Sunday, March 11, 2012

Wolverines Advance to the Joe!

Michigan drew a dangerous-but-underachieving Notre Dame team in round two of the CCHA Tournament and likely sent the Irish home for the season, sweeping the best-of-three series by 2-1 and 3-1 scores.

Friday night's contest was a goaltender duel, and Shawn Hunwick was slightly better than Steve Summerhays for the Irish. Michigan scored just over a minute into the contest when AJ Treais broke up a clearing attempt. Phil Di Giuseppe got off a nice shot that Summerhays got 90% of. It trickled in behind him, nicked the goalpost, and sat right on the goalline. Luke Glendening was driving the net and knocked it home.

That would be it for Michigan for the next 80 minutes of hockey. The Irish tied the game up about halfway through the third period. Hunwick stopped Tynan on a 2-on-1, but the Irish were able to regain control of the puck and get it to Anders Lee, who fired one past Shawn.

One overtime wasn't enough to settle things, even though both teams had numerous chances. Both goalies made some great saves to keep their respective team alive, and both goalies had some help from the iron. By my count (listening on the radio), the Wolverines hit three posts in the first overtime and the Irish hit a pair. Michigan had numerous chances early in the overtime. They had the benefit of a power play and nearly ended things several times, but couldn't get a puck to find the back of the net.

Early in the second OT, Travis Lynch and Jeff Rohrkemper won a battle on the sideboards for a puck. Lynch got it back to Bennett at the point, who found Chris Brown all alone by the faceoff circle to Summerhays's right. Brown sniped one shortside and the Wolverines had themselves a 1-0 lead in the series.

Hunwick made 37 stops in the contest. Tiny Jesus was spectacular at times, stopping numerous odd man rushes and flashing his glove to stymy the Irish (check out picture 25 in the photo gallery). Coach Berenson and Luke Glendening gave him credit for stealing that game.

The next night Michigan got out to a 3-0 lead behind two goals by David Wohlberg sandwiching a PDG tally. Notre Dame drew back within two on Peter Schneider's second of the year, but that was the last goal they'd score. Hunwick made 25 saves in the game, including a breakaway while it was still 0-0, and Michigan advanced to the CCHA semifinals for the 24th consecutive year. Hunwick is now 15-4 in playoff games.

Michigan took a 1-0 lead when Luke Glendening won a battle on the boards to get the puck down to PDG. Di Giuseppe centered for Wohlberg who put one off the water bottle.

The Wolverines increased their lead on another goal set up by an AJ Treais takeaway. He stripped Lorenz of the puck and threw one in front of the net that PDG tipped home. 6 1/2 minutes later, the Wolverines would score their last goal at Yost for the year. Alex Guptill tried to split the defense and had the puck poked away. It went right to Wohlberg who blasted one past Summerhays for his second of the game and 15th on the year.

Notre Dame scored just 19 seconds later to get back within two on a shot that Hunwick had no chance on. One of the Domers dumped one high off the glass out of the zone. Moffie caught it but was immediately knocked to the ice, which set up a 2-on-1 for Notre Dame down low. Sheahan got the puck across to Schneider and he was able to get one past Hunwick.

Notre Dame would come close on a shot that rolled up over Hunwick and down his back, but it somehow stayed out of the net. They had some chances in the waning moments, but the "second best" goalie in the CCHA prevented the Irish from making a game of it, and the Wolverines swept their rivals from South Bend.

For Notre Dame it's a likely end to a disappointing season that started with a lot of promise. The Irish went 10-2-3 out of the gate, Anders Lee looked like a Hobey contender, and then things pretty much just fell apart, even as their goaltending got better. (Summerhays had a sub-.900 save percentage at the time of the first meeting between these teams and ended up with a respectable-enough .910.)

The Wolverines will head to the Joe once again. Their opponent will be determined by the outcome of the lone Game 3 in the CCHA Playoffs tonight. If Ferris State beats Bowling Green, the Wolverines get Western Michigan. If the Falcons are victorious, they'll be the Wolverines' opponent. Miami absolutely rolled FYS and will be the fourth participant at the Joe.

Michigan now sits second in the Pairwise, behind only Boston College. Ferris State and Miami are 4th and 5th. Michigan State and WMU are part of a 3-way tie for 14th and the final two spots in the tournament. As things currently sit, they'd both be part of the field and Merrimack would be out. Merrimack has a Game 3 against Maine tonight. Northern, Notre Dame, Ohio, and Lake State are the next four teams out.

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