Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Possible Attrition

It wouldn't be the offseason with a defection or two, and it appears as if the Wolverines won't be immune this offseason.

I think pretty much everyone expected this to be Aaron Palushaj's last season with the Wolverines, though some quotes mid-season spawned some hope that he'd be around to see at least one of the upcoming outdoor games. While nothing is official, HockeyBuzz (yeah, I know) reported yesterday that it's 80% certain Palushaj will turn pro. They also mentioned that the Blues have expressed interest in signing Travis Turnbull to an AHL contract, which would be nice for him. Remember, his dad played for Red with the St. Louis Blues. I guess a couple other teams are interested in Turnbull as well.

There are also rumblings that Scooter Vaughan is considering looking elsewhere. Hard to blame him if he decides to go through with it. He played a ton as a freshman, got off to a pretty bad start this year, got benched, and only saw time as a checking-line forward late in the year. With Mitera gone and Moffie coming in (I haven't heard otherwise), there's going to be the same log-jam back on the blueline.

Mark Mitera signed with the Ducks and will report to the Iowa Chops of the AHL. Also, Brandon Naurato signed with the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL. He'll be reunited with ex-Wolverine David Rohlfs.

Lindsay Sparks and the Oakville Blades will play Game 7 of their OJHL semifinal series tonight at 8:00.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Did Bemidji State Save Their Program?

Thinking out loud:
They kept flashing the graphic on the screen that the Bemidji State Beavers were the lowest-seeded team to ever advance to the Frozen Four--that it was the equivalent of the 64th team in college basketball making it. While I think the latter part is a bit dramatic, clearly this is one of the biggest surprises in the history of the NCAA Hockey Tournament.

What no one was talking about, however, is that Bemidji State might not have just been playing to make history. They might have been playing to save their program. While the WCHA voted to lift the moratorium on expansion, there was still no guarantee that they would offer membership to BSU. And with Alabama-Huntsville the only other CHA team without a home for next season, the future of the BSU program is completely up in the air.

A monumental upset of Notre Dame, and a victory over Cornell later, I have to believe that the WCHA would be crazy not to invite this team in. I mean, after all, ignoring the WCHA vs WCHA games which someone had to win, Bemidji State just matched the number of tournament victories for the WCHA as a whole over the past two seasons. They matched the number of Frozen Four appearances as well. Hard to argue that they wouldn't be strengthening the conference.

At this point, I just don't see the WCHA signing a death warrant for a program that is in the Frozen Four (and could possibly win the National Championship) and is in the process of building a new arena. They're getting a ton of national exposure here, being added to the WCHA would, I'm sure, help recruiting. And they've already won two more tournament games than St. Cloud has.

Here's hoping that the plight of the Beavers becomes a bigger story over the next couple of weeks. I'd love to see these kids win the whole damn thing. We've been discussing one-and-done hockey and how it's tough to watch when one loss ends your season. Think about what these players have been going through in the CHA Tournament and now the NCAAs. One loss could have potentially ended their program. Their accomplishment of whooping Notre Dame and making the Frozen Four was impressive enough as it is without taking into consideration the possible long-term effects.

Just another unbelievable storyline in a tournament that has had tons of them. These upsets have completely revitalized my interest in the tourney after Michigan got bounced. Normally I'd go into a shell for a couple weeks and not have the heart to watch the rest of the tournament. Man am I happy I didn't do that this year. I may not have watched as many tournaments as a lot of the people reading this, but I have a hard time believing that there's ever been one more amazing than this. We've had four games either tied or won in the last 18 seconds of regulation. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

It's too bad the hockey tournament is completely overshadowed by March Madness, because this is truly the greatest event in all of sports, in my opinion. And we might just be witnessing the greatest tournament of them all.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Holy Buckets

I can say with absolute certainty that this is the most unbelievable hockey tournament I've ever seen and it's only the second day. To recap thusfar:

-3 #1 seeds are out.
-3 #2 seeds are out.
-The only remaining #2 was down 4-2 with 40 seconds left in regulation. They scored with .8 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
-That wasn't even the latest a goal was scored to send a game to OT as UNH popped one in against North Dakota with .1 second left and won in OT.
-Cornell scored with 18 seconds left in regulation to beat Northeastern.
-A game was won in double OT on a shot that went through the net.
-The Frozen Four will definitely contain Vermont, will very possibly contain Miami, and either Bemidji State or Cornell will be there. I'd say BU must be laughing their butts off, but Vermont beat them 2 out of 3 this year if I'm not mistaken.

At least it wasn't just us. Hard to believe that three of the hottest teams in the nation, conference tournaments aside (Michigan, Notre Dame, and North Dakota) are out in the first round.

Aside from my pick of Miami over Denver, I can't think of one thing that I actually got right about all this. I didn't like any upsets. I really thought it was going to be four 1 vs. 2 games (though I was shaky on Denver and picked Miami to be different) and that there was a very real chance that we could see four #1 seeds in the Frozen Four. I thought Jordan Pearce should win the Hobey (which would be out the window after today's performance, rest of the season not withstanding). Shows what I know...

I'm absolutely shocked that Notre Dame not only lost, but got flat out dominated by the Beavers. That was just a flat out beatdown. Pearce gave up some awful, awful goals. Where the hell was that last week?

It might be frustrating if you're the team getting upset, but how can you not love the one-and-done format after the weekend of hockey that we've seen thusfar?

One last thought: I'm pretty impressed with the attendance in Bridgeport tonight. I honestly thought there would be 8 people there with Yale and Michigan out.

And as much as I make fun of Miami, as much as I like to poke fun about the dynasty column, and as much as I wanted to laugh in Rico's face if they missed the tourney, I'd be pretty happy to see them off to the Frozen Four. They're 9 minutes away right now. They'd be more likeable if Ryan Jones was still there (really, really nice kid...met him in Denver last year), but it's still nice to see one CCHA team carrying the banner since Michigan and Notre Dame puked all over their skates and OSU might as well have just bent over and grabbed their ankles from the get-go. Just don't win the thing. I still want to be able to crack on the whole dynasty deal. There really could be a national semifinal between Miami and Bemidji State. WTF?

Oakville Blades Update

Lindsay Sparks, who will be coming in next year, and the Oakville Blades are one game away from making the OJHL Championship Series. They've won back-to-back games and now lead Wellington 3-2 in the best of seven series.

Sparks has 6-15--21 in 19 playoff games. He's now on an eight-game point streak and has 2-5--7 in the five games of the semifinal series.

If they win, they'd likely take on the Kingston Voyageurs, who lead their series 3-1.

Final Thoughts

I agree with much of what was said in the comments on the last post. The passing was junk for an awful lot of the game. Breakouts in skates, passes behind guys in the other zone. It was weird. They'd kind of cycle between looking really good and looking...well...like a team that should lose to a 4-seed.

I also agreed with the comment that Turnbull was one of our best players tonight. He might have a short fuse, he might have looked as if he was going to go Corey Tropp on the official tonight, but he was all over the ice out there. Every time Michigan was doing something good, it seemed like #9 was around the puck.

Lots of individual play at times. I don't think it was a lack of respect for Air Force on an individual level as much as it was guys just wanting to make plays. Kind of more like a "Screw this, I'll do it myself" type thing. The crowning moment was when Mark friggin Mitera tried to split two defensemen in the third period.

In one-and-done hockey, so much of it is goaltending. And while Hogan only gave up two tonight--and one you couldn't blame him a bit on--going down a goal to a team that you're dominating is a complete back-breaker. Especially on a goal like that. If you think about it, aside from Montoya's sophomore year when we lost to BC, the goaltending has been a major letdown in every tournament loss since Josh Blackburn was here. Montoya gave up a shit goal in overtime against Minnesota, he didn't bail the Wolverines out once in giving up 4 straight to CC, Ruden got lit against NoDak, Sauer got lit horribly against NoDak, Sauer killed us against Notre Dame last year, and Hogie gave up a junk goal tonight.

Volkening, on the other hand, has played in back-to-back-to-back win or go home games. He's posted back-to-back-to-back shutouts. That's money right there.

Maybe all of our 40+ shots weren't great chances, but he made some really darn good saves. And he made the saves you need your goalie to make if you're going to advance. Maybe he didn't flat out rob anyone like Pearce did to Lebler last week, but he was solid the entire night. He's really quick with the pads.

Really what it came down to was Michigan couldn't get it done on the power play, they couldn't stay out of the box, their goalie gave up a soft one, the forwards were 0-for-43 on shot attempts, and Air Force had a great goalie playing at the top of his game. Plain and simple, we choked on applesauce. Again.

That being said, it's really hard to place blame on anyone in particular for this loss. The forwards didn't get it done, but they put 43 shots on net and had quite a few really grade A chances that Volkening stopped. You just have to tip your hat to him. He was better today than Michigan's collection of NHL-caliber talent. The defense? They gave up a few chances, but they only allowed 13 shots on goal. Even Hogan gave up a bad one, but he only gave up two goals. If you told me this morning that Michigna was going to give up two, I probably would have taken it. Especially if you told me we'd put 40+ shots on the other guy.

The power play was about half good and half bad. They had some really great shifts out there. There was one power play we had toward the end of the second period where Michigan must have controlled the puck in the Air Force end for 3 1/2 minutes straight. They were all over the Falcons. They just didn't do the most important thing and put the puck in the net. But there were also too many cases where we just got nothing going offensively. The worst one was when Air Force rushed it end to end, sent it back to a defenseman in their own zone, he chilled for a good ten seconds before a Michigan guy could get down to pressure, and then he iced the puck. Just awful. But overall I thought the power play was pretty good tonight. They looked like they knew what they were doing tonight. They just couldn't solve Volkening.

So goodbye to Tim Miller, Travis Turnbull, Mark Mitera, Danny Fardig, Billy Sauer, and Brandon Naurato. Thanks for four fun years, guys. Miller and Turnbull played every single game in their careers. That's pretty impressive.

What's most alarming is that we've had three first round exits in the last four seasons after having just one instance of making the tournament and not winning a game in history. That needs to get fixed. Losing to NoDak at NoDak is excusable. We all knew we were fooked in that one. I guess it just speaks to the competitiveness of college hockey and the strength of the teams toward the bottom of the bracket. It's pretty amazing how many of these teams have really awesome goaltenders. In a one-and-done against teams with solid goaltending it's pretty rare to have an easy game. I'm going to go nuts if we don't win four-straight one of these years. How the hell has it been over a decade since we've won a title with the teams we've had? Dammit.

First time we've been shut out in 71 tournament games. Unreal. Another really fun stat: 13 shots is the fewest shots on goal by a team that has won a game in the history of the NCAA Tournament.

As bummed out as I am right now, at least I'm not a Princeton fan. I think I'd need therapy if Michigan blew a game like they did. Holy buckets. Up 4-2 with 40 seconds to play and they lose? Yikes.

Also on the bright side, Jack Campbell, Jon Merrill, Chris Brown, Kevin Lynch, and AJ Treais were named to the USA roster for the World Under 18 Championships in April.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Season Over: Air Force 2, Michigan 0


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.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Montoya to the NHL

Ex-Wolverines goalie Al Montoya may get to see his first NHL action. The Coyotes called him up after some strong play in the AHL, at the end of a rough season for him. It wasn't an injury call-up and the Coyotes are 13 points out of the playoffs, so I'm sure they're looking to kick the tire and see what they've got in him.

Marty will finally have a backup on the All-Wolverines NHL team.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

10 Things to Know About Air Force

Last year I did a 10 Things for each of the three teams in the region. I think this year I'm going to go ahead and do the one for Air Force. If we win, I'll have an abbreviated preview of our next opponent at the end of my game recap.

The guys from Varsity Blue asked me to join them on a special hockey podcast. We look back at the CCHA Tournament, look ahead to the East Regional and the rest of the NCAA Tournament, and discuss the season as a whole. The link will become active sometime Thursday morning.

1) Air Force is 27-10-2 on the season, with a 20-6-2 record in Atlantic Hockey. It was really a tale of three season for them. They started the year 13-0-0 and made some noise nationally when they beat Colorado College. After that they went just 4-7-2 over the next two months. Then they got it together and finished the season on a 10-3-0 run.

2) That being said, it's hard to know how good they are. The win over CC made the news, but then it turned out that CC wasn't as good as everyone thought they'd be. They gave up a goal with like 7 minutes left to lose to Yale 3-2, they got beat 4-1 (with an ENG) by Denver. That's about all we've got in terms of data on them. We're not Sacred Heart.

3) The numbers are strong. They're 4th nationally in offense, 7th on defense, 7th on the PP (20.2%), 12th on the PK at 86.9 but they've also netted 11 short-handed goals. Not the typical numbers you would expect to see out of a 4-seed, but again, adjust for the competition.

4) They are a team to be reckoned with, however. Last year they took Miami to overtime (and it wasn't all that unexpected--I actually picked Air Force to win that game). The year before, they held a 3-1 lead in the third period in what would've been an oh-so-funny win over the Gophers. So yeah, Michigan would be wise to take Air Force seriously, lest we be on the receiving end of something like this:

And if you think that was anything but an excuse to post that video, you're wrong.

5) You can't talk about the Air Force offense without mentioning Jacques Lamoureux, one of the Hobey finalists. Frenchie leads the nation in goals with 32 and has a 32-20--52 line on the season. He also leads the nation in game-winning goals (9) and power play goals (15). Beyond him, they have two other 40-point scorers including Greg Flynn, who has 7-33--40 from back on the blueline, good for tops in the nation amongst defensemen. They've got two other guys who have 35+ points.

6) We've played an awful lot of teams this year who split goalies. Not Air Force. Andrew Volkening has played every minute this season. He sports a 2.02 goals against (8th nationally) and a .916 save percentage (24th nationally). He's got two years of tourney experience under his belt as well.

7) These teams have met just one time in history, a 7-6 Michigan win back in 1973.

8) This is interesting, courtesy of the Air Force notes for this week:
Michigan Connections Despite the teams only playing once in the hockey history of the two programs, there are several major connections between the schools. Air Force's first head coach Vic Heyliger took the Falcon program from the club level to the Division I level. He coached the Falcons for six seasons and earned an 85-77-3 record from 1969-74. Prior to coming to Air Force, he spent 13 seasons at his alma mater, Michigan, and won six national championships while collecting a 228-61-13 record from 1944-57. One of Heyliger's most decorated players was John Matchefts, a two-time All-American, played on three of those national championship team from 1951-53. Matchefts served as Heyliger's assistant at Air Force from 1972-74 and served the Falcons' head coach from 1975-85. He won 154 games, a record that was broken by Frank Serratore. While Heyliger was the recruiting coordinator at Michigan, he recruited a football player from Charlevoix, Mich., named Jim Bowman. A football letterman at Michigan, Bowman came to the Air Force Academy as a football coach and later became the associate athletic director for recruiting. He spent 49 years at the Air Force Academy.

9) Volkening's numbers are great, but since January 1 he has given up 3+ goals on twelve occasions, including 4 on 13 shots in a loss to Sacred Heart in the AHA Tournament. He has back to back shutouts coming into the tournament, however.

10) The game is at 3:00 Eastern and will air on ESPNU. If Michigan wins, the regional final will air on ESPNU at 6:30 on Saturday.

For other coverage of the NCAA Hockey Tournament, I'll point you over to Hoover Street Rag. They're doing their (always excellent) annual capsules of every team in the NCAA Tournament. (That fact about the arena Northeastern plays in is very cool.) They're through three of the four Regionals. Here are the individual links to the teams in our region:
Air Force

MGoBlog also chimed in with a preview, including a very detailed look at Vermont, courtesy of a reader. Note to the Hockey Gods: I'm speaking for Brian here, but the presence of said preview should in no way, shape, or form be taken as a statement that we will be playiing Saturday against Vermont.

Bob Miller had a nice interview with Mac Bennett. Mac also touches on future Wolverine Derek Deblois. The two of them will top Kolarik and Porter for "most years having played together".

Yost Poster M71 was in attendance for one of Lindsay Sparks's games and provided some thoughts on his play. He was pretty complimentary.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Michigan to Play Air Force in Round One

The brackets have been unveiled. Michigan will be playing in the East Regional in Bridgeport, CT. We get Air Force in the first round. If we win, we'll take on the winner of Vermont and Yale.

This regional plays on Friday and Saturday. Friday's games are at 3:00 and 6:30. Michigan will play at 3:00. The Regional Championship is at 6:30 on Saturday. All three games will air on ESPNU in HD.


Notre Dame/Bemidji State


Michigan/Air Force

Full preview to come later this week.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lindsay Sparks to the OJHL Final Four

Lindsay Sparks and the Oakville Blades defeated the Georgetown Raiders by a 3-2 score in Game 7 and advanced to the OJHL Final Four, where they're taking on the Wellington Dukes.

The Dukes lead the series 1-0 after a 4-3 win in game one.

Sparks is on a 4-game point streak, with a 2-2--4 line. He now has 4-11--15 in 15 playoff games.

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

Final PWR Standings

Recap of Michigan/ND in a bit. We lost 5-2 if you're under a rock.

With the final game all but over (UMD leads Denver 3-0) here is your tournament field for 2008-09:
1. BU
2. Notre Dame
3. Denver
4. Michigan
5. Yale
6t. Northeastern
6t. Minnesota-Duluth
8. North Dakota
9. Vermont
10. New Hampshire
11. Cornell
12. Princeton
13. Miami
14. Air Force
15. Ohio State
-- Bemidji State

Without doing the Bracketology thing, that I'm not all that good at, a few thoughts:

-It'll be interesting to see what the committee does here. Boston University has earned the right to play the "easiest" team in the field, which is Bemidji State. But with two CCHA four seeds, and two CCHA one seeds, the only way to avoid a conference matchup in the first round would be to pit BU against Ohio State, Denver against Miami, Michigan against Air Force, and Bemidji State against Notre Dame. If you're BU, playing OSU isn't the type of reward I'm looking for as the #1 overall seed. They're not that great, but they have a good goalie and they've beaten some quality teams this year.

-Then when you add in the fact that based purely on seedings, BU will be a bracket with North Dakota and a host New Hampshire team, today didn't go so well for the Terriers, Hockey East title aside.

-Another thing the committee will have to deal with is that as the seedings look, the Regional in CT would have Michigan, Yale, Princeton, and Miami. But that means two conference matchups in the first round. So they slide Air Force in for Miami to fix the first one.

Typically you'd just switch Princeton with the 11 seed, but that's Cornell. Another ECAC intraconference matchup. 10 seed New Hampshire is hosting so you can't move them. So they'd have to go all the way down to the 9 seed, Vermont, and I don't know that they'd flip the 12 with the 9.

Another option would be to flip Yale and Northeastern in the two-seed band, but where are you putting that Regional? Yale is hosting, so is New Hampshire. So you'd either have to make New Hampshire the three seed in that bracket (which would create a conference matchup in the first round) or move it west, because Yale has to be at home.

Could they flip the 12 (Princeton) with the 13 (Miami)? That way, BU could still get rewarded by playing Bemidji, Notre Dame could play Air Force, DU could play OSU, and Michigan would play Princeton. I know they don't like to move teams out of their band, but that seems to make the most sense. I don't think you're hurting the integrity of the bracket by flipping the 12 and 13, you're protecting your #1 overall seed by giving them the game they earned, and it's the easiest fix. I feel like there was one example of them moving a team out of their band a couple years back.

DC Nole seems to be on the same wavelength as me on this one. He flipped Miami and Princeton and got the following bracket:

BU vs. Bemidji
NoDak vs. New Hampshire

Grand Rapids:
Notre Dame vs. Air Force
UM-Duluth vs. Vermont

DU vs. OSU
Northeastern vs. Cornell

Michigan vs. Princeton
Yale vs. Miami

Makes sense to me.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh CYA!!!

With Wisconsin winning and SLU tying in the ECAC third place game, the Minnesota Golden Gophers' season is over.


Five Things to Know About Notre Dame: CCHA Championship Edition

Right, so the game's in like three hours and there's a pretty decent chance that eight people will read this before the game, so I'm not going into full-on preview mode. Here's a quickie though:

1) Notre Dame comes in at 30-5-3 overall and 24-4-3-3 in the CCHA. They've lost just twice since opening their season at 2-3 with losses to Denver and two to Miami. Since then, Michigan and OSU are the only teams to knock them off--though Michigan was very close to sweeping them at the end of January and likely would have with remotely competent officiating.

2) Their offense is a surprising 9th in the country at 3.39 goals per game, but they've had an interesting go of it. Check these numbers out: 5 and 1, 5 and 2, 4 and 1, 9 and 5, 4 and 1, 1 and 3. Those are their weekend goal totals (Friday then Saturday) since late January. The Michigan series was the only time they scored more goals on Saturday than they did on Friday. And that was kick-aided. I don't know if that means that teams figure them out as the weekend goes on, if they think that Billy Sauer is playing for them on Saturday nights, if they get worn out, or if it's just a fluky thing that actually doesn't mean anything. And it may mean even less than that since we're only playing them once. I just thought it was interesting.

3) Clearly what makes this team go is their defense and goaltending. They have as good of a defense corps as any team in the country and they rank #1 in scoring defense at just 1.63 goals per game. Jordan Pearce has a 1.60/.934 and is 29-5-3 with a nation-leading 8 shutouts. I've said it before and I'll go ahead and say it again. I know he's got a great defense in front of him, but those are damn impressive numbers. If I had a Hobey vote, I'm not so sure that he wouldn't have gotten mine. I have no clue how he's not a finalist.

4) They're led offensively by senior Erik Condra, with a 13-25--38 line. Christian Hanson (Hey! Did you know that he's the son of the guy from Slapshot??!) leads the team with 16 goals, though he's massively cooled off and has just 3 in his last 16 contests. Calle Ridderwall has 15, with 11 of those on the PP. Billy Maday has 15 as well. They also get a pretty decent amount of offense from their blueliners. They've got three guys with 20+ points on the season: Ian Cole, Kyle Lawson and Brett Blatchford.

5) They're one of the least-penalized teams in the country at just 13.2 minutes per game. They have the top-ranked power play at 23.6% (and have allowed just 3 SHGs) and they've got the second-ranked penalty kill at 89.5%. It's interesting (to me) that of the top 16 penalty killing teams in the country, only FYS had no shot at making the tournament. Everyone else was in the mix, either via their record or by performing in the conference tournament. By the way, Michigan's penalty kill has risen all the way up to #5 nationally. Far cry from where they were at the start of the year.

It's a shame that there isn't more riding on this game. Notre Dame pretty much has the trip to Grand Rapids sewn up, and Michigan will likely end up the #4 overall seed regardless of what happens. It should be a pretty entertaining hockey game, though. It's always fun to see two top teams do battle and these are two of the three best teams in the country. It wouldn't shock me a bit if this isn't the last time these clubs see each other this season.

CCHA Semis: Michigan 3, Alaska 1

Not exactly the most thrilling hockey game I've ever witnessed, but a workmanlike performance against a feisty Alaska team.

I missed most of the first period because I didn't get home from my hockey game in time to catch the start. I got back right when the Wolverines started a five minute long power play for a hit from behind.

Timmy Miller, who just loves playing at the Joe, found Chad Langlais sneaking in the backdoor. Langlais had an empty net and the Wolverines were up 1-0. That's actually Chad's sixth goal of the season. Pretty nice for a defenseman, especially one who didn't score all of last year.

Palushaj had a sick little spin-o-rama pass, but Johnson got over to make a stop and the first period ended with the Wolverines up 1-0.

Alaska started the second period on a power play due to Turnbull hitting the goalie right at the end of the period. We killed it off without any trouble and the first thing I jotted down in the second period came 6 1/2 minutes in. Lebler had a really strong move out of the corner but Johnson made the stop. Lebler got it back and had an opening to shoot at, but the defenseman blocked it. He had a third try right after that, and Johnson stopped him again.

Kampfer then had his second grade-A chance of the night (the first was an easy-tap in that he Tikkannened). He was streaking down the wing, put one on net that got through the five-hole, but Johnson was able to get it just before it crossed the goal line. Kampfer raised his arms for the second time tonight.

Scooter then had an empty net and the puck hopped over his stick. He actually looked pretty good up front. Did some really nice work in the corner earlier in the game.

Lebler went off for a slash and the Nanooks were able to get on the board thanks to a gorgeous tip by Walls. He was tied up pretty well, but he somehow got a stick on it and it beat Hogan.

Hogan then made the save of the game off a terrible turnover by Summers. He stopped the initial shot, the rebound went right onto the stick of Petovello. He had nothing but empty net, but Hogan dove to his left and somehow got a glove on it. That was a fantastic stop to keep the game tied.

Good thing, because the Wolverines came down and took the lead for good. Steve Kampfer, who must have taken his JMFJ pills before the game, came streaking down the wing yet again. This time he threw a pass into the slot right onto the tape of Caporusso, who one-timed it up into the top corner.

For the first 16 1/2 minutes of the third, here is what I have written down word for word:
-Mitera strong one-on-one play to knock the puck away from a rushing Nanook.
-Turnbull off for roughing. He clipped the guy with an elbow to the back of the head.
-We kill it off without too much trouble.

Hagelin and Rust then nearly connected on a 2 on 1 with 3 1/2 minutes left to play. Caporusso had a really nice stick-lift by the Alaska blueline. He stole the puck and looked to break in with Palushaj, but Aaron was a step offside.

Sova got called for a hit from behind with about 2 1/2 minutes left. Just a dumb play in a one-goal game. And inexplicably, the Nanooks pulled their goalie. I like the fact that Ferguson was playing! To win! The game! but that was probably a little early, especially since it just got them back to five on five. I don't know how many times throughout the course of the game that Alaska held Michigan off the shot board for 2 minutes at even strength, but I bet it didn't happen too often. And predictably, an Alaska defenseman fanned on the puck, Caporusso stole it, fed Palushaj and he put it into the empty net.

Alaska didn't go away. Turnbull took yet another penalty and Hogan kept the Nanooks from making it interesting. He got out to the top of his crease to make a very nice stop on D. Knelsen, who was wide open from about 15 feet. Right after that he made another nice stop. Time ran out and the Wolverines advance to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish tomorrow night.

The bubble teams in the NCAA get a little reprieve with BC, NMU, and UA losing. The big downer for them was UMass-Lowell beating Northeastern to earn the right to play BU for the Hockey East autobid.

Without spending too much time on the PWR predictor, it looks like we're probably going to be the #4 seed, and if Yale wins it looks like they're going to be the #5, yes please. Apparently it's bad for Minnesota if Alaska wins tomorrow, so root for them against Northern. It also looks like it would jack them up pretty good if Wisconsin beat NoDak, and if Air Force and St. Lawrence win. Edit, actually if Princeton wins they're in. If St. Lawrence wins, Princeton is out and St. Lawrence probably gets in. So I guess Princeton would be the team to root for then. Jason Moy has a good article about today's possibilities. Basically if Princeton and UML win, the field is set.

Two more days until we find out our draw. In the meantime, we get a fairly meaningless in the grand scheme, but sure-to-be entertaining tilt between the Wolverines and Fighting Irish. 1 vs. 3 and I'm sure the Wolverines are out to make a statement that despite what the PWR says, we should be the ones rewarded with a trip to Grand Rapids. A win certainly couldn't hurt. It'd be nice to serve notice heading into the tournament that Michigan is the team to beat.

Hobey Watch: Louie Caporusso had a goal and two assists tonight. Colin Wilson had the third of three BU goals in a 43 second span in the third period, and that one ultimately ended up being the game-winner against BC. Muse made one save in the third period. Oops. Gilroy had no points. Air Force won 3-0 but Lamoureux didn't do anything on the score sheet. Wisconsin is out of the tournament, so you can scratch McBain off the list. Zane Kalemba gave up 4 in a double OT loss. Brad Thiessen made 41 saves, but lost 3-2 in OT. Chad Johnson was eliminated, and I can't imagine he's winning the Hobey with a sub-.500 record, even though he's been great for Alaska. Colgate and Vermont didn't play.

The effort tonight pulls Caporusso up to 6th in the country in scoring, just one point behind Wilson and two behind Lamoureux. He's one goal behind Brock Bradford for second in the country and sits second amongst Hobey Finalists in goals. And he's tops amongst Hobey Finalists who haven't gotten a ten-minute misconduct. Don't forget Hobey voters, Lamoureux has one. OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

10 Things to Know About Alaska Playoff Edition

Here are ten things to know about our opponent in the CCHA Semifinals, the Alaska Nanooks:

1) They come in at 17-14-6 overall and are 15-11-5-3 in CCHA play, counting playoffs. They beat the Buckeyes in a three game series, winning the deciding game 1-0 on a goal with under a minute to go in regulation.

2) Weird team. They've shut out their opponent on eight occasions this year. They've been shut out ten times. You want to know why Ocho Cinco won CCHA Player of the Year? They scored 54 goals in CCHA play and still finished fourth. That's 1.93 goals per game. The only team that scored fewer was FYS with 43 (43??!!!). The saving grace for them was that they only gave up 51, tying them with Michigan for the fictional "Jennings Trophy" of the conference, and finishing one ahead of Notre Dame. The difference? Michigan scored 98 goals and ND had 95.

3) More stuff about Chad Johnson and his lack of goal support: They scored 73 goals for the season as a whole and currently sport a 17-14-6 record. Granted they would be undefeated with Jeff Lerg in net, but the only teams to score fewer goals than that are: American scored 58 and went 5-28-2. FYS scored 62 and went 10-23-5. Alabama-Huntsville scored 63 (in just 30 games) and went 5-20-5 (go ahead Sparty, fire Comley and hire Danton Cole). Brown scored 60 and was 5-23-5. Harvard scored 68 and was 9-16-6. Merrimack had 72 and was 9-21-4. And Michigan Tech scored 62 and was 6-25-7. Alaska got a bye in a pretty decent conference, despite a complete lack of goal support. Remember how we all felt really bad for Billy Sauer at the start of the year? That's pretty much what Johnson went through the whole season. Johnson has a 1.67/.939. Good enough for Player of the Year honors in the CCHA and a spot in the final ten for the Hobey Baker.

4) Dion Knelsen leads the team in goals and points (10-12--22). Braden Walls and captain Adam Naglich each have nine tallies on the year. Aaron Gens is the leading defense scorer with 10 points. Not a whole crapload of offense from the blueliners.

5) Johnson's GAA was second only to Jordan Pearce nationally and he's #1 in save percentage. Both wins against OSU came via shutout. As you would expect, then, Alaska ranks very highly in team defense (#2 to Notre Dame, at 1.70 goals per game). And as you would expect, their offense is pretty far down the list 53rd at 1.97 goals per game.

6) They're actually one of the least penalized teams in the country. Only Providence and Princeton take fewer penalty minutes a night than Alaska's 10.9 minutes per game. And when they are on the PK, they usually kill it off. Their PK is #6 in the country at 88.2%, just a tenth of a point ahead of Michigan's. (They've been shorthanded 41 fewer times however.) The power play on the other hand is an anemic 9.9%. Only RPI and American are worse. American scored 11 power play goals this year and gave up 9 shorthanded tallies. They almost would have been better off declining to go on the PP. That's pretty sad.

7) Alaska coach Dallas Ferguson took home CCHA Coach of the Year honors tonight.

8) The teams split the season series in Alaska, with Alaska winning 4-1 the first night, which was the largest margin of victory for Alaska in series history, and Michigan taking the second game by a 3-2 score.

9) Michigan is 36-7-0 all-time against the Nanooks and 1-0-0 at neutral sites. In the 43 games between the two teams, there have only been five one-goal games and none have gone to OT.

10) Tim Miller leads all Wolverines with 9 career points against the Nanooks (2-7--9). Travis Turnbull has 2-6--8. Brandon Naurato's three goals lead everyone. David Wohlberg (2-0--2) and Aaron Palushaj (2-3--5) each average a point per game in their careers against Alaska. Bryan Hogan is 1-0-0 with a 2.00 goals against and a .920 save percentage in his lone appearance. Sauer is 5-3-0 with a 2.15/.913. Miller (6-6--12 in 19 games) and Turnbull (7-4--11 in 19 games) lead all Wolverines at Joe Louis Arena, but Caporusso has a 7-3--10 line in just 8 games. Glendening, Wohlberg, and Palushaj are also a point per game or better at the Joe.

The Nanooks are playing for their season. Win and they get a shot to play for a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Lose and they're playing a consolation game before their season ends. This one isn't going to be easy. Alaska has given up 1 or fewer goals on 19 occasions this year, but they've scored 1 or fewer 15 times. Johnson will have to stand on his head to give Alaska a chance to win this one. But he's done that all season. That's why he's a Hobey finalist. It should be a good one.

The game will air live on the Big Ten Network and streaming on the Fox Sports website. Fox Sports Detroit will then reair the game at 10:30 pm. Go Blue!

More Postseason Accolades

Louie Caporusso was named one of the ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. Caporusso has 23-23--46 on the season.

The other finalists are Matt Gilroy (BU), Colin Wilson (BU), Jacques Lamoureux (Air Force), Ocho Cinco (Alaska), Zane Kalemba (Princeton), Brad Thiessen (Northeastern), Viktor Stalberg (Vermont), Jamie McBain (Wisconsin), and David McIntyre (Colgate). Shockingly absent was Jeff Lerg.

I tried to guess the ten before I looked and I had Caporusso, Wilson, Lamoureux, Johnson, and McBain right. I also had Bryan Leitch, Ryan Stoa, Brock Bradford, Jordan Pearce, and Chay Genoway on my list. I like my list better. I guess the voters don't think Eastern hockey is (BU-aside) as big of a joke as I kind of think it is. Though I did screw up by not having anyone from the EZAC on my list. Pearce is a glaring omission from the real list, in my opinion. Then again, I'm sure the voters from outside CCHA country weren't inclined to vote for a guy who wasn't All-Conference.

So does Louie has a shot? I wouldn't normally think so, but it's really wide open this year. Lamoureux probably doesn't have a chance, and he definitely won't if Air Force doesn't make the NCAAs. Wilson is next on the list in terms of points, but Caporusso is only three behind him, and he had nine more goals. Assuming Lamoureux doesn't get it, Caporusso is the leading goal scorer amongst the finalists. If he has a good CCHA Tourney and does well in the Regional, he might have a chance.

Realistically, they're not giving it to Kalemba, McIntyre, Thiessen, or Stalberg. As great as Johnson has been, they're probably not giving it to a goalie that's 14-14 on the season. That leaves Caporusso, Gilroy, Wilson, Lamoureux and McBain. If Wisconsin and Air Force miss the tourney, you can probably cut McBain and Lamoureux as well. And really, I don't see them giving it to Jamie McBain anyway. That leaves Gilroy, Wilson, and Caporusso. Gilroy is such a great story, I could easily see him winning it. I still think it's pretty wide open at this point, though, and Caporusso probably makes the Hobey Hat Trick with a strong showing the rest of the way. And if the BU guys steal votes from each other, you never know. Pretty weak year for Hobey candidates though. And the guy who I kind of thought would win it (Pearce) isn't even a finalist.

In other news tonight, David Wohlberg was named CCHA Rookie of the Year and Tim Miller was named Best Defensive Forward at the CCHA Awards Banquet. Ocho Cinco was named CCHA Player of the Year, which is well deserved.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Having a Seat Over There: Recruit Updates

Oakville and Georgetown are headed for a Game 7 in the OJHL Playoffs. Oakville was up 3-1 in the series, but it will be headed back to Georgetown tied at 3 apiece after Georgetown got out to a 3-0 lead and held on for a 4-3 win tonight. Lindsay Sparks has scored in each of the last two games in losing efforts.

Lee Moffie is on a 4-game point streak with a 2-4--6 line. The game before the streak started, he was -5 and had 9 PIMs in an 11-0 loss to Green Bay. Ouch. For the year he has 7-27--34 in 46 games and is -7 with 81 PIMs. Waterloo remains in fourth place in the East Division (only 7 points back over first in the league). They should be good to go to make the playoffs. They've been pretty close to unbeatable at home (21-4-1, which is actually the best home record in the league) but haven't fared very well on the road.

Hotchkiss went 11-2-2 over their last 15 to finish out the year 14-7-2. So yeah, good job Derek Deblois and Mac Bennett. I'd imagine there's a tournament in there somewhere, but I haven't found anything on it.

Chris Summers's little brother Patrick will be with the NTDP U-17 team for the rest of the season as the backup to Jack Campbell.

AJ Treais and Jeremy Morin are now tied for the U-18 team lead in points, with 39.

Jack Campbell is within striking distance of the best single-season goals against average in the history of the NTDP. He has a 2.17 at the moment. Jeff Frazee's 2.13 is the best ever. He's solidly in second place, however. The second place goalie had a 2.30. Also, his .916 save percentage would tie Frazee for the 4th best in program history. His four shutouts are the second most in a single season. And he needs just three more wins to move into the top five all-time for a single season. Pretty impressive stuff out of our future goalie.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Michigan to Face Alaska

NMU upset Miami by taking game 3 of the series by a 3-1 score. NMU will move on to face Notre Dame, leaving Michigan to take on the winner of the UA/OSU series.

The shocking thing is that at this moment in time, Miami has dropped to 15th in the Pairwise ranking, meaning that they would miss the tournament if it started right now. Things can change--hell, they may even change tonight--but it's never a good thing to be on the outside looking in with no more games to play before the field is announced. Is it possible to have a hockey dynasty when you miss the tournament?

Can I emphasize once again how big it was that we caught the RedHawks in the standings, avoiding the possibility of playing NMU in the second round? I'd have faith in Michigan against anyone in the country, but clearly playing Western instead of a HOT Northern team was a nice perk of finishing second in the conference.

Edit: Alaska defeated Ohio State 1-0 and will advance to Joe Louis Arena. Michigan will play the Nanooks at 8:05 on Friday. The game will air on the Big Ten Network. I'm sure we'll find out more later in the week, but I believe I saw last night that the game will be streamed on Fox Sports's website, and will later be run on tape-delay on FSN as well.

After the results tonight, Miami has moved back into the tournament as the #14 team in the PWR and Ohio State has slipped to #16, with no further games to play.

If NMU or Alaska doesn't end up winning the CCHA Tournament, it's entirely possible that the CCHA will only send two teams to the Big Dance: Michigan and Notre Dame.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Michigan 6, WMU 1

It's on to the Joe!

Michigan came out with one of the most dominating performances I have ever seen, outshooting WMU 21-0 in the first period en route to a 3-0 lead heading to the locker room. For the second straight night it looked like they were going to run WMU out of the building but could only get a couple of shots past Riley Gill. But for the second straight night, a goal late in the period swelled the gap to three.

Western came out with a much better second period, scoring to make it 3-1 before the Wolverines scored yet another late goal to pretty much put the game out of reach. We tacked on two more in the third period (actually it was three, but Shegos was a little quick with the whistle on a puck that was clearly loose and Caporusso's goal was disallowed). Louie was a quick whistle away from a very quiet three point night himself. Even though he's been putting up huge assist numbers, you can tell he's slightly frustrated by the goal scoring slump he's in (just one goal in his last nine games). He couldn't believe Shegos blew that one dead.

There really aren't words to describe the dominating performance by the Wolverines in the first period. The most impressive thing to me tonight was the backchecking. Every time Western was bringing the puck up ice, a Wolverine forward was busting his hump to get back. Most of the time, he'd lift the stick and take the puck away. When WMU got shots off, there was a Michigan player there to block it.

Standout players:
Once again, the line of Palushaj, Hagelin, and Rust was phenomenal. Palushaj had 2-1--3, Hagelin had a pair of assists, and Rust had a goal and an assist. They combined to be +6 on the night. It's pretty impressive when one line can be so dominant at both ends of the ice. For the weekend, Palushaj had six points, Hagelin five, Rust four, and they were a combined +12. In the process, they were a big reason why the Wolverines shut down Patrick Galivan. He had a goal and three shots on the weekend. Keep in mind he had 29 points and 13 multipoint games in his last 15 contests coming into this weekend. Hagelin, surprisingly enough, was the guy getting under the skin of the Broncos for part of the game.

Mark Mitera and Chad Langlais were each +4 tonight.

I thought Tim Miller and Brian Lebler each did some good work on the power play. Lebler popped in a goal--a nice shot where he held off on taking the shot, moved into a better position, and fired it into an empty net--and Miller was pretty good at playing the Max Pacioretty role on the power play. He was getting open an awful lot and Palushaj just couldn't quite get him the puck. A couple passes were slightly off and a couple of them got tipped. Miller ended up with a goal and an assist--along with seven shots on goal--on the night, though.

Really though, you have to give a call to each and every player on the Michigan team. That was as rock solid a team effort as I've seen in a long, long time. They held a team without a shot on goal for an entire period. Western finally got on the shot chart very early in the second period with a long shot from center that may have actually been going wide. Their first legit shot probably didn't come until the second period was like five minutes old.

Hogan ended up facing 23 shots, and a couple of them were big, big saves. The biggest was a pad save he made with about 15 minutes left and the score 4-1. One of the Broncos was wrapping the puck around the net, he centered it to an open player and Hogan slid to his right, kicked out the right pad, and made the stop on what looked like a sure goal.

Billy Sauer got into his final game at Yost as well. With Michigan up 6-1, the coaches swapped goalies with about 10 minutes remaining. Sauer made a couple nice stops with Western on the power play immediately when he came in.

Michigan is an impressive 25-0-0 when scoring 3+ goals. We've only scored fewer than that six times since the College Hockey Showcase, and with competent officiating, that number would be four. With the defense and goaltending this team has, it's no wonder they've been impossible to beat when scoring three for their netminder.

The power play wasn't as productive as you'd probably like it to be (just 1 for 8) but they looked very sharp for a lot of the opportunities. Michigan had an incredible 20 shots on net with the man advantage.

Michigan has three possible opponents for their series at the Joe: Alaska, Ohio State, and Miami. Miami is headed to a third game with NMU. If NMU wins, they get Notre Dame and we get the other game-three winner. If Miami wins, we play them.

The Hockey East Tournament has been kind of crazy. Bret from GBW made a good point: Both Vermont and New Hampshire are out in the first round. Boston University and Northeastern are headed to third games. If BU and Northeastern go down, the bubble shrinks by a team because either BC, UMass, UMass-Lowell, or Maine would win the Hockey East Tournament.

One team no longer in contention for a bid: Incredibly Colorado College. USCHO's preseason #3 will not make the tournament. They're out of the WCHA Playoffs, having been swept at home by Minnesota-Duluth.

Here's a crazy stat for you: Bryan Hogan is 23-4-0, Billy Sauer is 5-6-0. Sauer's save percentage is actually higher (.921 to .917) and his GAA is just .13 lower. Hockey's a strange game sometimes, eh?

Michigan could very legitimately end up with 17 skaters in double-digits in points. Fardig and Glendening are sitting at 9 apiece. We had 15 last year. For all the questions about who would score, Michigan now has 140 goals on the season. They had 170 last year, in five more games than they've currently played. They likely won't match that total, but they'll be in the ballpark. Pretty impressive, knowing the guys that they lost.

Interesting note: A lot of people seem to think that Colin Wilson will win the Hobey. Best player on the #1 team, I guess. But Palushaj and Wilson have played the same number of games, and Palushaj now sits just one point behind him for second on the national list, and first amongst players that don't go to Quinnipiac. Additionally, Louie Caporusso is just three points back, but has nine more goals than Wilson. Amazing that neither of those guys are up for CCHA Player of the Year, but the All-CCHA Honorable Mention goaltender is. (For the record, I don't think it's wrong that Pearce is up for the award.) I guess Jeff Lerg is a bigger omission than either of our guys.

For seeding purposes, it would probably help us if Alaska and Northern Michigan both lost tomorrow. They're both TUCs right now, and neither one is helping us by being a TUC (since we were 1-1 against both of them).

For practical purposes I'd probably rather face a tired OSU/Alaska team than Miami, so it'd probably be beneficial to us in that regard if NMU won. (Plus, man, let Notre Dame deal with them.) I'm kind of torn on my rooting interests in the two remaining CCHA series.

One thing is perfectly clear to me, however: This Michigan team can win the national championship. They've got the offense, the defense, the goaltending, the coaching, the special teams, and the chemistry. They're peaking at the right time. They've got two fantastic lines. They're getting scoring from unlikely sources. And their captain--and arguably their best player--is getting more and more comfortable in the lineup (he was +4 tonight) after missing pretty much the entire season. No one has a duo like Palushaj and Caporusso, except maybe BU. I can't imagine there's a line in the country that's better at both ends of the ice than Hagelin-Rust-Palushaj. And I don't think anyone, except for maybe Notre Dame, can match the group of defensemen that Michigan has got. Then you can add in a goalie that may set the Michigan record for lowest goals against in a season (and is within striking distance of Sauer's save percentage record as well) and you've got a very dangerous team come tournament time. I love this time of year.

Michigan 5, WMU 2

Despite having outshot the Broncos 18-6 in the first period to that point and having benefited from a long 5 on 3 (thanks to a stupid penalty by Patrick Galivan), the Wolverines were looking at going into the intermission up by just two goals. Then Carl Hagelin scored a short-handed goal with two seconds left and suddenly the lead was three.

Western clawed back into the game, scoring two goals in the second-half of the second period, despite only registering five shots on goals. But the Wolverines actually had a replay go their way for a change to bump the margin back up to two late in the game. Hagelin added an empty-netter, and Michigan had themselves a 5-2 victory.

I only got to see about 7 minutes of the game, but we didn't look remotely rusty. The play we ended up scoring on on the 5-on-3 was a thing of beauty. The spacing was great and they kept running the puck through Palushaj at the back of the net until he found Langlais wide open at about the dot. Langlais fired a laser to the back of the net.

Michigan had another chance just a few moments later as David Wohlberg sent a gorgeous pass to a streaking Louie Caporusso, who was in all alone and rung one off the top of the crossbar. He had Gill beat, but shot it too high.

It's not all that often that the losing goaltender, who gives up four in the process, is the #2 star of the game, but Gill made 43 saves and by all accounts was the only reason Michigan wasn't up by five or six goals in the first period alone. I forget who it was on, but he made a phenomenal pad save on a pass through the slot, robbing one of our players--Turnbull perhaps?

The final shots in the game were 48-18 Michigan, and yet with 3 1/2 minutes to go in regulation it was a one-goal game.

Matt Rust had himself a goal, an assist, was +2, and was 16 out of 20 on faceoffs. Hagelin had 2-1--3, eight shots on goal, was +3, and scored a short-handed game-winner. And their linemate Palushaj had himself three assists. Pretty good night for that line.

The Bronco Hockey Blog was prophetic earlier in the week...at least about what happened last night:
And what will Michigan be able to do this weekend? They could very well score 5+ goals a night, even with Gill on his game. Their defense will keep the puck out of their own end much of the game and will prevent the Broncos from setting up on offense more then a handful of times. Michigan, by virtue of having the home ice advantage, will get the last line change and will be able to shut down the Galivan, Squires, Campbell line forcing Culhane to find some scoring elsewhere while being faced with some bad match-ups.


A solid accomplishment would be for the Broncos to extend the series to 3 games with a win either Friday of Saturday... but most likely would be a Michigan sweep. A Bronco series win would be a huge upset but, while possible, is an unrealistic expectation.

UofM wins 5-2 each night.
Here are thoughts on last night's game from the WMU perspective.

Tonight I would expect something similar. Michigan with a huge shot advantage. If Gill stands on his head, it's close and WMU has a shot to be in the game. If he's not, Michigan wins by a huge margin.

Fox Sports Detroit tonight, and if you're going to the game, note the 7:05 start time.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

10 Things to Know About WMU

Michigan's opponent in the second round of the CCHA Playoffs is the 7th-seeded Western Michigan Broncos. Here are 10 Things to Know about the kids from K-zoo.

1) They come in 14-18-7 overall, but have won 5 out of 6 and 7 out of 10. They've gone 11-7-3 since the start of 2009, after winning just 3 games in the first half (one of which was against Michigan at Yost). They've played ten overtime games this season--or ten more than Michigan has played.

2) Senior Patrick Galivan won the CCHA scoring title, with an 18-28--46 line. He edged out Aaron Palushaj on the last weekend of the season. Sophomore Max Campbell chipped in with 16-15--31. Eleven of his 16 goals came on the PP. They have five guys with 28+ points, after that there's a pretty decent drop-off. Freshman Greg Squires comes in on a 7 game point streak. Western has the #35 offense in the nation at 2.77 goals per game.

3) A kinder, gentler Chris Frank? His PIMs have gone from 127 to 109 to 91 to 79 this year.

4) Riley Gill has played 2/3 of the games. In his 28 starts, he's gone 13-11-3 with a 2.75/.922. (You could probably add him to the list of guys who should've gotten All Conference before Jeff Lerg. I don't think you could accuse WMU of having more talent than FYS. And he actually, ya know, was above .500 and took a team to a higher position in the standings than where they were projected...and won a playoff series.) Jerry Kuhn has played 14 games and went 1-7-4 with a 3.37/.903. Kuhn hasn't been the goalie of record in a game since January 31. It's gonna be Gill. If you remember, Gill made 33 saves in the 2-1 win at Yost and then gave up 5 on 25 the next night at Lawson. They have the #40 defense at 3.05 goals per game.

Check out these numbers: 32, 33, 35, 38, 24, 37, 46, 41, 37, 40, 31, 54, 29. 21, 35, 41. The first group of numbers are the number of saves he's made in his wins this year. The second batch are the saves he's made in his three ties. The kid faces a ton of rubber and stops an awful lot of it. WMU averages giving up 36 shots a night.

5) Patrick Galivan has been on an absolute tear. He had 17 points in the first 24 games of the season. In his last 15 games (including a 13 game point streak), he's put up 11-18--29 and has 13 multipoint games. Might want to watch out for him. Max Campbell has had 18 points in that span.

6) It's important to get out to a good start against them. WMU has been outscored 45-23 in the first period of games, but they've been outscored just 38-37 in the second period, and have outscored their opponents by an impressive 48-36 in the third period and OT.

7) Michigan has won their past 6 playoff series with WMU, but they haven't met in the postseason since 1999-2000. Weird stat: WMU is 0-5-2 when outshooting their opponent this season and are 4-3-1 when giving up 40+ shots.

8) The power play is pretty solid, 19.0%, good for #13 in the nation. The PK is at 79.9% (48th overall). They've scored 7 shorties and have only given up 2.

9) Tyler Ludwig has 7 points in 8 career games against Michigan (1-6--7). Galivan has just two goals and no assists in nine career games against the Maize and Blue. Let's keep that up. Riley Gill is 2-5-0 with a 3.71, .891.

10) Michigan has won 19-straight opening-round playoff series, all at home. Brandon Naurato (3-3--6 in 8 games) and Travis Turnbull (2-4--6 in 10 games) are our leading career scorers against WMU. Louie Caporusso has 3-1--4 in four games (all those points came in our 5-0 win this year). Palushaj also has four points in four games. Bryan Hogan is 1-0-0 with a 0 goals against and a 1.000 save percentage against the Broncos, while Sauer is 5-2-0 with a 2.44 and a .888.

The CCHA announced their award finalists today:

Tim Miller is up for Best Defensive Forward, along with Carter Camper and Erik Condra. Gotta say, it's shocking to not see Carl Hagelin on that list.

Chad Langlais will go up against Eddie del Grosso and Erik Gustafsson for Best Offensive Defenseman.

Chris Summers is up for Best Defensive Defenseman, as are Kyle Lawson and Kevin Roeder.

And David Wohlberg joins Billy Maday and Zac Dalpe as candidates for CCHA Rookie of the Year.

We don't have anyone up for CCHA Player of the Year. Ocho Cinco, Jordan Pearce (who was only All CCHA Honorable Mention, go figure...), and Camper are up for that award.

The "Michigan Always Hosts" Myth

Let's have some fun. In ESPN's INCH chat today, the following question appeared:
Billy (Watertown, CT): Let's get the griping over. The Gophers are bubble team, and even if they play themselves in, a likely #4 seed. Is it really fair to a #1 seed to have to play that first game under those hostile conditions -- I guess only if it's Michigan -- payback for all those Yost hosts.

Mike Eidelbes: Is it fair? Theoretically, no. It would be an advantage for Minnesota to play a team like, say, Cornell on the big sheet at Mariucci. But the Gophers are a probable 4 seed (if they get in), and any of the 1 seeds would likely be able to handle them regardless of site.
Michigan is clearly the only team that hosts. Let's take a look at where the games have been played, going back to 1996. (I picked 1996 because clearly I had to count 98 since that's the main one that people complain about when they talk about Michigan hosting, and at that point, I couldn't leave out Morrison's National Title.)

I'm not going to claim this is 100% perfect, since I didn't have hosts for a lot of these years and didn't have venues for some.

2008: Colorado College hosted (lost to MSU in the first round). Wisconsin hosted (beat DU, lost to NoDak).
2007: Denver hosted (not at their home rink, and missed the tournament). New Hampshire hosted (not at their home rink, and lost in the first round).
2006: North Dakota hosted (made the Frozen Four). BU hosted in Worcester (not their home rink, lost in the second round). Wisconsin hosted the Frozen Four and won it (but that was in Milwaukee, so it doesn't really count...we're talking 70 miles away).
2005: Minnesota hosted (made the Frozen Four). UMass hosted (missed the tournament). Ohio State hosted the Frozen Four (lost in the first round). BU hosted in Worcester (not their home rink, lost in the first round).
2004: UNH hosted (not their home rink, but they host games there...kind of like if Michigan hosted at Joe Louis, lost to Michigan in the first round). CC hosted (missed the tournament).
2003: Michigan hosted (made the Frozen Four), Minnesota hosted (made the Frozen Four), no host was named on Wikipedia, but a regional was in Providence at an arena the Friar's bball team plays in, so I'm gonna go ahead and say Providence hosted though not at their home rink (missed the tourney). And BU was at Worcester again (and lost in the second round).
2002: Michigan hosted (made the Frozen Four), BU was in Worcester again (lost in the second round). The Frozen Four was in St. Paul and the Gophers won it, though not on their home sheet.
2001: BC was in Worcester, though I don't know if they were hosting. BU missed the tournament. BC made the Frozen Four.
2000: Minnesota hosted at Mariucci (missed the tournament).
1999: Wisconsin hosted at the Alliant Energy Center (not their home rink, but the rink they had played in until that season), but missed the tournament. There was a regional in Worcester, but BU missed the tournament and BC was shipped to Madison.
1998: Michigan hosted and made the Frozen Four. The Frozen Four was in Boston (not BC's home rink), and they lost to Michigan.
1997: BU is in Worcester again (makes the Frozen Four).
1996: MSU hosted at Munn (lost in the first round).

So if you're counting, since 1996, seven schools have hosted at their home rink a combined 13 times.

Colorado College twice--Missed the tournament once, lost in the first round
Michigan three times--Three Frozen Fours
Minnesota three times (soon to be four)--2 Frozen Fours and a missed tournament. Also hosted a Frozen Four at XCel and won it. They'll be hosting a regional at XCel next year.
Wisconsin twice (I'm counting the year they hosted at Alliant since they played there for a long time and it's like 3 miles from campus)--Missed the tournament and lost in the second round. They also hosted a Frozen Four in Milwaukee and won it all.
North Dakota once--Frozen Four
UMass once--Missed the tournament
FYS once--Lost in the first round

Then, schools that didn't host at their home rink, but were either close to it or play home games in that venue at some point. For the Boston schools, I know BU hosted a couple times, but I'm not sure who was technically the "host" for all the times Worcester has had the Regional.

BU (Worcester) five times: One Frozen Four, one first round loss, three second round losses. They also missed the tournament an additional two times when Worcester had a regional.
BC (Worcester) three times: Made the Frozen Four twice, lost in the second round once. One year they got shipped to Madison. In 2002 they missed the tournament. They also were in a Frozen Four in Boston and lost.
Providence (Providence) once: Missed the tournament.
UNH (Manchester) twice: Lost in the first round both times.
Denver (Pepsi Center) once: Missed the tournament. Also hosted the Frozen Four there and didn't make it.

Ohio State also hosted a Frozen Four at their home rink, but didn't make it.

So yes, Michigan has hosted three times and made the Frozen Four three times. But you know what? I'm not apologizing for the fact that we actually made the tournament when we were hosting and could take advantage of it. CC missed one year and lost in the first round another year. It doesn't mean they didn't have the same advantage Michigan had. They just choked on applesauce.

Minnesota made two Frozen Fours when they hosted at Mariucci and won another Frozen Four that was less than ten miles from campus. BU got to play in Worcester (akin to Michigan playing at Joe Louis) five times and missed two other times that arena has hosted. BC has played there three times and made two Frozen Fours in the process.

It ain't just Michigan, folks. And in return for our three times that we got to host at Yost, we:
-Beat BC in Boston for the championship
-Beat UNH in Manchester
-Lost to NoDak at their home rink
-Lost to Minnesota in St. Paul in the Frozen Four

I think we've atoned.

By the way, Ohio State and BGSU had a brawl at the end of their game last weekend where the benches cleared. Who was officiating that game? You guessed it. Kevin Hall and Keith Sergott. Nice.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

BGSU to Drop Hockey?

There are rumors swirling that BGSU could announce the death of their hockey program as soon as two weeks from now.

I'd sure hate to see that. It's never good to see any school drop hockey, let alone a former national champion who has put a decent number of guys into the NHL. They've fallen on hard times, but I'd hate to see the Falcons go.

Of course, that would be an easy way of solving the "Where does Alabama-Huntsville play?" dilemma.

Here's hoping that we get to see those ugly jerseys and thunderstick-wielding fans for many years to come!

Save BGSU Hockey on Facebook. Whether it'll help or not, I don't know. But it's worth showing support to one of the "little guys" in our conference (and I don't mean that in a derogatory way).

The Awards Keep Rolling In

Aaron Palushaj and Louie Caporusso were named to the All-CCHA First Team today. Chris Summers and Chad Langlais were honorable mentions. They're joined on the first team by Ocho Cinco, Carter Camper, Erik Gustafsson and Ian Cole.

Like MHNet, I think it's hilarious that Jeff Lerg was named to the Second Team. I recognize that he had like no help this year and that it's probably just them throwing him a bone as a "Career Achievement" type thing, but it's still a joke. He was 14th in the conference in goals against this year and 7th in save percentage. Hogan had an identical save percentage, a GAA that was a full goal better, and was 2nd in the country in winning percentage. Jordan Pearce was 2nd in GAA and save % in the conference and backstopped ND to a runaway CCHA title. Jeff Lerg? Are you kidding me? Maybe MSU found a way to pad his numbers in the voting the same way they padded his save stats. I do have to give him his props on a great career and for being, by all accounts, a really classy kid. And he played the CCHA Tournament with a torn ACL. But yeah, ohhhh cya.

Edit: I'm not done yet. Check this out. Here are the GAAs of the goalies on the All-CCHA First and Second Teams going back to 99-00: 2.22, 1.72, 1.58, 2.31, 2.22, 1.83, 2.07, 2.89, 2.35, 2.24, 1.77, 2.42, 1.32, 2.29, 2.40, 1.36, 2.35, 2.33 (Note: These are the national stats, not the conference numbers.) So in the last decade, there has been one goalie with a GAA above 2.45 that has made all conference. That was Jordan Sigalet, who was 16-12-3 on freaking Bowling Green, and had MS to boot. Lerg was 9-20-3 on the worst FYS team in recent memory. It's not like he took them on his back and brought them to great heights. He was 14th in the conference in GAA and won 9 games for the 11th place team, who got swept in the first round of the playoffs. There is no rationale for putting him on the All Conference Team ahead of Pearce, Hogan, and Carlson. None. I respect the hell out of the kid, but if you're going based on body of work this year, he's not even close to All-Conference caliber. What Lerg did this year was basically on par with Morgan Cey's season for that gawd-awful Notre Dame team a few years back. Cey was 3-17-5 with a 2.99/.912. And to be perfectly honest, this year's FYS team probably would've killed that ND team. Their leading goal scorer was a defenseman. With 6. They didn't go making Cey All-Conference.

Carl Hagelin was named to the CCHA Scholar Athlete Team. I'm calling that a win since last year we didn't have a player that was eligible.

I also had a similar reaction to HSR when I read INCH's bit about how it would be nice to see Michigan have to take on North Dakota in Minneapolis to make up for us beating them in 98. Uhh...what dude? Sure there would be more Sioux fans there than Michigan fans, but I can't imagine the residual Gophers would be rooting for them (unless they're on the usual WCHA-Power!!! trip, which kind of got blown the eff up this year). It wouldn't be NoDak's home rink (been there, done that), they've hosted since (and made the Frozen Four in the process), and that game happened over a decade ago. Time to let it go. But don't forget, Michigan is the only team that has ever hosted. And we're definitely the only team that has ever hosted and won.

Lee Moffie netted a pair in a 3-2 OT win over Lincoln on Friday. He has 7-25--32 in 44 games (4th on the team in scoring), with 20 of those points on the PP. Waterloo is 4th in the Eastern Division and 5th overall.

Lindsay Sparks's Oakville Blades tied up their series against the Georgetown Raiders at 1 apiece with a 2-0 win. There were some fun penalties in that boxscore, including a 2 and 10 for Sparks for "Head contact/Checking". The best one is a misconduct for "Inciting an Opponent". One kid got a game misconduct for checking from behind, on a two-minute penalty. Wow.

Oakville is up 1-0 in the first period of Game 3.
Edit: Oakville ended up winning 3-2 and leads the series 2 games to 1.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Burlon, Wohlberg CCHA All-Rookie Selections

In what should be a shocker to nobody, the CCHA named David Wohlberg and Brandon Burlon to the All-Rookie Team today. They join Connor Knapp, Chris Wideman, Matt Martkowski, Zac Dalpe, and Billy "Ye of the kicked-in goal" Maday. Wohlberg and Maday tied for the freshman scoring lead in conference play.

Friday's game is at 7:35 on Comcast Local. Saturday's game will take place at 7:05 (note the start time if you have tickets) on Fox Sports Detroit. Sunday's if-necessary game is 7:35.

The Ann Arbor News had a great interview with Red. I liked reading this:
And I've always said, if a kid is ready to play in the NHL - and I know what that's like; that's a dream come true - and it's time, I'll drive you to the airport. But, on the way, we'll talk to you about how you can graduate. Even (Los Angeles Kings defenseman) Jack Johnson (who left U-M after two seasons) went to school all last spring and summer. And, he's coming back again this summer. But, he's a special kid. He's 60 (credit) hours away. Good for him.

And this got a laugh out of me:
If I wanted to sign a five-year contract, they could easily do it. And they would, I'm sure. But I don't think that's entirely fair, because I don't know if I can live up to that. I just didn't want to make a five year commitment and say: 'Geez, I'm going to be here until I'm 75 or something.' And recruits might come in and say: 'Holy Christ, he's gonna be our coach?'

Jack Campbell started all three games for the U17s this weekend against Alpena (2 wins and an OTL, 7 goals allowed on 86 shots), which goes against the usual goalie rotation. I think we have the reason why: Will Yanakeff, the MSU commit who split time with Campbell, was kicked off the team along with Stuart Higgins (Maine), and possibly Kyle Palmieri (Notre Dame).

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Michigan to Face WMU in Second Round

Michigan will face Patrick Galivan, the CCHA's leading scorer in the regular season, and the Western Michigan Broncos in the second round of the CCHA Playoffs next weekend. WMU came back after losing game one of their series against LSSU to win in double OT last night and 3-1 tonight to advance.

The teams split their lone series this year. WMU won 2-1 at Yost and Michigan returned the favor the next night with a 5-0 win at Lawson.

I'll have a full preview later in the week. The other CCHA matchups will be Notre Dame vs. UNO,The Dynasty against NMU, and Alaska vs. OSU.

Also, the worst kept secret in college sports was revealed on Friday. Michigan and Wisconsin will play outdoors at Camp Randall Stadium on February 6, 2010. Tickets will be $25 and include the first game of the double-header: the Wisconsin women against Bemidji State.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Michigan vs. FYS Outdoors? It's On!

A day after it came out that Michigan was interested in hosting an outdoor game in 2010 comes the announcement that the game is on, likely for Dec 11, 2010 and that FYS will be the opponent. Michigan will be hosting two games that weekend, Friday night at Yost, and Saturday at The Big House (with Sunday as a backup day). With Ford Field hosting the Frozen Four in 2010, the Wolverines could potentially play four games in football stadiums in that calendar year.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Red's Sticking Around; Another Outdoor Game to Come?

No drama from Red. Michigan announced today that Coach Berenson will return in 2009-2010 for his 26th season behind the Michigan bench. I would fully expect him back in 2010-11 as well, because who could turn down the chance to coach that incoming class?

There was a video feature about Mac Bennett on a local news station out East. The same reader who sent that along also said that Mac was named "All New England", but it was a $ link so I didn't get to read the story about it.

The other big story is from The Ann Arbor News. If Michigan and Wisconsin break the attendance record set at The Cold War, it likely won't last very long. Michigan has expressed interest in hosting an outdoor game at....wait for it....THE BIG HOUSE in December of 2010. They're just now starting to put a plan together so no opponent was mentioned. One of the rumors I had heard in the early stages of the Camp Randall talk was that we were looking to do a home-and-home outdoor series with Wisconsin. Clearly FYS would be an option as well. I suppose they could invite OSU and play up the Michigan/OSU at the Big House thing, but I think I'd prefer to see a traditional hockey school. I wouldn't mind seeing one of the Boston schools. I like getting to play BC and BU.

It'll also be interesting to see if they end up having a Wings game there as well. I know Michigan has talked with the Wings in the past about Detroit playing at The Big House.

Matt Hunwick played forward for the Boston Bruins with Milan Lucic out with an injury and had a goal and an assist in his first game up front. NESN was pretty complimentary of his play as well.

David Moss is playing the Tomas Holmstrom role on the Flames' power play. He's playing alongside Mike Cammalleri. It seems to be working out well, as Mosser had his first career hat trick tonight, giving him 19 goals on the year.

The ex-Wolverines in the NHL have now combined for 162 goals this season, which is more than 6 NHL teams have. That's in 914 man-games. But when you consider that the average NHL team has played 62.9 games and dresses 18 skaters a night, the average NHL team has had 1132 man-games this season. Adjust for that, and the Wolverines would have scored just over 200 goals this year, making them the 8th highest-scoring team in the league. When you factor in that we've got more forwards than the typical team, and account for 6 defensemen and 12 forwards dressing a night, we'd have 177 goals, which would be good for 18th in scoring. Still not at all bad.

Jacob Fallon now has 15-20--35 in 44 games for the U-17s. Luke Moffatt has 17-13--30 in 47 games. Defenseman Kevin Clare has 4-5--9 in 46 games. Jon Merrill has 2-1--3 in 24 games. And Jack Campbell has posted an 18-5-1 record with a 2.08/.915, with four shutouts. Sparkling numbers for a goal on the U-17s.

For the U-18s, AJ Treais continues to lead the team in scoring (who saw that one coming?) with a 14-23--37 line in 40 games. He also leads the team in assists. Kevin Lynch has 12-15--27 in 46 games. Chris Brown has 13-13--26 in 45 games. He also leads the team in PIMs (96) and PPGs (8). Insert your own joke here about someone named Chris Brown playing rough. I'm not going there. That would be in poor taste, even for me.

Campbell gets a mention in this article about the Windsor Spitfires, who hold his OHL rights. Stay away, ya hear me?

Rychel hopes he can also add Johns and Campbell when their two years are up.

"We like to get them all," Rychel said. "It it realistic? No, but we'd like to bat .750.

"Campbell is the best goalie in his age group in North America and Johns is a defenceman who needs to come to the OHL to learn how to play in the NHL. It'll make him better and make for an easier transition and the OHL is the fastest route to the NHL."

Well there ya go. You can bat .750. Bring in Johns, Kenny Ryan, and Cam Fowler. Leave Jack to us. Works for me.

Lindsay Sparks's Oakville Blades advanced to the Division Final against the Georgetown Raiders in the OJHL Playoffs. It doesn't look like Sparks played in the deciding game in the series against Burlington. He has 2-9--11 in seven playoff games though.