy who never touched the puck. You're playing a team with the best power play in the conference. You can't be taking penalties left and right. Llewellyn took two, neither of which were necessary (though the second one was weak). Sparks hauled a guy down in center ice, Summers had a cheapie but he still slashed the guy for no reason, Caporusso got too close to the goalie and took him down....just things you can't be doing. Even though the penalty kill was fantastic tonight--the only reason this was even a game--you're still costing yourself time where you could go try to get a goal. I thought most of the calls against us were legit.
-We have to get better goaltending. Again, I haven't seen very much hockey this year, but the impression I'm getting from reading/listening/history is that Hogan is good for at least one soft goal every game. It's even worse when it's a deflating goal. It's one thing to give up a bad goal when you're up 3-0. It's another entirely when the crowd is into it and it's still a 0-0 game. Just like against Air Force last year--a weak goal just kills the momentum. Tonight, he had the puck behind the net, went to move it to Llewellyn, and he fired the pass in by Llewellyn's feet. Tristin got a stick on it, and I don't actually know who would be "at fault", but I know if I was the defenseman, I would've been expecting it closer to the boards. Though no one ever accused me of knowing anything. I know that I'm losing confidence in our goaltending even though Hogan did make some really huge stops to keep us in the game. I'm not at all convinced that he won't get Billy Sauered next season once Campbell is here.
-I don't have a problem with the third goal counting. I know it's probably viewed as "controversial", but assuming it went in, I'm fine with it. Fox's feed never showed the puck in the net, but we never saw the overhead cam and that would've told the tale. I know their guy hit Hogan before the puck went in the net, but our guy created that contact by tripping him. There's no way Leveille could have stopped himself. Assuming that went in before the net was off, I'm fine with it. One interesting note: Yost now has the technology to allow the refs to see all available camera angles in the replay booth. From what I understand, it's the only arena in the CCHA that has that capability. To Michigan, bravo! And to the CCHA, bravo for allowing it. There was talk last year that it would be "unfair" for some arenas to be more equipped than others, and I never understood that. Michigan doesn't have an advantage by having extra video in their replay booth. It's just as likely to hurt us as help us. But it means at our home games, there's a better chance that the calls will be the right ones. And there's nothing wrong with that.
-What the hell is our power play doing? Yet again, it's worth pointing out I haven't seen much hockey this year, but early in the game we threw out Sparks and Winnett on the second unit. Chris Brown was running the point on the first unit. He's one of our biggest players. Shouldn't he be crashing the net? It doesn't seem like we have anyone on the team that can take a one-timer, so we just look for the perfect pass and it's never there. Here's a question: Why doesn't anyone ever screen the goalie in college? I was thinking about this during the game: When was the last time you saw anyone go to the front of the net and park himself there? Michigan game or not. I honestly can't remember the last time I saw it and there's no good reason why. I was thinking about crease violations, but they don't let you go in the crease (or within 2 feet of the crease if you're Tomas Holmstrom and/or playing the Anaheim Ducks) in the pros either. They don't blow the play dead, but they don't count the goal. I find it very strange.
-Fox Sports, I love you for showing the game, but did we really need two "Drew Palmisano is from Ann Arbor" features? 1 in each intermission? Thankfully the feed cut out for the second one and I got commercials instead.
-I still love watching Hagelin and Rust.
-Paging Louie Caporusso! Honestly, if it weren't for his penalty, I'm not sure I would've known that he played tonight. I'm sure he'd be the first to tell you that one goal and 11 shots in 9 games is not good enough. He's got plenty of company though. Wohlberg has one goal, Czarnik didn't do much of anything tonight (no shots)....
-You can't let Corey Tropp score that goal. I don't care that it was an amazing shot. I don't care that it was a nice toe-drag. You can't let that guy score against you in that arena. It's like letting Brett Favre walk into Lambeau and throttle you. You can't let it happen.
-I'm not panicking just yet. We're still only a quarter of the way through the season. North Dakota seemingly pulls this every season, where they have a rough first half and go
-I'm not complaining about the officiating, because I think they're strangely competent tonight (minus Sparks getting hauled down in the slot when he was going to have a great scoring chance) but does anyone else think it's strange that we've played Miami and FYS in the last two weeks and we've had Brian Hill, Keith Sergott, Barry Pochmara, and Dan Brown? I'm not asking for Shegos or Hall or Aaron or McInchak by any stretch of the imagination, but those are the guys we usually see. It just seems strange to have a Michigan/FYS game without Shegos or Hall pissing me off.
-Honest to God, I think we had 1 scoring chance tonight and I'm fully aware we scored twice.
-Lucas Lessio: Are you sure you're not interested in accelerating to....ohhh....say.....2009?
That's all I've got. Time to get some sleep and wake up to go to the Michigan/Wisconsin game tomorrow. I'm not holding my breath that it's going to end well, but never underestimate the ability of the Wisconsin Badgers to lose to bad Michigan teams. Either way, it's the first sporting event I'm going to since Valentine's Day weekend. That's gotta be a new record for me....
Big game tomorrow at Munn. Games in hand or not, three-point wins or not, dropping 13 points back in the standings this early in the season is not the hole you want to dig for yourself.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Friday Night's game will air on Fox Sports Detroit. Saturday's game can be seen on Comcast 900.
Here are 10 things to know....
1) There's going to be a lot of attention on alternate captain Tropp (really? They gave the kid a letter when he got kicked off the team last year?) this weekend for a lot of reasons. The most surprising? He's the nation's leader in goals (8) and points (15). Put that in perspective: His stats through ten games would have ranked him 3rd in goals and 3rd in points on last year's FYS team.
2) The Spartans come in with a record of 7-2-1 (4-1-1-0 in the CCHA). More perspective: They won 10 games last season. Opponent watch: They went 3-1 against Clarkson and Maine, but then split with Miami, swept Western, and had a win and a shootout loss against Nebraska-Omaha.
3) Aside from Tropp, freshman Derek Grant has gotten his career off to a good start, with 5-7--12 in ten games. He was named NCAA Rookie of the Month for October. Jeff Petry is rebounding from a pretty awful sophomore year with 1-9--10 thusfar from back on the blueline.
4) Here's an embarrassing stat: In all last season, FYS had 5 players that scored 4 or more goals. They've already got three this year.
5) Continuing the theme of "much improved", they had 20 power play goals a year ago. They've already scored 15 this season, including 5 by Tropp and 4 by Grant. Only Colorado College and Minnesota-Duluth have scored more times on the power play this season. Their power play ranks ninth in the country at 25.4%. (Michigan's is 36th in the country at 15.2%)
6) Their penalty kill hasn't been as good. While they've scored 15 on the power play, they've given up 13. They rank 34th in the country with an 80.3% penalty kill. (Michigan has fared well on the PK thusfar, ranking 6th in the country at 89.8%.) 13 of the 23 goals they've allowed have come when the other team was a man up.
7) Drew Palmisano has performed well after taking the reigns from Jeff Lerg. He's 5-1-1 on the season with a 1.97/.931. He has given up 3+ goals in three of his seven starts, however. Senior Bobby Jarosz has played three times, going 2-1-0 with the lone loss to Miami.
8) Eight Spartans have points against Michigan in their career, but Dustin Gazley is the only player with multiple goals (he has three). Nick Sucharski is the career points leader against the Wolverines. He has a 1-5--6 line in 15 games. Petry and Andrew Rowe have 5 points in 9 and 8 games, respectively. FYS lists Palmisano as 0-1-1 against Michigan. I'm not sure how that's possible since he's only a sophomore and Michigan won all five games last year in regulation. Regardless, he has a 5.26 goals against and an .893 in just over a full game's worth of action.
The Spartan killer has been Chris Summers. He has 5-8--13 in 15 games. Caporusso has 8 points in seven games. Wohlberg has 7 points in 5. Burlon, Czarnik, Rust, Winnett, Hagelin, and Pateryn have also had success piling up the points against FYS. Bryan Hogan is 5-0-0 with a 2.00 goals against and a .910 save percentage in the series.
9) Famous dads: Freshman Dean Chelios is the son of Chris. Jeff Petry is the son of former Tigers' pitcher Dan. Sophomore Trevor Nill is the son of Jim Nill, an assistant GM with the Red Wings.
10) The top two lines have been static all year for FYS. Sucharski centers Grant and Tropp. They've combined for 15-18--33 and a +5 rating. Rowe-Leveille-Gazley is the other line. They have a 9-9--18 line and a +12 rating. Krug/Petry (12 points, +6) and Crandell/Shelgren (5 points, +10) are the top two defense pairings. They've played together in every game this year.
11) I'm not done yet, so we'll do this up Big Ten style. Michigan has won six straight in the season, the longest streak for us since 1962.
Mac Bennett has swine flu, but he and Derek DeBlois are still really happy about beating Canada West to win the World Junior A Challenge.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Michigan was swept at home for the first time since 2001, when Craig Kowalski was taking out his frustrations on us all Brett Favre-style. This time they fell to Miami 3-1 and 5-1.
I listened to the first two periods Friday night before I had to head out to my own game and I actually came away feeling pretty good. We were down 2-1 when I left, but it sounded like Michigan absolutely dominated the game in the second period and were well on their way to a come-from-behind win. Didn't happen. But it sounded like they had a strong effort and played a good game--the puck just didn't bounce their way. I heard at least 3 goal posts, we had a waived off goal, missed a penalty shot....one of those nights.
Saturday night was apparently a different story. After a David Wohlberg goal on the first shot of the game, Michigan was held off the scoreboard the rest of the night and gave up 5 unanswered to the RedHawks.
After the game Coach Berenson called out his team, saying he was disappointed in the effort and calling the performance unacceptable. Does anyone else feel like this type of performance in a big game is alarmingly common? It seems like at least one time a season we come out with absolutely no heart in a game that shouldn't require any motivation to get up for. Maybe that happens throughout the course of a season, but you can't give up 6 points at home to one of the teams you'll (theoretically) be battling with for the CCHA title.
This sets up a big weekend against a surprising FYS team that has gotten out to a 4-1-1-0 start in conference play. Once again, no extra motivation should be necessary, with Corey Tropp making his return to Yost for the first time since his attack on Steve Kampfer last year. And the game will be on Fox Sports Detroit, so I can actually watch! Woot!
What good are ESPNU, CBS College Sports, and the Big Ten Network when a #1 vs. #4 series gets relegated to Comcast 900?
Way, way too early to panic--North Dakota shows pretty much every year that you can sleepwalk through the first couple months of the year and still be comfortably in the tournament--but it would be nice to get the offense going (and the goaltending solidified) sooner rather than later.
The USA Under 18s won the Four Nations Cup in Finland. Jack Campbell stopped 18 of 19 shots in a 4-1 win over host, Finland. Jon Merrill had a 1-2--3 line in the three USA victories.
The US was also victorious in the World Junior A Challenge. Mac Bennett was named to the All Tournament Team. Derek DeBlois was on the USA roster as well. Lucas Lessio played for Canada East.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
After a great start to the game--two goals, and POWER PLAY(!!!) goals to boot--in the first 3 1/2 minutes, and a gorgeous play by Kampfer and Lebler to set up a Czarnik goal, things quickly went downhill. The Wolverines were probably fortunate to get out of this one with a 3-2 victory in the home opener.
AJ Treais got Michigan on the board early in the first. Didn't get home from work in time to catch the start, so I turned it on right when we had taken a 1-0 lead.
The second goal came when Burlon and Pateryn played catch out at the point. Pateryn eventually let one rip and the puck deflected to Matt Rust. Rust fed Carl Hagelin down by the goal mouth and, with the goalie down, he had quite a bit to shoot at. Nice goal.
Czarnik would put the Wolverines up 3-0. Kampfer led the rush and dropped the puck to Brian Lebler just inside the blueline. Kampfer drove to the net down the right wing side and Lebler got the puck back to him. Kampfer sent one cross-crease to Czarnik for an easy goal. But it was great to see him score it. He's already off to a better start than last year.
After that, it was just kind of an ugly hockey game. Lots of penalties, nothing going on the power play, and a couple of chances for Niagara late that could have tied the game.
The Purple Eagles got back within two late in the first when Hogan stopped a shot and pushed the rebound back into the slot. It got tipped to his left and the Niagara player had a pretty easy goal.
Michigan had a couple of nice chances early in the second that they couldn't convert on. Wohlberg hit the post off a beautiful feed from Caporusso. That play was started by Llewellyn coming right out of the penalty box and killing the puck-carrier.
The Wolverines had another power play and controlled the puck for almost the entire two minutes but didn't get a whole lot out of it. Lynch took a silly charging penalty, but the Wolverines killed that off. Burlon fed Caporusso on a home-run pass, but Cappy got stoned.
During a later power play, the Wolverines somehow gave up a 2 on 0 the other way. Hogan robbed the guy with his blocker, but lost his stick in the process. It almost looked like he dropped it to try and catch the puck with his blocker hand. Langlais gave Hogan his own stick while Niagara controled the puck in our end for a good 20-30 seconds. Eventually Langlais got beat by his man and the pass got to him for a goal.
Each team had a few chances in the third, but both Hogan and Avramenko made stops and Michigan held on for the 3-2 win.
That Avramenko kid was something else. He robbed Vaughan, Rust, Glendening, and Rohrkemper in the third period alone.
Another play that should get singled out. Vaughan had a great pass to Caporusso to set him up with an empty-netter, but Ross on Niagara busted his hump to get back and lift Caporusso's stick right as he was going to put the game away. That kept Niagara alive. Just a great play.
-I thought Scooter Vaughan was very good. They moved him up to the top line to play with Caporusso and Wohlberg, and he definitely held his own. For a guy who's been a defenseman for a long time, he didn't look a bit out of place. Had some great chances, set up a couple of his teammates....I think I noticed him more in that game than I did the rest of his career combined (and it's a compliment that I didn't notice him much his freshman season).
-Someone needs to track how many times I write this, but it's one of the true joys in sports to get to watch Carl Hagelin kill penalties. Him and Rust are so fun when they're out there.
-Before the final faceoff, Niagara had 7 skaters on the ice. Their center got tossed from the draw and someone noticed the extra guy and got him off the ice. Don't think I've ever seen that before. Though, if it was anything like the Pittsburgh Penguins, the refs would just warn them that they had too many guys so one could go to the bench.
-A would-be Niagara goal was reviewed in the first period but I don't think the puck ever crossed the line. Regardless, the Niagara player was called for goalie interference on the play, so I'm not really sure why it mattered if it went in or not. Doesn't seem like that should stand. This isn't NHL 95 on Super NES when you could just crash into the goalie, have the puck go in, take the penalty, and have the goal count.
-I really liked the Rohrkamper, Glendening, Lynch line at times. They had a couple of really good shifts where they mucked around, dug the puck out and created something. They got robbed three times late in the game.
-We had a LOT of powerplays and didn't get a whole lot going outside of the two goals early on. At one point, we went 3 or 4 straight PPs without a shot on goal.
That's all I've got. BU tonight, and you should be able to see the game via PPV on the Terrier website. I'm not going to be able to catch this one...
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Michigan dropped their season opener by a 2-0 score to the Alaska Nanooks. I didn't get to catch all the game on the radio, but it sounded like a combination of not many scoring chances and Scott Greenham being there when they needed him. Michigan outshot Alaska 23-13, but couldn't solve the Nanook netminder.
The next night, Michigan took out their frustrations on the WCHA's Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves. The Wolverines scored three in the first and two in the second en route to a 5-0 lead before cruising to a 6-1 victory. Chris Brown, Matt Rust, and Carl Hagelin combined for four goals in an outstanding performance out of that line. Brown and Hagelin were each +3 on the night and Rust was +2.
Another positive was that the power play was 2-3 on the night, with one goal for Hagelin and one for Lebler. Hogan made 15 saves in the victory. MHNet has some goal descriptions.
Michigan will take on Niagara Thursday night before heading to Boston to take on the defending National Champions on Saturday. Hopefully we'll have a better performance than we did in Beantown last year.
I've heard that the Niagara game will be televised on Fox College Sports. Sadly, I don't think the BU game is going to be televised, though I think BU has pay per view on their website. There's a "Watch" hyperlink on BU's site for the game, as well.
MHNet has a story about high-level talks within the Big Ten about starting a Big Ten Hockey Conference. Ohio State is said to be in favor of it and Wisconsin sounds to be in favor as well. A point that was made that's a very good one is that starting a BTHC would open college hockey up to further expansion. Right now, the CCHA has one slot open but that's the only conference that has any room for another team. Spreading out the teams would open the sport to expansion. That's something at least.
Derek DeBlois is off to a good start in the USHL. After seven games, DeBlois ranks 7th in league scoring and is tops in +/-, with a 2-4--6 line and a +7 ranking.
JMFC was stellar in defeat against the defending champion Terriers, making 39 stops (!) in a 3-2 loss. He also made 27 saves in a 7-2 win over BGSU.
Campbell was profiled in an article on NHL.com about the top prospects playing in the USHL this year.
"His demeanor and how he carries himself in practice and off the ice says a lot about how he plays the game when he gets on the ice," said Ron Rolston, who coached Campbell on the U.S. U-17 team last season. "He just showed a lot of poise, especially in those big games with big crowds against excellent opponents."
Lucas Lessio has a 12-13--25 line in 13 games, along with 3 game-winners for St. Michael's.
Alex Guptill has a 5-5--10 line in 7 games for the Brampton Capitals, including a 3-1--4 line in a 6-5 win last week. He's two points out of the team lead in scoring, despite having played seven fewer games.
Mac Bennett has 1-1--2 for Cedar Rapids, and is +2 in five games.
That's all for now. I'm on a business trip for a week and a half starting on Friday, so I don't know what kind of coverage there will be for the upcoming weekend or the CCHA-openers against LSSU. We'll see. Things should calm down after that.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Here are 10 things to know about the Kendall Hockey Classic.
1) Alaska won their only exhibition game by a 6-1 score over Southern Alberta IT. I think Minnesota scheduled them in football next year. Scott Greenham stopped 21 shots as he tries to take over for Hobey-finalist Chad Ochocinco. Greenham is a sophomore who played in five games last year and was 3-0-1 with a 1.02/.958. He shut out UConn and Mercyhurst, gave up one goal on 32 shots against FYS, and gave up a pair of goals against NMU and OSU. It sounds like the Nanooks will probably be in good hands in net once again.
2) Alaska returns eight of their top ten scorers, including their leading scorer--senior Dion Knelsen, who had 10-12--22 a year ago. Brother Brandon had 4-10--14 a year ago, but had three assists in their exhibition win. There are a pair of Molle's on the blueline. Both Dustin and Bryant saw action in 39 games last year. They lost both players that had more than two game-winners a year ago. 4 out of Ryan Hohl's eight goals last year were on the power play. Hohl is a transfer from Bowling Green, who is one of the many players to come out of Northville, MI.
3) Freshman Jarret Granberg is a little waterbug who was co-MVP of the AJHL last year, with a 42-44--86 line and 15 on the power play. Another freshman, Justin Daigle, is a puck-moving defenseman (15-39--54 in 57 games). He was the top-scoring defenseman in the AJHL.
4) Alaska was picked 6th and 7th in the two preseason polls. Coach Dallas Ferguson, in his second year, is 1-2-0 against Michigan. Despite a very solid record last season, the Nanooks were shut out on eleven occasions. They shut their opponents out eight times. Michigan leads the all-time series 37-7-0. How have we never tied?
5) Dion Knelsen has 4 goals in 7 games against the Wolverines. Ohio State is the only "school" he has scored more goals against. Defenseman Scott Enders had a pair of goals in the three games against the Wolverines a year ago. He only had three goals total in his freshman year.
6) The Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves were 14-17-5 a year ago. They too played Southern Alberta IT in their exhibition game, and won by a 9-0 score. UAA tallied one point in the USCHO poll.
7) Both of their goalies played in their exhibition win. Jon Olthius got the start and made 7 stops in a little over half the game. Bryce Christianson stopped ten pucks in the second half of the game. Christianson was the better of the two a year ago, with a 2.60/.893 to Olthius's 3.43/.877.
8) For a team that was just 37th in offense a year ago, they've got a few pretty good scorers. Kevin Clark, Tommy Grant, and Josh Lunden all scored 13+ goals and 20+ points last season. They actually have as many 13+ goal scorers as Michigan does (Caporusso, Hagelin, and Wohlberg).
9) Lunden had 6 tallies with a man-advantage. UAA's power play was 16.1% last year, which ranked 30th in the country. Their penalty kill was awful, however. They ranked 56th in the country at 77.8%.
10) The Wolverines and Seawolves have only played 3 times in history, with Michigan holding a 2-0-1 edge. The last meeting was in October of 2000, a 4-3 Michigan win. Michigan has won this tournament once in the past. Senior Nils Backstrom is a Red Wing prospect. Brad Gorham is an ex-Buckeye, so feel free to hate him.
Brian has his thoughts on the exhibition weekend. Included is some very happy stuff from Bob Miller about Lucas Lessio, who is dissssgusting by the way:
Here's an interview after he scored the goal:
Lessio has 9-10--19 in 9 games this season.
The Wolverine Blog talked with Mike Spath from, well, The Wolverine, about the upcoming hockey season.
Also, the new hockey student section group is planning on organizing trips to East Lansing, Madison, the Soo, Joe Louis, and Toledo. They're looking for a name. Anyone have any suggestions?
The Wolverines are keeping their always-entertaining running diary of the trip to Alaska. Steve Kampfer, Louie Caporusso, and Shawn Hunwick wrote for this edition. Chris Summers took Travis Turnbull really early in their fantasy hockey draft. Shawn Hunwick drafted half the Bruins roster---but not his brother, Matt.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
Thoughts (keeping in mind that I didn't see the game and listened to about half of it):
-Red Berenson said that Carl Hagelin wants to have a terrific year and he's certainly off to a good start. Hagelin had a 4-1--5 line over the weekend, including 3 power play goals. In the post-game, Berenson said that he scored some goals on plays where, last year, the puck might have hit the post or the goalie. That sounds similar to Caporusso's freshman-to-sophomore year transition. As I said yesterday, Hagelin led the team in shots last year. He doesn't have to top 20% in shooting percentage like Caporusso and Wohlberg did a season ago. If he can even put in 15% of his shots, he could have a fantastic season. That would put him right around 20 goals, using his shot total from a year ago.
-AJ Treais had another good game offensively, posting a 1-1--2 line for the second straight night. He scored the first goal for the Wolverines tonight early in the second period, one-timing the rebound of an Eric Elmblad shot that hit the endboards and caromed back out.
-Just when I was thinking to myself that he had been strangely absent from the scoresheet this weekend, Caporusso exploded with 2 goals and an assist in the third period tonight.
-The power play was 3 for 7, making them 4 for 14 on the weekend after starting 0 for 6. The PK was successful on all four of their kills, allowing just three shots. Good weekend for the special teams as a whole.
-Bryan Hogan made five stops in the first period before being given the rest of the afternoon off. Shawn Hunwick came in and made 9 saves on 11 shots. One stop in the third period had Huntzicker and Randall going crazy on the broadcast, and I heard Temptation on another occasion though I didn't hear the play. Windsor's second goal was a 2 on 0. Coach Berenson was complimentary after the game, after saying that Hunwick battled some nerves early on.
-Humorous moment at the end of the second period when Windsor goalie Jim Watt was given a ten-minute misconduct, and had to serve it himself. That brought up happy memories of the "Free Montoya" game, which is still one of the funniest things I've ever seen at Yost.
Michigan will start the season for real next weekend up in Anchorage, where they're taking part in the Kendall Hockey Classic. The Wolverines open the season against CCHA-foe Alaska, before taking on Alaska-Anchorage on Saturday. Hopefully the polar bear doesn't blow up the city of Anchorage while we're there.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
-I know it's just an exhibition game against younger players, but it's an encouraging sign that AJ Treais and Ben Winnett contributed in a big way offensively. Winnett had a pair of assists. Treais had a 1-1--2 line and had another goal waived off. If Winnett can be somewhat of the offensive player he was supposed to be and Treais can make an impact, that bodes well for our chances. Additional scoring depth would be very welcome. Treais seems like one of those guys that's gonna be nice to have around. The NHL wasn't in love with him (probably because of his size) but he's an offensively gifted player who will be around for four years. He's drawn comparisons to Hensick in the past....if we get even half of that, he'll be a nice pickup.
-Also a positive: Carl Hagelin had a pair of goals on his only two shots of the hockey game. Hagelin led the team in shots on goal by 12 last season but scored 11 fewer goals than Caporusso. He's another guy that could take a step forward offensively. I like that he was out there on the power play.
-Chris Summers +3. Baller.
-Jon Merrill had the Americans' first goal of the night. We've heard about his offensive talents but he didn't get a chance to show them off a whole lot last year (3-7--10 in 50 games). He's got two goals in USA's first four games of season.
-Moffatt -2 with one shot on goal.
-Campbell's Yost debut got off to a rough start--giving up a goal 13 seconds in--but he rebounded pretty nicely, giving up 4 on 39 shots. Granted I didn't see any of the goals, but that's not a bad outing against one of the best offensive teams in the country, year after year.
-Hogie got off to a good start with 26 stops on the night. It's a bummer they scored that second one. Hopefully we'll see Hunwick tomorrow. Gotta build some goaltending depth in case Hogan can't, in fact, play every single game.
-One downer: The power play was 0 for 7 before capitalizing on their final opportunity. Those units have to be better than they were last year. Last year's squad had one of the worst percentages since they started keeping track of that stat at Michigan.
Tomorrow's opponent is the Windsor Lancers, who, as of this writing, trail the Miami Redhawks 4-1 after 2.
The shocker of the young exhibition season thusfar is Boston U tying St. Francis Xavier 2-2 tonight, despite outshooting them 53-16.
1) The U-18s come in 1-1-1, beating Tri-City, falling to Sioux City in a shootout, and then losing to Des Moines. Jon Merrill has one of the Americans' 6 goals and Jack Campbell is 1-1 with a 2.02/.905.
2) Anyone who reads this site knows that there are several future Wolverines who will be skating at Yost tonight: Goaltender Jack Campbell, defensemen Kevin Clare and Jon Merrill, and forward Luke Moffatt. Jacob Fallon will not play.
3) Michigan is 9-0-0 all time against the NTDP. The past couple of games have ended in semi-blowouts (5-1 and 4-1 the last two years), but the youngsters have come dangerously close to breaking through a few times: (6-5, 4-3, 3-2 in ot the previous three games).
4) Michigan has had 24 players come out of the NTDP, including seven players on the current roster (eight if you count Patrick Summers who stepped in as the backup goalie late last year).
AnnArbor.com has a nice preview story with quotes from the future Wolverines.
5) Michigan is 2-0 all-time against the Windsor Lancers, including a 12-1 win in their last meeting in 2004. I could be wrong, but wasn't that the controversial game where the band didn't play the Canadian anthem? Maybe I think that about every Canadian team, but I could swear it was against Windsor.
6) They're opening the season against Miami of Ohio (yeah, you're damn right I said it) tonight, so there's not much to go off of with this current team.
7) The roster on the website hasn't been updated for the current season, so the players I mention below may or may not still be on the team.
8) Kyle Nishizaki is the 57th-leading scorer in school history with a 14-33--47 line. Josh Gaynor (15-15--30) and Jon Ryan (not the former Packers punter--who is also Canadian--who they never should have cut, but that's another story) also rank in the top 100.
9) Goaltender Jim Watt is the 5th leading goaltender in school history with...umm...a 3.75 goals against average. #16 on the list has a 5.33. Methinks I would have cut that list off a little sooner. Watt had a .932 save percentage last year and was an All-Star. Head Coach Kevin Hamlin (not Dale Earnhardt's old crew chief) was named
10) Defenseman Steve Ferry (Steeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeve Ferry! Dude, we promised no Journey psych-outs!) played 5 seasons in the OHL and was said to be a prized recruit added to the team for this season. He was top-20 in OHL scoring amongst defensemen last year. Christian Steingraber is a former Plymouth Whaler, Kyle Tront and Anthony Tapper also played in the OHL last year.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The truly amazing thing is that someone in the media poll actually gave a first-place vote to the Michigan State Spartans. Clearly the fact that they return 0 10-goal or 20-point scorers and lost their only good player means they're on a fast-track to the top of the conference. I'm pretty sure the Wack Ballot Watchdog would have caught that one if this was the Blog Poll.
Louie Caporusso was a unanimous first-team selection for the CCHA Preseason All-Conference First Team. Bryan Hogan was the second-team goalie (though he got the same number of first-place votes as the first-team goalie, Brian Stewart) and Chris Summers was an honorable mention.
The other big news is that the CCHA has gone to a 3-points-for-a-regulation-or-OT-win scoring system. Teams will get 2 points for a shootout win, and 1 point for a shootout loss. MSU Student crunched the numbers and determined that Ferris was the only team that would have benefited from this last year. Michigan would have finished 3 games behind ND instead of 4. It will be interesting to see if the NHL keeps an eye on how this works out. Every now and then someone throws out the idea of making every game worth three points. I'm curious to see if it will have any effect.
Also, a couple of Michigan students are trying to organize an official student organization for hockey, similar to the Maize Rage. Their goal is not to change anything about the student section as it is, but mainly to make it easier for students to travel to road games.
I love that idea. The majority of the CCHA arenas are fairly close and if a big group is going, the cost for a bus/tickets/hotel shouldn't be very much for a 2-game weekend. Maybe this says something about me, but if they had something like this when I was in school, I would've been looking to go to every road game they had a trip for. It would also be nice to see bigger groups of students sitting together at the Joe Louis games.
Ways to get involved:
-There's a mass meeting in the Tap Room on October 6 at 7 pm
-They'll have a table at the hockey bbq tomorrow
-Send an email to email@example.com
-Join the facebook group Michigan Hockey Student Section
If they're looking for a dynamite event for the first year, might I suggest the Culver's Camp Randall Hockey Classic? Tickets are $15 for big groups, there are plenty of seats available, Madison is a cool city, it's not that long of a drive, and it would be a blast to go in a big group.
I'm also on board with doing whatever they can to get the cowbells/left half-right half of the student section to be somewhat in sync. Nothing burns out a good cheer faster than to have it sound like we're doing it in a round.
Lucas Lessio is off to a great start in his CCHL career, with a 7-8--15 line in 6 games for the St Mike's Buzzers. He's scored 12 points in his last 4 games and has been in on 15 of the 22 goals the Buzzers have scored this season. He was in on every goal in three of their first six games.
I don't know if I mentioned it, but his OHL rights were traded from Niagara to Oshawa a couple of weeks ago. Buuuuut....
The Generals, meanwhile, aren't saying much publicly about the situation, but appear to be having issues of their own trying to sign the 6-foot-1 forward from Woodbridge, who is rumoured to have committed to attend the University of Michigan.
2011 is a long way off.....really hope that kid makes it to campus.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Great article on Sportsnet.ca yesterday about the NTDP and the decision some kids have to make about whether to join the program or head to the CHL. They specifically talk about Jack Campbell and Luke Moffatt, both of whom--as I'm sure you know by now, are future Wolverines.
Here's a happy quote from JMFC:
"For all my friends and family… to be able to come to a Michigan game means a lot to me," said Campbell, who also referred to the Spitfires as a first-class organization. "I'm excited to play for Michigan and hopefully win a few National championships along the way.
"I've been going to Yost Ice Arena since I was a little kid and it's just an unbelievable atmosphere and I can't wait to play my first game."Moffatt cited the ability to wear the USA logo game in and game out as why he picked to play for the NTDP over the Kelowna Rockets.
The scout quoted in the article talks about how good this U-18 team is going to be this year and how it's really nice for scouts that the NTDP is playing in the USHL now. He also has some complimentary things to say about Campbell and his performance at U-18s last year.
USA fell to Des Moines 4-2 in the USHL Classic. Campbell made 28 saves on 31 shots (Des Moines had an ENG too) and Merrill scored in the losing effort.
One other update: Lucas Lessio has 6-6--12 in 5 games so far this season for St. Mike's. Incredibly, he's been in on 12 of the 16 goals the Buzzers have scored, and in three of the five games he's been in on every goal they've scored in the game.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Mac Bennett was chatting with Cammalleri about U of M while he was at Habs camp.
The game time for the Culver's Camp Randall Hockey Classic has been announced. We're playing at 5. The women play at 2, so hopefully the ice will be ok. The Big Ten Network will televise the game, for the few of you who aren't sitting with me.
A commenter mentioned a couple of days ago that Jacob Fallon may have been kicked out of the NTDP for a drinking incident. Western College Hockey said that he has heard the suspension was changed and Fallon will now be allowed to return after December 1. Fallon is still listed on USA's roster, which was updated to indicate the development that I mention one paragraph down. That lends support to the idea that he's not off the team.
In other NTDP news, Austin Czarnik, Robbie's cousin, has decommitted from FYS. MGoBlog had a take on this news.
The University of Michigan Photo Store is going to start making game images available through MGoBlue's photo store. They have offered a 5% discount to readers of this blog who use the promo code tbtyb5 at checkout. This offer runs through the end of September. For the record, I bought the photo of five Michigan football coaches for my dad for Christmas last year and it was a big hit. I also picked up a shot of Yost in front of Yost (which I'm pretty sure is the coolest picture ever) for my office at work. They're actually really reasonably priced and the quality is top-notch. I was very satisfied with the purchase and I'm happy that they're a friend of my site. There's no hockey up yet, but I'm excited to see what they put up. There were some really great photos in the galleries last year and I'm geeked to have an easy way to pick up a couple in the future.
Single game tickets are now on sale for the upcoming season.
Christy Hammond, from Winging it in Motown, wrote a great article on Chris Summers for MGoBlue.
MGoBlue kicked off their annual "Getting to Know the Freshmen" features with an interview with Chris Brown.
College Hockey News ranked us #5 in their preseason poll, behind Denver, Miami, BU, and Cornell.
HT to MHNet, Max Pacioretty will stick with the Canadiens and could end up playing on the top line. The Montreal Gazette speculates that he could end up playing with Gionta and Gomez. It would be more fun if he played with Cammalleri.
Coyotes' assistant Ulf Samuelsson says that Kevin Porter has been one of the best players in Coyotes camp. The article also speculates that Kolarik will be right in the thick of things for one of the final roster spots--though the immediate chances took a hit as he was sent to San Antonio. Chad is being realistic about his NHL chances, saying that he knows he won't be a top-6 forward, so he's going to have to make it by being strong defensively, blocking shots, and bringing energy. I would absolutely love to see #24 crack Phoenix's lineup. He became one of my favorites with the way he put Porter's Hobey interests ahead of his own, and the way he re-invented himself, becoming a top-notch defensive player. He's probably #3 on my list of Favorite Wolverines in Recent Memory behind Jed and JMFJ. The Coyotes also sent Al Montoya to San Antonio, which makes perfect sense, considering he was unbelievable for them down the stretch last year. That's probably why they're the Coyotes.
Jack Johnson scored a highlight reel goal the other night, and the LA Times had a funny exchange with Andy Murray about it:
"If this was a regular-season game it would be on ESPN five or six times," Kings Coach Terry Murray said of the goal.The NTDP downed Tri-City 3-1 in the opening game of the USHL Fall Classic. Jack Campbell made 12 stops in the victory.
Uh, sorry, ESPN doesn't cover hockey anymore.
"It would be on Versus five or six times," Murray said.
Not if you get Versus through DirecTV, which is in a dispute with the NHL's cable rightsholder and dropped it.
"Well, TSN would have it," Murray said, referring to the Canadian version of ESPN.
Can't get that here, either.
"We get it in our office," he said, laughing.
That's all I've got. Let's drop the puck already!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
If anyone's interested, shoot me an email (the link is in the right sidebar) and I'll pass along the details.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Spath also confirmed that Scooter Vaughan will, in fact, move to forward for the upcoming season.
Now more about Summers:
He spent a lot of time in the Little Caesar's organization and also played for Victory Honda. In 69 games in that league he was 28-22-6 with a 2.80/.884. His best year was in 2007 when he was 10-2-1 with a 1.67/.911.
Smart kid, too. The bio of him in the above link says he had a 3.95 in high school.
He also played for Lincoln-Milan. He made 42 stops--including 21 in the third period--in Lincoln-Milan's first win ever over Ann Arbor Pioneer. He posted a 10-10-0 record with a 3.25/.897.
Also, after Willie Yanakeff was booted from the U-17 team, they called on Summers to be a late-season replacement, though I don't believe he saw any game action. At least not according to these stats.
Mac Bennett was back at Habs camp, and he reiterated that he's playing for Cedar Rapids this year, Michigan next year, and then after that he'd go pro if the Canadiens want him to. Too early to give him the Max Pacioretty Memorial "Enjoy Him While He's Here" award? Or does he have to battle it out with the rest of that class first?
Monday, September 07, 2009
The offseason, which was a couple weeks longer than it should have been, is almost over. Football's back, which means that hockey is just around the corner. Yessireesir, hockey fans, we are only 26 days away from dropping the puck on the 2009-2010 hockey season.
It also means that it's high time I get off my duff and start the season previews. We'll kick things off with five questions facing the hockey team as they enter a season that will officially start in the Final Frontier, and will hopefully end at Ford Field.
Normally it's not a good thing to ask a question such as the one above, but in this case, it's a very good thing. The Wolverines are very deep on the blueline. Mark Mitera is the only departure on the blueline from a team that ranked fourth in the NCAA in team defense last year, and he only played in 8 games. (Granted guys like Miller and Turnbull played a big role defensively as well.)
The Wolverines are carrying nine defensemen on the roster right now: Chris Summers, Steve Kampfer, Brandon Burlon, Chad Langlais, Tristin Llewellyn, Scooter Vaughan, Greg Pateryn, Lee Moffie, and Eric Elmblad. The first four are locks to be in the lineup every night, barring injury. There are fewer games to go around (at least in theory) for the third-pairing defensemen since Kampfer and Burlon are healthy after missing a combined 24 games a year ago.
Tristin Llewellyn is likely to be the fifth regular. He played in all but one game a year ago, pulling ahead of Vaughan and Pateryn on the depth chart. Assuming Michigan Defenseman Hating God doesn't come back, I would imagine T-Loo will play fewer games than a year ago, but he'll still regularly be in the lineup.
They've got options for the sixth spot. There have been rumblings every now and then about a potential move of Scooter Vaughan to forward, but he's still listed as a defenseman on MGoBlue. With Vaughan, you have a guy with 58 games of experience. He had a horrible start to last season--7 of his 15 career minus ratings came in the first 18 games last season--but after the GLI he made the most of his sporadic apperances in the lineup. In the seven games he played in the second half last season, he had four assists and was +6. He's not an offensive threat, but, first half of last year aside, he's been a pretty reliable defenseman during his time in Ann Arbor. I would guess that there aren't too many programs that have the luxury of potentially scratching a defenseman that has played almost 60 career games.
Greg Pateryn had a pretty decent freshman campaign. He played in 28 games and posted 5 assists with a +5 rating. He saw some power play time on the second unit as he really does have a nice shot, despite not scoring a goal last season. His ability to play on a power play unit might give him an edge over Vaughan.
Eric Elmblad likely won't see time barring injury, but he filled in admirably last season. He played eight games and didn't look remotely out of place. He was -2 and only took one penalty. Can't ask too much more out of your eight/ninth defenseman--eat some minutes, don't hurt us when you're in there.
The lone addition to Michigan's back-end is freshman Lee Moffie. Moffie wasn't drafted, but had a pretty good season in the USHL. He had 9 goals and 35 assists in 55 games for Waterloo, which were really similar numbers to what Chad Langlais put up his final year in that league (6-40--46 in 51 games). He was -1 on the season and posted 97 PIMs. He also had 123 shots on goal, which was 42 more than any other defenseman on their team. He was also very effective on the power play, putting up 26 of his 44 points with the man advantage. If he can come in and be a shot in the arm to our power play (which sucked last season) that's his ticket into the lineup.
2) Can Bryan Hogan carry the load in net and can Shawn Hunwick take some of the pressure off/fill in if need be?
If you read any of the Michigan hockey boards, one of the big concerns people have had this offseason is the backup goaltending situation. Billy Sauer graduated and it was very unlikely the Wolverines were going to be able to recruit a goalie given that Hogan has two years left and JMFC is set to come in in 2010. "How would you like to compete for the backup job this year and then battle for 3rd/4th string next year?" isn't a very persuasive recruiting pitch.
Hogan showed last year that he could handle being the starter for Michigan. He played in 31 of the 41 games and finished the year 24-6-0 with a 1.97 goals against and a .914 save percentage. You'd like to see the save percentage a little higher since he was only 28th nationally in that stat, but his mark tied Bob Gray for the third-best save percentage in Michigan history, behind only Billy Sauer's junior year and Al Montoya's sophomore season. His 1.97 goals against was second-best in team history (also to Sauer's junior year). Currently, he would have the best career goals against and save percentage in the history of Michigan hockey.
Red Berenson isn't scared to let a goalie take the reigns and not look back. On ten occasions we've had a goalie play 40+ games. Turco, Montoya and Blackburn all did it three times. Sauer did it in his sophomore year. So, again barring injury, we can expect Hogan to see a lot of action this season.
Behind him we've got Shawn Hunwick, who has just 2 minutes and 52 seconds of playing time to his credit. He made two saves on two shots in his only appearance--the beatdown of UNO in the playoffs in 07-08. He also gave up one goal on 12 shots against the US NTDP in 07-08. Prior to coming to Michigan, he was speaking with schools such as Northern Michigan and Holy Cross about goaltending position. He got injured and was set to go to Adrian before Michigan came calling.
He hasn't looked remotely out of place when he's seen action. I've underestimated a Hunwick before and it didn't work out so well for me. I still wish Red could have gotten Hunwick into a couple blowouts last year, knowing that he was going to be the backup this season.
I would imagine they'll pull someone from the club team to be the emergency goalie.
3) Can Robbie Czarnik rebound from a disappointing freshman season?
If you're looking for a good pick for Breakout Player of the Year, let me nominate Robbie Czarnik. He was the third leading scorer for the USA U-18 team in 07-08 and the only forward with more points than him was first-round pick, 45-point-as-a-freshman Jordan Schroeder. While success with the NTDP doesn't in it of itself doesn't guarantee success at the college level, a good number of the games he played in--and had success in--were against collegiate teams and it's reasonable he could replicate that.
He got off to a rough start last year, scoring just one goal in his first 27 games. Down the stretch, however, he had 4-4--8 over the last 12. Still, five goals as a freshman (and only one at even-strength) is probably not what the Wolverines or Czarnik were hoping for. Disappointing season and all, his numbers would have been good for fifth in goals, second in assists, and third in points on FYS's team. Owww!
For a good portion of last season, he was the 08-09 version of Louie Caporusso. If someone was going to have the puck hop over his stick with an empty net to shoot at, ring one off the post, or have the goalie make a sprawling save, it was Czarnik.
He had his opportunities, he just didn't convert them. Caporusso had the same problem in 07-08. Cappy didn't have that problem (at least as much) in 08-09 and ended up as a Hobey Finalist. While I'm not projecting a similar season for Czarnik as a sophomore, I think it's entirely likely that we could have a new impact player this year. I fully expect him to be up around 15 goals, 30 points, and top five on the team in scoring.
Only three guys on the team had more shots on goal than Czarnik (Hagelin, Caporusso, and Turnbull), but 11 players had more goals. Some of these pucks are going to start going in and it's going to be great for the Wolverines when it happens.
4) Can Louie Caporusso repeat his stellar campaign without high-scoring teammate Aaron Palushaj?
It's tough to lose a 50-point scorer who set up 37 goals and not feel it. Much in the way that Kevin Porter got a chance to prove he could do it without TJ Hensick, Louie Caporusso will get a chance to prove that he wasn't an Aaron Palushaj creation.
The thing is, he shouldn't have to. Even though there was a span in the middle part of the season where Palushaj and Caporusso seemed to connect on every goal the Wolverines scored, for the season Palushaj assisted on just eight of Caporusso's 24 goals. With Palushaj gone to World Juniors, Caporusso didn't miss a beat, winning GLI MVP by scoring four goals over the two games.
A better question is can Caporusso find some consistency? Even though he had a phenomenal season a year ago and could have made a legit run at the Hobey Baker (in a very weak year) if the Wolverines had cruised to the Frozen Four with Louie playing well in the process, he was still very streaky. He scored in 16 of our 41 games last year. )By comparison, Porter scored in 24 games during his Hobey season.) The bigger problem was after the GLI, he really cooled off. I didn't expect him to keep up his near goal per game pace, but after the GLI, he scored just six goals over the next 21 games (and only scored in two of the next 14 games--though he had two goals in each of those).
He also struggled offensively in some of the big games. While he was great in the GLI, in our four games against Miami, our three games against Notre Dame, and our tournament game against Air Force, he had a 0-3--3 line, with 16 shots. All those points came in one weekend against the Red Hawks (and 7 of the 16 shots came in one game). He was held off the scoreboard in the other five games.
If he can find some consistency--even if it's not quite at the level he played at in the first half of last year--we're going to be in really good shape. Maybe he will be a Hobey finalist again and maybe he won't, but I still expect a very good season out of #29.
5) Is this finally the year that the Wolverines break through and win another NCAA title?
I'm a homer. You know it, I know it. I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't pick them to win the title every year. There have been three different CCHA teams in the NCAA Championship the last three years and none of them have been Michigan. That's depressing. Michigan hasn't had a whole lot of success in the NCAA Tournament the past few years. After having gone winless in the NCAAs just one time in the history of the program, it has happened three times in the last four years.
But there are a lot of things to like about this team. After losing 87 and 78 goals the past two offseasons (50% and 46% of our scoring), the Wolverines lose just 40 goals (27.5%) this year. The incoming class may not have any stud scorers, but Lynch, Treais, and Brown (at the very least) should all be quality players out of the gate.
The strength of the team, however, is going to be on the back end. They lose Mark Mitera, but for all intents and purposes they didn't have him last year either. Michigan only had a 100% Mark Mitera for a couple of periods, so they're pretty well prepared for his loss on the ice. And even without Michigan's top blueliner, even without Steve Kampfer for almost half the season, even without Brandon Burlon for a good portion of the early going (note that they were all out at the same time), they still were #4 in the country in team defense at 2.05 goals per game.
Bryan Hogan may not have ended the season in the best fashion, but he still proved to be a darn good goalie. The great thing about him last season was he only had one game where he didn't at the very least give Michigan a chance to win. The offense scored 3.54 goals per game. There was only one game the entire season where Hogan gave up more than three--5 in that brutal game against Notre Dame in the CCHA Championship. You can't ask a whole lot more out of your goalie than that. When there's only one occasion where the goalie gives up more goals than your offense averages, you're going to win an awful lot of hockey games. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do in his second year as a starter.
Is this the year for Michigan? I don't know. I do know that they're as good on the blueline as any team in the country. I do know that they've got a quality netminder. And I know they're going to find a way to put the puck in the net. It all adds up to a team that is going to be right in the mix once again.
It's going to be a fun season.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
I've had him pegged as a 2010 recruit all along because it seems hard to believe he'd play two years of juniors when the OHL is hot and heavy for him, but Miller indicates that "until further notice" he's a 2011 recruit. That makes sense considering he's a 93 birthday. Seeing the amount of talent in the 2010 class, I'd be accelerating.
Lessio is off to a good start in his OPJHL career. Or is it the OJHL? Or the CCHL? Whatever the hell they're calling it now. In three exhibition games, Lessio has a 4-1--5 line, including three points on the power play and a game-winner.
The Wolverine will have much more about Lessio in the near future.
Billy Muckalt was named head coach of the Valencia Flyers of the Western States Hockey League.
WCH has Kevin Lynch as #30 in his Best of the West series.
Not that this is a shocker, but it's still nice to hear: Luke Moffatt was not at Kelowna Rockets camp.
Dean Blais called Jack Campbell's play in the national evaluation camp "outstanding" and said that he was tested more in his victory against Russia than Mike Lee was.
"We won 6-1, but the turning point in that game for us was killing those 5-on-3s and Jack had two saves I can remember that were outstanding," Blais said. "He would square up to the puck and control the rebounds."
He sounds like he's definitely got a great chance of representing the US at the World Juniors this season. Blais said they accomplished the goal of locking 15 players in to roster spots, and based on his comments, it'd be hard to believe that Campbell and Lee aren't among them. Blais was very critical of Maxwell's play and Knapp didn't see any action against the Russians. Meanwhile, the other two played very, very well.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Niagara GM Dave Brown says that his gut feeling is that Lessio will still end up playing for the Ice Dogs, but he also seems like he kind of has the Baghdad Bob thing going.
Update: Lessio took to the ice in his first game for St. Mike's since signing with them (he played a game last week as well and scored) and had a pair of goals and an assist in an 5-4 overtime loss. Bob Miller cited some reports that he basically put the team on his back. He also mentioned that while there's nothing definite, "things look positive" for Michigan. Awww yeah.
MGoBlue had an interview with JMFJ today. He recently participated in the US Olympic Camp along with Mike Komisarek. Nice to see that he's still working toward getting a degree from U of M.
We're only 5 weeks away, folks!!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Fast-forward another day or two and things look better. Lessio did not attend camp today, telling Niagara that he had some things to sort out.
One poster on the Niagara Fan Forum said that everyone he talked to said Lessio was gone from the Dogs and would be playing for Michigan.
We shall see.
Two other things I want to mention because they both seem like great causes:
The annual University of Michigan Kinesiology auction to benefit the Pat Maloy Scholarship is underway once again. There's definitely some cool stuff (that autographed photo of Wolverines holding the Brown Jug is awesome) and it's for a great cause. Bid away!
I also got an email about a project started by two U of M seniors which strives to introduce the game of hockey to underprivileged children in Toulouse, France. It's called L'Hockey Folie.
Here's a blurb about the program from their website:
L'Hockey Folie connects disadvantaged children aged 6-10 from the Mirail with the game of hockey--a connection that would otherwise be very unlikely. In France, hockey is still a niche sport and few have exposure to the game. Moreover, as organized sports in France are expensive, the opportunities to participate in a sports club are predominantly a privilege of select classes. By offering participants the opportunity to both discover a new sport and also enter into an established inline hockey club, Hocklines Toulouse, l'Hockey Folie strives to enrich lives, create connections, expand opportunities and foster positive citizenship.
They're looking to get people to donate used rollerblades, sticks, helmets, and gloves to outfit the kids with proper hockey gear. To help, people can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop equipment off at 127 Adams Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104.