Let's start with Friday night because that game was actually watchable. Highly entertaining as a matter of fact. The Wolverines came out flying and looked like, ya know, a team that actually wanted to be on the ice. Glendening, Lebler, and Sparks all had great chances in the opening minutes but were held off the board.
UNO took a silly penalty and the Wolverines had a great looking power play. The first shift was fantastic and early in the second part, Langlais got a shot through traffic that Chris Brown got a stick on and the Wolverines were up 1-0.
It didn't last long, however, as Steve Kampfer turned the puck over in a terrible position and Martin was able to slip it by Hogan to tie the game up.
A couple of minutes later, Martin made it 2-1 UNO. He centered the puck and Tristin Llewellyn shot it into his own net like his name was Paul Coffey. Shots at one point were 9-3 Michigan, but the score was 2-1 Omaha.
Omaha's forecheck gave the Wolverine fits. After creating the first goal, the forecheck caused a Michigan turnover which led to a power play, which Omaha would capitalize on to go up 3-1. Chad Langlais stepped up on a cross-ice pass but couldn't intercept and it led to numbers for the Mavericks. They found Broadhurst coming late and he one-timed one into an empty net.
In the second, Hogan made a gorgeous stop on a two-on-one to keep the game 3-1 and Caporusso put one in just a second later. That was a potential game-changing save and Caporusso beat Faulkner with a wrister from between the dots.
Hagelin's speed created a chance for Lynch, who got a tip on a shot right at the top of the goal mouth.
Llewellyn then turned the puck over, Kampfer took a penalty because of it, and the Mavericks scored again. A shot from the point deflected over to Broadhurst on the far side and he buried it before Hogan could get across. 4-2 Mavs. Hogan made three saves to keep the game at 4-2, the third of which was just HUGE. A great pass sprung Kemp and Hogan robbed him. He made another stop--this one on Hudson--at the start of the third.
Hudson took a 5-minute major for hitting from behind and it looked like the Wolverines might have a chance to get back into the game. True to form, however, they wiped out an incredible four minutes of the major due to penalties of their own--offensive zone penalties to boot. They did score 4-on-4, however, to get back within one. If you're counting, that's something like 16 1/2 minutes of power play time we've wiped out with penalties of our own in one-goal losses to BU, FSU, OSU (that one was a loss by 2 with an ENG), and UNO.
The 4-on-4 goal was a really impressive play. After Rust turned it over in the UNO end, Kampfer and Hagelin combined to steal the puck back and hold it in the zone. Rust chipped it to Hagelin, who dug it out of the corner. He somehow found Kampfer across the ice and sent him a fairly hot pass. Kampfer one-timed it in.
Michigan had a couple of chances the rest of the game, but nothing of note. The Mavericks rode their strong first period to a 4-3 win.
As entertaining as Friday's game was, that's how unwatchable tonight's game was. We missed the first nine minutes due to women's basketball. I missed the last 10 minutes because I got fed up and fast-forwarded, only stopped to see the replay of Caporusso's fourth in three games--this one from behind the net.
In the meantime we saw more of the same reasons this team isn't going to the NCAA tournament: Way too many penalties, terrible defense, yet another ridiculously soft goal, and--incredibly--nothing resembling an offense despite 37 shots on goal.
Omaha found the late man for a one-time goal on two more occasions, which brought the total to what? 4 this weekend? They actually seemed like they had an idea about what to do with the puck on the power play. I forgot what that was like.
I don't have a whole lot to say about this debacle. Hogan was stellar, last goal aside. He gave up 8 goals this weekend, but the final goal tonight is the only one that he gets blamed for. The team gave him absolutely no help on defense. And they really didn't give him a ton of help on offense either. I've been rough on the kid, but he was in no way the problem this weekend. He held Michigan in the game Friday by making at least 5 spectacular saves with them down by a pair of goals, and he made several more big-time stops tonight, most notably at the end of the second period.
Glendening was good this weekend, despite taking the 42nd (or so) goalie interference penalty of the season for the Wolverines. Kampfer played pretty well too, and I say that knowing that he turned the puck over for the initial Mavericks goal Friday and took a penalty that led to the game-winner as well.
We looked like mini-mites on the second UNO goal, chasing the puck...
There's just not really anything enjoyable about watching this team. They play stupid hockey, the effort is questionable on a lot of nights, and they're going to be the first Michigan team in two decades to watch the tournament on TV. Though we basically did that last year too.
A few very belated thoughts about the Camp Randall Hockey Classic, because I didn't get to talk about it:
-Really great event. The open-skate the night before was absolutely fantastic. Everyone looked like they were having a blast. We had a great time, took a ton of pictures...hopefully Michigan will do something similar for the Big Chill at the Big House.
-Outdoor games rule. Maybe the ice sucked, and maybe the game was boring for the first couple of periods, but I love watching outdoor hockey in front of a huge crowd.
-I wasn't impressed with the Wisconsin fans at all. They were silent up until the string of power plays late in the game. Our section of Wolverines represented. I had my binoculars out and there were several times that people at field level were turning around to see where the pro-Michigan chants were coming from. That said, the Wiscy fans treated us shockingly well.
-The first goal Wisconsin scored was ridiculously soft. Pretty sure I participated in calling Hogan a sieve after that one. Holy crap. If you're making a list of the 10 worst goals that Michigan has given up in the past decade, wouldn't he be on the list at least 4 or 5 times? #1 would still be in the 00-01 season against UAF when we shot the puck into our own empty net during a delayed penalty.
-Awesome goal crease. Not that it mattered, but I thought the teams usually switched ends halfway through the third in outdoor games.
-Didn't see the first penalty Summers took, but the second one was a horrendous call. That's a call you hate to see at any point during the game, but to call it with 2 minutes left in a tied hockey game screamed of not wanting to see overtime and catering to the home crowd. With 8 minutes left in the game, though, was there any Michigan fan who didn't think we'd take a penalty before the end of the night? I would have bet on Llewellyn, but I knew one was coming.
-Then again, it's not like our penalty kill came near clearing the puck on either of the power plays where the puck ended up in the back of our goal. You could tell from Wisconsin's first power play--where they didn't score--that it was going to be an adventure all night if we got down a man. Luckily the refs kept the whistle in the pocket most of the night, which made it all the more puzzling when they brought it out for two pretty marginal calls late (going off what I heard about the first call on Summers).
-Losing 6 straight faceoffs (mostly by Geoffrion beating Rust) on the two power plays didn't help. Prior to the game-winning goal, I'm pretty sure we lost 5 defensive zone faceoffs in a row.
-The two late Wisconsin goals were carbon copies of each other. We don't have a guy with a shot like Smith, though I'm not sure who does. I'm happy that he'll be wearing red and white in the pros too, though, because that kid is a baller.
-So many missed chances. Outside of the first period, Michigan pretty much carried the play. But just like a lot of games this year, despite a lot of shots, not much offense. The first goal was a really nice play by Vaughan (who I thought played a really strong game as a whole), but the second goal was brutal. It still almost held up.
-Kind of fitting to take a goal interference penalty to wipe out any hope of a comeback.
At least we beat BGSU again. Hogan shutout, Cappy two goals. Yay.
7th place in the CCHA, now. Before we pooped the bed this weekend, a first-round bye seemed all but assured. Now we're 2 points back of UA with 2 games in hand so we'll probably pass them. We're two back of Northern, now, with a big series against them at Yost next weekend. And we're now 4 points back of UNO with two games in hand. Six back of FSU and MSU for 2nd and 3rd. Not impossible but not likely, though they play each other next weekend so if one of those teams sweeps and we sweep NMU we're right back in the mix for a top 3-4 seed.
But that's assuming we can play well for a couple of games in a row next weekend. Turnovers, penalties, bad goals, no offense, terrible defense, shaky goaltending. There's no way this team belongs in the tournament, though it's completely inexplicable how they can possibly be this bad.
On the bright side, ESPN LA contributed two more entries in their story about JMFJ's experience at the Opening Ceremony and it sounds like a good time was had by all.
"This is, bar none, the coolest thing I've ever done in my entire life. It'll probably be the coolest thing I'll ever do in my life. I'm still kind of downloading and remembering it all."
Johnson kept up his promise to be ready for the Kings' game tonight, by contributing 2 assists in a 3-0 win over Colorado.