Monday, November 30, 2009

Michigan Wins College Hockey Showcase

We're back?

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.

Other Stuff:
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

The Hits Keep Coming

As if a 5-7-0 start to the season wasn't bad enough.

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? 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

BGSU 4, Michigan 2

This is worse than Panic! at the Disco.

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.

Other Stuff:
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

Jed Ortmeyer is Amazing

Check out this article from the New York Times about Jed Ortmeyer and his battle with a blood disorder that makes him prone to clotting. It's kind of an amazing story about what he's fought to keep living his dream of playing in the NHL. The article says doctors have urged him to stop playing, but he's still going strong and having a nice season with San Jose.

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

FYS 2, Michigan 0

I don't know what to say about this. We're awful. The power play is pathetic and we keep shooting ourselves in the foot with turnovers. The only reason we don't shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties is that the penalty kill is stellar, but it doesn't matter when you can't put the puck in the net.

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.

FYS 3, Michigan 2

Here's what you need to know: We suck right now.

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.

Other Stuff:
-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 gangbangers after Christmas. But the margin for error is getting smaller. Assuming FYS doesn't come back to Earth, we're 0-4 or 0-5 against teams that will be under consideration at the end of the year. That's not good for the tournament. We're 8th place in the CCHA 10 points out of first. That's not as bad as it seems, with wins counting for 3 points and us having 2 games in hand on the leaders, but we still can't keep tossing away points. Especially at home, where we've lost 3 straight now.

-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

(Big) 10 Things to Know About FYS

After a disappointing weekend against the Miami RedHawks, the Wolverines are back on the ice this weekend for a strangely critical early-season series against the Spartans. The subplot is, of course, the return of Corey Tropp to Yost Ice Arena for the first time since his attack on Steve Kampfer last year.

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.

Other Stuff:
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 Swept by The Dynasty

Apologies for the lack of coverage the past few weeks. I've been out of town for work, and it's really hard to get inspired to write something of any substance when I've gotten to watch about two periods worth of hockey so far this year. There's only so much you can gather from box scores, Gametracker, and radio calls.

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 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.

Other Stuff:
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.