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.
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.