I thought I'd be more upset. I thought I'd be more shocked. But it just had the feel of one of "those games" didn't it? Right off the bat Kampfer came streaking in, Volkening got the pad on it, Lebler had an empty net and the dman blocked it. It was a sign of things to come.
Final shots in the game were something like 42-13 and Air Force wins 2-0. There was a reason that I wanted no part of them in the first round last year and his name was Andrew Volkening. When you play in the AHA and I've heard of you, that means you're good. And boy was he good tonight. Not all of Michigan's 40+ shots were quality. We had a lot of "Red Wing" shots that were fairly harmless, but there were some great chances and he made every save he had to make (and a bunch that he wouldn't have been faulted for not making).
At the other end, Bryan Hogan wasn't busy. He faced just 12 shots. But on this day he needed to be perfect and he wasn't. The first Air Force goal was a gorgeous, gorgeous shot far side right up under the bar, but it was a shot that had to be stopped when you're dominating a game against a #4 seed. It was a shot from the boards out by the faceoff dot. Beautiful shot for sure, but you shouldn't be able to score from there.
Don't get me wrong, you can't blame Hogan for this one. It was kind of strange: The first goal was a gorgeous shot and I'm pissed he didn't stop it. The second goal was a dribbler and I don't fault him for not saving it. But he didn't make the save that a championship goalie needs to make. Volkening did. Air Force advances.
Michigan had a LONG 5 on 3 right out of the gate and got absolutely nothing going. Lots of passing, not much shooting. They were looking for the perfect play and it wasn't there. Credit Air Force for defending it well.
Tim Miller was stoned shortly after the penalties ended. He was wide open in the slot but Volkening was there. Then started the parade of penalties. Glendening took a guy down off a faceoff. Lebler blew up a guy who didn't have the puck.
Hogan flubbed a soft shot from the point. It was sitting right by his pad, the AFA guy had a whack at it but fanned. It wouldn't have mattered because the whistle went anyway. That was still too close for comfort. I don't know why our goalies struggle to catch the puck. Sauer had problems with that early in his career too.
Caporusso had a sweet little feed to the late man, Naurato, but Volkening got it with his shoulder. Then Michigan took their third offensive-zone penalty of the period when Turnbull got the gate. I don't have the foggiest clue what they called there. He checked the guy, knocked him off the puck a little, and the guy kept playing. Rust and Wohlberg made sure nothing came from it in the early going of that penalty. They had some amazing work down in the Air Force zone. But the Falcons got on the board 1-0 when Burnett took it to the boards and put a beautiful shot into the top corner, far side. He had an inch to shoot at and he hit it, but there's no reason that goal should have been allowed. You can't give up a goal from the boards, no matter how good of a shot it was.
Air Force went to the box and Volkening made another huge save. He got his glove on a Summers wrister and the rebound went right to Turnbull. He got the right pad down and stoned Travis. Caporusso had a really awesome series of moves to get free. He tried to get it to Palushaj, but it just got broken up.
The Wolverines kept the play in the Air Force end. They were down there for probably 3 and a half minutes with sustained possession, Air Force was scrambling, Michigan kept holding pucks in and getting chances, and they bailed them out on a horsecrap slashing call. Rust had his stick on the AFA player's, but when a team is scrambling like that and, really, they had no chance of getting the puck out there, you're going to bail them out like that? Man. Fourth offensive zone penalty of the period.
Turnbull off for charging early in the second and he wasn't happy about it. (Shocker.) Another offensive zone call, though we didn't have possession. The guy played the puck, Turnbull hit him hard. We didn't get a replay of it and the live shot was just switching camera angles. Hard to tell on that one. But you can't keep putting a team on the power play.
Air Force scored a power play goal in the first period, but it wasn't the power plays that were killing us. It was the fact that our two best offensive players (Caporusso and Palushaj) don't kill penalties. We were short-handed for 10 of the first 24 minutes. Hard to get your top guys into the game when they're sitting on the bench.
Michigan had the best chance on that Air Force power play. Wohlberg had the puck on a 2 on 1 and it was played perfectly. The defenseman took away the pass until Wohlberg was in pretty deep, then he slid over and knocked Wohlberg down and knocked the puck away.
Michigan went back to the PP and the best chance was a 2 on 1 for Air Force that Summers made a diving backcheck to break up.
Air Force came in 2 on 2, Mitera went for the hit and missed (just like Langlais last week against ND), leaving Llewellyn on a 2 on 1. He dove to try and break up the pass but missed, it got through to Lamoureux and he had all day. Whether it was intentional or not (it probably was), he waited for Hogan to slide across and then slipped a soft shot back to Hogan's left. Crafty play and Air Force had a 2-0 lead seven minutes into the second period. On 5 shots.
Palushaj had a great look at a rebound and sent it wide. He had Volkening down. Air Force came back and it looked like Hogan got just enough of an Olson shot to send it off the bar. Hogie then made another strong stop on a tip in front.
Mitera got back to break up a 2 on 1, then Langlais hit Wohlberg on a partial breakaway. He got slashed in the knee, fell, and got called for diving. Because guys like to dive when they're on a partial breakaway.
Michigan got another power play and did absolutely nothing. They pretty much looked like a warm turd for the next 7 or 8 minutes after AFA made it 2-0. Palushaj then had a spin-o-rama, had an opening to shoot at, and the shot hit the defenseman's skate. That was the first time I wrote "We ain't winning this one, folks" in my notes. Shots were 25-8 at this point.
Late in the period Turnbull dug the puck out of the corner and threw a no-look pass right to a wide-open Burlon in the slot. Burlon couldn't get it teed up quick enough and Volkening got over.
Michigan started the third on a power play and this is where you could pretty much guarantee we weren't winning. Turnbull took a shot into a crowd and it tipped out to Volkening's right. Turnbull picked it up, had literally the entire net to shoot at..............and the whistle went. Lost sight of the puck. I thought Turnbull's head was going to explode. He went bonkers, it looked like he was getting a penalty for it. But the ref knew he screwed up. The camera caught him saying as much.
Another Michigan power play a second later. A couple chances, but nothing special.
Then: Time of death, 10:47 of the third period. Hagelin brought it out of the corner and had his stick lifted as he was shooting. Turnbull went after it and could have circled around for a possible great scoring chance, but he flubbed it. It deflected back to the other side where Naurato had an empty net.....and the puck hopped over his stick. Done. No bounces, and a hot goalie whenever they got something through to him.
Hagelin took a penalty (good call) with about six minutes left and Rust darn near got us back in the game. Burlon intercepted a breakout pass and hit Rust in the slot. Rust backhanded one and Volkening got just enough to tip it off the post. This was a "No way in hell" game. I would've reached for the reset button about 5 minutes in if this was NHL 09.
Air Force hit a post of their own shortly thereafter. Summers pinched, Fairchild skated right around Burlon, got the pass through, and the guy drilled it off the bar. Michigan pulled the goalie with about 2 1/2 minutes left, Burlon blew one wide. And that was all she wrote.
Final thoughts later. I've gotta go to my playoff game now. We're playing the lowest (highest?? The worst one) seed. Hopefully this wasn't an omen.