Friday, February 27, 2009

FSU Preview

For the preview of Ferris State, I brought in MartyTurco35 from The Wolverine, who gets to an awful lot of FSU games.

So I know we had talked before about the early departure of Mitch O'Keefe. It's never a good thing to lose your would-be senior goalie, when he put up the kind of numbers that O'Keefe did as a junior. I see that Nelson and Nagle have played similar amounts of games and their numbers are relatively equal as well. Do you have a preference, and have they been splitting throughout or has one asserted himself as the guy for the stretch run?

Mitch O'Keefe was a big loss, but you have to remember he basically split 50/50 with freshmen Pat Nagle until the 2nd round of the CCHA playoffs so there is experience there. Nagle has the talent and experience to carry the load, but Taylor Nelson was the 4th best goalie in North America according to Inside College Hockey. You just can't have him ride pine when he's ready to play right now (pretty much the same scenario with O'Keefe and Nagle last year). I don't really have a preference for either, because I have been high on both all season, and for the future. If I had to pick one though I would go with Nelson. Most CCHA teams have got to see both goalies, and I expect Michigan will be no different.

Who's been the team MVP this season? No one has huge goal or point totals, so it's not easy to pick one out by looking at the stats. How bout the most dangerous offensive guy? Most improved?

MVP: Sophomore defensemen Zach Redmond. He is a ATL draft pick, and 2nd on the team in points. He joins the rush frequently, and can put pucks in the net. Think JMFJ minus the big hits, and youtube videos.

Dangerous: Senior Brendan Connolly. He's a little guy, but has the speed and hands to score. He has 25 points which isn't jaw dropping, but that would be higher if he didn't live in the penalty box.

Most Improved: Senior Corey Couturier. Was always a hard worker, and good skater, but his hard work is actually showing up on the score sheet.

Any injuries of note?


You picked Ferris to finish 6th in the CCHA before the season and here they are just one point out of that slot with a couple games to play (and without the phony-baloney shootout points, they're tied for sixth). Has this season gone the way you thought it would? I know you were pretty incredulous about the losses to Canisius and Bobby Mo earlier in the season (I believe the exact words were "embarrassed the conference") but have you been disappointed in the rest of the season?

No, it hasn't gone the way I thought. Like you mentioned I said 6th, but deep down I really thought it would be higher. Last year they won 18 games, returned 14 of their best 15 players statistically from that team, and on top of that added the 15th best recruiting class nationally. How does this team lose to Canisius, St. Lawrence, Western, etc? I know the fluke games happen in hockey, but that many?

The Bulldogs might have a couple of bad losses, but they've also played the top teams relatively tough: They're just 1-7-2 against the "quality opponents" on their schedule, but: a win and a shootout loss to Miami, a pair of losses to ND that were one goal games late in the third, a one-goal loss to surprising St Lawrence, a quartet of one-goal losses to Alaska (one had an ENG). a shootout loss to OSU...Just not quite good enough to get over the hump? Has the goalie had to play out of his mind to keep FSU in those games or do they usually bring some good, but not quite good enough, efforts?

Those games listed above basically explain this team: They play to their competition. I think that 1-7-2 record is a bit deceiving though. For example, they outplayed ND both nights but Jordan Pearce only allows 1 goal all weekend. Another example is OSU when Dustin Carlson had 47 saves.

The goaltending effort, and whole defensive unit for that matter has been very dependable and solid all year. I just read that in Taylor Nelson's last 8 appearances he is 1-4-2 with a 1.99 GAA. I think that speaks for itself. The reason they can't get over the hump is because they can't score goals.

Ferris has seen five shootouts in conference play. Do you think it works in the college game? Should the CCHA keep it?

Absolutely! I will say I hate how it messes with the CCHA standings, but you can't deny the entertainment it brings. The shootouts I've witnessed just make the atmosphere that much more exciting. I love it. I hope the rest of the country takes notice of this. If you get all the conferences on board you could possibly have 4 on 4 in OT, and instead of these dumb shootout points you can actually get credit for a win.

I always think of FSU as kind of a bunch of goons. Still that way?

No, I believe you are thinking of FYS. (That's true...I guess we do kind of need to rethink use of the word "goon" since FYS took it to a new level this year.) Seriously though, I think their style of play gives people that assumption. They are blue collar, and like to grind it out. On the other hand, you can tell me that stats don't lie because Ferris ranks 1st in the CCHA by a mile in PIM's, and last time I checked they were also No. 1 in the nation.

Prediction on the weekend? And if you like Michigan to sweep, does Ferris hang on to home ice in the first round (Western has BGSU and sits three points back)?

Ferris will have the benefit of a sold out, wild crowd going for them. On top of that will be playing for their seniors for the last time, BUT I will go with a U-M sweep. If U-M does sweep my gut feeling says Ferris will keep home ice, but how this season has went nothing would shock me.

P.S. - I really hope to see Sauer start at Yost, and finish on a high note!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


From The Ann Arbor News:
The university [of Wisconsin - ed] has tendered a formal contract to the University of Michigan for an outdoor hockey game to be played at the 80,321-seat stadium Feb. 6, and the Wolverines are expected to accept the offer, Michigan associate head coach Mel Pearson said Thursday afternoon.

Awwwww yeah. I think it's pretty safe to say that I'll be there.

That's the day before the Super Bowl, if you were wondering.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Having Another Seat Over There: Derek Deblois Commits to Michigan

3 posts in one night? Not sure I've done that before.

Thanks to alnike for the heads up on this one.

Derek Deblois, a forward who plays with Mac Bennett (and used to play with Luke Glendening) at Hotchkiss Prep, has also committed to the Wolverines for the Class of 2010 or 2011. He's a junior right now, so I'll list him as a 2010 on the Future Wolverines sidebar.

McKeen's interviewed him earlier this month and described him as tenacious and a player who can get to the net. He's also described as being Hotchkiss's "go-to guy" offensively. He listed interest in BU, Harvard, Northeastern, Denver, and Princeton as well as Michigan. Tri-City holds his USHL rights, so we may see him there (or in the BCHL) next year if he doesn't go back to Hotchkiss.

He's draft eligible this year and is rated #69 (go ahead, you know you want to...) in the NHL Midterm Rankings. I keep saying it: That class of 2010 isn't even going to be fair if all these kids make it to campus. If you're counting, we now have arguably the #1 goalie, #1 forward, #1 defenseman, a guy in Deblois who should be a mid-round pick (he's a "B" rated prospect, which means 3-5 round projection), another guy in Bennett who is ranked #63 in the midterm rankings but sounds like he could go much higher ("A" rated prospect), a guy who is #3 on the NTDP in scoring, and a defenseman who was voted captain of the NTDP U-17s. I can't see Red wanting to go anywhere when he's got a haul like that coming in.

He's also serving as an alternate captain on Hotchkiss (along with Bennett).

Random fact: I guess he and Mac Bennett are both really good at surfing. The things you find on the internet.

USHR was impressed with him last year.

That's about all I could dig up tonight.

Having a Seat Over There: Alex Guptill Commits to Michigan

Wow, I do have some content!

Alex Guptill, a name I threw out there earlier this month as a possible future Wolverine, has committed to the program for the 2011 season according to the Georgina Advocate. He could accelerate, depending on if anyone bails early.

He's a 6'2" forward who currently plays for the Brampton Capitals in the OJHL. As a rookie, he led the team in scoring with a 30-34--64 line in 49 games (54th overall). He had 7 on the power play and a pair of GWGs. He also had 28 PIMs. He had one assist in their three playoff games, as they were swept out by Oakville (and future Wolverine teammate Lindsay Sparks). Guptill was also named Rookie of the Year in the MacKinnon Division.

The Brampton Battalion own his OHL rights, but Guptill addressed the thought of going there in the article:

"It was nothing against Brampton (Battalion), but education is important for me and my family," said Guptill. "I've turned a completely different direction to what I was doing before.

"There's no way I was getting a better offer. I just wanted to get it done to take the pressure off and enjoy hockey for next year. Brampton wasn't the same big atmosphere."

There are also some comments from Mel Pearson in the article, about the state of NCAA hockey recruiting.

Sparks, by the way, is tied for second on his team in playoff scoring with 2-9--11 in 7 games. Oakville leads Burlington 3 games to 1 in their Best of 7 MacKinnon Division Semifinal series, and is 6-1 in the playoffs thusfar.

Hockey Links!

I may not have a lot of content, but I sure do have a bunch of interesting links to pass along!

HSR and MGoBlog break down the PWR rankings and comment on how the screw-jobs against OSU and ND might come into play.

Brian takes a look at people who are better at their jobs than Kevin Langseth is at his. I would include my Dish Network installer on that list. Douche.

The Ann Arbor News gives us some fantastic news: Mark Mitera is expected to play this weekend against Ferris State. Talk about a boost heading into the postseason. It'll be interesting to see how the team handles the "letter" situation. I gotta believe Mitera and Summers both wear C's.

Also, according to the Ann Arbor News, Piotrowski said the the officials determined that it was Vaughan's skate that created the contact with the puck. Clearly that was the wrong decision being that the goal has been credited to Severyn and OSU's official site even says the puck went in off Severyn's skate. Great group you got there, Pio.

MHNet's take on Saturday's game made me laugh. Very fitting, and a commercial that I always thought was funny.

WCH weighs in as well. I'm not sure I completely agree that all goals off skates should be allowed to count--I don't think you really want to encourage guys to start trying to kick the puck--but I 100% believe that unless there's a distinct kicking motion, the goal should count. If you're skilled enough to turn your skate and deflect it in, more power to you. It's really not that hard to figure out if a guy kicked the puck. Especially if you let them look at more than one replay that may or may not even have the puck in the frame when it's propelled toward the net. I can't say I remember ever being pissed at the NHL over a call when the puck was kicked into the net. They might be good at screwing things up when the goalie is pushed into the goal. They might not be able to get calls in the crease correct (especially when we play Anaheim). But I don't remember ever complaining too much about kicked pucks. Then again, the NCAA refs are incompetent enough that even with what essentially amounts to a no-tolerance policy on goals going in off the skate, they're still getting it wrong at an alarming rate, so maybe we shouldn't be putting trust in them to get judgement calls correct.

Dwight Helminen was involved in a scary incident over the weekend. The Albany River Rats' bus crashed, sending several team members/employees to the hospital. Ex SCSU Huskie Casey Borer broke his neck (thankfully it sounds like he'll be able to resume his career) and told his story to the Times Union. He was sleeping and woke up while he was flying through the air. Borer said Helminen was cut up in the crash. It doesn't sound like Dewey was seriously hurt though. Thank God everyone was (relatively) okay.

Jeff Lerg is about to become the all-time save king in NCAA hockey. With the way they inflate his shot totals at Munn, I'm shocked this didn't happen by his sophomore season. Regardless, congrats to him. At least something good has come out of the fact that his team can't play defense.

Last, but certainly not least, Mike Spath talked with Red Berenson about the calls Saturday night and Red is more than slightly upset about it.

He also took about five minutes to rip the hell out of the replay system and the CCHA officials. He's very aware of what the two games (ND and OSU) could end up costing his team in the long run. But while he wants to see wholesale changes to the replay system he doesn't know that it will change because enough programs (ones that don't get TV often) probably wouldn't benefit from introducing new technology.

Spath said he'll post some quotes in the near future. That should be a really good read.

Some people might view it as sour grapes, but I'm glad Red is speaking out about this stuff. The more attention drawn to what jokes the officials and the replay system are, the better the chance that something will be done about it. The conference deserves all the negative pub it gets for this one. In Michigan games alone, their officials have inexcusably stuffed up four goal calls in the last month. With the benefit of video review, albeit a flawed video review system. This goes so far and beyond missing blatant penalties, or failing to DQ someone for an attack that would eventually get him kicked off his team. These are calls directly awarding goals scored by illegal means and disallowing perfectly legit goals. It's happening way too often. It's cost Michigan two games against Teams Under Consideration and it needs to be fixed. I don't want to hear about a $50,000 replay system. All it takes is a freaking cable TV jack, a cable TV subscription, a coax cable, and a TV for the officials to get a better view than what they've got now. Hell, I don't even have that in my condo right now and I still had a better view of Severyn's kick in than what the officials apparently saw. I had a laptop, an internet connection, a Slingbox, and more than half a brain--unlike the numskulls working the game.

Edit: Oh, I meant to pass this along awhile ago. A reader wrote in with the details of what must be the ultimate place to get your Michigan jersey personalized. The hockey team gets their jerseys made at Exclusive Pro Sports in Rockford, IL and they'll do jerseys for fans as well. They've got a huge database of the lettering styles and colors. And I guess it's only like $65 plus postage to get it done (and that was for 3-colored numbers).

Also, if anyone has a team photo from this year that would be suitable for printing into a decent size (I'd guess at least 8 x 10) could you let me know? A reader wrote in looking for one. All I could find online was a tiny one from the GLI.

Edit #2:
Also, Andy Baggot reported a few days ago that "All signs continue to point to the Wisconsin Badgers men's hockey team hosting Michigan in an outdoor game at Camp Randall Stadium in February of 2010." The announcement has been pushed back to March, but they don't anticipate anything jeopardizing the game. Nice to hear, since it seemed like this game fell off the face of the earth. Tickets are reported to be around $15 for the game. Bargain.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

This is Getting Absurd

Since our Dish Network installation was an epic fail, I didn't get to see any of the game tonight. I returned from moving boxes just in time to fire up Slingbox and see a grainy shot of the game-winning goal. My immediate reaction was, "Wow. He totally kicked that in." Keep in mind, this is seeing a replay for a split-second on a grainy picture. The text message I got immediately after confirmed it. The thread at The Wolverine was further confirmation.

And yet somehow Langseth managed to stuff it up again. For the second time in about a month, Michigan lost a hockey game 3-2 when they had a goal waived off due to a premature whistle, and the opponent had a kicked-in goal allowed. That's pretty impressive, Pio.

This really is the worst replay system ever. I didn't think it was possible, but it seems like CCHA refs get replay rulings correct less frequently than their Big Ten Football counterparts. They're handicapped by the fact that they aren't allowed to use all the angles at their disposal, but how do you keep missing the puck getting kicked in in the first place?

That's all I saw of the game. I guess the defense had some major lapses and Hogie gave up some soft rebounds. Failing to score on a 2-minute 5-on-3 probably didn't help matters either.

So in splitting with OSU, we lose the ability to control our own destiny for second place heading into the final weekend of the season. Miami got another shootout point (awesome), so they're two ahead with two games to play. Without looking into the numbers, we still seem to be in really good shape to be a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.

At some point, I'll actually be able to start seeing games again...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mi Scusi

Ahh mi scusi, mi scusi!

Our move got pushed up a week, so with packing and whatnot, I've had no time to think about hockey, let alone recap the wins from the past weekend.

I did manage to take in Friday night's game at Yost, and it was so good to be back in that old barn. There was a chant in the third period that a group of students were doing that kept ending in "You just suck", but it wasn't the goalie-->sieve-->funnel-->vacuum chant. Someone out there has to know. I was amused, even if I couldn't hear what was being said. I was a big fan of the "Bork, Bork, Bork" sign to go with the Swedish flags.

I'm not going to have a chance to watch Saturday night's game. Our TV is getting moved tomorrow and we're swapping out our Dish Network receivers on Saturday, so my copy of it will be going bye bye. I've heard the officiating was horrendous (shocking). And I heard it from someone who is normally really level-headed about that type of thing. I guess Omaha fans have a beef about our GWG, and Michigan fans have a beef about the constant 5 on 3s against them. I didn't see either for myself.

Really nice to see everyone chipping in offensively. Rust's line was just fantastic Friday night, Glendening has been lighting the lamp like crazy, Lebler, Czarnik...even Burlon from back on the blueline. It's a very good sign heading into the postseason. Now we just gotta get Louie putting the puck in the net again.

I was happy to find out that Hogan had the flu Friday night because that was as bad as he's ever looked between the pipes. He was dropping rebounds that he usually smothers, he gave up a goal after turning the puck over, another goal was terrible though I can't recall what happened. But it sounds like he's got a legit excuse. It was great to see Billy Sauer get another shot in net at Yost, and it was nice to hear the fans give him a well-deserved ovation. He may end up with one of the strangest legacies of any player to come through our program, but I have to respect anyone who has fought through as much adversity as Sauer has fought through in his career. I've criticized him more than my fair share, but I'll wish that kid nothing but the best going forward. He's been really mature about this season, and it can't be easy for him.

Mitera more than likely won't play this weekend but it sounds as if he could potentially go next weekend against FSU. Talk about a boost, getting your best player back for the stretch run.

That's all I've got. No 10 Things this week, due to a lack of time. We're 5 points ahead of OSU with 4 games to play. So a split means they can't catch us. We've locked up a bye in the first round of the CCHA Playoffs. OSU is in a fierce battle with Alaska for the final bye. Alaska is one point ahead, but they've got just two games remaining. OSU has four, but they're against Michigan and Miami. They badly need points if they want to avoid playing in the first round. They're 11-9-4-3 in CCHA play and have 72 goals for and 70 against.

After winning 11 games in a row, they've gone 2-4-3 (not counting shootouts) over their past nine.

Sophomore Dustin Carlson has gone most of the way in net, with a 16-7-3 record, a 2.26 goals against and a .924 save percentage. Joe Palmer has fallen off the face of the Earth, and I officially apologize to Ken Holland for ripping him for drafting Daniel Larsson instead. If I haven't already. Zac Dalpe leads in goals with 13 and John Albert leads in points with 33.

Tomorrow's game is on the Big Ten Network and Saturday's will air on CBS College Sports. I'm not sure what I'll be doing in terms of coverage. I may be able to Slingbox tomorrow's game if I'm not too busy moving stuff. Saturday's game will depend on if my satellite dish gets installed without a hitch. I love Dish Network, but they're majorly on my poop-list right now, so I'm not counting on it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Programming Note

No 10 Things this week. I was hoping to have something up, but we're in the process of moving, I'm coming back to Michigan this weekend for a wedding, and I had a death in the family so the trip is going to be longer than I anticipated.

Any coverage will completely depend on family stuff. MGoBlue will be archiving Friday night's game and I have the DVR set for Saturday's game, but I'm not sure when I'll be able to watch them or if I'll have time to write about them.

Quick stuff:

Omaha is 4 points back of us in sixth place in the CCHA, but they have just four games remaining in CCHA play (against us and Notre Dame). Anything short of a sweep for them probably means they can't catch us. They've won just one game since the first of the year and have gone 1-7-4 since throttling Yale. They're winless in regulation in their last nine games and have gotten outscored 28-9 in that span.

Despite the recent slide, their goalies both put up pretty darn good numbers. This is a team we need to sweep, though.

Michigan needs a single point to clinch home ice in the first round of the CCHA Playoffs. Our magic number is six to clinch a first-round bye and home ice in the second round. That could happen with a Michigan sweep and an Alaska regulation loss (or two shootout losses) at Western Michigan.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Having a Seat Over There: Lindsay Sparks Commits

The 2009 class has a fifth member. Brown-decommit Lindsay Sparks will join the Wolverines next year. He's a 5'9" 170 center who currently plays for the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. He has 18-39--57 in 41 games, good for sixth on the team in points (though four of the five guys in front of him are 88's and the other is an 89--he's a 1990 birthday). Oakville sits in second place in the MacKinnon Division with a record of--ready for this?--39-0-2-0-0-8 (W-OTW-SOW-OTL-SOL-L). They'll be playing Brampton (and potential recruit Alex Guptill) in the first round of the OJHL Playoffs. I'm sure the Wolverine coaches will be keeping an eye on that series.

Sparks also played for Canada's Team East in the World Junior A Challenge (the tournament Moffie played in) in November. Here's what the coach of the Blades had to say about him at the time:

"With Lindsay Team Canada East is getting on of the quickest players in the entire league. He is called upon to carry much of the offence (ahhh Canada! -ed) load for our team and I am sure he will be able to play a similar role during this competition."

He ended up with just 1 assist and 16 PIMs in that tournament for the eventual bronze medalists.

He joins Chris Brown, AJ Treais, Kevin Lynch, and Lee Moffie as members of the entering class of 2009.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Michigan 2, LSSU 1

With Brian on vacation, my full recap of the game can be read over at MGoBlog.

Quick hitters:
-Great game out of Hogan. He didn't get a lot of goal support (though Sauer would probably disagree) but he was a rock back in net. He made some huge stops on guys who got behind the defense.

-Inglis was really good for LSSU as well. There were several times that Michigan could have blown the game open, but he was up to the task after getting lit the night before.

-Much more even game. Shots were very close, both teams had a lot of scoring chances.

-The Hagelin, Rust, Palushaj line was excellent again. All three of them had a slew of scoring chances and Hagelin scored arugably the second-best goal of our season (unless someone goes Mike Legg, nothing is topping Palushaj's goal in the opener against St. Lawrence) with his lap around the offensive zone before firing a laser by Inglis.

-Winnett showed something this weekend. He wasn't the best player on the ice, but he showed more in the offensive end than he has in a long, long time. Drew some penalties, had a huge assist on Friday night, and had quite a few scoring chances.

-The power play needs work. 0 for 7 with seven shots on goal. They're #42 in the nation in PP %. That's the only area of the team that's not clicking right now.

-Michigan's up to third place in the CCHA, two behind Miami and six behind Notre Dame with six games to play (without Brian Aaron we're two back of each of them. Dammit.). We're in really good shape to at least get a bye in the CCHA Playoffs. Omaha had a rough weekend and even a split against them next weekend should be enough to best them in the standings. And we're a couple points up on Alaska with a pair of games in hand.

The updated Pairwise has Michigan tied for the #3 spot, and a #1 seed. Pretty impressive from where we stood just a couple of months ago. They've done a great job of getting off the bubble and not just solidifying themselves in the tournament, but making a run at a #1 seed.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Having a Seat Over There: Recruiting Updates

The Hockey News's Prep Watch featured a 15-year-old defenseman by the name of Ryan Murphy, who is probably OHL-bound (he's Canadian and a possible top-5 pick in the OHL draft) but has also fielded interest from Michigan.

Another name that I've heard is worth watching in the future is Alex Guptill, a 6'2" 165 forward with the Brampton Capitals of the OJHL. He leads the team in scoring with 30-34--64 in 48 games. He just received Rookie of the Year honors in the conference. He's a 6th round pick of the Brampton Batallion, so take it for what it's worth that he's also playing for Brampton in the OJHL.

The USA Under-17 team (aka the Michigan Wolverines JV Team) won the Vlad Dzurilla tournament this morning. They won their opening game against Germany by a 3-1 margin. Jack Campbell made 12 stops in the victory.

They lost game two to Switzerland 6-5 in the seventh round of a shootout. Will Yanakeff (future Sparty) was in net for USA in that one. Luke Moffatt had a goal and an assist in the game.

That set up a showdown with the host team, Slovakia. Win in regulation, and they're the tournament champs. They did, by a 7-1 margin. Jack Campbell got the nod and he made 28 stops en route to Best Goaltender honors. A 1.00 gaa and a .952 save percentage will do that. He's now 7-0-1-0 in international play this year, with a 1.17 goals against and a .949 save percentage. (That record is Wins, OTW, OTL, L.) I haven't seen a full box score, but Moffatt and Clare had assists for sure.

The Under 18s are playing in the Five Nations Cup in Sweden and currently sit 3-0 with wins over Sweden (3-2), the Czechs (7-3), and Finland (3-2).

Kevin Lynch leads the Americans with a 3-2--5 line in the three games. Chris Brown has 2-1--3 and AJ Treais has 1-1--2. So three of USA's top six scorers in the tournament thusfar...coming to Michigan next year. Also of note, both Treais and Lynch take a ton of draws for the Americans. USA has only three players that have taken double digit faceoffs in the tournament: Lynch has 50, Treais has 66, and Drew Shore has 55. Treais is at 50% and Lynch is at 54%. Nice to know that we're bringing a couple more players who can take draws.

USA plays the 2-0-1 (That's wins, ties, losses. Yost Built is I18N compliant) Russians tomorrow and can (obviously) wrap up the tournament title with a win.

Hotchkiss Prep is 11-6 at the moment. I know Mac Bennett was out for awhile, but Hotchkiss's site doesn't have stats, so I'm not sure if he's back yet.

Lee Moffie has 3-17--20 for the Waterloo Black Hawks in 33 games, good for second on the team in defense scoring. He's -1 on the season and has 54 PIMs. Waterloo is 4th place in the East Division with a 24-12-3 record, but are just five points out of first. They also have the fifth best record in the entire league.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Michigan 6, LSSU 2

My full game recap can be read over at MGoBlog.

Quick hitters:
-Matt Rust completely changed the momentum in that game with his short-handed tally with 6 seconds left in the first period. LSSU was looking at going into the intermission up 1-0 and with a power play to start the second. Instead, Rusty makes it 1-1, the Wolverines come out flying in the second and score twice in the first two minutes, and the game was basically over.
-Caporusso had two tallies (including a beautiful water-bottle knocker), giving him 22 on the season.
-Ben Winnett had a really good game after being a healthy scratch in four straight. He really does make a nice outlet pass. He hit Caporusso for Louie's breakaway goal.
-Burlon and Summers were +3 on the night. Our defense is going to be unreal when Mitera comes back.
-Hogan was good in net. He made several big, timely stops, even though he only made 19 saves.
-PK streak ended after 29-or-so straight kills, but they were awesome again tonight.
-Wohlberg and Turnbull were taking turns feeding beautiful passes to the other. They both had really nice nights. Wohlberg is just awesome.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

10 Things to Know About LSSU

It'd be nice to have a week without controversy for a change. Here are 10 things to know about this week's opponent, the LSSU Lakers.

1) They're tied for 8th place in the CCHA with a 6-8-6-1 record (and a 9-11-8 record overall). They're 4-6-3 on the road with wins against BGSU, OSU, Ferris, and Colgate. They've also tied Notre Dame twice, Wisconsin and UMD (ND and Wiscy were on the road).

2) LSSU has won three straight (against BGSU and a sweep of FYS) after winning just three of their previous 18 contests.

3) They have just one player with 10 goals (freshman Frank Cassiani, who is just sixth on the team in points), but there are three more with 9 apiece, including our old friend Zac MacVoy. If you're new to the college hockey world, MacVoy played 20 games for Michigan in 05-06 before he transferred. He had 27 points in 35 games last year and has 20 in 28 so far this season. Troy Schwab is their leading scorer with 9-16--25. They don't get a ton of offense from their defense, but Steven Kaunisto (3-15--18) and Simon Gysbers (3-13--16) have a pretty good amount of points.

4) Sophomore Brian Mahoney-Wilson has played the majority of the games and has a 6-7-6 record, with a 2.52 goals against and a .921 save percentage. Pat Inglis, a junior, is 3-4-2 with a 2.41 and a .921. So they're still getting solid goaltending. Super.

5) LSSU's hockey team may collectively win the "Dude, get a job" award. At the end of this calendar year, their entire team will be old enough to drink. As it stands right now, only three can't, and that will go down to two next weekend. (These numbers don't include freshman Brett Wall, who I can't find a birthday for.) By comparison, eleven of our guys aren't able to legally drink at the end of 2009, and sixteen can't legally drink right now.

6) They're actually #27 in offense, which (without looking it up) I would say is pretty solid for LSSU. They score 2.93 goals per game. Seven CCHA teams are worse than that. And at 2.57 goals per game allowed, they're tied for 19th in team defense. How did this team only win 3 out of 18? Seems like they should be doing better than that...

7) Amongst the CCHA teams, only NMU and Alaska take fewer penalties. LSSU is 42nd nationally in penalty minutes at 14.8 a night. The power play isn't so good, ranked #46 in the country at 13.8%. They've also given up six shorties. The penalty kill is 86%, good for 20th in the country. (Side note, after that brutal start to the season, Michigan is now 13th nationally at 87.2% on the PK.)

8) Sophomore forward Will Acton is the son of Keith, who played 15 years in the NHL.

9) Last week's sweep of FYS was the first time they've swept the Spartans since 1989. The Wolverines are 53-46-6 all-time against LSSU and have won the last 5 meetings.

10) Aaron Palushaj has the most points against LSSU of the current Wolverines. He had 2-4--6 in four games last year. Second is actually Danny Fardig, with a 1-4--5 line in 7 games against the Lakers. Caporusso had two goals in two games as well. Billy Sauer has done very well against the Lakers in his career, posting a 4-1-0 record with a 1.81 goals against and a .939 save percentage. Hogan is 1-0-0 with a 2 goals against and a .913 save percentage.

Friday night's game will air on (and HSR and I will be doing a Cover It Live broadcast over at MGoBlog). Saturday will be on Comcast Local in Metro Detroit and the NHL Network in Canada (it will re-air on Sunday on the USA's NHL Network).

In honor of the game against LSSU this weekend, MVictors has posted some great audio from Dave Shand, in which he retells the story of Red's famous walk back to the hotel after a beatdown at the hands of the Lakers. Don't listen to this one at work without headphones.

It should be a fun weekend. LSSU is probably better than their record and they have solid goaltending. Michigan never ties, LSSU leads the nation in ties. Will we see a shootout this weekend? Last stat for you: If we do see a shootout, it's probably not a bad thing. LSSU is 1-5 in the six they've participated in.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Mike Brown Traded to Anaheim

The Vancouver Canucks traded ex-Wolverine Mike Brown to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for someone named Nathan McIver.

Anaheim is getting harder and harder to hate. Brown becomes the third ex-Wolverine on the Ducks, who also have Andrew Ebbett and Brendan Morrison. But then I remember that they have Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, and they're not as hard to hate.

The Ducks are now the third team in the NHL with a trio of Michigan forwards. The New York Islanders (Tambellini, Comrie, Hilbert) and Calgary Flames (Nystrom, Moss, Cammalleri) could also put out a line of former Wolverines if they were so inclined.

Brown has one assist and 85 PIMs in 20 games this year.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I Love Red

He's absolutely pissed about the way that game Saturday night went down, and who can blame him? This isn't quite, "Brian Aaron needs a big red nose and floppy feet" but it's close.

The Wolverine has had lots of good stuff from Coach Berenson and the CCHA the last couple of days. Here are some choice words about the waived off goal at the end of the game:

On the explanation given to Berenson during the game: "He told me on the ice the net was off. The net didn’t even budge. The net didn’t even shake. It’s a bad call. They know it. They’re going to hear about it from the league. It’s too bad. Whether or not those officials were good enough to handle that series is a question but that’s a league situation. And the league is very good about it. [Head of officiating] Steve Piotrowski is very good about discussing it but we can’t turn it around."

There's a lot of other good stuff from Red in that post, including the fact that he clearly feels the kicked in goal was a blown call and that Brian Aaron really screwed up.

The day before, they had stuff from the CCHA. Basically both the calls were blown, but they're not overturning the game (not that anyone thought they would or should). The gist of it is that Brian Aaron is a complete fool.

CCHA sources admit that the neutral-zone referee should not have blown his whistle when he did, remarking "You have to trust your partner and the deep-zone referee, in this case, was in the proper position to make the call. You only act in that manner if your fellow official isn't in position, if he fell down or is racing down the ice." So essentially, the official on top of the play did not blow the whistle and was rendered useless when the neutral-zone referee blew the whistle prematurely.

Other stuff: As linked in the post below, it appears that Nick Cousins hasn't committed to Michigan after all, and may have, in fact, decided to be our Little Brother. If true, hopefully he works out as well as Leveille has. And if it turns out he's maize and blue after all, hopefully he's Gretzky part 2 :)

WOLV-TV has a great view of the Maday goal. My favorite part is how every Wolverine player on the ice immediately reacts about the puck being kicked in. Pretty unlucky that five or six Wolverines saw it get kicked in, but the four blind mice didn't. MGoBlog weighs in as well.

Most of my content this weekend will be over at MGoBlog. Brian is taking a well-earned vacation and is turning the keys to the kingdom over to various Michigan bloggers for the week. The LSSU post-game wrap-ups will be over there and the guys from Hoover Street Rag invited me to participate in their Cover It Live broadcast of Friday night's game (which will also be at MGoBlog). Ten Things will still be here.

Mitera's recovery is coming along, and he still is shooting to get back for at least one more game at Yost. He's been skating with the forwards in practice so he can get in some more puck touches. I'm really excited that it looks like we'll get to see #17 back on the ice in a Michigan jersey. I'm sure this isn't how he pictured his senior year, but I think they're going to be in the mix to send him out in style.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Nick Cousins DOES NOT Commit to Michigan

And we just got a commitment from a player who is eleven years younger than me. I officially feel old.

Bob Miller is reporting that Nick Cousins, a center from the Quinte Red Devils has committed to Michigan, becoming the first member of the incoming class of 2011. Quinte is in Ontario apparently.

The Red Devils' website indicates that Cousins has 56 goals and 46 assists on the season for 102 points. He leads the team in all three categories. The next highest goal scorer has 35, the next highest assist guy has 36, and the next highest point man has 68. So yeah, he leads his team in goals by 21 and points by 34.

Cousins has been in on 102 of Quinte's 142 goals on the season. They currently sit in first place in the OMHA standings, with a 22-8-4 record. They lead their division by nine points and are second in the league standings.

Here's a little article about him and his team.

He was listed on one website as being 5'9" 151 at the moment.

And umm...he broke one of Wayne Gretzky's scoring records apparently. That can't be a bad sign.

Edit: Or not. That's a bummer.

Notre Dame 3*, Michigan 2*

I signed for a condo yesterday. If any of you are looking for any housewarming gift ideas for me, I have one. I'd like Brian Aaron and John Philo, the refs, brought right here. With big ribbons on their heads. And I want to look them straight in the eyes and I want to tell them what cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sacks of monkey shit they are. Hallelujah. Holy shit. Where's the Tylenol?

What. The hell. Was that?

I freely admit that I bitch about the officiating a lot. But I try my hardest to at least be somewhat balanced. If the officiating sucks and we win, I'll complain as much as I do when it sucks and we lose. If it sucks both ways (see the game at Munn earlier in the year), I'll call them out. I'll even freely admit it when we get a huge break on a call (though I'll admit my blue-colored glasses sometimes cloud my judgement on those). Usually it's not the main focus of my post. Usually you don't have two calls that incorrectly award/disallow goals. Sadly, tonight we did.

Early in the third period, I actually praised the officiating in my notes. Yes, the Maday goal was inexcusably allowed. But aside from that (and a missed hit from behind yesterday) I thought they were doing a good job. And hell, one screwed up goal in a weekend? That's not so bad for the CCHA, all things considered. At least they were letting two great hockey teams play hockey, and not turning it into a special teams battle like so many other guys just have to do. Even with the disaster this game turned out to be, I do appreciate that the teams were allowed to play.

And yet I concluded the night by having a slightly more profane reaction than the one above.

For those of you who didn't have the privilege of watching the CCHA officials ruin yet another series, a recap:

In the first period, Tim Miller has a horrible giveaway. The puck goes onto the stick of Ridderwall who makes a very nice feed to Maday. Maday kicks the puck into the net. Four officials looked at it, several with unobstructed views. Four officials thought to themselves, "Yeah, that was a good goal." Travis Turnbull, who was out by the blueline, looking through a screen, immediately started signaling that the puck was kicked in. But the refs had already called it a good goal, so the replay had to be conclusive to overturn it. No problem. There are 4 camera angles showing the guy kicking it in at best, directing it in (still illegal) at worst. But, oh wait, he was by the faceoff circle when he kicked it in. The asinine replay rules only allow for the overhead camera to be shown to the official, because God-forbid we use everything at our disposal to, ya know, make sure the calls are right. So Brian Aaron went into the penalty box and was shown a lovely shot of the puck going in the net, with no indication as to how it got there, because they weren't in the frame. Goal.

Notre Dame goes up 3-0. Michigan mounts a comeback and gets it to 3-2. With like 30 seconds left, there's a goalmouth scramble. The puck sneaks out to the side of Jordan Pearce and Steve Kampfer bangs it in. Tie game. Not so fast, my friend. They go to the review and rule that the net was off the moorings. It wasn't. I assumed the ruling was that the whistle had blown. And if it had, I'm pissed off and I'm asking how John Philo lost sight of the puck when he was standing all of two feet away from it, but it's at least understandable. Brian Aaron blew at least 3 plays dead prematurely tonight. It happens. But don't make shit up. Your official was standing right there. He didn't blow the play dead for the net being off. No replay shows the net being off. The overhead cam sure as shit didn't show the net being off. To make matters even better, Alton pointed out at MGoBlog that Brian Aaron appears to have been the official that blew the play dead. Not the guy who was standing right over the puck. The guy out by the blueline. (Note that Aaron was the one who went into the replay "booth" to review it.) Good thing we've got two refs. That really makes the game better, right? No goal. Notre Dame wins, and we're all but eliminated from contention for the CCHA title.

This is what happens when you hire stupid people. Steve Piotrowski. Please listen to me and listen to me good. You need to put the skates back on. It needs to happen. We watched Brian Hill butcher the series with Miami down in Oxford, we watched Sergott and Hall lose control of the MSU series and play a role in Kampfer getting attacked, McInchak and Aaron were laughable in the first series with MSU (remember how much of a joke that game at Munn was?), now you've got a crucial series between two of the best teams the conference has to offer and Brian Aaron is the best official you can come up with? Are you kidding me? If he's the best guy around, Steve, you're doing the conference a disservice by not being out there. I may not have always been in love with the games you'd call, but I never would worry that a series or a game would get butchered like this one did, or that the game would get completely out of hand like the MSU game last week. You're 100 times better for the conference being on the ice rather than in a suit. Get it done. Or at least find some officials that aren't complete numskulls.

Not a whole lot of exciting stuff in the first period. Wohlberg and Lebler both got poke-checked by Pearce on rushes. They should file it away that he really likes doing that. That was at least 4 this weekend.

Hogan made a few nice stops, including a couple on Condra--one when Condra absolutely walked Burlon.

Notre Dame went up 2-0 on a penalty shot goal by Thang. He got behind Kampfer, ND hit on the pass, and Kampfer had to grab him. On the shot, Thang made a beautiful shot fake, Hogan thought about going for the poke-check but never fully committed to it, and Thang was able to go top shelf.

Not too much later it was 3-0. That was a gorgeous feed from Deeth to Ridderwall, who is becoming a real dagger in our side.

Summers had a fantastic defensive play to prevent a scoring chance late in the period. A pass got through Langlais's legs, but Summers got back, dove, and swept the puck away without taking out Hanson's legs and committing a penalty.

At the end of 2, we were down 3-0 but outshooting them 24-19.

The third was all Michigan. At one point late, we were outshooting them 10-3 and had a 9-1 lead in scoring chances.

Michigan made it 3-1 off a possession created by an offensive zone faceoff win. Lebler caused some havoc in front, and prevented Pearce from covering the puck. Palushaj dug it out and shot it in.

Robbie Czarnik finally got on the board again with a pretty power play goal. He fed it to Palushaj and shot down the wing. Palushaj put a perfect pass back to Czarnik, who buried it as he was falling down. It was hard to tell if the team was more excited to be back in the game, or more excited that Czarnik scored. They were going bonkers after that one.

Palushaj darn near set up another goal. He brought it into the zone 3 on 2. The defenseman on the left initially went with Hagelin but Palushaj carried it in far enough that he had to commit to Palushaj. When he did, Palushaj fed Hagelin who looked cross-crease for Rust, but the pass didn't connect.

We then got offsetting penalties because Rust was pushed into the goalie and Pearce took a massive dive. Makes sense to me. #1, Rust was pushed into the crease. #2, he barely touched Pearce. #3, Pearce went down like he was shot. Have some balls and just call the embellishment. You wouldn't have called Rust for that if Pearce didn't go down like a soccer player, so why call it just because the goalie flopped like a fish?

Czarnik then had a couple of great chances to tie the game. On the first one, one of ND's defensemen tied his stick up, but on the next chance, he fanned with a wide-open net. Ugh. The play came back in front and Miller had an empty net to shoot at, but he was well tied up by the defense and couldn't get a stick on it.

Michigan pulled the goalie with a minute left and appeared to score the tying goal but evidently the net was off. Or Brian Aaron is just an imbecile. I'm going with the latter.

Red wasn't mincing words after the game:
"I'm not here to discuss the officiating, but this was a big series, and obviously you want top officials here, but they were two great college hockey games. There's not much to choose between the teams. They've had a great season and to go unbeaten for 20 games is just unbelievable and that was going to come to an end. If we wanted to make a run at first place, we had to win this game tonight. "
That's ok Red, I'm perfectly fine discussing the officiating. And they were terrible. Two inexcusable calls resulting in one good goal being waived off, and one illegal goal counting.

As for Maday's goal:
The one went in off his foot, the camera couldn't see it. If it would have been reviewable, it would not have been a goal.

The other way that I could have not been called a goal would have been if there was one competent official in the entire bunch. But that might be asking a little much for the CCHA. I always used to joke that when Brian Aaron was reffing, we might as well start down a goal because he was guaranteed to waive one of ours off. He did us one better tonight.

The officials pretty much ruined what was otherwise a really good hockey game. Notre Dame is a really great defensive team. That group of blueliners they've got is just stellar. They did a nice job of keeping Michigan to the outside and allowing only low-percentage looks in the first two periods. We had a couple of chances, but by and large most of our 24 shots on net through two weren't of the high-quality variety.

Those are two pretty evenly matched hockey teams. I'm a homer, but I think we're a little bit better than them, especially if we get Mark Mitera back, as it appears we're going to. With Mitera, Kampfer, Summers, and Burlon, we're every bit as good on the blueline as them. And that doesn't even mention any of the other guys, like Langlais who has been very solid this season (though I thought he struggled tonight).

Czarnik was flying again tonight, and it was great to see him put one in. Even though he missed an empty net later in the game, that goal really could get him going. He's been putting himself in good areas, maybe now the pucks will start going in for him. I also thought Lebler did some good things in the corners tonight.

It was also nice to see the power play finally click. We were 2-3 on the night with 7 shots on goal. ND has a good penalty kill and we were able to cash in twice. It'd be huge if those units could heat up a little bit.

Another really strong night from the fourth line. Fardig was just awesome and Glendening absolutely planted Minella when he jumped to glove down a puck.

One last highlight was the hit that Pateryn laid on an Irish player behind the Michigan net which led to a pretty nice rush for the Wolverines.

I don't think this will be the last we see of the Irish this year. I could easily see two more meetings taking place. The college hockey world would be lucky to see these teams meet twice more, because those were two darn entertaining hockey games between two great teams this weekend. Hopefully if we meet in the future, the teams will actually get to decide the outcome. That's a good, good hockey team right there. If it had stayed 3-0, I would've had no problem tipping my cap to them, saying "We'll probably see ya again. Great weekend of hockey!" and moving on to LSSU. But damn...those calls overshadowed an otherwise excellent series.

I don't understand why the officials are only allowed to look at the overhead camera. I get that not every game is on TV and not every team can afford to have multiple camera angles. But is the goal to have a system that is uniformly dysfunctional or is the goal to get calls correct? Isn't getting calls correct the whole point of replay? If the technology is there, why not use it? The current system doesn't allow for the review of pucks being batted in with a high stick. It doesn't allow for review of goals when the player happened to be more than 3 feet outside the crease. There were multiple camera angles that showed Maday's goal shouldn't have counted. But the ref wasn't allowed to look at any of them. That seems really stupid to me. Use what's available. I don't care if it's not uniform.

Lastly, I know some people were saying that the commentary seemed to favor Notre Dame (I didn't notice that, but then, they were also up 3-0 for awhile, so it probably should have) but I love listening to Dan Dickerson call hockey games. I think I commented on that the last time we had him as well. He's a great play by play guy. I could definitely stand for more of him.

Next up is LSSU, who will be fresh off their sweep of FYS.