Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wolverines Fall to Cornell

I love every player on this team. I'm in no way, shape, or form blaming any specific individual for the loss just because I may think they made a bad play or mention specifically that I didn't think they played very well. Just a reminder.

Michigan's season--and the Michigan careers of Shawn Hunwick, Greg Pateryn, Luke Glendening, and David Wohlberg--came to an abrupt end. The Wolverines bowed out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, falling 3-2 in overtime to the Cornell Big Red.

Things looked great out of the gate. Luke Glendening scored on a Treais rebound 1:10 into the contest. Before the Michigan contingent even had a chance to let Andy Iles know it was all his fault, it appeared to be 2-0 as Kevin Lynch crashed the net and banged in a rebound from a Moffatt shot. The official right on the play signaled goal emphatically, Iles didn't seem to argue, the official gave the goal and assists to the official scorer, and the arena announcer announced the goal. But during a Cornell timeout, the officials reviewed the play and said that Moffatt made enough contact with Iles to prevent him from making a play on the rebound. The goal was waived off and it completely changed the momentum in the game. The shell-shocked Big Red suddenly had new life.

The ice tilted in Cornell's favor and the Big Red tied the game halfway through the first period on the power play. John McCarron blasted a shot past Hunwick from the top of the faceoff circle.

Despite a 9-8 shot advantage in the first period, it felt like Cornell dominated. Michigan just didn't have anything after the goal was waived off. It seemed like they took things as poorly as I did.

The Wolverines started the second period on the man-advantage, but after a Merrill turnover, the Big Red had a 2-on-1. Merrill got back on defense, but the pass got across to Joakim Ryan and Hunwick had no chance. Moffie was coming back on defense, but stopped skating. He may have been caught between going for the guy driving the net and sticking with the late man. He may not have gotten there anyway--it just looked really strange. In any case, Cornell had themselves a 2-1 lead.

The Big Red had another odd-man rush moments later. Clare wasn't able to completely break up the pass across, but he was able to bother it enough that they couldn't get a shot away. The Big Red player sent it back in front and Moffie got back to break it up.

Michigan spent a good chunk of the second period on the power play, but couldn't solve Andy Iles, who was outstanding between the pipes. In the second frame, Michigan had 17 shots on goal, 13 on the power play, but couldn't score. That included two 5-on-3s (one short and one long) and a five-minute major.

Michigan's golden opportunity came just moments after killing off an unnecessary holding the stick penalty on Merrill. Armand de Swardt was kicked out for contact to head. Just seconds into the major, Moffie took a penalty for checking from behind. After the teams played four-on-four, Moffie threw a pass behind Merrill. Merrill kept it in the zone but it skidded away from him and Cornell's Locke Jillson rushed up ice on a partial breakaway. As he cut in, Merrill was called for tripping (?????!!!!!) and they awarded Cornell a penalty shot. Fortunately Hunwick didn't bite on Jillson's fake and was able to keep Michigan in the game.

In the third, there just didn't seem to be the jump that you'd expect from a #1 seed with their season on the brink. Cornell seemed pretty content to dump the puck and line up three guys across the neutral zone. The teams would have six shots apiece in the frame. Michigan had another power play and didn't manage a shot on goal. When hope was dwindling, it was Michigan's big game player, Kevin Lynch, who came up huge once again. With only four minutes left in regulation, Greg Pateryn sprawled on the ice to keep the play alive, Bennett took a shot from the point, Moffatt got a tip, and Lynch was there to tap in the rebound.

Michigan nearly won the game in the waning seconds as Treais intercepted a clearing attempt. Glendening had a great pop at the rebound and I'm not sure how it stayed out.

Three and a half minutes into the extra session, Cornell rushed the puck up ice on a 4-on-3. Moffatt and Merrill tried to cut off the rush, but the pass got through, leading to a 2-on-1 with Moffie down low. Moffatt is the guy at the left of the shot, Merrill is the middle Wolverine. You can just see the puck getting past Merrill and through to Dustin Mowrey.

Moffie spun to his right (facing Hunwick) and Mowrey dropped the pass back to Greg Miller--it looked like Moffie thought that Miller was going to go to the net. Moffie recovered, but Miller got the shot away and Hunwick absolutely robbed him, saving Michigan's bacon one final time. Rodger Craig has curled out of the corner and Moffatt is on his right shoulder.

The last save of Hunwick's career
The rebound snuck out and Moffatt just wasn't back-checking. Craig was between Moffatt and the goal and the rebound came perfectly onto his back hand. Moffatt made a late effort to get Craig's stick, but it was too late. Craig had an empty net, and sent Michigan into an early summer. Moffatt slammed his stick to the ice. I've made that exact play more times than I'd like to admit (clearly on a much smaller scale) and it's as bad of a feeling as you can have. You stop moving your feet for even a moment, you realize in one horrific instant that you don't have your guy and the puck is coming to him, and it's just too late to recover.