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