Thursday, December 29, 2011

Michigan 4, Boston College 2

The Wolverines came into the GLI as underdogs. Michigan was faced with a tough task in the Great Lakes Invitational semifinal: The Boston College Eagles. The #3 team in the country came into the holiday tournament with a 12-6-0 record on the season, but was the #20 Wolverines who advanced to the GLI Championship with a 4-2 victory.

Michigan came out strong. Alex Guptill was robbed early on in the game. Kevin Clare threw a shot wide of the net and it bounced out on the same side of the net. Guptill was all alone, but Billett robbed him with the glove.

A few moments later, though, Wohlberg brought it in with Guptill on a two-on-one. He took it himself and lasered one up under the bar to give Michigan a 1-0 lead.

BC hit the post on the other end to just miss tying the game.

Back-to-back calls on the Eagles gave Michigan a LONG 5-on-3 and they capitalized! Moffie took a shot with Kevin Lynch on the doorstep. The rebound skipped out to Billett's right and Moffatt was right there to bury the rebound.

Boston College went to a power play, but it was the Wolverines with the majority of the chances. Wohlberg had a breakaway, tried to go backhand and missed high. Then the Wolverines had a 2-on-1. Travis Lynch shot and Michigan couldn't put in the rebound. Then Kevin Lynch had a breakaway and was stopped. The first period ended with Michigan up 2-0.

Early in the second, Treais sprung Glendening on another 2-on-1 and Billett made a nice glove save. Guptill was interfered with while trying to chase his own dump in, but Wohlberg was called for a late hit to even things back up. The momentum really changed at this point in the game. It was all BC for a good chunk of the second period after this. Hunwick made a couple of good stops, Moffatt just missed the far post, and then BC got on the scoreboard.

A failed clear by Chiasson led to an opportunity for BC. The player was knocked down by a Wolverine but the puck came back to Tommy Cross at the point. He sent a shot through traffic past Hunwick to make it 2-1.

BC just missed tying it shortly thereafter. Kevin Lynch was sent to the box and the Eagles kept buzzing. A little drop pass through the slot got a guy wide open and he hit the goalpost. While still on the power play, Hunwick made an initial stop, but the rebound came right to Carey in the slot who slipped it to Hunwick's right.

The Eagles kept up the momentum. A player deked through the Michigan defense and got a shot past Hunwick, but Sinelli and Hyman were in behind the Michigan goalie and Hyman was able to keep the puck out of the net. BC just missed again. All the momentum was on their side and then out of nowhere the Wolverines were back on top.

Treais got the puck out of the zone and led a 2-on-1 for Michigan. He shot the puck through Cross's legs and it beat Billett to put Michigan back ahead. That was a big, big goal to put Michigan back ahead in a period where they were thoroughly dominated.

The Eagles had a chance to even the score when Pateryn was sent off for kneeing. He cranked Whitney, who was vulnerable after lunging to knock the puck ahead. Their knees hit, but he certainly didn't stick his leg out. I thought it was a really questionable call, but the puck don't lie. Michigan killed it off without too much trouble.

PDG was robbed late in the period, and Michigan led 3-2 headed to the second intermission. BC carried the play that period.

Hunwick made a really nice stop on Gaudreau early in the third period. Then another early in a Michigan power play, where BC had the two best chances.

PDG set up Treais for a good look in front but Billett was there. Pateryn absolutely killed Mullane, and then Chris Brown leveled an Eagle who thought a spin-o-rama in the middle of the ice was a good idea.

The Eagles pulled the goalie with 1:15 left in regulation. Their best chance was a bullet from the point that was over top of the net. Glendening had a great effort to get the puck out of the zone, carried it until he got just over center ice, and then paid the price to take a shot at the net. He scored and the Wolverines were off to the championship game with a 4-2 win.

That was a huge win for Michigan's tournament chances, in addition to putting them into the GLI Championship Game. Treais was great. In addition to scoring the eventual game-changing goal, he was setting up people all night. He sprung the Wolverines on at least a couple of odd-man rushes. BC gave up a ton of them.

I really liked the play of the 4th liners. Moffatt was buzzing for good portions of the game and Hyman and Sinelli both had excellent plays in their own end. They were both in behind Hunwick to save a goal and Hyman had another gorgeous backcheck to break up what would have been a great scoring chance. I'm surprised that Hyman has the worst +/- on the team. Every time I've seen him, he's done good things on the defensive end.

The top line was really good, especially in the first period.

The second period was rough once Michigan got running around after a couple of penalties, but the first and third were great periods against a really strong opponent. Michigan carried the play for the majority of the game. They had numerous odd-man rushes and breakaways, along with several other chances right in the slot. Billett played really well to keep BC in it, or it could have been much worse. At the other end, Hunwick was good for Michigan and his defense stepped in to help him when he needed it.

Michigan will take on FYS in the GLI Championship Game tomorrow night. The Spartans downed Michigan Tech 3-1, though the Techsters outshot them 46-26. Palmisano was strong in net, and apparently Tom Anastos hinted that he might stick with his hot goaltender. Palmisano was really good against Michigan in FYS's shootout win, but the Wolverines have a history of success against him. Should be a fun one!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Having a Seat Over There: Steven Racine

Michigan has another goalie for next year! Steven Racine, the keeper for the Georgetown Raiders of the OJHL, has verbally committed to Michigan. first reported that the former Taft goalie had committed, and MHNet confirmed it publicly via some conversations over Twitter.

In the three games he's played for Georgetown, he's 3-0-0 with a 1.30 goals against and a .961 save percentage. He pitched a 26-save shutout in his first appearance for the team. He most recently made 48 saves in a 4-3 overtime win. He had previously been with the Westside Warriors in the BCHL, where he was 7-9-0 with a 3.10/.885. After winning seven of his first nine starts this year, the Warriors went into a huge slump. They made a change after he dropped seven straight decisions, though it doesn't sound like he had a lot of help.

Prior to the BCHL, he spent quite a bit of time in the USHL and the EJHL.

Racine--and I will never say his last name without sounding like Kit from A League of Their Own--is listed at 6'3", 190 and hails from New York.

MHNet has a quote from a guy in OHL Central Scouting who called Racine a "good, solid goalie" and "Athletic, but nothing flashy".

He is expected to backup Jared Rutledge. He sounds like a solid enough pickup. He's a little bit older, he's got some experience playing in a variety of leagues, and he's got good size.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Michigan Takes 4 of 6 Points from State

A wall of Wolverines, courtesy of Bill Rapai
 After snapping a seven-game winless streak against Alaska, the Wolverines came into this weekend against Sparty looking to put together a streak of a better kind. They came out with a 3-game unbeaten streak in tact. Michigan won 4-3 on Friday night at Yost before following it up with a 3-3 tie and losing in the shootout. All told, they came out of the weekend with four of six points.

On Friday night, Michigan State came out with a good first shift, but it was the Wolverines who drew first blood. David Wohlberg absolutely sniped one up over Will Yanakeff's glove to make it 1-0 Wolverines. It was a good pass off the boards from Brown. Wohlberg came in, got into a shooting position, waited for Yanakeff to go down and then fired one up over his glove.

Before the students could start their goal count, however, it was 1-1. Crandall took a shot from the point that must have deflected off of something. Hunwick just missed it and that's very unlike him. Some people were saying it got the stick of one of the Michigan players on the way through.

Chris Brown was called for setting a little pick and Michigan killed the penalty off without too much trouble. When Brown came out of the box, he got the puck, got around the outside of the defenseman, cut to the net, and tucked it five-hole as he was going across the crease. Very, very nice goal out of Michigan's power forward.

The period would end 2-1 Michigan thanks to some robbery by Shawn Hunwick. Michigan State took a shot from the point that went wide and out the other side. It went right to Forfar, who had nothing but an empty net to shoot at. He put it on goal, but Hunwick dove to his right and got the paddle down just in time.

Early in the second, Sparks put one off the bar. Yanakeff then had a huge stop on PDG. Di Giuseppe just barely got a touch on a pass over to Treais. He gave it back to PDG and Yanakeff did the splits and just got a piece of the shot.

Guptill then completed the "hat trick" for his line. A Spartan clearing attempt hit him. He then controlled it and cut to the net on his backhand. He lofted it up over Yanakeff's glove and it was 3-1.

Kevin Lynch then made it 4-1. Derek DeBlois had a very nice feed from behind the net. Lynch got the shot off and Yanakeff got 95% of it. It snuck through behind him, but Lynch followed his shot and was able to tap it the rest of the way home before anyone else could react.

A scrap in front of Hunwick resulted in Michigan State starting the third period on the power play. They got a goal and some much-needed momentum. The Wolverines failed to clear the puck a couple of times and Berry was able to get one past Hunwick after his initial shot was blocked.

After Moffatt went for interference, the Spartans had another power play. Some nice efforts by Travis Lynch and Kevin Clare got the puck out, but on the next FYS rush Hunwick wrapped it around the boards but not out. A shot from the point went off the glass, came back over the net, and went off Hunwick and in. It may have had a little help from Darnell. So with 14 minutes left it was 4-3.

PDG nearly connected with Treais for some insurance. He had a crafty little feed from behind the net. Treais's shot looked like it hit the post. The goal light went on, but the puck didn't go in.

Clare had a very nice effort to break up a pass for a streaking Leveille.

With Yanakeff on the bench, the Spartans had several chances to tie it, but Hunwick stood tall and Michigan got the win.

Brown goes 5-hole on Friday night - Bill Rapai
 The next night in East Lansing, Michigan got off to another good start, but couldn't quite finish the job.

After an opening five minutes where nothing much happened, Chris Brown made it 1-0 good guys. Guptill stole the puck and fed him. Brown let a shot go, it snuck through Palmisano, and Brown was able to crash the net and knock in his own rebound.

Treais had a chance on a 2-on-1 and might have gotten the post. Hunwick then ROBBED Darnell on a breakaway. Flashed the glove on that one.

The Spartans tied it at 1 on a Krug shot from the point that deflected off Guptill's skate into the top corner. Absolutely no chance for Hunwick on that one.

FYS then made it 2-1. Hunwick tried to dump the puck around the boards but it hit a Spartan player. He centered it for Forfar, and it was actually kind of fortunate that it wasn't a good pass. Hunwick slid to his right, Forfar kicked it back to his stick (to Hunwick's left) and that side of the net was wide open.

Hunwick kept it at 2-1 by stoning Wolfe on a breakaway and then Moffatt tied it up at 2. The puck came out of a scrum and he kicked it up to his stick before backhanding one top-shelf. Nice goal.

Michigan's goalie saved the day again with a couple of quick pad saves off a really ugly turnover in the Michigan end. Hyman darn near put the Wolverines ahead on a wrap-around, but couldn't quite stuff it in. The period ended with the score tied.

In the third, both teams had early power plays without a whole lot of success. A little later Hunwick made a big stop on Perlini. Berry brought the puck to the middle of the ice and brought three guys with him. He dropped it back to an open Perlini and Hunwick stoned him.

Wohlberg then made it 3-2 Michigan. Guptill took a shot, Palmisano made the save, but Wohlberg was there to bury the rebound to put Michigan ahead with 6 1/2 minutes to play.

Then the abomination: Kevin Lynch got called for holding and I don't have the foggiest idea what the ref saw. He checked the Spartan player very awkwardly, but he was falling at the time and kind of hit him with his back. His hands and arms were completely away from the FYS player. Just a completely inexcusable call at that point in the game, especially since they had let almost everything go to that point.

And of course bad calls are amplified when you can't kill a penalty to save your life. Michigan almost pulled it off. DeBlois did a lot of great work to run the penalty clock down inside 30 seconds. Moffie tried to clear the zone on his backhand and partially fanned. The puck went right up the middle to Reimer, who roofed one over Hunwick.

Michigan appeared to be headed to the power play with under a minute to go, but right as the whistle was going, Chris Brown lifted a guy's stick and pushed him. Clearly that warranted evening it up. Le sigh. Michigan had a couple of chances in the overtime and actually outshot the Spartans 8-0 but it went to a shootout. Wohlberg, Brown, and Treais missed for the Wolverines. Berry was able to get a backhander over Hunwick's stick and that was all she wrote. Michigan came out of the weekend with 4 points.

Overall I thought it was a pretty good weekend. Hunwick played well, the defense overall played pretty well, the top line was dominant (Guptill was named Rookie of the Week, and the trio combined for 5 goals on the weekend), they got some pucks past Yanakeff who had previously owned them. I also thought that Zach Hyman looked really good on Saturday night. I know he hasn't done as much offensively as we all probably expected, but in two of the three games I've seen I thought he played really well. Once Travis Lynch went out with an injury, Red moved him up to the second line and I thought he was one of Michigan's best players. He had several pretty good scoring chances, and made a really nice defensive play to break up a pass for Walrod that would've been a beautiful scoring chance.

Like I said, I've only seen three games this year so I didn't see the bad, but I don't get the impression that they're too far off. Michigan State had been playing really good hockey, and the Wolverines darn near swept them, even without their two best skaters on Saturday night. There are some big problems on the penalty kill, which wasn't entirely unexpected given that Michigan turned over pretty much the entire PK from last year. There are also some problems in their own end getting the puck out. Having Jon Merrill come back at some point (hopefully) should be a big help in that regard.

Even as bad as the 7-game winless streak was, Michigan currently sits 17th in the Pairwise, so they're just outside the NCAA Tournament. They've been doing it with their best player missing the entire season thusfar. I wouldn't write this team off just yet. They seem like they're getting it together.

Friday, December 09, 2011

FYS Preview

The Wolverines and Spartans face-off in a home-and-home this weekend. Tonight's game is at Yost. Tomorrow they'll play at the Munn Memorial Library. The best part is that *gasp* both games are on TV! Tonight's game airs on FSN Detroit and tomorrow is on the Big Ten Network. Also, the premiere of the Blue Ice documentary airs following the game tonight.

The Spartans got off to a bit of a rough start under first-year head coach Tom Anastos, going 2-4 out of the gate. Since then, they've gone 8-1-1, including a win and a tie against Minnesota and a road sweep of Western Michigan.

The offense has come alive for them. In the past ten games, they've been held below three goals on just one occasion and have only scored fewer than four twice. They've also been really strong on defense, giving up more than two goals just twice (both to Minnesota, neither of which they lost).

It's a good start for The Commish, and I'll eat some crow over that one if they keep it up since I made fun of that hiring an awful lot.

They're led offensively by a pair of sophomores, Lee Reimer (7-13--20) and Greg Wolfe (5-11--16). Mike Merrifield, in 12 games, has exceeded his goal and point totals for the rest of his career combined. He had 6-6--12 in 60 games. This year he has 8-5--13 in 12 games. Captain Torey Krug has also chipped in with 11 points from the blueline.

In net, ANN ARBOR NATIVE Drew Palmisano and Will Yanakeff have split the duties. Palmisano is 4-3-1 in his eight starts with a 2.73/.910. Yanakeff is 6-2-0 with a 2.26/.923. The starts haven't been a direct split. Palmisano played both games against Minnesota while Yanakeff played both games against WMU and NMU.

Yanakeff was 2-0 against Michigan last year (making 37 and 31 saves and giving up 4 goals total). Palmisano gave up 9 on 69 shots last year. Gut feeling, I'd expect to see Yanakeff.

The Spartan power play is just 15.9% (38th), but they're 4th-nationally with an 89.2% success rate on the PK. They've also given up 19 fewer power play chances than Michigan.

The Only Colors has a preview from the FYS side.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Split With Alaska

After the losing skid reached five and the unbeaten streak reached seven with a 4-3 loss to Alaska on Friday night, the Wolverines were finally back in the win column on Saturday. Alex Guptill scored less than a minute into the extra session to give the Wolverines a 1-0 win.

On Friday night, PDG gave the Wolverines a 1-0 lead 2:47 into the contest. Alaska would tie the game in the middle of the first period just after a power play ended, and Michael Quinn and Colton Beck scored 7 seconds apart in the middle frame to give Alaska a 3-1 lead. Moffie cut it back to one just over a minute later. Beck scored again 5 minutes into the third. David Wohlberg cut it back to one with about nine minutes left to play, but despite a 17-5 shot advantage in the third, Michigan was unable to capitalize again.

Serville had maybe the best game of his Michigan career statistically, with 2 assists and a +3 rating. PDG had 1-1--2 and was +2. Greg Pateryn blocked 6 shots on the night.

The loss dropped Michigan to 10th place in the CCHA.

The next night, the Wolverines seemed to be in danger of seeing their winless streak extend to 8. After 60 minutes of play, the score remained 0-0. Guptill scored unassisted on a deflected shot just 57 seconds into the extra frame to give Michigan a much-needed win. That was Guptill's team-high sixth shot on goal of the night.

Shawn Hunwick made 25 stops in the victory. The Wolverines were unable to solve Scott Greenham on their first 41 shots of the night, but #42 was the winner.

The power play was scoreless on 8 attempts on the weekend (including a 5-on-3 that lasted an entire two minutes on Saturday), but the PK was perfect on 8 Alaska attempts and killed off a Brennan Serville boarding penalty late in the third of the scoreless contest).

The win pulled Michigan back into a tie with Miami for eighth place in the CCHA. They are only five points out of 4th, however. All the teams in the CCHA have played the same number of games, with the exception of FYS who has two games in hand on the field (and currently sits 3 points ahead of Michigan).

FYS is the next opponent on the slate. The teams will play at Yost on Friday night (on Fox Sports Detroit) before heading to East Lansing is a whore for Saturday's game, which will air on the Big Ten Network, who finally decided to stop being useless from a hockey perspective.

The Wolverines will have to do it on Saturday night without PDG, who will be attending Canada's World Junior Championships tryout camp. Several familiar names were on the 29-man list of Team USA's preliminary roster, which will be later cut to 22: Jon Merrill and Jacob Trouba (who is listed as Jake) made the list. It appears the USA goaltending duo will be former Wolverine commits. Both Jack Campbell and John Gibson are on the roster with Andy Iles listed as the emergency goalie.

In other news, according to the official Twitter account of the Hamilton Red Wings, commit Spencer Hyman was named to the OJHL All-Star Team. Hyman has 2-10--12 in 17 games this year.