Michigan's first (and hopefully not last) opponent in the 2012 NCAA Hockey Tournament is the Cornell Big Red out of the Eastern College Athletic Conference.
The Big Red finished second in the ECAC, 2 points behind #1-seed Union. They were 18-8-7 on the season and 12-4-6 in conference. The big takeaway? All their games are close. They only had 13 games the entire season that weren't decided by 1 goal or fewer (of those, there were 3 more that ended up being 2-goal games due to an empty-netter). That works out to 23 of 33 games being extremely tight. They've played 12 overtime games on the season, including 10 of their last 19. They won't be intimidated if it's a close game.
When you think Cornell hockey, you think defense-first, strong goaltending, and it seems like they've got that again. They rank 12th nationally in team defense and Andy Iles has been very good in net for them. He's played every non-empty-net minute this season and has a 2.13 goals against (10th nationally) and a solid .918 save percentage (28th nationally). He also has six shutouts, five of which came in a six-game span back in November and December. Only two goalies have more. He's given up two or fewer in seven of their last ten, though he was shelled by Harvard (6 on 30 shots) in the ECAC semifinals.
The offense is middle-of-the-pack, 23rd in the country at 2.91 goals per game. In their last 9 games, they've scored 1 goal on 3 occasions, 3 goals on 3 occasions, and 4 goals on 3 occasions.
They have two players who cracked the 10 goal mark: Former St. Michael's Buzzer Greg Miller, who has 14-16--30 in 33 games, and senior Sean Collins (13-11--24). Those two happen to be their two leading point scorers as well. Defenseman Nick D'Agostino (also a former Buzzer) has 8-12--20, and has scored big goals for Cornell. 6 of his goals have come with the man advantage, and five of them have been game-winners. He leads the team in both categories. They have six guys with 20+ points and nine with 15+.
They were 1-0-1 against Union this year. Keep in mind that Union throttled Michigan (though, so did everyone back in November). They beat Niagara 1-0 about a month-and-a-half after Michigan beat them 5-0 in the opener. They also beat St. Lawrence by a single goal on two occasions. Michigan downed the Saints 10-3 in October.
The Big Red also took BU to overtime before losing 2-1 and took three of four points from Colorado College at CC.
Collins is a former Wolverine-his junior team was the Waywayseecappo Wolverines. And I mention that only because it's really fun to type Waywayseecappo.
Michigan is 3-2-1 all-time against Cornell, the last meeting coming in 1997. In their previous meeting in the NCAA Tournament, Michigan won the best-of-three series two games to one. That was the famous weekend when the Michigan faithful picked up a few things about cheering from the Cornell fans, which led to Yost becoming what Yost is today.
Kevin Lynch is actually the only Wolverine with multiple goals in NCAA Tournament play. He has a 2-1--3 line in six games. Shawn Hunwick is 4-2-0 with a 1.55 goals against and a .948 save percentage when they are playing for keeps. He's 16-4-0 with a 1.65/.938 in post-season play as a whole.
For more on the matchup, check out:
The United States of Hockey, who has Michigan at 35% to come out of the region (Denver is also at 35%).
Vote Shawn Hunwick for Hobey!!! It literally takes like 5 seconds and you don't have to register, or fill out captchas or anything. He currently trails Spencer Abbott by 2% in the voting. We actually had him in the lead for a period earlier today.
Hoover Street Rag has their annual picks contest. No team capsules this year, guys?
I'll be at the game in Green Bay. I probably won't make it up there for the Ferris/Denver game, as, while I think it's going to be a great game, I don't want to take off half a day of work to be there, when I'm saving up vacation for my wedding/honeymoon in four months. If Michigan wins, it's highly likely that you'll find me at The Stadium View on Saturday, drinking before the game.
Travis Turnbull made his NHL debut tonight for the Buffalo Sabres. He played just over six minutes and didn't register anything on the stat sheet. Still, that makes 21 former Wolverines to appear in the NHL this season. Almost enough to dress an entire team.