Monday, January 31, 2011

FYS 2, Michigan 1

I just never had a good feeling about this one. I caught it on the DVR and managed to not hear anything one way or the other, but from the start of the game I was pretty convinced that we weren't going to win.

State came out flying in the first period and carried the play, despite holding just a 10-9 margin in shots. Michigan State got on the board first very late in the second period, as the Chelii got some small measure of revenge for getting abused regularly by Michigan this year. Jake fired a shot just past Hunwick's right pad to put the Spartans up 1-0. Louie Caporusso made it 1-1 just 37 seconds later. He made a nice pass to Scooter on the far side and the puck eventually deflected back to him. He pulled it through the crease and was able to slip it past Yanakeff with just 16 seconds left in the period.

Michigan had a huge edge in shots in the third (14-7) but the only goal was off a Zach Josepher shot that rebounded to an uncovered Joey Shean for his first of the year.

There weren't a lot of great scoring chances in the first period, but the game had a lot of flow. I think there had only been two or three stoppages eleven minutes into the game. Hunwick's best stop was four minutes into the game, and was the first thing I jotted down. He was peeking behind the net as the Spartan centered it. Somehow he was able to get back turned around and get his pad down on the ice. Yanakeff had a couple of good stops as well, notably on Glendening and a shoulder save on Wohlberg.

I thought Michigan had the majority of the good scoring chances in the second period. Yanakeff stopped Wohlberg (I think) on a 2-on-1 while Michigan had the goalie out on a delayed penalty. He also made a nice stop on Chris Brown, when the Wolverines tried to run the old Max Pacioretty play on a power play. Brownie was set up right in the slot on that one.

Outside of Caporusso's goal, the highlight of the period was Greg Pateryn sending Perlini into next month. Glendening also saved a goal with a great backcheck.

Both teams had good chances in the third, but it was only the Spartans who were able to put the puck into the net.

Hunwick did make a huge stop on Walrod after Langlais lost a puck battle on the boards. One of our defensemen also helped out by cranking Gazely as he was about to put the puck into an empty net.

Michigan missed some doozies, though. Kevin Lynch had a penalty shot pretty late in the game and put it into Yanakeff's pad. Chad Langlais also put a bomb off the post to Yanakeff's right. We weren't able to get anything much going with the goalie out and that was all she wrote.

It's strange, even though we're getting next to nothing in Production from our forwards, I don't think they're really playing badly. Rust and Hagelin's line is always buzzing in the offensive end just because those guys are so fast and so good at battling for the puck. I thought Rust, in particular, had a really good game even if he had just one shot on goal. Glendening and Wohlberg were out there for both Spartan goals (one was a PPG) but they both had ample opportunities in the offensive end.

The pucks just aren't going in right now. They'll need to this coming weekend at Miami, but on the bright side, the RedHawks haven't exactly been as stout defensively as you'd typically expect. In the last seven games, they've been hit up for 5+ on three occasions. The other four games, they've given up four goals total, so it's been a little feast or famine for opposing offenses. Still, there have been cracks in the wall.

Other thoughts:
-We can win a championship with the goaltending we're getting. The offense needs to pick it up.
-Will Yanakeff is a good goalie. At least against us, he's a lot better than Palmisano.
-Hayes made a couple of great defensive plays for the Spartans in that game to help keep Michigan to just one goal.
-I mentioned this on The Wolverine, but you can just see the talent oozing out of Mac Bennett. He may not be a great defenseman at this point, but you can see that he's improving, and it's not going to be long before he puts it together. Man that kid has wheels. He turns the puck over quite a bit, but I've noticed several times that he's moving so fast that he just overskates the puck, or he stumbles. It seems like he's always on supersonic or something. Once the game slows down a little bit for him, he's going to be really good, and I hope he stays around Michigan for a few years. Once his comfort level matches his talent, he's going to be something.
-My sympathies to Daultan Leveille and his family over the loss of his brother, Clayton. That's a sad story. Really sorry to hear about that.
-More thoughts on the game from MGoBlog.
-I didn't mention this on the main site, just on Twitter, but former Wolverine Jason Bailey has sued the Anaheim Ducks and a couple of their affiliates for Anti-Semitism. Scott Burnside has an article up on with more details about the suit and the nature of the things that were allegedly said to Bailey.

Having a Seat Over There: Alex Kile

Another nice catch by MHNet. Just a couple of days after nabbing a commit from Max Shuart, the Wolverines pulled another player out of the MWEHL. This time it's Alex Kile, a forward for Detroit Honeybaked Midget Major. Honeybaked lists him at 5'11" 190. He currently has 18-19--37 in 32 games with just 6 PIMs.

He leads Honeybaked in goals, assists and points and is 11th in goals and 9th in points in the MWEHL.  It's worth noting that several of the guys in front of him are 92s, and he's a 94.

Last year with Honeybaked he had 13-13--26 in 33 games, which was good for sixth on the team.

As Jason pointed out, Shuart and Kile are very close in age, but Shuart is listed as a 2012 commit and Kile is listed as a 2013. That's how I'll list them on the sidebar until I hear otherwise.

He was a 14th round pick of London in the OHL Draft. Green Bay holds his USHL Futures rights.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Having a Seat Over There: Max Shuart

According to MHNet, Michigan has picked up another verbal for the entering class of 2012. Max Shuart, a forward for Victory Honda, has pledged a commitment to the Wolverines. He has 8-15--23 in 26 games to rank third on the team in scoring. He's also played a few games with the Under 17s, though he didn't register a point.

His uncle, Alex Roberts, played for Michigan from 1986-87 through the 1989-90 season.

He also played with Michigan target Jacob Trouba on the Compuware team that won the 14U Tier I National Championship a couple of years ago.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

10 Things to Know About Alaska

1) The Alaska Nanooks come into Yost this weekend 10-8-4 (7-7-4-2 in the CCHA) on the season. They're 4-4-2 on the road, and are coming off a split at CCHA-leader Notre Dame last weekend. They lost 2-1 on Friday night before winning the second game by a 4-1 score.

2) As you can probably expect with Alaska, they don't score a ton of goals and they don't give up a ton of goals. They've given up more than 3 goals on the season just four times this season. They've scored more than three just six times. Three of those have come in the last seven contests, however.

3) For the season, they ranked 50th in offense (2.32 goals per game) and they're 5th in the country in defense (2.14 goals per game allowed). Scott Greenham ranks 8th in the country in goals against (1.97) and 10th in save percentage (.926). Greenham has played every second this season for the Nanooks.

4) The Nanooks have four players tied for the team lead in goals with 6 (Cody Kunyk, Kevin Petovello, Nik Yaremchuk, and Carlo Finucci). Kunyk leads the team in points with 16. They've also gotten 16 points from Joe Sova back on the blueline (3-13--16). All three of Sova's goals have come on the power play.

5) Their power play is 38th in the country at 15.8%, but it generates almost a third of their offense. Michigan's power play is closer to a quarter of our offense. The PK is 84%, which is 18th.

6) Last weekend, Michigan faced one of the top goaltenders in the country and yet, despite Pat Nagle's fantastic numbers, we've always had great success against him. Things have been a little more hit or miss against Greenham. He's played against the Wolverines on 5 occasions. He's blanked Michigan twice, and in the other three games he's given up 3 (on 11 shots before being yanked), 3, and 4 goals. Those are, however, the only two times in history that Michigan has been shut out by Alaska.

7) Despite the fact that Alaska traditionally is pretty good defensively, the games between these two schools aren't usually close. I don't mean that in a negative way toward Alaska, because Michigan is just 4-3-1 in the last eight. But going all the way back to our 4-0 win on 11/3/01, just two contests have been decided by 1 or fewer goals. There have been just 5 one-goal games in the 49 game history of the series. In fact, Alaska's shootout win last season was the first time in history these teams had even gone to overtime.

8) Michigan leads the all-time series 39-9-1. We're 20-3-1 at Yost against Alaska.

9) Louie Caporusso has 4-5--9 in 10 games against the Nanooks. Carl Hagelin hasn't scored, but has 6 assists. Chris Brown has 6 points in just five games. Shawn Hunwick has never faced Alaska.

10) Alaska currently sits in a tie for 18th place in the PWR rankings. They're in a tight battle in the CCHA. They currently sit two points out of a bye in the first round, and yet they've only got home ice in the first round by 8 points over an LSSU team that has two games in hand. In terms of winning percentage, they're in a four-way tie for 5th. These are as big of points for them as they are for us.

Friday night's game will air on FSN Plus. Saturday's game will be online at 

Other Stuff:
In addition to picking up a commitment from Travis Lynch today, there were a few other things of note for Michigan fans:
-The Regents approved $20 million for new HD scoreboards for Michigan Stadium, Crisler Arena, and Yost. The goal is to have them in place by next season. So enjoy the days of "GO! FIGHT! WIN!" while you can, because soon we'll actually have, you know, replays.
-Chris Summers played in his first NHL game tonight, and Chad Kolarik picked up his first career NHL point.

Having a Seat Over There: Travis Lynch

Bob Miller first mentioned Travis Lynch a few weeks back, and today Lynch dropped as the sixth member of the incoming class of 2011.

From the sound of it, he's not going to be one of those high-end offensive players, but he sounds like he'll be a perfect fit on the third line and will help out with what will be a gaping hole on our PK unit.

He has 8-5--13 in 33 games this year for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL, but has 3-2--5 in his last three games. Last year he put up a 6-16--22 line in 58 games and contributed two game-winning goals during Green Bay's run to the championship. He's said to be one of the top penalty-killers, and the Gamblers have killed off 92.4%(!) of the penalties they've taken.

He's listed as 6'0", 181 and hails from White Lake, MI. Here's a profile in his own words:

He says that he is a "fast player" who likes to "throw [his] body around" and will always make the smart play. He calls himself a good "defensive offenseman".

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Statement Sweep

When I was doing the breakdown of this past weekend's games, I had a hard time figuring out if we had more in our favor or going against us on Friday night. We had the positives of playing at home, our success against Pat Nagle, and the fact that we've done really well against FSU at Yost in the past going up against our abysmal Friday record, Ferris's solid record on the first night of a series, and Zach Redmond against our track record of defending offensive defensemen.

Wouldn't you know it. Early in the second period, we were down 2-0 and a defenseman (Chad Billins) had himself a power play goal. Positively shocking, I know. But Michigan rebounded. Lee Moffie slid one through off a Matt Rust face-off win just a couple of minutes after Billins made it 2-0 and it was game on. Burlon was able to slip one through as well and it was a new hockey game. Late in the second period, Hagelin worked his butt off and was able to feed Chris Brown in the slot for what would be the game-winner. Hunwick made 29 saves in the victory.

The next night was some high-quality Saturday Michigan hockey. The Wolverines got out to a 2-0 lead behind goals from Hagelin and Wohlberg 16 seconds apart, stunning the crowd at Ewigleben. I had a feeling the Wohlberg goal was coming a few seconds before it happened, courtesy of the "AWWW COME ON!!!!!!!!" yelled by the FSU fan who was right by the radio mic.

Lee Moffie added his second of the weekend en route to CCHA Defenseman of the Week honors. Vaughan added his eighth of the year short-handed in the second period, which chased Pat Nagle from the net. After Filinger made it 4-1 in the early third period, Derek DeBlois notched his first career goal and David Wohlberg scored on a 5-on-3.

Hopefully we'll look back on this as a statement weekend. Playing a home-and-home against a team right behind us in the standings, with our "home" part of the weekend on the night where we've typically struggled, Michigan came from behind to win one night and then thumped the #1 defensive team in the country the next night.

Putting up 8 goals on a team that gives up under two a night is no small feat. Rendering Zach Redmond completely ineffective when you're a team that has struggled to defense the points is even better. Redmond was -5 on the weekend with no points and 4 shots on goal.

The Hagelin, Rust, and Brown were pretty great this weekend. Rust won 14 of 18 faceoffs in the win on Friday night and assisted on the first goal of both contests. Hagelin had the effort-play of the game, which led to Chris Brown's game-winner, and kicked things off Saturday.

Moffie, of course, had a 2-1--3 line on the weekend and as I mentioned was CCHA Defenseman of the Week. Not a bad weekend, considering that it wasn't too long ago that he had completely fallen out of favor.

I actually thought the power play was pretty decent on Friday night, despite going 0-for-6. They didn't score, but the chances were there. Sparks and someone else (Brown I think?) fanned on wide-open nets. Those were both sure goals. I want to say out of the six power plays, there was only one where it really felt like we got nothing going. The setup was there, we had chances, but none of them found the back of the net. The next night, we cashed in on 2 of 7. Overall, a pretty good effort against the #3 PK in the country.

This puts us back just one point behind Notre Dame in the CCHA with a game in hand. Best of all, the team has won 7 of their last 8 games since the debacle against Minnesota followed up by that heartbreaking overtime loss to OSU. Pucks are starting to go in (we've scored 3+ goals in each of the last 8 games) and they are starting to stay out of our net for the most part. In conference, we're the only team giving up fewer than 2 goals per game.

The stretch run is fairly difficult--out of our final 11 conference games, only FYS is below .500 in the conference. (To be fair, there are only 3 teams in the CCHA below .500 in terms of points.)

Brian has some nice thoughts on the weekend, including a mini-breakdown of the PWR considerations. I echo the thoughts on Merrill. It's unreal that he's this good this soon, and that he never seems to take penalties.

MHNet has a couple articles you should see about our former defensemen: Steve Kampfer is having a nice run since he's been called up to the Boston Bruins and JMFJ tells his story.

John Gibson was ranked 46th in TSN's midseason draft rankings, which come from the opinions of 10 NHL scouts.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

10 Things to Know About the Ferris State Bulldogs

This weekend's opponent is the Ferris State Bulldogs. Friday's game from Yost will air on CBS College Sports and Saturday's contest up in Big Rapids will air on Comcast. If you don't get Comcast, you can watch the game on pay-per-view through Ferris State's website for $7.

Here are ten things to know about the Bulldogs:

1) The Bulldogs, picked 7th in the preseason coaches' poll and 6th in the media poll, currently sit a surprising 3rd in the CCHA standings. They are 8-6-3-2 in the CCHA and 11-8-4 overall. They're just two points behind the Wolverines, though Michigan has a pair of games in hand.

2) They've been a little bit inconsistent. This past weekend's sweep of Bowling Green was their first six-point weekend of the year in CCHA play, though they did take 5 points from Miami in early November and swept St. Lawrence back in October. They following up the two-win weekend against Miami by getting shutout by LSSU back-to-back games, so yeah.

3) In the earlier series this year, Michigan took four points, winning the game at Yost and losing in a shootout on the road. Shawn Hunwick gave up 2 goals on 28 shots in the loss. Hogan gave up 2 on 24 shots in the win. Clearly we'll see Hunwick in both games this weekend. Michigan was 1-14 for the weekend on the power play. Ferris was 2-9.

4) Defenseman Zach Redmond leads the Bulldogs in goals (uh oh) and points with a 6-9--15 line in 17 games. He had 1-2--3 in the sweep of Bowling Green this past weekend and scored a power-play goal in FSU's win over Michigan earlier this year. He had a goal against us last year as well. Chad Billins has 4-6--10 from back on the blueline. Those two defensemen have combined for five game-winning goals and five tallies on the power play.

5) Up front, they don't have any forwards really tearing it up. Their leading goal scorer is Nate Hennig with 6, and their leading point-getter is Mike Embach with 5-6--11 in 23 games. Matthew Kirzinger does have 2-2--4 in a three-game point streak and has 2-4--6 in his last seven.

6) In net it's been Pat Nagle most of the way, and with good reason. The senior netminder is 11-6-4, with a 1.76 goals against (!) and a .930 save percentage. Those numbers are good for 3rd and 8th nationally, respectively. Pretty impressive, and a guy that could certainly steal a game any given night.

7) Offensive/Defensive numbers: The offense, as you might guess by their lack out output from forwards, is only scoring 2.39 goals per game, 45th in the country. Behind Nagle, however, the Bulldogs are the number one defensive team in the country. They're the only school giving up fewer than two goals per game (1.96), a tenth of a goal per game better than Merrimack. Also, as you might expect, the power play sucks (14.0%-49th) and the PK is really good (88.4%-3rd) and has scored 5 SHGs on the season. Adding in the 5 shorties, they're only -8 on the 112 power plays they've given up.

8) Redmond has 2-3--5 in 8 games against Michigan. Justin Menke is the only other Bulldog with multiple goals in his career against Michigan. The Wolverines have had a fair amount of success against Nagle. He's just 1-4-1 with a 3.59/.882 against the Maize and Blue. Hagelin has 3-3--6 in 8 games against FSU. Wohlberg, Rust, Cappy, and Glendening all have a pair of goals. Shawn Hunwick's appearance earlier this year was his only game against FSU. He's 0-0-0-1 (or 0-0-1 if you prefer) with a 1.87/.929.

9) Bob Daniels picked up his 300th career win last weekend against Bowling Green. Redmond was named CCHA Defenseman of the Week for his performance.

10) Things that don't bode well for us this weekend: We suck on Friday nights and are 2-4-1 on the first game of a CCHA weekend. FSU is 5-2-1. The Friday night game is at Yost, where you'd typically expect to win. Hopefully they come out with a little bit better of an effort than we typically see on Friday night. The good news is that FSU has only beaten Michigan at Yost one time in the last decade.

Llewellyn, Fallon Suspended For Season

The Michigan Daily reported yesterday that the Michigan hockey team has suspended defenseman Tristin Llewellyn and forward Jacob Fallon for the remainder of the season. A reason for the suspension was not given, beyond that it was behavioral and not related to hockey.
This ends Llewellyn's Michigan career as he is a senior. He was maddening at times with his penchant for taking bad penalties at key times, but he brought a physical presence to the blueline.
Coach Berenson said that Fallon will have a chance to return next season. But after he got in trouble for two off-ice incidents last year with the NTDP (resulting in him leaving that program), you have to wonder how many second chances he has left after another non-hockey incident resulted in a semester-long suspension from the team. Fallon hasn't played all that much as a freshman, but he's looked pretty decent in the games I've seen. Hopefully he will stick around, but it certainly wouldn't be a surprise to see this be the end of his Michigan career as well.
I'm not sure what the rules are on sending players to the USHL. I know Michigan State had sent a freshman back to the USHL last season after it became evident he wasn't going to play all that much. They also tried to do it with Corey Tropp and it didn't fly because he had already enrolled for the spring semester and apparently playing for another team would kill his eligibility. I suspect Fallon would fall into the latter case, then. If that's true, he'd either have to stick it out at Michigan and serve his suspension or be done as a Wolverine. He was drafted by a WHL team back in the day.
These suspensions probably don't hurt Michigan all that much as things stand now. Fallon wasn't playing all that often and I thought Clare and Bennett looked really good on Saturday against Michigan State. Llewellyn brought some things to the table, but it had to be hard to trust him when you never knew if he was going to do something completely idiotic and put the team in a bad position. I don't think that it's a bad thing for Clare and Bennett to see some more ice time. It does hurt the depth, and it would be make any future injuries a little bit more troublesome.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Michigan 4, FYS 0

(via EagleScout03 on Twitter...Nice to see people still remember!)

This might be the "Thank you, Ken Daniels" moment of all time, but we sure are a lot better when we're not taking stupid penalties the entire freaking game. If that wasn't the polar opposite of the night before...
A night after really embarrassing themselves in a lot of ways, the hockey team played a pretty complete game in downing FYS by a 4-0 margin. The game was much closer than the final score, as five minutes into the third period it was still a 1-0 game and the Wolverines didn't really put it away until AJ Treais's sixth of the year with just under five minutes to play.

The first two periods were really even. Michigan led 1-0 on a goal by Carl Hagelin through a nice Matt Rust screen. Shots to that point were 25-22 and both goalies were playing really well. In the third, it looked like State ran out of gas a little bit and the Wolverines completely tilted the ice, outshooting the Spartans 15-6 and outscoring them 3-0 in the final frame.

He still didn't manage to nail down the #1 star for his shutout, but Shawn Hunwick did get a star this time, garnering #2 honors. He made 28 stops in the game. He didn't have any jaw-dropping stops on the level of Jimmy Howard's glove against Vancouver, but he made several huge stops while the game was in doubt, and just played a really strong, sound game between the pipes. He was at his best toward the end of the first period. I didn't jot down too many specifics, but he made at least four big-time saves while the game was still 0-0. One I remember was off a nice behind-the-back feed from Dustin Gazely that put Derek Grant in all alone.

He also single-handedly sent two Spartans to the penalty box to create the 5-on-3 that led to the third goal of the nice, which completely iced it. The first appeared to be a huge dive that he sold pretty well, giving all Michigan fans a heart-attack in the process by sloooooowly skating to the bench. On the ensuing power play, Torey Krug got tangled up with Hunwick and then knocked him to the ice. No dive on that one, it was right in front of the ref, and the MSU captain was sent to the box, creating a 5-on-3 with 6 minutes left in a 2-goal hockey game. Dumb penalty and Michigan made them pay. Merrill sent it down low to Caporusso who fed Treais cross-crease. Easy goal for #21 and the game was all but in the books at that point. 

That wasn't the only dumb penalty that the Wolverines took advantage of. They continued to abuse the Chelii, as Dean took a bad penalty for elbowing and Hagelin scored all of six seconds later. 

The second goal of the night came off a faceoff win by Hagelin (the only faceoff he took, as a matter of fact). Langlais put a shot through traffic that nicked the Swede on the way through. There must have been six guys between Langlais and Palmisano, but the shot found its way through.

Michigan's fourth goal was a really well set-up play. Scooter Vaughan brought the puck in and held it just long enough to draw the defense to him. That left Mac Bennett wide open at the right point. Vaughan slid it over to him and Bennett had all kinds of room to walk in. He labeled one into the top corner far side for the first goal of his career.

A few more random thoughts:
-Wasn't a bit surprised to see Llewellyn sitting out Saturday night. He stayed out of the box on Friday but had several turnovers and completely sold out for a big hit that left his man wide open for a breakaway.

-What does it say on the back of Hunwick's mask? I've never gotten a good look at it.

-I forgot to mention this on Friday night, but those Ohio State camouflage jerseys would be in the conversation for worst-looking hockey sweater I've ever seen. Even Michigan State's silver jersey thought those were hideous. Then again, they swept Miami, so I guess they can wear whatever they want.

-Did they finally give Chad Langlais the greenlight to go, now that he's got Baby Lidstrom as a defense partner? I swear I've never seen him that active out there rushing the puck. There were three or four times over the course of the weekend where I thought, "Damn he's fast." I always knew he could skate, but I just don't remember him being that obviously fast all that often. 

-Palmisano actually played a pretty good game. He gave up 4, but didn't get an awful lot of help. He had no chance of stopping the second or third goals, and the first one was through a nice screen as well. Made some big saves, but Michigan continues to find ways to get pucks past him.

-Where was Will Yanakeff? I didn't catch where they said he was, but Fox Sports indicated that he wasn't the backup Saturday night and the box score seems to agree with that.

-Hagelin's line scored two and they could have had three or four more really easily. They were making things happen the entire night.

-I thought Caporusso had a nice game as well. He made a really nice pass on Treais's goal. He was only credited with a couple of shots on goal, but he had several nice chances. I really liked the neutral zone faceoff that he knocked forward and picked up almost at full-speed already. It set up a 2-on-1 with Glendening off what was basically a nothing play: A neutral zone draw. Not supposed to get chances like that.

-The key play of the game came when Michigan was leading 2-0. Michigan State got the power play that you knew was coming, this time it was Burlon for boarding. If MSU scores there, it's a 2-1 game with half a period to play. Michigan's much-maligned unit turned in as good of a penalty kill as you can possibly have. MSU never had possession of the puck, much less a shot on goal or a scoring chance. Shortly thereafter, Michigan State hits Hunwick twice, we get a 5-on-3, Treais scores, and it's lights out.

It's a big weekend coming up in CCHA play. We now sit four points behind Notre Dame in the standings (with a game in hand), as they swept Northern Michigan. In third place is Ferris State, actually. They're two points behind us, though we have a pair of games in hand. Miami is four points back of Michigan, having played one more game than the Wolverines. ND hosts fifth-place Alaska, we've got a huge home-and-home with Ferris State, and Miami has what should be an easy six against BGSU.

We're sitting 7th in the PWR, and 8th in RPI. There are some interesting teams that would make the tournament if it started today: RPI, Merrimack, Western Michigan (!), and Union would all get in. Miami would be out (!!!!!!), as would Minnesota, which never ceases to be funny. Still a lot of hockey to be played, but it's kind of cool to see some new names in tournament contention.

Friday, January 07, 2011


How many people would be surprised if I told you that we lost a game where we gave up multiple power play goals, gave up multiple goals to defensemen, took an ungodly number of stupid penalties, and lost most of the critical draws down the stretch?

It looked like Michigan might salvage a point out of a 3-1 deficit when David Wolhberg banked the puck off Will Yanakeff's leg with under 15 seconds to go in regulation to tie the game, but Frenchie tipped in a shot from (guess where) the point not too far into overtime to give MSU a 4-3 victory.

The game was basically an exhibition of the same play that has plagued Michigan for the last two seasons. It's getting hard to watch. Here's a partial rundown:

-David Wohlberg put MSU on three power plays during the game on two elbowing calls and a hooking penalty at center ice. His third of the night was a completely needless elbow, away from the play, in the offensive zone, right in front of the ref.

-Shawn Hunwick got his Al Montoya on and just clocked Dustin Gazely with his trapper. Was it funny? Yes. Did he drop him? Yes. Was it particularly smart in the third period of a tie game? No.

-In both cases, those penalties might not have been so bad if we didn't follow each of them up with another penalty during the Spartan power play. Chad Langlais was rushing the puck and after the puck went into the corner, shouldered his man into next week. Scooter Vaughan took a hooking penalty on Hunwick's power play. Both times, MSU scored with the 5 on 3.

-Llewellyn went all Dave Shand and "Closed the Gate" on an MSU player who was rushing the puck, sandwiching him with his defense partner. The only problem was the pass got across to the left wing who walked in all alone on Hunwick. We got away with that one, but where's the defensive responsibility? That's the crap I used to do in NHL 2K4. Matt Trevor is nodding his head.

-MSU was 2 for their last 25 on the power play. 2 for 7 tonight! Leave it to our PK to stop the bleeding. God forbid we cover a point man. You'd think that after Wisconsin defensemen put in roughly 27 goals in the last two seasons, and we turned five or six other defensemen into Bobby Orr that we'd figure out how to stop that. But no. Puck goes back, defenseman bombs shot, goal. Doopy dooopy doooo. Torey Krug, first multiple goal game of his career, and he managed to get the hatter from back on the blueline. The game winner was also a shot from the point that was tipped on the way through. MAKE PLAYS!

On the bright side, it was another game where I got to watch Jon Merrill play hockey. You want to talk about a kid that has lived up to every ounce of the hype, this is it. He's poised with the puck, he always seems to make the right plays, his defensive-responsibility has allowed Langlais to freelance a little bit more (and did he have the jets on tonight!), and best of all, he stays out of the box! Here's the list of players on our team that have fewer penalty minutes than Jon Merrill:
-Derek DeBlois
-Jeff Rohrkemper
-Kevin Clare
-Bryan Hogan
Hell, even Shawn Hunwick took as many penalty minutes tonight (4) as Merrill has this entire season. (I haven't seen the box score for tonight, so it's possible Merrill ended up going off in one of the scrums, but I don't think so.)

Merrill also made a gorgeous keep at the blueline which helped set up Wohlberg's tying goal with 12 seconds left in regulation.

We suck in overtime. 0-5-9 in our last 14. How is that even possible?

It's just frustrating as a fan to watch the same game over and over. The ending doesn't change. If you were to make a list of players who have lived up to expectations this year, is there anyone on that list beside Merrill, Hogan, Burlon, and Vaughan? Maybe Hagelin (still hitting a point per game, though he certainly hasn't taken the step forward to be a Hobey contender)?

The good thing about college hockey is that there's still plenty of time. We're still in good position to make the tournament and then you only have to get it together for four games. Hopefully we end up in the Saturday-Sunday regional.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Having a Seat Over There: Phil Di Giuseppe

Bob Miller mentioned him as a name to watch in the future, and Phil Di Giuseppe has in fact committed to Michigan to join the team in 2011. He currently plays for the Villanova Knights in the OJHL, the same league that produced Cogliano and Burlon, amongst many others.

Di Giuseppe currently has 15-30--45 in 36 games, to rank third on the Knights in scoring. He is three years younger than the players ahead of him in points, however. Last year he ranked fifth on the team in scoring with a 16-31--47 line in 56 games. He had a goal and three assists in six playoff games.

He's listed as 6'1", 200 lbs.

The Knights Associate General Manager called him "very offensively gifted" with "second to none" speed and stick skills. Sounds like a perfect fit for our team.

His Knights are tied for first place in their division with 45 points in 37 games. Di Giuseppe is tied for 35th in league scoring, but he is the leading scorer amongst 93s, and he is a late 93. He's 22nd in the league in assists.

This sounds like a really, really nice get for Michigan.

A Quick FYS Preview

Since this post has nothing to do with Jim Harbaugh, it's going to be quick so you can get back to hitting F5 over and over on MGoBlog and The Wolverine.

Since we last saw the Spartans, they've gone 1-1. They got down 5-2 to Colorado College before coming back and scoring a late goal on a 6 on 4 to make it 5-4 with 49 seconds left. They also battled Michigan Tech, similar to us, before ultimately prevailing 5-3. It was a 2-2 game until late in the second period.

Like Michigan, FYS got goals from unlikely sources. Kevin Walrod scored a pair of goals against Michigan Tech. Those were his first two collegiate goals. Lee Reimer scored his first career goal against Colorado College.

Drew Palmisano was yanked after giving up 5 goals on 15 shots in the game against CC. Willie Yanakeff stopped all eight shots he faced in relief. They also went with Yanakeff against Tech and he stopped 22 of 25 shots. His only other action this season was during a weekend series against Notre Dame. He got a no decision on Friday night before losing on Saturday. Given that he picked up a win against Tech and Michigan has been regularly lighting up Palmisano (3-4-0, 3.00 goals against, .828 save percentage(!!!!!!)), there's a least a chance we'll see the backup sieve.

Friday night's game from Munn will air on the Big Ten Network. Saturday's game at Yost is on Fox Sports Detroit.

Michigan holds a 22-20-11 lead in games since 99-00 and have won the last four in the series.

For the season, Michigan State is 7-10-3, 3-8-1-0 in the CCHA. They're buried in tenth place in the CCHA and could not move out of that slot even with a weekend sweep. Michigan sits one point behind Notre Dame and one point ahead of Miami with a game in hand on both teams. Notre Dame is at Northern this weekend while the RedHawks are in Columbus to take on the Buckeyes.