Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Senior Night Sweep

Thanks to Bill for the photo, as always
Last Wednesday, Casandra Pagni from The Michigan Daily wrote the following:
Michigan hockey seniors Scooter Vaughan, Louie Caporusso, Chad Langlais and Matt Rust were in unanimous agreement on Wednesday.

The topic? Their most memorable moment playing at Yost Ice Arena.

Their answer? They all agreed that the one game they each would never forget came three years ago when Caporusso scored the game-winning goal with just 20.3 seconds left to propel then-No. 2 Michigan over then-No. 8 Notre Dame.

I suspect, if the question was asked again, that some of them may have a different favorite memory. Carl Hagelin certainly would.

What better way to spend senior night than by doing what Carl Hagelin did--scoring the game tying goal with 39 seconds left in regulation and then scoring the game-winner in overtime with 2 seconds to play? The win sent the seniors out in dramatic fashion, all but locked up a tournament bid for these Wolverines (we now sit 6th in the PWR after being on the bubble earlier in the week), and kept Michigan's CCHA Championship hopes alive.

It was a stunning end to a game in which, quite honestly, Michigan didn't play all that well. They fell behind 1-0 just 43 seconds into the game on a beautiful tip by Dane Walters. Michigan tied the game up when David Wohlberg broke the power play futility streak by banking one in off Jerry Kuhn, but then gave up a pair of breakaway goals over the next five minutes. Chad Langlais was able to slip one through a Chris Brown screen to make it 3-2 headed to intermission.

In the second period, the Broncos outshot Michigan 13-6, but Kevin Lynch's short-handed tally was the lone goal of the period. Hunwick made a stop and Lynch took it end to end. Wohlberg was with him and drove the front of the net, cutting right in front of the goalie. Lynch toe-dragged around the defenseman and got off a nice wrister, five-hole to tie the game at three.

Late in the third, however, it looked like the comeback would be for naught. WMU scored on a shot from the point with Caporusso in the box early in the third period. Michigan had managed ten shots in the frame, but nothing of any great consequence. Shawn Hunwick went to the bench with 1 1/2 minutes left in regulation and that set the stage for something spectacular.

Carl Hagelin took a shot from the top of the circle which tipped the defenseman on the way through and made Kuhn look really bad as it deflected through his legs with 40 seconds to play. Kuhn reacted by going all Blades of Steel on us--goalie stick and trapper over the head, then slam the stick to the ice.

Glendening nearly won it a few seconds later, but we had overtime. In the OT, Hunwick made a pair of dynamite saves--a glove stop on a rising shot and then he stoned Max Campbell a few seconds later. There was a brief moment of panic as Greg Pateryn nearly put one into his own net. Michigan went on the power play with 30 seconds left--one of those calls that was a penalty by the book, but you're pissed if it gets called against your team. After a WMU clear, it looked like Western Michigan would get their NCAA-record 11th tie and would head to their 10th shootout on the season. In fact, my notes read like this:

On the power play, Merrill got one shot away but that's all she wr-SCOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

With just a couple of seconds left in overtime, Hagelin took a shot from out by the blueline that may have touched the defenseman on the way through--if it did, it didn't move very much--but it eluded Jerry Kuhn's glove and the Wolverines had themselves an incredible win on Senior Night. Yost erupted, the team went crazy, WMU's coach flipped out Blasi-style about the last penalty.

As the crowd honored the seniors after the game, the Swedish flag that has flown at Yost for three seasons was tossed over the glass to Hagelin. The students had passed it around throughout the game, autographing it and writing thank yous and words of encouragement to our Super Swede.

Moments like that are what make me really miss being around Ann Arbor and make me really miss going to games at Yost.

Our Texan is back to form! (Thanks again to Bill)

Hunwick was shaky at times this weekend--there were some rebounds sneaking out behind him and shots popping out of the glove--but he rebounded from a tough start (3 goals on 5 shots in the first period--a beautiful tip and two breakaways) to be a difference-maker. He stopped all 13 WMU shots in the second period and committed robbery during the overtime. Michigan hung him out an awful lot on Saturday. Definitely not his best weekend overall.

Friday's game was a great start and then got more exciting than it should have after Western never stopped working.

Western hit the post in the early going and then went on a power play as Scooter Vaughan was sent off. Michigan's PK did a great job and then Greg Pateryn hit Vaughan right out of the penalty box. Vaughan came in on a 2-on-1 with Glendening, opted to take the shot, and sniped one short-side like he's been doing it for years. That's 11 on the season for Scooter, and it gave the Wolverines a 1-0 lead.

Pateryn then got a shot through traffic. The rebound kicked onto the stick of Kevin Lynch who popped it in for his first goal in 18 games. That play could potentially have as big of an impact on Michigan's season as Carl Hagelin's winner the next night. Michigan has struggled to find goal-scorers at times this year and Lynch is a guy that can provide some of that secondary scoring. He had 6 goals in the first 14 games this season before going into a massive slump. That goal was the first of three on the weekend for him, and he was noticeably great the whole weekend. If they can keep him going, Chris Brown going, that's a big help as we head into the NCAAs.

Early in the second, Greg Pateryn figured that he had assisted on a couple of goals, might as well score one too. Truth be told, he'd have assisted on his own goal if that was allowed, because he created the play as well. He intercepted a pass just outside the blueline and made a great play throwing the puck into the zone to open ice. That got him onside and let him drive to the net. Rust picked up the puck, made a great cross-ice pass, and Pateryn tipped it in.

Just 15 seconds later, Pateryn took a shot from the point that Chris Brown tipped past Kuhn to give Michigan a 4-0 lead. That was 4 points in the first 24 minutes of the hockey game for a guy that had ten points on the season coming in.

Western changed goalies and was a completely different team after that. They made it 4-1 on a well-placed shot by Dane Walters. He took the shot from the top of the circle and put it right up under the bar. Four minutes later, they made it 4-2 on a bouncing puck that found its way through traffic. Hunwick made the initial shot, but Balisy was left alone to knock in the rebound.

WMU actually outshot Michigan 17-8 in that second period. Most of those came after the goalie change.

Michigan regained a three-goal margin as Derek DeBlois threw one high off the glass from his own zone and sprung Lynch and Winnett on a 2-on-1. Lynch ripped one far-side, top-corner. Not a minute later, though, WMU closed back to 5-3. The defense left Campbell alone in the middle of the ice, and he deflected in a pass from the sideboards.

Western pulled the goalie with a couple of minutes left and Glendening put one into the empty cage to ice it. That was actually a really nice play. Vaughan got the puck to open ice and Glendening made sure he was a step over center before taking a shot at the net. How many times does someone get over-anxious and it ends up resulting in an icing?

I'd love to know the last time Michigan went through a game without a single power play. That was interesting.

Overall thoughts on the weekend:

-Lynch and Brown have stepped it up. The puck is starting to go in for both of them (they combined for 4-2--6 and +4 on the weekend) and they were both throwing their weight around. They both wrecked a couple of people--enough that I got to make a "Chris Brown is hitting people like....Chris Brown" joke.

-Western Michigan is for real. It's unbelievable what Blashill has done in one year with that program. He's got them on the tournament bubble, possibly in line for a first-round bye in the CCHA Tournament, and they really don't have a ton of talent just yet. Campbell and Balisy are studs, but this is largely the same group that went 4-17-7 in the CCHA last year. They've got some speed, and they never quit. That team gets after you the whole weekend. They're going to be a B to play against moving forward. It's actually really nice to see. Western hit a homerun with that hire.

-Attention NHL Network: I love that you showed our game on tape delay. What I don't love is that you left the score of our game on the ticker while you were showing our game. Luckily I've seen this movie before and had my fiancee look to see if it was on there. When she laughed and confirmed that it was, she rigged up a notebook to block that part of the screen. This is common sense stuff and every network does it. Especially if you're airing a game for the first time, take the score off the ticker so you don't ruin the result for everyone tuning in to see it.

-Pretty solid special teams this weekend. The PK was 6 for 7, scored a shortie, and only gave up 5 shots. They were fantastic on Friday night. WMU only had 1 shot on three power plays. The power play was 2/4 with 7 shots on the weekend. They might not have been "pretty" power play goals--Wohlberg threw one off the goalie and Hagelin scored from the blueline--but hey, they got the job done.

-Props to Wohlberg and Brown for great backchecks this weekend. On Friday night, Brown got back to keep JJ Crew from a sure goal. Saturday, Wohlberg had a pair of dandies.

-Underrated play of the weekend goes to Lee Moffie for his check in overtime. Michigan was on the power play with about 30 seconds left. Western got the puck out and was skating it into the Michigan zone with maybe 15 seconds to go. Moffie stepped up and absolutely planted the guy. That gave Michigan possession and they were able to reset. Good breakout, Moffie dropped it to Hagelin at the point and everyone in the building had another magical moment to remember.

Notre Dame swept Ferris at Ferris so we head into the final weekend of the regular season 1 point behind the Irish. The results this weekend eliminate Miami from contention for the CCHA title and lock them into 3rd place in the conference. They could tie Michigan for second, but the Wolverines would get the edge via the "Conference Wins" tie-breaker. The Wolverines head up to Northern while the Irish have a home-and-home with Western. Northern has climbed up the standings to 5th in the CCHA.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This series showed me two things.

1) Hunwick is not very good. Our boys in front of him are stellar... but he looked terrible unless the puck was being shot straight into his chest.

2) WMU is going to be another Miami... and I think faster than Miami did it. I do not want to play them on a neutral ice.

Packer487 said...

I accidentally hit "Post" so I've got more coming in a minute.

I wouldn't get too down on Hunwick. He wasn't at his best this weekend, but we did hang him out to dry an awful lot. The first three on Saturday were a great tip-in and two breakaways. He made some really nice stops, though I'd agree that he was shaky for the weekend as a whole. (And he seemed to admit that on Twitter when he thanked Carl Hagelin for "saving my butt".)

I'll have some thoughts on WMU, but I completely agree. It's amazing what Blashill has done in one season. They don't have a ton of talent yet, but he's got them on the bubble for the tournament and possibly in line for a first-round bye in the CCHA. They're going to be a bitch to play against moving forward. That's a homerun hire. If he keeps it up for a few years, does he get a look as a possible replacement when Red hangs it up? Hmm...

streaker said...

I don't know if anon is a season tix holder (like me) or have watched Hunwick for the better part of 2 seasons (like me), but the comments are ignorant.

If it wasn't for Hunwick last season, no CCHA tourney title, no NCAA playoffs. If it wasn't for Hunwick this season, no shot at the regular season title, no way they are 6th in the PWR. He had a rough weekend, but his defense in front of him has had a rough MONTH. The kid is a good goaltender, 2nd in the CCHA in save % and GAA coming into the WMU series.

Ans speaking of our defense- it wasn't Hunwick that coughed up two clear cut breakaways on saturday, either. You can't blame him for being human once in awhile.

Brent said...

Thank you, Fox Sports Detroit (or more accurably my Dish service provider) for showing the Saturday game; that was one of the greatest hockey games I've ever seen. Gonna miss Captain Carl, no two ways about it.

I know it's a fairly common name (especially in Canada, it seems), but is Max Campbell any relation of former WMU forward Jeff Campbell? Dude was a pretty useful player in the ECHL a few years back.