If you don't like 5-on-5 hockey, you loved the first period of this game. Of the first 14 minutes, ten of them were played with one team up a man. Usually it was Miami. Pateryn, Hyman, Brown, and Wohlberg were all called for infractions in the first 12 minutes of the game (and Miami got whistled for too many men).
The RedHawks weren't able to generate a shot on their first power play of the game. On the second, Hunwick made a sparkling stop on either Vogelhuber or Murphy, sprawling to the ice and somehow managing to keep the puck out of the net. While shorthanded, Kevin Lynch started a Michigan rush with a great breakout pass that led to a 3-on-1 for the Wolverines. Glendening went cross-ice to Moffie who sniped one past Connor Knapp to give the Wolverines a 1-0 lead.
Miami nearly tied it up right away, but Hunwick made a great stop on Murphy. The penalty killers kept up their good work. Brown hit a player from behind and the RedHawks managed two shots and nothing more. Then Wohlberg threw a shot toward the net after the whistle, got violently cross-checked in the back by Weber, a scrum ensued and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Wohlberg ended up being the difference there. Once again, the Wolverine PK was stellar, holding Miami without a shot and managing two of their own.
So after the first 13:50 of the game, the RedHawks had had nearly eight full minutes of power play time. In that 7:57 span with Miami up a man, shots were 5-5 and goals were 1-0 in favor of the Wolverines. That is some penalty killing!
Hyman nearly scored on a wraparound shot that bounced around in between Knapp's legs, but stayed out. The period ended with Michigan leading 1-0.
Early in the second, Vogelhuber was called for hitting Wohlberg from behind. Michigan's best chance on the PP was Guptill backdoor, but neither team was credited with a shot on goal during that power play. Just six seconds after the penalty ended, however, Moffie was at the right point and went down low to Moffatt. Moffatt sent it to Treais in the middle of the ice, who laid a pass perfectly for Moffie who was cruising into the slot. He buried it for his second of the night, and Michigan led 2-0. Really, really pretty play there.
Hyman set up Moffatt for a good look and Knapp made a great save. Then Hyman fed Sparks, who rung one off the post.
Pateryn was called for high-sticking late in the period, but Michigan held the RedHawks to one shot, and took a 2-0 lead into the second intermission. The Wolverine penalty killers had to come up big again in the third, this time on a bench minor for too many men. They held Miami without a shot on a power play that was abbreviated when Brian Paulazzo hooked Kevin Clare. Clare went hard into the boards very awkwardly, but luckily he was okay.
That power play led to the turning point in the game. Jon Merrill took a slapshot and broke his stick. While he went to the bench to get a new one, Miami was able to break the puck out and spring Matt Tomassoni on a breakaway. Hunwick made a nice save and Moffie was able to clear the puck away as it inched toward the goal line. After play continued for a couple of minutes, there was finally a stoppage and Brian Hill reviewed the play. The replay showed that it was about as close as it could possibly get. We didn't have access to the overhead look, but it appeared that Moffie cleared the puck out when it sat right on the goal line. It was probably more over the goal line than not, but you couldn't see any white space. Hill waived the goal off and Blasi, who was able to see the replay on the Megatron, went bonkers.
After Blasi's rant, Hill went back into the penalty box for another look. The commentators commended him for taking another look to make sure he got it right. I feel the exact opposite. Going back to take another look completely undermined his credibility. All it said was, "I didn't do a good enough job the first time and I'm not confident in my ruling." If the video was inconclusive, it was inconclusive and it's no goal. If it showed the puck in the net, call it a goal. If it didn't, call it no goal. You already made the decision that there was no angle that showed the puck in the net. Tell Blasi to STFU and let's play.
Shockingly, no new video evidence surfaced from the last time he stepped into the penalty box, and Hill again ruled it no goal. I have a feeling the roof would have blown off of Yost if he had changed his mind after being argued into taking another look. Even if the puck did go in, we're still about 499 missed calls against Miami in our favor away from making up for the hose-job in Fort Wayne. Just saying. But that puck wasn't in the net. I whole-heartedly support a verification line. Or lasers.
Michigan then iced the game on as pretty of a goal as you'll see this season. Brown took a pass from Wohlberg and brought it into the zone one-against-two. He puck the puck through Will Weber's legs, stepped around him, and ripped it past Knapp. Brown Tebowed. Weber broke his stick over the net, much to the delight of the Children of Yost who had serenaded him with "Weber sucks" for much of the game after his fairly dirty play this weekend.
Then all hell broke loose. Spinell planted Bennett with hands to the face and was ejected for contact to the head. Almost immediately afterwards (like, 20 seconds), Pateryn was ejected for contact to the head. The RedHawks pulled their goalie down by 3, and after a defenseman made a save on Travis Lynch, Reilly Smith was called for charging.
The Wolverines got another shot on goal and Alex Guptill took a light poke at the goalie after the save. Three RedHawk players went after him and Guptill slashed at one. A melee ensued that resulted in Chris Brown and Will Weber dropping the gloves. When the penalties were sorted out, both Brown and Weber were given DQs for fighting, Guptill was called for slashing, and four other players were given roughing minors. We were treated to some rare 3-on-3 hockey, and the game ended with a 3-0 Michigan win.
After the game, Red Berenson opened his press conference by instruction reports to not ask him about the officiating. He later criticized Blasi for not controlling his players, and suggested that Miami took some liberties, knowing that they've got a pair of games against the worst team in the country next weekend.
All in all, it was what I've come to expect when Keith Sergott is officiating a series. There will be dangerous plays that go uncalled, wildly inconsistent officiating, a couple periods that are almost entirely power plays, and he'll ultimately completely lose control. Luckily we got out of this one without anyone being assaulted. Add in Hill's complete unprofessionalism by allowing a coach to badger him into re-evaluating a judgment ruling that he had already made, and you've got a duo that really doesn't need to be calling any more important games this year. Or ever. There's a reason that things blow up every time Sergott is around. He can't handle heated rivalries and he shouldn't be calling these type of games.
The wins, combined with OSU's continued struggles, and surprising losses by Notre Dame (to BGSU) and WMU (to Alaska), jumped the Wolverines up into 3rd in the conference. They now sit just 3 points behind CCHA-leading Ferris State and just one point behind Western Michigan. The top 8 in the conference are separated by a mere 6 points, though Miami and Ohio have played two more games than everyone else (they both have 36).
It was also a very good weekend for the Wolverines in the PWR. Minnesota-Duluth plummeted after a loss to Alaska-Anchorage and the Wolverines moved into a tie for second behind BU. They edge out the surprising UMass-Lowell (who now has the best record in college hockey) in the RPI tie-breaker.
Miami is in 18th in the PWR. Good.
Lost in the fisticuffs was the fact that Red Berenson moved into 5th place all by himself on the all-time wins list.
Hunwick moved into 4th place in the history of the program with his ninth-career shutout. He also now ranks second nationally in wins, is fifth in save percentage, and ninth in goals-against. Hobey. Seriously.
Of the eight guys in front of him in GAA, four come from minor conferences (Union, Niagara, RIT, Quinnipiac), and he's played twice as many minutes as Knapp and CJ Motte. Only Douglas Carr from UML and Kent Patterson from Minnesota are from major conferences, have played around as many minutes, and have a better GAA. And Patterson is only .01 ahead.
The four guys ahead of him in save percentage play for Niagara, Union, RIT, and Robert Morris. And none of them are within 225 saves of him.
The PK gave up 6 shots on 6 Miami power plays. Once again, the RedHawks spent more than a half-period's worth of time (11:05) on the power play and came away with -1 goals to show for it. Michigan has now killed 31 of 32 penalties since Jon Merrill has returned, and, with the short-handed goal, is actually net-even when killing off penalties over the last eight games. They're up to 16th now, and are within .7% of cracking the top ten, which is remarkable.
The Wolverines will now head to East Lansing to take on FYS in a road/Joe series. Chris Brown will have to sit Friday night due to his suspension. BTN and Fox Sports Detroit will carry the games.