Saturday, March 21, 2009

CCHA Championship: Notre Dame 5, Michigan 2

To quote the Boom Goes the Dynamite guy, Michigan started out well, but ended up doing poorly.

The teams were kind of feeling each other out in the early going. Not a ton going on for the first few minutes. Each team had a shortened PP. Hogan made one brilliant stop with the right pad through traffic.

Michigan then started to carry the play a little bit. Kampfer rushed the puck up and threw one on net. He nearly got a bounce off the Michigan player crashing the net. The puck ended up landing on the top of the cage.

Mitera set up Wohlberg, who had an empty net. It would've been a really tough shot to pull the trigger on, and he fanned. He had a lot of net to shoot at though. Notre Dame came back and Mitera broke up a good scoring chance. Deeth followed and Hogan made another really nice stop.

Michigan got on the board first on a goal by Luke Glendening, who now actually has more goals in his freshman season than Robbie Czarnik. He got to a puck in the slot and threw one through traffic. It deflected off the Notre Dame defenseman and eluded Pearce. Glendening has turned into a really nice player for us. He has 6-4--10 this year and has scored four at the Joe.

The first period ended with Michigan up 1-0 despite being outshot 11-9 and outchanced 6-4.

The Irish started the second on the power play and Hagelin darn near potted one shorthanded. The puck took a huge bounce off the end boards and Pearce was out of his net to play it. It came to Hagelin and the defenseman broke it up.

Notre Dame won a faceoff and took a shot toward the net. Wohlberg blocked it and it went right to Miller. Wohlberg shot up ice and Miller hit him with the homerun pass. Wohlberg walked in all alone and sniped one off the post and in. 2-0 Michigan.

Kampfer made another nice play. He thought about going behind the net to corral a loose puck, but he didn't think he'd get there so he went to the slot instead and broke up the centering pass from the Irish player that ended up getting to the puck.

Hagelin then used his speed to create another chance. He was entering the zone with speed and everyone else was kind of standing still. He threw a pass to himself off the boards and ran it down behind the net. He got it to Palushaj who centered it for Rust. Rust had a couple pops at it from inside the crease.

Regan had a couple chances right on the doorstop and Hogan stoned him. Notre Dame ended up on another power play, which was negated by Wohlberg creating a chance shorthanded and getting hauled down.

Notre Dame closed within one on a nice goal by Billy Maday. He got around Czarnik and then beautifully dangled around Burlon. Ruth was in front of the net and Hogan expected a pass. Maday flipped one through him and in. It looked like it hit Burlon on the way through. Great move though.

Hogan then followed that up with a couple nice saves, one on Ridderwall who was breaking in and another on a bouncing puck that would've gone right to an Irish player if he didn't get a piece of it.

Rust was called for kind of a blah penalty with 15 seconds left in the second period. He tugged the guy but probably not enough to send him flying the way he went down (though to be fair, Caporusso helped one a couple minutes earlier). Shockingly Beezer didn't have any comment about that one. Notre Dame would tie the game on that power play. Notre Dame won a draw and Ridderwall tipped in a shot from the point.

And just like that it was 3-2. Ben Ryan got around Langlais, who tried to hit him and missed. Mitera couldn't really step out on him unless he wanted to be the biggest screen in the world, so Ryan was able to walk in and put one far side, twenty seconds after the Irish had tied the game.

Turnbull tried to enter the zone and got hauled down. Good thing we're calling meaningless penalties at the end of periods, but not that. Then Palushaj went off for goalie interference and he really wasn't happy about it. He said he got pushed. Fox Sports only showed the overhead cam and it didn't show much other than Palushaj hitting Pearce. He didn't have a real natural skating motion going there, but there was no replay to confirm if he did get a shove. Wouldn't shock me. This was pretty much the Wisconsin game all over again, just without 10,000 yahoos going "Buhhhhhh, buh-buh-buh buh buh" the whole effing game.

Hagelin just missed during the short-handed opportunity. Then after we killed it off, Czarnik had a breakaway from the top of the circle in. Pearce poke-checked him and Czarnik didn't get off a great shot. He deked himself in a little too deep there. Needed to just do what Wohlberg did and snipe one.

Pearce then absolutely robbed Brian Lebler. He made three saves in quick succession on Lebler, who was open in the slot. Forehand, then the backhand, then on the forehand again. The last one was the best save. He got a piece of it as it was on its way by him. I'm not sure he saw it, but he got the blocker on it. He followed it up with a fourth save right after.

Ridderwall came right down and made it 4-2. That was the turning point of the game right there. Pearce makes three or four great saves and Hogan lets one in that he probably needs to stop if we're going to win a championship. Ridderwall is a pain in the ass.

After another lame Michigan PP, Minella beats Hogan from the top of the circle off a beautiful feed. We were taking some chances and gave up an odd-man rush. Four unanswered for Notre Dame in the third period.

That about did it. 5-2 Notre Dame final. Gotta give Notre Dame a lot of credit. I had the lead to this story all written in my head about how Michigan had answered the question as to who was the better team. They were all over the Irish and looked to be on their way to a fairly dominant win. I didn't know how the Irish would react to being down a couple goals, but they responded with a lot of heart. That's a darn good hockey team. I still think we're better, but Notre Dame is going to be a tough, tough out. We can't see them until the championship, as we'll be the #4 seed, so we'd be paired up with #1 BU's bracket in the semifinals, if we make it that far.

The difference in the game was that every time Michigan had a chance to bury the Irish or tie the game back up, Pearce made a timely save. Hogan didn't tonight. He had some really, really great stops in the first two periods, but it wasn't there in the third. He didn't make the saves he needed to make tonight. None of the goals were shake-your-head awful, but after the saves Pearce made on Lebler, you can't let them come down and give up that goal to Ridderwall.

Michigan will be fine. It's probably a good thing that they aren't going into the tournament thinking that their poop doesn't stink. As long as Hogie doesn't let this one get to him, we'll be fine.

I would imagine that we're either getting Air Force or Princeton in the first round. We'll find out tomorrow at 11:30 Eastern on ESPN2.

MSU Student did his final Bracketology and went with the Vermont/Princeton switch. Our region in his bracket is:
4) Michigan
5) Yale
9) Vermont
14) Air Force

He's usually really good at this stuff. I still think it makes more sense to just flip the #12 and #13 seeds (along with the #9 and #10 for hosting reasons) rather than flipping #15 and 16, and moving all the #3 seeds, and forcing the top 2 seed to play the top 3 seed. I know they don't really want to move teams outside of their bands, but would it hurt bracket integrity move to have the #4 play the #12 and the #5 play the #13 (instead of vice-versa) more than it hurts to not reward the #1 overall seed, and force the top 2-seed to play the top 3-seed?

CHN put out their final Bracketology and came up with the same thing: Us against Air Force, Yale against Vermont. They say that the committee absolutely believes that the teams can't be moved out of their bands. So if that's the case, I'm pretty confident that'll be the bracket we have.

BU clearly gets the shaft in his bracket. They have to play OSU instead of Bemidji State, and then they'd get the winner of NoDak and a host UNH team. If it plays out the way he thinks it will, I'm fine with that. Air Force still scares me a little bit for the same reasons I thought they'd beat Miami last year (real good goalie, top-notch scorer) but if you're a contender for a title that's a game that you have to win. Then we get some other Eastern teams, which is fine with me. And, OMG, Michigan as a #1 seed would have to go play a host school!!!!!!!! Zonks! REVENGE FOR 1998!!!!

The field by conference:
CCHA: Four
Hockey East: Four
ECAC: Three
WCHA: Three
Atlantic: One
CHA: One


Anonymous said...

few thoughts:
-i'm oddly calm about the game (after taking a 30 minute walk). we got beat but it didn't feel like we were beat in a close game. notre dame just blew open the doors and the game was gone. i know we'll bounce back but i still wish we could've gotten 2 in a row
-i'm pumped the selection show is on tv
-kinda cool the ccha still managed to squeeze in 3 or 4 teams. ccha was about to look really top-heavy with 2 #1 seeds and no one else

Packer487 said...

Yeah, as funny as it would have been if Miami had missed the tournament, I'm glad they're in.

I was calm about the game too. Aside from us potentially being the #3 overall seed instead of the 4, it meant nothing in the grand scheme. I'm sure the players don't feel that way, but as nice as a CCHA Tourney Championship would have been, it's not like we needed it to get in the tournament, or to be a #1 seed, or to be close to home (it's possible they could've put us in GR with a win, but I doubt it).

ND got two quick goals, Pearce made those huge stops on Lebler, Hogan gave up a softie, and that was that.

I'd still be perfectly fine seeing that team again down the road. That game was closer than the score by a long shot.

Anonymous said...


I think you are being generous about Hogan. I thought the first, second and fourth goals were all weak. In comparison, Pierce stood tall when he had to and had no chance on either Michigan goal.

Piss poor third period effort... saw this coming while struggling against Alaska. Our defensive coverage is weak, and we lost every individual puck battle.

Notre Dame was the better team, and not having our fourth liners hurt, too.

I am still deeply disappointed and pissed off.

Packer487 said...

I thought the first goal was horribly weak until I saw the replay from the back angle that showed it hit Burlon on the way through and changed directions.

Ridderwall got a tip on the second one. I'm not sure how Hogie could have gotten that one.

The fourth goal probably needed to be stopped, especially after the saves that Pearce made at the other end a few seconds before.

He didn't have the type of game we need him to have if we're going to win a championship.

That said, he was on for the first couple periods. He made some really nice stops. Didn't have a good third period. Pearce did.

Anonymous said...

There's no "probably" about it. Hogan needed to play better. Deflections are always tough. The fourth goal, however, was terrible. I wasn't crazy about the 3rd goal either, since it went in under his glove. An .850 save percentage is plain-old bad. Especially since Hogan is supposed to be "the guy" who can finally put Michigan over the top. Until he shows that he can bring his "A" game in the playoffs, I'm going to have my doubts. He was supposed to be an upgrade over Sauer, but he wasn't that last night.

Hopefully though, it's a wake-up call that the team needs to play better in their D zone. Better defense leads to better goaltending.