The Wolverine had to sweep the RedHawks to have any hope of winning the CCHA, and they did what they had to do. Michigan used a quick start yesterday and pretty much put it on cruise control the rest of the way. Today it was much different. The Wolverines scored once in the first, once in the second, and twice in the third in a pretty dominating performance against a short-handed Miami team.
Miami had the first great chance of the game as a pass got through to Vogelhuber on a two on one. It looked like Robbie Czarnik got over to bother his shot.
The Wolverines had a power play and didn't do much. Turnbull had a tip in front, but that was about all we got going. After the power play ended, Luke Glendening scored the first goal of his Michigan career to put the Wolverines up 1-0. David Wohlberg made a great pass on the play and Scooter Vaughan--back in the lineup for Greg Pateryn today--had the other assist. Glendening has been absolutely outstanding as of late. He was fantastic in the GLI and scored a big goal in a crucial game today.
Hogan then kept it 1-0 with a good chest save on Vogelhuber. Hogan wrapped the puck around the boards and Michigan couldn't get it out. Vogelhuber got the puck just to Hogan's left and tried to drag it across the crease. Hogan stayed with him and made a chest save. Vogelhuber and Palmer were Miami's best players this weekend. Vogelhuber was the only one that was really getting consistent chances.
Ben Winnett was called for a penalty early in the second when his man beat him on a faceoff and Winnett hauled him down. The Wolverines were lucky to get out of this one with the lead in tact. The puck snuck out to Hogan's right and it looked like Palmer had an empty net to shoot at, but somehow Hogan kicked his pad out to the right and got his toe on it. That was the save of the weekend right there.
Then Timmy Miller took over the PK and earned himself his second standing ovation on the weekend due to outstanding work while a man down. He stole the puck from a RedHawk behind the net, toe-dragged it out in front, and had a couple pops at it that Knapp was able to stop.
The Wolverines received a 5 minute power play when Aaron Palushaj was smoked from behind and Schilling was ejected. 3 mintes into the power play, I'm not sure the Wolverines even had a shot on goal, but Summers flipped one toward the net, it deflected off a defenseman right to Matt Rust. Rust took a couple of whacks at it and finally got it to go in the net. It'd be huge if that goal could spur Rust on to a big second half.
Czarnik made his second great defensive play of the night to help keep the game 2-0 heading to the second intermission. He intercepted a centering pass. I'm not sure Miami had anyone streaking in, but if they did that saved a great scoring chance.
Langlais was called for cross-checking at the end of the second period, so the RedHawks started the third with a long power play and a chance to get back into the game. Buuut the best scoring chance on the power play came off another great play by David Wohlberg. Wohlberg and Miller broke in two on one. Wohlberg tried to feed him and the puck went off Miller's skate and into the net. Langseth immediately waived it off, the video replay didn't show anything because they weren't close enough to the crease and all they can look at is the overhead cam (which is stupid...if you've got the technology, use it), and they disallowed the goal.
Now, I can't remember how the rule reads, since I'm pretty sure they changed it after the title game last season. If the puck can't hit off a skate and go into the net at all anymore, then it was the right call, and just a stupid rule. If it's allowed to hit your skate and you just can't kick it, then it was a terrible call. I seem to remember there being something about a goal not being able to be scored off a skate that's moving forward, so they probably got it right. It's just a terrible rule. If you have confidence in your officials, then let them make the determination if a guy kicked it in or not. It's really not that hard. In my book, that's a goal that should count. Miller didn't kick it in. I don't think he actually knew the puck hit him. Why are we disallowing that?
It didn't matter, because David Wohlberg proved a few minutes later that the puck don't lie. He came in on a pretty innocent looking play and wristed one up under the bar on the blocker side. How awesome is David Wohlberg? I really wasn't counting on him to be an impact player as a freshman. I thought we'd get solid defense out of him and that he'd do great on the penalty kill, but he's proved that he can be a great player on the offensive end as well. He just makes things happen.
With Michigan on the power play, Langseth called Caporusso for one of the most inexplicable penalties I've ever seen. He had control of the puck, he hit shoulder to shoulder with a Miami player, the Miami player fell, and they called Caporusso for hooking. Speechless. At least he didn't trip any of our players in this year's Michigan/Miami series.
Steffes was then called for tripping and the Wolverines went back on the man advantage. Kampfer made a gorgeous feed to Naurato in the slot and Knapp made a nice play to get a pad on it. A Michigan player--Turnbull I think--was streaking in for the rebound but couldn't quite get there.
Our top line nearly connected late. Palushaj and Caporusso came in two on one, but Palushaj's pass was blocked. It came right back to him, so he fed Wohlberg who was coming in late. Wohlberg walked in and tried to hit the same corner that he hit earlier in the period and just sent it wide.
The Wolverines got that fourth goal a little bit later though. While on the power play late in the game, Miller fed a streaking Kampfer. Kampfer had two or three pops at it and eventually got it to go in. The crowd erupted when Kampfer's name was announced over the PA as having scored the goal. Miller and Glendening got the assists. It was nice to see the two of them get some power play time because they really earned it this weekend. Miller was great both games at killing penalties and Glendening scored a huge goal.
Yesterday's win was on the ugly side after the opening period, but I thought today was a cleaner performance. They still missed on quite a few odd-man rushes, and they still had a few fugly turnovers that Hogan bailed them out on, but overall I thought the play tonight was pretty good. Last night the RedHawks pretty clearly dominated the second period, but there wasn't a time of the game like that tonight. Aside from their chances with Winnett in the box, they really never showed any sign of getting back into the game.
Justin Mercier and Carter Camper were scratched due to injuries sustained in last night's game. They're both great, great players and I think it hurt Miami's power play especially not to have them. They've combined for 11 PPGs on the season. Then again, the Wolverine penalty killers have been fantastic against Miami all season. It's worth mentioning, even if I still think we more than likely would have won this game with that duo in the lineup. They had Mercier on during the second intermission and he sounds like a really, really great kid.
I think it says an awful lot about Luke Glendening that they trust him enough to put him out on the penalty kill in a game of this magnitude. He's been piling up great plays the last few games. He had three points in the GLI and his line was fantastic the whole weekend. Then he scores a ginormous goal tonight, adds a late assist, and does some nice work on the PK. Not bad for a freshman recruited walkon.
Tim Miller also deserves some more dap. He's a huge reason that Miami's power play was held in check for the most part.
Kudos to the fans. I could only see what the cameras showed, but at least on the East side of the arena, you'd never know this was a Sunday matinee and not a Saturday night game. The place was packed. Nice to see everyone recognize how big of a game this was for Michigan's hopes in the CCHA.
And congrats to Bryan Hogan on his first shutout at Yost. He made some really, really nice saves and once again smothered almost everything tonight. He only had to make 18 saves, but once again he had a couple of timely ones, and the one on Palmer was enormous. He's not remotely flashy, but he goes out and wins. Also, he hasn't given up a soft goal since the game at Munn over a month ago. Then again, he's only given up two goals since that game at Munn, which is kind of awesome.
That toe save he made on Palmer was as big as it gets. It was a 1-0 game at the time. Give that up, and Miami is right back in the weekend. Instead it stays 1-0 and Michigan adds to the lead on the major penalty later in the period. Miami just wasn't going to mount a comeback in this game without Camper and Mercier, especially since Pat (goon) Cannone never does jack against us. I heard his name about one time this weekend, and he had one whopping shot on net today.
Another very solid defensive effort for Michigan. Up 2-0 and with Miami on the power play to start the third, the defense allowed just two shots on goal the entire period.
And again, the secondary scoring comes through for Michigan. Scoring 9 goals on the weekend and not getting a goal from Caporusso or Palushaj is pretty impressive. They did combine for five assists on the weekend though.
Michigan had to get 4 points this weekend and they did it. Next week they get a home and home against the BGSU Falcons. Michigan has thrown away some points in series like this earlier in the year. Once again, it's critical to get four next weekend against a team that's struggling badly (two wins against a terrible Clarkson team are their only victories since mid-November) but is also .500 for the season at home.
What does this win do the CCHA standings? We're tied with OSU for 5th place in the same number of games (but I think we'd win the tiebreaker because of more regulation wins). We're 3 points behind Omaha (two games in hand) and Alaska (four games in hand), just five points back of Miami now (with two games in hand), and ten back of Notre Dame (with two games in hand).
Basically this sweep really helped our chances of finishing in the top four in the CCHA. We needed to sweep Miami to have any hope of catching them, so at this point, we should feel pretty good about our chances of finishing in the top two in conference. It's the same story with Notre Dame that it was with Miami. Sweep them and we've got a chance to catch them. Don't sweep them, and we won't have a shot. Still, we really helped ourselves this weekend, beating the second-place RedHawks in pretty dominating fashion overall (even if last night's game wasn't as big of a blowout as the score indicated).
Miami has Little Brother next weekend in Oxford. Notre Dame travels up to LSSU for a pair.