Sunday, March 27, 2011

Michigan 2, CC 1

That was something!

The Wolverines were a Jeff Rohrkemper boarding penalty away from playing as close to a perfect defensive hockey game as you can possibly play. One night after the CC Tigers destroyed a Boston College team that I think pretty much everyone was afraid to (to the tune of 8 goals), Jon Merrill, Chad Langlais, Greg Pateryn, Shawn Hunwick and company shut down the high-powered CC offense.

They gave up only 22 shots in the game, and completely dominated 5 on 5. The penalty killing was spectacular, and were one second away from being perfect against the CC power play. Thankfully that second ticked off and the Tigers' goal with 3:35 to play negated the remainder of Rohrkemper's penalty. Otherwise it would've been a 2-1 hockey game with CC on the power play for another minute and a half, and I would've had a heart attack.

After a shift where Michigan was really running around in their own end, Scooter Vaughan got things started 2:23 into the game with a gorgeous inside-out move before roofing one to put Michigan on top 1-0. Seriously, where the hell did he learn to do that? Vaughan was one of the best players on the ice tonight. He's got surprising moves, and one heckuva good shot. If there's a Most Improved Player award, he has to be a shoo-in.

The Wolverines went up 2-0 on a 5-on-3 power play. Moffie blasted a shot off a Tiger defender past Howe. That came not too long after the Wolverines killed a long 5-on-3 of their own. Chris Brown killed a dude and Carl Hagelin inexplicably tripped the goalie. Hunwick made a couple of dandies though.

After 20 minutes, the Wolverines were outshooting CC 13-7. CC had an early 5-3 shot edge, so Michigan really put the clamps down after the CC 5-on-3.

The second period was almost all Michigan. Just a completely dominant performance that resulted in no pucks in the net. We hit at least three pipes, Carl Hagelin just missed on a wrap-around, Rohrkemper fanned on an empty net after a great feed from Moffatt, AJ Treais missed on a breakaway. Howe made some great stops. Michigan did everything but put the puck in the net. Shots in the second stanza were 20-7 in favor of Michigan for a 2-period total of 33-14. Still, CC was one shot from getting right back in the hockey game.

The penalty killers were again sharp in the second period. Lynch took his man down after failing to do anything with the puck on a 4-on-2, and after Hunwick made a stop on a failed clear, the Wolverines were great. 

I wasn't the only one having flashbacks to Buffalo in 2003 when Michigan led the Gophers 2-0, but really should've been up by 4 or 5 goals.

The third was back and forth hockey at it's best. We went a good 7-8 minutes at one point without a stoppage. Then the teams started competing to see who could take the worst penalty late in the game. A Tiger checked Hunwick into the board when he came out to play the puck. Then Rohrkemper drilled a guy from behind. That led to about 9 seconds of 4 on 4 and then a long CC power play. They won a faceoff in our end and were able to score on a goalmouth scramble. Thank God that last second ticked off the clock so it counted as a power play goal.

Winnett then drew one on the Tigers. As he was sneaking between a CC player and the sideboards, he got drilled. His head was pounded into the glass and the ref was right there. About 45 seconds remained when he came out of the box. After a faceoff with about 30 seconds left, Michigan couldn't get the puck out, but Hunwick rose to the occasion, the defense did a nice job as well and the Wolverines are headed to the Frozen Four for the 24th time in their history!

They'll play the winner of North Dakota (6-0 winners over RPI) and Denver (who overcame a late 3rd period deficit to defeat WMU in double overtime by a 3-2 score). Minnesota-Duluth has punched their ticket as well. They'll play the winner of Notre Dame and New Hampshire.

Absent from the remaining teams? Miami University. Tee hee.

You have to give a shout out to Joe Howe, who made 41 stops in the loss. He was a perfect 20 for 20 in the second period when Michigan could have really broken the game open.

For the Wolverines, Jon Merrill was so unbelievably good tonight. Really, the whole defense was. Outside of two bad turnovers by Moffie (he atoned with the GWG!) and one by a player whose number I didn't catch, they were fantastic all night. The penalty killers? Fantastic. I haven't seen an all-around performance like that in a long, long time. With a little puck luck, that game is a blowout. Instead it was a nail-biter, but a dominant performance nonetheless.

Louie Caporusso back-checked like a mad-man. He's been positively Kolarikian in his transformation into a player that can impact the game at either end. Hagelin, Rust, could go on and on. The silly penalties were there, but the penalty killers bailed their guys out for the most part.

Shawn Hunwick wasn't busy (21 stops) but he was big when they needed him to be. Think about this. If Steve Jakiel doesn't leave school, Hunwick is probably playing for Adrian College right now. Instead, he's backstopped Michigan to the Frozen Four and is one quick whistle from having done it in back-to-back years. How big of a moment in retrospect was it that our third goalie decided to take off for Curry College, when he was stuck behind Sauer and Hogan on the depth chart? Have a bad goalie's decision and another man's groin troubles ever meant so much?

The seniors started their careers at the XCel Energy Center with an overtime win over Boston College. They will end their careers at the XCel Energy Center, either in heartache or by bringing home #10.

Also, a sweep of the WCHA is in play, which would go down as the greatest thing that has ever happened ever.

Update: Hunwick, Moffie, Pateryn, Lynch, and Hunwick were named to the All-Regional Team. Hunwick was named Most Outstanding Player

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Frozen Four, Baby!!!


Michigan 3, UNO 2 (ot). CC Next

The puck was in. I don't think any of us ever had a doubt. You saw it go under the goaltender's pad, his pad was in the net, the puck reappeared on the goal line moving forward out of the next. Logic says that if the puck was on the goal line moving back toward the ice, the puck was previously in the net. Unfortunately, they don't get to make calls based on logic.

When I first saw the replay from the end zone cam, my reaction was "OH THAT'S A GOAL!......and they're never going to let it stand." The longer the review went on, however, the more I started to feel they were going to count it. It was a matter of could they find the indisputable video evidence to overturn the call on the ice of goal.

Ten minutes. That's how long it took to decide if Kevin Lynch would be a hero, or if he'd be two unbelievably controversial calls away from being Chris friggin' Drury. Lynch, you'll remember, scored the game-winner against Miami last year to put Michigan into the Frozen Four but for that damn premature whistle. It seemed almost cruel that it could happen again.

The review went on. The camera picked up the refs flipping between the end-zone feed and the overhead camera--thank God for that rule change that they could use all angles available to them.

Finally there was action. The refs exited the penalty box. One spoke to the scorer. Then what will possibly be the iconic image of the tournament: A Michigan fan in the front row jumped up and pointed to center ice repeatedly. Two seconds later, the ref removed all doubt: GOAL!


It was a controversial end to a truly great hockey game. Stick taps all around to the Mavericks. That's a good hockey team, they're extremely well-coached, and I actually do miss having them in the CCHA. If they hadn't jumped conferences, last night's game wouldn't have been possible. So really, you did this to yourselves.

After a great first shift, Michigan got a power play only about a minute into the game. Michigan turned the puck over and Rich Purslow had himself a breakaway from center ice in. He put it five-hole on Hunwick. 1-0. Then, before the ten-minute mark, the puck was over by the sideboards, Alex Hudson drove the net, Caporusso lost him and he had an easy tap in to give the Mavericks a 2-0 lead.

They'd go to the intermission that way. Michigan actually played a pretty decent period, but found themselves on the wrong end of a two-goal deficit. But you know what they say, a two goal lead is the hardest to protect.

On a Michigan power play early in the second period, Louie Caporusso snapped a shot through traffic from the top of the circle to pull Michigan within one. Chad Langlais then pulled a nifty dispy-doo out of traffic to get to the middle of the ice and send a pass to the left sideboards where Kevin Lynch one-timed it past Faulkner to tie the game.

In overtime, the Wolverines were victimized by an absolutely abysmal call on Matt Rust. He drilled a Maverick in the shoulder, they called him for boarding. Several times it appeared that Omaha was going to end the game and have me be the one bitching about the officiating, but Jon Merrill saved the season. A shot got past Shawn Hunwick, but there was Merrill, sliding into the crease to knock the puck away. He was there for the rebound as well, though I think Hunwick may have gotten over to make that stop. And breathe.

Just a few moments later, Greg Pateryn took a shot from the point. It kicked off the end boards where Lynch touched it into the slot. The puck hit Hudson's skate, deflected in on Faulkner, and ten minutes later, the Wolverines were off to the second round.

A few points:
-Louie Caporusso played like he wasn't ready for his Michigan career to end. He was all over the place from the second period on. He had a goal and an assist on our two regulation goals. I believe he hit another post.
-Shawn Hunwick was very good between the pipes. Couldn't fault him on either Maverick goal and after the first period, he was perfect. When you get down by 2 goals after the first, you've still got time, but you need your goalie to give you a chance and he did. With a little help from Mr. Merrill.

The Wolverines will now face Colorado College, who upset (and steamrolled) one of the favorites. Boston College was 22-2-1 in their last 25 games. John Muse was 8-0 in the NCAA Tournament and something absurd like 22-1 in tournament play (NCAA and Hockey East, not sure if it counted the Beanpot). BC got up 1-0 not even 20 seconds into the game. CC responded by jumping out to a 7-2 lead en route to an 8-4 victory.

They looked really good offensively. Jaden Schwartz, who didn't play the first time these teams met, had two goals and four points. His brother Rylan had 1-3--4 in the game. The Tigers had 3 on the power play (including an ENG) and two shorthanded. BC incredibly seemed largely disinterested after they got down, and hung Muse out to dry on several occasions. It was amazing to watch the transformation from "YES! BC is going to lose!" to "Oh crap, CC looks amazing" amongst the live-bloggers.

The best thing that happened for Michigan was that the third period was largely meaningless. CC was up 7-2 and it was basically an exercise in skating off 20 minutes without getting anyone injured or DQed. That has a way of sapping momentum. Also, BC scored a pair of goals, hit a pair of pipes, and Cam Atkinson managed to get robbed again. They softened Joe Howe up a bit. I like it.

There were a lot of offensive chances there. Even when BC was down 7-2, it could have been much closer. Atkinson had a chance with a wide open net and Howe somehow got the glove up to rob him. They hit another pipe. CC wasn't exactly playing lock down defense.

We have to be strong on special teams tonight. They killed us with their power play in the first meeting (a 6-5 Michigan win) to the tune of 4 goals. And that was without J. Schwartz (granted we didn't have Merrill or Brown). Schwartz also was injured at World Juniors and missed about two months, so CC is probably better than their record.

More about them later.



A couple of posters over at MGoBoard provided screen caps for all. This clearly shows it. The puck's in the net. Game over. They got it right.

Thank you Cowbellguy and Skone82.

I'm sorry the Frozen Four won't include 5 WCHA teams this year, but Michigan won and it was the correct call. The puck is actually moving toward the goal line in this photo, so even if all the white space between the black blob and black line doesn't convince you, there's absolutely no question that the puck was in the net.

I love the internet.

Friday, March 25, 2011

You Be the Ref

Goon doesn't like it.

I think it's clear the puck was in. I don't know that the video "conclusively" backs it up, but it's obvious that the puck was in the net. The end-zone camera shows the puck either over the line or on the line, and it's on its way back out. There's no physical way that puck wasn't in the net. Like I said, if you want to say the video wasn't conclusive, I won't argue with you. After 10 minutes, I have a tough time believing they were 100% convinced. That said, they got it right. The puck was in the net and it's about goddamn time one of those calls went our way. I couldn't have handled another OT goal waived off.

More later. Still watching CC/BC.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

West Regional Preview: Michigan vs. Nebraska-Omaha

Game on. After a strange regular season in which the Wolverines won the CCHA regular season title despite struggles on offense and special teams, it's time to play for keeps. Michigan doesn't come in with a whole lot of momentum on their side. They were rolling through the later part of the regular season, but after eight straight wins their play fell apart at the Joe.

Michigan took third place in the CCHA Tournament, but looked awful against Western Michigan and, despite the W, didn't look a whole lot better against Notre Dame, getting outshot 44-23 and needing a career game out of Shawn Hunwick to at least head into the NCAAs on a winning note.

That said, outside of the downer of a game against Western, the Wolverines have found some offense late in the season. They've scored 4+ goals in six of the last ten games and have 3+ in eight of the last ten.

Nebraska-Omaha isn't coming in to the NCAA Tournament on a particularly high note either. They hosted Bemidji State in the first round of the WCHA Tournament and were swept out. The Beavers kind of owned them this season, going 5-0-1 against the Mavericks. Omaha has gone 1-4-0 in their last five and 3-5-0 in their last eight.

Earlier in the season the teams met at Yost. UNO won the first game by a 4-2 margin. Michigan--as was typical at the beginning of the season--responding to a poor outing on Friday by beating the Mavericks 6-1 on Saturday. They chased John Faulkner in that contest after scoring 3 on 18 shots. Wohlberg, Hagelin, Vaughan (2), Glendening and Winnett scored for the Wolverines.

The night before, UNO jumped out to a 4-0 lead through two periods. The Wolverines scored a pair of goals a minute apart to make it a little interesting, but despite coming very close, couldn't put another shot past Faulkner. Lynch and Wohlberg had the goals in that game. Hunwick stopped 22 of 26 in the loss and it didn't sound like he played particularly well.

The Wolverines will be short-handed this weekend as David Wohlberg was lost for the season after having collarbone surgery. Also, we'll be down a defenseman. Brandon Burlon did not make the trip to St. Louis after having an allergic reaction to medication he was given to treat a case of strep throat. Reports were that he's lost 15 pounds. Those are two big losses. Wohlberg was second on the team with 15 goals and Burlon is tied for first amongst defensemen with a +14 rating.

Kevin Clare will once again play in Burlon's place. Despite struggling at times this year, Clare did manage a +11 rating in 14 games, despite only picking up a single point. He's not the offensive threat that Burlon is, but seems to have settled down. Red was quite complimentary toward him this week.

Mike Spath reported that the Wolverines will unveil some new lines this week. Winnett will play on the second line with Rust and Glendening. Lynch will center Vaughan and Treais on the third line.

Nebraska-Omaha, the third place team in the WCHA during the regular season, has eight players with 10+ goals. Michigan will dress only three. They also have 5 30+ point scorers and 9 20+ point scorers. Michigan has 1 (though he has 48 points and UNO's leading scorer has 34) and 8, respectively. Despite that, Michigan ranks 12th in offense (3.42 gpg) to Nebraska-Omaha's 17th (3.32 gpg).

Matt Ambroz leads the way with a 17-17--34 line. Six of his goals have come with the man advantage. Joey Martin has 11-23--34 and Rich Purslow is having his best year as a senior with a 12-20--32 line. Eric Olimb leads the way amongst blueliners with 3-24--27 (his 13 power play points lead the team). Bryce Aneloski also scores a half-point per game back on defense.

In net it's been all John Faulkner. He's played all but 142 minutes this season. For the year, he is 20-14-2 with a 2.55/.908. Omaha is 14th in the country in team defense. Michigan is 8th and gives up about a quarter of a goal per game less than UNO.

Faulkner was a microcosm of Nebraska-Omaha's inconsistency. He was 6-6-0 against tournament teams, splitting series against Michigan, North Dakota, CC, North Dakota again, DU, and Minnesota-Duluth. He gave up 35 goals in those 12 games. Minnesota-State, Michigan Tech, and Alabama-Huntsville were the only series all season where he gave up 2-or-fewer goals in both games. He had shutouts against North Dakota and Colorado College, but gave up 6 and 5 goals in the other game of the weekend. He's very capable of being great, and he's very capable of being chased. We saw both ends of the spectrum earlier in the year. Friday night, he stopped 34 of 36 shots. The next night, he lasted just over 23 minutes before getting the hook.

The Mavericks ice three very potent lines. Their second and third lines are completely made up of 20+ point scorers. When you've got Broadhurst-Hudson-Purslow as your third line, that's pretty good. Martin (34 points) centers Searfoss (9 goals and 13 points) and Ambroz (34 points) on the top line.

Despite a pretty good offense, the Maverick power play is middle of the pack. They rank 34th with a 17.6% success rate with the man advantage. Michigan has scored three more power play goals on nine additional opportunities to rank 24th at 18.5%.

Their PK is 20th at 83.4%, but they have scored 5 short-handed goals on the season. Michigan's PK is 25th at 82.4% with 8 shorties. So we're one percent better on the power play, they're one percent better on the PK. Michigan is +4 on special teams. The Mavericks are +3. Not really an advantage for either team.

Omaha puts a lot of shots on net. They outshot their opponent in all but four of their losses, and average 36.2 shots per game, 8.5 more than their opponents. Michigan averages 33 shots per game.

The Wolverines have an edge in the faceoff dot. They're 54.1% on the season, which I have to believe would be pretty far up the national ranks. Omaha is just a tick below even at 49.4%. Caporusso (57.7%) and Rust (56.4%) are the two best regulars in the game. Omaha does have a good one, though. Brock Montpetit is 55.8% on the season.

Omaha has won three of the last four meetings between the teams after losing eight in a row.

Other Viewpoints:
MHNet has thoughts on the West Regional and makes a fair point that we shouldn't give BC a bye to the second round (they have CC in Round One) and NoDak a bye to the Frozen Four (with a potential matchup against Denver in the second round).

The Hoover Street Rag has their typically excellent breakdown of every team in the tournament. The West Regional hasn't been done yet, so here's a link to the list as a whole. Check it tomorrow before the game. You'll be glad you did.

Go Blue M Wolverine has part one of their ridiculously-detailed preview.

MHNet talked with Honeybaked's coach about Evan Allen. He loves Allen's shot. Called it "an NHL shot".

There was also a tidbit about John Gibson in Unverified Voracity today. The United State of Hockey was quite impressed, saying that he "looks like a pro goalie".

Final Thoughts:
While Michigan stumbled at Joe Louis, they've played pretty good hockey since getting thrashed by the RedHawks in Miami. Omaha has been inconsistent the entire season and have faltered on the way in to the tournament. There's no advantage for either team on special teams. Omaha has more 10+ scorers, but Michigan has more overall depth. In the end, I think Shawn Hunwick is the difference and Michigan squeaks by, despite being outshot in what ends up being a stressful game to watch.

For the four regions, I'll take:
BC over Michigan
NoDak over Denver
Miami over Notre Dame
Minnesota-Duluth over Yale

Hope I'm wrong...I usually am when I fill out brackets.

The game will air on Comcast Local,, and Altitude live. ESPNU will have the game on tape delay. Both Dish Network and DirecTV carry Altitude as a part of their sports package.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thoughts on the Big Ten Hockey Conference

By now, I'm sure everyone has heard that the Big Ten will form a hockey conference for the 2013-14 season. I'm really mixed how I feel about this.

On the one hand, you've got added exposure for the sport, Michigan will play Wisconsin and Minnesota more often (which I love), State is going to get destroyed, I won't have to hear about how great the WCHA is all the time, and it opens the game up to further expansion.

On the other hand, it would be a tragedy if teams like Bowling Green, Lake State, Michigan Tech, etc. struggled to survive in a BTHC world, there's the thought that we'll lose out on some traditional rivalries, etc.

The Big Ten is a name, and a well-recognized one to boot. It adds a little extra credibility that maybe you don't get with the "Central Collegiate Hockey Association". The fact that these teams can now play for a "Big Ten Championship" is kind of cool. But the real exposure is going to come in the form of the Big Ten Network. Brian posted a ton of links, one of which mentioned that they were committing to "at least 40 games" per season. That's huge for the fans, because we'll get to see our team a lot more. It's also huge for recruiting to be able to tell a kid that he'll play on national TV 10-15 times per season minimum. Plus, as my buddy Kevin texted me when it was announced: "HD, yo!"

Additionally, the selfish part of me is really excited to get to play Wisconsin and Minnesota more often. Quite honestly, I hate Minnesota more than I hate any other team in the country. I'd absolutely take a win over Minnesota over a win against FYS any day. Living in Madison, I've grown to hate the Badgers as well. The BTHC won't start until after I'm likely living back in Michigan, but still, four games a year against these teams instead of one? Big fan. Especially if the Gophers keep sucking. (Yes, I know they killed us this year.) And it'll be a good opportunity to get back out to Madison and visit after I move back home eventually. Tie it in to the Michigan road weekend? That's good times.

State will keep getting destroyed. That's fun too. If you didn't hear, they hired the former commish of the CCHA, Tom Anastos as their new head coach. He's never been a head coach outside of U-M Dearborn's club team and hasn't coached period in 20-or-so years. MGoBlog is pointing and laughing. Spartan fans are "absolutely crushed". I kind of wonder how they're going to recruit, having been as bad as they've been for the last few years. Now they're bringing in a guy with no track record of developing players, putting guys into the NHL, or, you know, coaching. At least they'll have the Big Ten Network recruiting bump.

The other thing is that it opens the sport up to further expansion. As it is right now, Atlantic Hockey has 12 teams, the CCHA has 11, the WCHA has 12, Hockey East has 10, and the EZAC has 12. Where are you going to put anyone? The CCHA could take one, and Hockey East could take a couple if they really wanted to.

After B1G hockey comes about, the WCHA will be back down to 10, the CCHA will have 8, and the Big Ten will have 6. That's at least eight spots that are open for non-Big Ten teams (including Hockey East taking two) and that's a good thing.

I agree with Brian that there will probably be some realignment. This is a completely uneducated opinion, but back when we went through this with Omaha, Bemidji, and Huntsville, I thought that the two Alaska schools should end up in the same conference for a lot of reasons and I'm sticking to that now. You lose the Minnesota/Wisconsin/Michigan draw (I have a hard time believing that OSU or FYS are drawing crowds) but you could add some additional importance to a rivalry series, teams from the conference could just go up for 2 weeks at a time and knock out both of them, and you'd lower the number of teams that have to make the trek up to Alaska in the first place. (I did the math on that awhile back.)

Again, completely uneducated opinion, but I could see Tech in the CCHA or NMU back in the WCHA. There have been rumblings about Notre Dame flirting with Hockey East or Miami going to the WCHA. This is going to get interesting.

I agree with the points that MGoBlog made about the conferences being okay. Denver and NoDak are the teams to beat in the WCHA more often than not. CC and Omaha are both solid. Duluth is usually pretty good. St. Cloud is pretty good. They're still alright. The CCHA is alright as long as Miami and Notre Dame stay in the conference and stay good. The smaller schools lose the Michigan gate, but Michigan'll still end up playing them sometimes, given that a 20-game conference schedule means 16-or-so non-conference games.

My enthusiasm drops significantly if it results in some of the smaller schools dropping their program, but it doesn't seem that that's the plan for any of them--at least not yet. Also, despite what they're currently saying, I bet we see Iowa go D-1 in hockey at some point. There are so many USHL teams there....they could recruit. People in the state clearly are at least aware of hockey. I think it makes a lot of sense.

Right now, though, my immediate reaction was a positive one: More games on TV, more games in HD, more games against Minnesota and Wisconsin, at least some semblance of a recruiting bump, more exposure for this awesome sport. I know my team is one of the "haves" in this scenario, but I see a lot to like.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Selection Show Live Blog

Here we go!

10:35-Yale/Air Force and Union/Duluth in the East Regional in Bridgeport. In the breakdown, Melrose pretty much rips Ryan Rondeau, the Yale goalie, who happens to lead all goalies in goals against average (1.83) and is second in save percentage (.932). I think I would've just said what everyone was thinking, which is "The ECAC sucks. We have no idea how good they actually are."

10:41-North Dakota gets the 1 seed in the Midwest Regional in GB. They'll take on RPI. Denver and Western Michigan play in the other side of the bracket. Denver and NoDak just played a double-overtime game last night.

10:44-We saw a clip from the semifinal game and they show a clip of Evan Trupp picking the puck up on his stick in his own zone and skating the length of the ice. He didn't score, but that was pretty damn cool. That guy can fly. Mike Legg is still better.

10:50-Hehe! Another shot of BU beating Miami for the title. How many years do we get to see this? It never gets old. BC number one seed in the West regional. They'll play CC. Michigan/UNO on the other side. That's a tough draw, and it's a perfect example of why you HAVE to beat Western Michigan and keep your #1 seed. If we got the #4 overall seed, we'd be looking at a UNH --> Merrimack/ND/(maybe Miami?) --> Yale road to the Final. Now it's UNO --> BC --> North Dakota.

10:53-The rest of the bracket is Miami/UNH and Merrimack/Notre Dame.

10:58-God we crapped the bed by losing to Western. Is it possible to still pull this off? Sure. But if you win that game, you avoid BC, NoDak, and Miami until the Championship Game. Now we'd likely have to go through both of them just to make the Final. (Note: This is assuming the NCAA does the #1 bracket vs #4 bracket in the Frozen Four, which is how it usually works.)

I think our chances of making the Frozen Four went from 50% down to something like 15-20% by losing that game to Western Michigan and getting the draw we did. Ugh.

We'll play at 5:30 on Friday. According to my guide on Dish Network, ESPNU will air that game on tape delay at 11:30 pm. They'll be airing both games from the East Regional live, then showing the nightcap of the Midwest Regional. Then they'll show our game on tape delay. I hate that ESPN has the full rights now. It was so great being able to flip around and play choose your own adventure with which game you wanted to watch live. Hopefully the in-laws place in Florida gets That's where I'll be.

More later.


A Small Consolation

After a very subpar performance against Western Michigan the night before, Michigan was at least able to get back a little bit of momentum heading into the NCAA Tournament by knocking off Notre Dame 4-2 in the CCHA Consolation Game.

Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead on a fluky goal. Shawn Hunwick cleared the puck around the boards, but it struck the official and bounced right back into the slot where Riley Sheahan was able to put it in.

Michigan then came back with a pair of goals 15 seconds apart. Caporusso came in on a two-on-one and opted to shoot, beating Summerhays to tie the game. Hagelin then put a shot through from around the faceoff dot to make it 2-1 Michigan.

The Wolverines extended their lead in the third period. Mac Bennett let a shot go from the point that deflected off a defenseman. Summerhays lunged to cover it, but Jeff Rohrkemper just beat him to it and got enough of the puck to knock it over the goal line.

Notre Dame crawled back within one with about 1:20 left in regulation as TJ Tynan was able to bang home a rebound.

The Wolverines appeared to seal the game when Scooter Vaughan had a breakaway on an empty net from center ice in. He ended up scoring but the whistle had gone several seconds earlier. The referee ruled a hand pass and blew the play dead. Upon review, there were a couple of things wrong with that call. First, Vaughan touched the puck while it was still in the Michigan zone and hand passes are legal in your own end. Second, Vaughan was the player who played the puck with his glove in the first place. It was as bad of a call as you'll ever see. It gave Notre Dame a chance to tie the game back up. Fortunately Luke Glendening was able to put one into the empty net that did count, and Michigan escaped with a 4-2 win.

The hero of the game was Shawn Hunwick, who made a regulation career-high 42 saves in the victory. Michigan was outshot by a 44-23 margin, including 16-6 in the final frame. Hunwick made a slew of top-notch saves, but none was better than a glove stop he made on Calle Ridderwall in the third period, which prompted me to make a "Call him Kevin Quick, because he just robbed a Swede" joke. The media continued with the trend of not making him the #1 star when he was at his best. Caporusso got the nod, which, okay. He did have a goal and an assist in the 15-second span that gave us the lead, but Hunwick was fantastic once again.

The seniors end their careers 16-4-0 at Joe Louis Arena. Caporusso had 13-7--20 in those games.

So now it's off to the NCAA Tournament. USCHO has Michigan projected to be the #2 seed in the St. Louis regional, facing Nebraska-Omaha in the first round. If we advance, we would play the winner of Boston College and Colorado College.

Adam Wodon from CHN has Michigan the #2 seed in the Manchester, NH regional. He also has us facing UNO in the first round, but he would have us playing the winner of Miami/UNH if we advance. UNH is hosting yet again.

As a reminder, we were 1-1-0 against UNO this season. Both games were at Yost. We lost the opening game of the series 4-2 before throttling them 6-1 Saturday night. The Mavericks have struggled down the stretch, going 3-5-0 in their last 8 and 1-4-0 in their last 5. They've been very inconsistent since early December, sweeping only 2 series the remainder of the year (St. Cloud and Wiscy, both at home). 

The selection show airs at 11:30 EDT on ESPN2.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Western looked like the hungrier team. Michigan was done in by silly penalties, poor penalty killing, and a largely uninspiring performance.

The Broncos scored 4 in the second period en route to a 5-2 win.

DeBlois got called from hitting from behind (or boarding, whatever they're calling it these days) in the first period. Looked like the guy turned after he had committed to the hit, but whatever. Then on the power play, Merrill plowed the net off it's moorings on the most obvious penalty to put us down on a 5-on-3 since Komisarek chucked the puck out of the zone against St. Cloud.

Of course WMU scored. Langlais wrapped it around the boards, didn't get it out. WMU got set up and put a shot past Hunwick. That was really the only thing that happened in the first, as Michigan outshot Western by a whopping 6-4 count.

My computer actually went to sleep from a lack of typing early in the second period. DeBlois went off for another hit from behind and WMU scored again. Wrister from the high slot that went in and out really quickly, but it was clearly a goal.

After a too many men call on Michigan, the Broncos made it 3-0. Are you noticing a trend? There were three blocked shots in a row (one might have gotten through) before the rebound came out to the side for an easy tap in. Two Broncos could have scored that one.

Michigan then made it 3-1 off a Moffie shot through a Lynch screen. But with a little life, Sparks overskated a puck by the blueline and turned it over. That led to a partial breakaway. The guy shot from about 3 feet out and it juuuuuuust snuck through Hunwick and got over the goal line.

Hunwick then made a save, kicked out the rebound, stopped the next one. The puck was trickling toward the goal line and Merrill knocked it out of there------right onto the stick of O'Kane who buried it to give WMU a 5-1 lead.

Merrill then took a shot from the point that hit Sparks on the way through and brought Michigan to within 3, but that's as close as we'd get. I was in full-on fast-forward mode by that point.

Western looked like they wanted it more, and good for them. They've got a chance to get in the tournament, they were getting a little revenge for the way we stole one on Senior Night, and they definitely outplayed Michigan tonight. Our penalty kill has been better of late, but they went the route of killing off penalties as quickly as possible tonight--by giving up goals. It was pretty brutal.

We've seen these alarmingly bad performances before, and it's no less frustrating when we've got a tournament bid sewn up. The funny thing is, if all the favorites win tomorrow except for WMU over Miami, we're still a #1 seed.

As it stands right now, we're sitting 7th in the PWR and probably looking at a 2 seed, which is probably closer to where this team is at. Hopefully we'll have a better effort tomorrow against a Notre Dame team that got similarly thrashed in their semifinal.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Having a Seat Over There: Evan Allen

Chris Heisenberg is reporting that Michigan has picked up a commitment from Detroit Honeybaked forward Evan Allen. (HT to @ChrisDilks) He's a February of 1995 birthday, so that probably puts him in the incoming class of 2013.

Allen is listed as 5'10", 180. He has 14-24--38 in 34 games, which is good for the team lead in points. Fellow Michigan commit Tyler Motte is second on the team with a 23-14--37 line. His total of 38 points is good for 11th in the league in scoring. Allen's 24 assists are good for 7th in the league.

Last year Allen had 14-35--49 in 31 games, which was good for first in the Bantam Major division. And actually, JT Compher was third in points, and Motte was 4th. (Allen and Compher were also 1-2 in Bantam Minor points two seasons ago.) 35 assists was ten better than anyone else in the league. The other good thing is that in 65 games over two years, Allen has taken just ten penalty minutes.

In the MAHA state tournament, Honeybaked went 6-0-0 to capture the title and Allen led the team and tournament with 5-5--10. Motte was second in both classifications with 3-5--8. They are now off to Nationals.

Allen was one of the players invited to the NTDP tryout camp.

The Scouting News (I know...) says that he has made a habit of "impressing the daylights" out of contributing sources. He is also "very agile on his skates, can turn on a dime and possesses pretty impressive acceleration."

This is old, but back in 09, he impressed USHR at the Select 14 Camp. They had him as the #3 forward, saying that he had "Great hands, good shot. All-around strong game." At Select 15s last year they didn't have him as highly ranked (13th) but said that he "does a little bit of everything. Battles. Makes plays."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

CCHA Quarterfinals: BGSU Preview

Last weekend, Bowling Green went up to Northern Michigan and became the first lowest-seeded team ever to win a CCHA playoff series by upsetting the #6-seeded Wildcats. Their reward is a trip to Yost and a second-round series with the Michigan Wolverines.

NMU took a 1-0 lead in the series, but BGSU advanced after 2-0 and 2-1 (2ot) wins. In doing so, they won two games in a row for the first time since October 22nd and 23rd against Alabama-Huntsville. (They did win and then pick up a shootout win in late January.) For the regular season in the CCHA they were 3-21-4-2, so to pick up a pair of wins on the road was pretty impressive. They actually did pick up a win against Notre Dame. They also knocked off NMU and LSSU in conference.

The Falcons were far and away the last place team in the CCHA. They scored 15 points on the season. Michigan State was 10th with 35. They were also a distant last in goals scored. Their 41 in 28 games was a full 18 behind Ferris State. They were also tied for last in goals allowed with NMU.

The offense is really, really bad. They didn't score more than three goals against a team not named Alabama-Huntsville this season (though they did have 5, 4, and 5 against UAH). They scored exactly three goals on seven occasions, but it's worth pointing out that three of those were against ND and Miami. The first game of the series against NMU (a 6-3 loss) was the only time they've scored more than two goals in 2011. Since then, they've gone 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 1, 0, 3, 2, 2. That's ugly. They currently rank dead-last in offense at just 1.85 goals per game.

That said, they've been playing pretty decent defense. For a team that was last in the CCHA in goals allowed, they've only given up 28 goals in their last 12 games. That's not too bad, especially considering 11 of those were over 2 games. In the other 10 games, they've only given up 17. They're 34th in team defense at 2.92 goals per game.

They're led up front by sophomore Jordan Samuels-Thomas, who has followed up his 25 point freshman campaign with 9-12--21 in 34 games this year. Freshman Brett Mohler has 7-10--17 on the year. Nobody else has more than 6 goals or 15 points.

They've gotten absolutely nothing offensively out of their defensemen. No defender has more than nine points and their blueline as a whole has 7-23--30 (along with 1 PPG).

In net they had a time-split for a good chunk of the season, but senior Nick Eno has given way to sophomore Andrew Hammond. Eno did get in during Game 1 of the NMU series after Hammond got the hook, but Hammond played games 2 and 3 and allowed just one goal on 74 shots in helping the Falcons to advance. Despite playing 8 of his last 9 on the road, Hammond has given up just 17 goals over that stretch (and just 19 goals in his last 11). For the year, he is 6-15-3 with a 2.50/.918. He's solid, though the Wolverines did touch him up for 4 goals on 20 shots earlier in the year. For his career against Michigan he's 0-2-0 with a 4.98/.833. Eno has been better, 1-5-0 with a 2.64/.914, but I don't expect to see him this weekend unless it's in a relief role.

They're middle of the pack in penalties at 14.0 minutes per game. Their penalty kill is 29th at 81.9%, and they've had to kill off 35 more penalties than Michigan has. Their PP, as you would expect, sucks. They're 56th at 10.9%. They're -19 on special teams this season.

Michigan has won 5 in a row in the series. Caporusso has 4-7--11 in 8 career games against BGSU. Chris Brown has 5 points in 6 games. Hagelin (10 games) and Wohlberg (8 games) have identical 2-6--8 lines, and Matt Rust has scored 4 times. Shawn Hunwick won his only appearance against BGSU. He has a 1.00 goals against and a .944 save percentage.

We should do pretty well on draws this weekend. BGSU has one guy who has taken almost 500 faceoffs and has won fewer than 40%. David Solway is their top regular faceoff man at 52.2%. Out of the three guys who have taken 400+ faceoffs, only one is higher than 45% and he's at 50.2%. We're going to have the puck a lot.

Samuels-Thomas has had a fair amount of success against Michigan. He has 2-3--5 in 6 games. Solway has 5 points as well. The team as a whole has a 6-11--17 line in 140 career man-games.

The bottom line: We're much better than this team. They've had a terrible time putting the puck in the net. They were able to win a couple of games last weekend by keeping NMU off the scoreboard. Hammond is a solid goalie, but Michigan has gotten to him when they've played him, granted he's been really good in the second half of the season. Unless Hammond absolutely stands on his head, this should be a sweep and a fairly easy one if Michigan plays their game.

Red Berenson (Coach), Jon Merrill (Freshman, Offensive Defenseman, Defensive Defenseman), and Carl Hagelin (Player of the Year, Best Defensive Forward) were named finalists for various CCHA awards. Gotta say, that's kind of gross that Merrill is a finalist for both awards for defensemen as a freshman. Please come back for one more year. Please?

The Hunwick Snub:
Carl Hagelin was named to the All-CCHA First Team and Merrill was named to the Second Team (in addition to being on the All Rookie team). Brandon Burlon was an honorable mention. I think there are a couple of snubs there. I know Krug was the leading scorer amongst defensemen, but if a kid is named one of the three best offensive defensemen and one of the three best defensive defensemen in the conference--and only took four penalties the entire season--how is he not one of the top two defensemen in the conference? Sorry, that's a snub.

The bigger one though, in my opinion, is no postseason hardware for Shawn Hunwick. Four goalies in the CCHA got more votes than him (Nagle, Greenham, Reichard, and Kapalka). I have no problem with Nagle. I'm pretty sure I mentioned either here or on The Wolverine that I thought he would be a great choice. He got Ferris State a bye despite getting just a tick over 2 goals per game in support. He ran away with first-team honors. To be fair, the difference between Hunwick in 5th and Greenham in 2nd was 3 points.

You want to vote for Nagle, I've got no problem with it. But Cody Reichard? Come the f*** on. Hunwick had him in wins (14 to 9), goals against (1.94/2.04) and killed him in save percentage (.931 to .914). Oh, and Miami scored 11 more goals during conference play. It's not like we were winning games 5-4. Give me some rationale for picking Reichard over Hunwick. Reichard outplayed him head to head. That's it. For the course of the conference season it wasn't even close. I suspect Shawn doesn't care that much, but it's ridiculous that a guy with a 1.94/.931 for the conference champions finished 5th in the voting. That's turrable.

Having a Seat Over There: Alex Talcott
Nice find by Jason at MHNet, who has been killing it lately. Alex Talcott, a 5'11", 180 lb forward for Detroit Honeybaked has committed to Michigan, likely for the incoming class of 2013. USHR had him as the #7 forward in the Select 15 Tournament last year. There's lots of good stuff over in the linked article if you want to read more about him.

This is a couple years old, but here's what his high school coach had to say about him:
"For lack of a better word, he's a freak of nature, and in a very good way. He's mature, strong, and naturally very athletic, complemented by the fact that he's a great kid with a good work ethic who does the things that he needs to do to get better."

He has 8-13--21 in 37 games this year.

Future NTDPers?
Tyler Motte and JT Compher were invited to the NTDP evaluation camp.

Cappy's Back?
According to an article in The Wolverine, Billy Powers said that "the impression he gets" is that we could have Caporusso back for the CCHA Semifinals, should we advance past BGSU. That's great news given that the initial prognosis was 3-6 weeks, which could have knocked him out for the year.

Keep Patch in Your Thoughts:
Former Wolverine Max Pacioretty was injured on a hit by Zdeno Chara the other night. Pacioretty suffered a concussion and a broken vertebrae. You be the judge. Chara was not suspended for the hit, but did receive a five minute major and a game misconduct.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

CCHA Champs!

I was in Indianapolis this past weekend, working 6 pm - 7 am, which pretty much resulted in work, eat, sleep for four days.

I got to listen to parts of our games and the WMU games this past weekend, but you aren't going to get a whole lot of detail here.

It sounded like we kind of sleep-walked through Friday night's game and were fortunate to get out of there with a victory.

Saturday there was almost nothing in terms of shots on goal for either team for seemingly half of the game. The Wolverines broke it open and cruised to what looked like an easier win than it probably was.

Nice moment in the third period as Shawn Hunwick, who played really well all weekend from the sound of it, pulled himself from the game to allow Bryan Hogan some ice time so his last memory of playing college hockey (barring injury or ineffectiveness) wouldn't be getting hurt at The Big Chill. The two combined for the shutout.

After Notre Dame came from behind on Friday night, WMU shut out the Irish in South Bend. Notre Dame had three goals waived off in the game. Their loss was enough to propel Michigan to the top of the standings in the ccha.

It's actually kind of an amazing result given the amount of uninspired, undisciplined play we've seen for wide portions of the season. The offense sputtered, the special teams weren't (or were, depending on which definition you're using). And yet everyone is looking up at Michigan and there's a chance we could even up getting a 1-seed when it's time to play for keeps.

The best part of getting the top spot in the ccha is that it guarantees we can't see ND or Miami until the conference title game.

NMU played the Swedish anthem before their Senior Night game, and the result was pretty much the same as it was at Yost. Carl Hagelin regulated. I'm thinking that needs to be a fixture the rest of the year.

Anyway, Brian, Jason, The Daily, and all have good stuff from this weekend. I'm on my phone, so no links, but you know where they are.

Phone's gonna die so I have to wrap this up. Congrats to the guys. Hunwick better get First Team All CCHA...
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