Thursday, January 31, 2013

Having a Seat Over There: Kevin Lohan (YTL)

Michigan has added a defenseman to their commit list. Kevin Lohan out of the BCHL committed to the Wolverines today and will join Michigan in either the 2013-14 or the 2014-15 season. He's already 19 years old and is listed at 6'5", 210. He plays for the Merritt Centennials. Lohan has a 3-11--14 line in 40 games with 18 PIMs. Previously he played for the New York Apple Core. A couple of season ago he also skated for Shattuck St. Mary's.

In the linked article about his commitment, Luke Pierce, the coach and GM of the Centennials said:
[Lohan] has shown tremendous growth here as a player and is well deserving of this opportunity. He has been a tremendous addition to our hockey club as his character has fit in seamlessly with our environment here. He has become a big-minute player for us and has provided a very calming presence amongst our defence core. With his size and intelligence he has been able to establish himself as an elite player in our league.

Lohan may have to be known as "Kevin Lohan (YTL)" because, yes, that Lohan. His cousin is actress Lindsay Lohan. Their fathers are brothers. Thanks to Dave Starman for pointing out that fact and to Matt Slovin for confirming it.

That gives the Wolverines up to 30 players for next year's roster. They're clearly covering their bases in the event of Merrill and/or Trouba not returning or some unexpected departures/guys not making it to campus. And they might not be done. Mike Spath reported that Michigan is actively seeking a goalie for next season, using the scholarship money freed up by Milne's departure. I don't want to say any more than that because it's a premium link, but the info will come out soon enough. We haven't heard any names yet, but I'm kind of intrigued. I might get to bring back one of my favorite phrases!

I apologize for the lack of content lately. It's hard to get up the energy to write about games that you don't actually get to see, especially when the results aren't good. On the plus side, Red called their split with LSSU their best weekend of hockey on the season. They followed it up with a competitive game against WMU before a much-less competitive game against WMU. Is that progress? Maybe? I mean, that's three not-bad games out of four, right?

I will be in the house for the game against the Spartans on Friday night, which I'm pretty excited about. I haven't seen Yost since the opener of last season. Since I'm attending the game, you'd expect a loss since that's how things usually go, but this has been an upside-down season, so maybe I'll actually be good luck this time...

Monday, January 14, 2013


"SOON"-Jacob Trouba
Photo Credit: Bill Rapai
Michigan came into this week with three home games against two teams toward the bottom of the CCHA Standings. The hope was for 9 points to start digging themselves out of the hole that they're in. The more realistic goal was for ~6 points, which would at least go a long way toward home ice in the first round of the CCHAs. The grand total was 0 points. After the debacle against Bowling Green, the Wolverines were swept by Alaska 5-4 and 4-1, dropping them to 7-13-2 overall, 4-10-2-2 in the CCHA, and an ugly 6-8-0 at home.

The Wolverines haven't won consecutive games since the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th games of the year and they've won just 4 of the past 18. The offense has plummeted to 28th (2.77 goals again) and now sits just five slots above Penn State. Let's put that one in perspective before we move on. Last year, the Wolverines scored 132 goals, which was the lowest total of my lifetime. They averaged 3.22 goals per game. We're almost a half a goal per game below that right now.

The defense is 54th out of 59. The only teams worse defensively are RIT, Colorado College (!), American, Alabama-Huntsville, and Sacred Heart (who is a full goal worse than UAH). They're giving up 3.5 goals per game, which, you could shave a goal per game off of that and still barely crack the top 20 nationally.

The power play is dreadful. Last year's 14.7% was bad. This year? They're sitting at 12.9%, but if you factor in the 4 shorties they've given up, you're really talking an effective percentage of more like 8.6%. Trouba has 5 of the 12 goals. The penalty kill looks sparkling in comparison. That's at 82.0% (or 84.3% with the shorties factored in), 36th in the country.

It's just been a dismal season. We all know it. Red used the word "fragile" to describe his team, and I'm actually kind of disappointed that I haven't used that one in any of my stories because it really is the perfect word. They have strong stretches of play at times and then something bad happens and they fold. How many times this season have we seen them give up 3 or 4 goals in a period? They just don't respond well to adversity, guys are letting frustration get to them (you saw that with penalties Moffie, Guptill, and Lynch have taken in the recent past) and it's snowballing on the guys who are struggling to put the puck in the net. (Apparently Guptill missed a couple of empty nets this weekend, though he did score one.)

Red said they were focusing on defense, and they still managed to give up 14 goals this week (in 3 games) and change goalies twice. Nothing's getting through. I don't doubt that anyone out there wants to get this fixed more than the players and coaches. At this point, I'd just be satisfied with them saying "We don't have the answers, but no one is outworking us", committing to that, and seeing if that makes a difference. It's not always a lack of effort when a team loses (or is blown out), but the effort has been lacking several times this year. And that's a pride thing. Even when you're in a slump you can still skate hard, complete checks, and forecheck/backcheck like a mofo. You can show up and get beat, but there's no excuse to get outworked. I'm not saying that was the case against Alaska as I didn't see either game, but it was the case against Bowling Green.

To the carnage of the Alaska series:
The Nanooks got on the board first when Merrill fanned on a slapshot. Alaska came back 3 on 2 and the pass got through to Odegard for a tap-in. They took a 2-0 lead when Guptill's drop pass for DeBlois was intercepted. That led to another odd-man rush, but Matthew Friese took it himself and sniped one top corner from the top of the circles for his first of the year.

Copp responded the way you'd want Michigan to respond, drawing the Wolverines back within one just 15 seconds later. Kevin Lynch got a puck to the net and Copp chipped a rebound up over the Alaska goaltender.

Guptill tied the game thanks to some patience by Derek DeBlois. He controlled the puck just inside the Alaska blueline and spun a couple of times while the Wolverines must have been in the middle of a line change. Ultimately, Guptill streaked down the middle of the ice and DeBlois hit him. There was no one home for Alaska and they let him skate right in and bury one.

The excitement was short-lived, however, as Alaska would score just 80 seconds later. Michigan lost a defensive-zone faceoff. The shot from the point was blocked, but the puck bounced around and led to Youngmun having a lot of net to shoot at. He didn't miss.

The Nanooks would then regain their two-goal advantage. K. Lynch tried to skate through three guys in the offensive zone and had it poked off his stick. In transition, Cody Kunyk brought it into the zone and paused. He slid a pass rink-wide to the other circle and Quinn beat Racine.

Trouba scored before the end of the period, as he was able to knock home a puck that was bouncing around in the slot after Guptill tried to stuff one in on a wraparound. It's was 4-3 heading to the third and the Wolverines replaced Racine with Janecyk.

On an early power play, the Wolverines were victimized again. Merrill knelt to try to keep a puck in, but it bounced off of him into the middle of the ice, leading to an Alaska rush. Janecyk made a good save on the initial shot, but the puck sat loose under his pad and it was jammed home by Tyler Morley.

Michigan pulled the goalie late in regulation and Zach Hyman found the back of the net to pull Michigan back within one again. Trouba's point shot was blocked by a defenseman over to Hyman and he buried it. The Wolverines wouldn't complete the comeback, however.

Saturday night was a battle of special teams, which, as you can imagine, didn't go well for the Wolverines. The teams combined for 27:01 in power play time, 15 power plays, and 21 shots with the man advantage. Michigan was again victimized by a slow start and even though Trouba brought Michigan to within one in the second period, the Nanooks scored twice in a 2:44 span in the third to seal their first sweep of the Wolverines.

Alaska had three power plays in the first and capitalized on two of them. With DeBlois off for interference early in the game, Taranto's centering pass from behind the net found Kunyk at the point. He beat Janecyk to give Alaska a 1-0 lead.

The Nanooks would strike again on the power play, this time with time running down in the first. Granberg drew the defense toward him out at the point and slid a pass over to an open Atkinson. He blasted a shot and Adam Henderson tipped it home. Guptill had a chance in the waning seconds as Keeney misplayed a puck behind the net. Guptill had to hurry to get a shot off before Keeney could get his stick back in front, and Guptill put it off the outside of the post.

With Michigan on the PP for the fourth time in the second period, Trouba bombed one home to cut the lead in half. He just snuck it between Keeney's blocker and the near post. They'd get no closer. In the mid-third, Michigan turned it over at center ice and Kunyk beat Janecyk on a shot similar to the one that Friese scored on the night before against Racine.

The one that sealed the game was a truly awful goal--one that had Janecyk kneeling to the ice in disbelief. After PDG was stopped at the other end, Henderson brought it into the Michigan end 1-on-2. He let a harmless wrister go from the top of the circle and Janecyk just misplayed it. He got a chunk of it, but it skipped past him into the net.

That was all she wrote. The Nanooks go into their weekend at Notre Dame happy. Michigan falls into a tie with Michigan State for 8th in the CCHA standings (though BGSU is three points back and has 3 games in hand on both teams).

The scary part is most of the remainder of the schedule is away from home. The Wolverines only have one game at Yost until March 1 and they face road trips to LSSU, WMU, Notre Dame, and Ohio State. Counting their home series with Ferris, that's 5 of the top 6 in conference that Michigan still has to face. They'll also play a home-and-Joe series with the Spartans.

At this point, all I think they can really do is try to nail down home ice in the first round of the CCHA Tournament and try to be playing their best hockey come mid-March, as that's the only way they're getting in the tournament. (Does anyone hear Jim Mora when I say that?) And honestly, I'd put more of an emphasis on the latter. Try different line combos, different defense pairings when they have the bodies, since Rutledge is theoretically your most talented goalie, make it known that he's getting a few starts without having to look over his shoulder to see if that can get rid of some of his yips. Bring in Greg Harden. Anything they can come up with. Outside of home ice in round one, these remaining games really don't matter. The at-large bid is gone. Mid-March is when this team will get a chance to play and salvage their season like the team from three years ago, and everything should be pointed toward that goal. Whatever it takes.

You can lose. You can give up goals. But fergodsakes don't be outworked in a game the rest of this year.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

HOCKEYBEAR Previews the Nanooks

Today's guest column is by HOCKEYBEAR, renowned primeval force of destruction known for his appearances in University of Alaska hockey intro videos. When not traveling across the galaxy destroying planets and stars, he lives in Fairbanks and supports his hometown Nanooks. You can follow HOCKEYBEAR's satirical path of destruction and links to cute polar bear videos on Twitter at @AKhockeybear.

Greetings once again, small humans of Michigan! The proprietor of this most excellent hockey blog has invited me, HOCKEYBEAR, to inform you regarding the hockey-playing abilities of my Alaska Nanooks! You will undoubtedly find this information useful while preparing to watch this weekend's games. I hope that none of your coaches or players are reading this, though.

Before beginning my preview, HOCKEYBEAR has a statement to make. In the 1980-81 season, my Nanooks went 0-22-0 as a D-II Independent. Did HOCKEYBEAR abandon his 'nooks for the Edmonton Eskimos or another polar-bear-mascotted team? NO, even though Edmonton was the CENTER (CENTRE?) OF THE HOCKEY UNIVERSE in the early 1980s. I stick with my Nanooks through thick and thin. Not only did I have to wait SIXTY-TWO YEARS for my team's only NCAA tournament appearance, I spent much of that time frozen in a giant block of ice! I am INFURIATED that the Michigan "faithful" are so willing to abandon their team during a down season, by which they mean a season where the Wolverines might not make the tournament that my 'nooks have made ONCE. Your lack of perseverance in the face of adversity now is suspiciously similar to the time a few years ago when your foot-ball team played atypically poorly. HOCKEYBEAR IS NOT IMPRESSED by your attitude. I expect full houses at Yost Friday and Saturday, loudly cheering against my 'nooks and telling them repeatedly that they are terrible at hockey. Of course, do not be so foolhardy as to cheer against HOCKEYBEAR. That is something you would regret.

With that said, on to my preview.

My 'nooks are currently 6-8-4 overall, with a CCHA record of 4-7-3. The season's highlight-to-date is a 2-1 victory over the North Dakota Očhéthi Šakówiŋ to win the Alaska Gold Rush. Despite the sub-.500 record, HOCKEYBEAR is not disappointed. Much like the pains of Michigan foot-ball losing a game 41-14 can be alleviated by Notre Dame playing the same team and losing 42-14, any Alaska hockey season can be saved by a regular-season ending victory over the perfidious SEAWOLF of Alaska-Anchorage.

WHEN ALASKA HAS THE PUCK: My 'nooks' points leader so far this year is sophomore defenseman Trevor Campbell with 12, but he actually leads the way with 11 assists. Goal-scoring duties are divided between freshman Tyler Morley and senior Andy Taranto with 6 each, juniors Colton Beck and Cody Kunyk with 4, while four more 'nooks each have three.

My 'nooks take a lot of shots (656 compared to 465 for their opponents) and the shots can come from any direction. HOCKEYBEAR is not impressed by the number of low-percentage shots they take, but their shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later approach could pay dividends against a defense that's prone to mental errors.

KEY MATCHUP: Jon Merrill vs. rust. If Merrill is back up to full strength on defense, he should shore up Michigan's D and help clear the zone against Alaska's shot barrages.

WHEN MICHIGAN HAS THE PUCK: Alaska's goaltending situation has improved since senior Steve Thompson was replaced with a tandem led by freshman John Keeney. Keeney's save percentage of .914 is the best of the bunch; he isn't outstanding yet but shows lots of potential for the future. Finding Keeney way down in Twin Peaks, CA was a shrewd piece of scouting by head coach Dallas Ferguson.

KEY MATCHUP: Jake Trouba vs. Winnipeg desperately wanting him now, now, now.

ON THE POWER PLAY: Alaska doesn't do much either way on the power play, being among the CCHA leaders in penalty-killing and near the basement in power play efficiency.

FEAR LEVEL: 0. With HOCKEYBEAR at the vanguard, the Nanooks have nothing to fear.

DESPERATE NEED TO WIN LEVEL: 0. The Nanooks have HOCKEYBEAR's unconditional support.


THE STRICTURES AND CONVENTIONS OF SPORTSWRITING COMPEL ME TO PREDICT: Nothing compels HOCKEYBEAR to do anything. However, I predict that Michigan fans will expect to get six points this weekend and come away disappointed. (Don't RAMPAGE me, BEAR, but I don't think Michigan fans would expect to take six points from Huntsville or SEAWOLF at this point.... -ed) A combination of some hot goaltending by Keeney and even more Michigan defensive breakdowns will allow my 'nooks to take home 1-4 points. If it's just one point, you'll be mostly okay. If it's four, the wailing and gnashing of teeth will continue and you will contemplate replacing Red Berenson with an actual red bear and son.

I also predict lots of cheers for HOCKEYBEAR from the crowd at Yost, because you wouldn't want me smashing your nice newly-renovated arena. But you had also better shape up and support your team.

Lastly, more than half my 'nooks are Canadian and we don't have Tim Hortons in Alaska. If you could be so hospitable as to direct them to your new 24/7 location, that would be very nice of you. Plus it may be to your advantage to get my 'nooks full of do-nuts and make them sluggish.

Having a Seat Over There: One Buzzer In, One Buzzer Out

Yesterday the St. Michael's Buzzers pipeline to Ann Arbor was tapped once again, with 2014 defenseman Jared Walsh offering up his commitment to the Maize and Blue. Today, however, a former Buzzer is out. Daniel Milne, a freshman forward, left the hockey team to sign with Owen Sound of the OHL.

Walsh, a 5'11", 175 blueliner from Toronto, has a goal and 15 assists in 34 games for the Buzzers. He's also got 20 PIMs and six points on the power play. That's good for a tie for 34th in the league amongst defensemen, but 3rd amongst 1996-birthdays. At least 20 of the guys in front of him are either 92s or 93s.

The Buzzers' Head Coach and GM said the following about Walsh (this link has a little more detail than the previous version that was cycling around yesterday):
He has developed into a very high end defenceman early in his rookie year. He has become a force on special teams and brings a unique bag of speed, smarts, toughness and a very heavy shot. He's becoming a quiet leader and is very deserving of the attention and accolades.

Walsh played for Team Canada East at the World Junior A Challenge where he had a pair of assists in five games. Last season he played for the Toronto Marlboros and scored 4-11--15 in 35 games.

You can follow him on Twitter at @3jwalsh. He was a second-round pick of Missassauga of the OHL. So there's that.

While one Buzzer pledged his commitment, another decided to head back to Ontario. It was announced today that Milne had left the hockey team. He had played in just seven games this season and had not tallied a point.

From the linked article in The Daily, Red voiced his disappointment but noted that Milne was in good academic standing. He'll be playing for the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL. He picked Michigan over Notre Dame (and Owen Sound). Michigan had liked (PDF link) his skating ability as well as his ability to play at both ends of the ice. I'm not a fan of players bailing midseason, but given Michigan's struggles up front and the fact that he wasn't playing very often, some frustration is certainly understandable (assuming this move is for more playing time). But seriously, F the O.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

BGSU 5, Michigan 1


It is one thing to get beat. It's another thing to get run out of your own barn by freaking Bowling Green. I said a couple of weeks ago that you can be bad, but if there's effort I can deal with losses. Tonight I didn't see the effort. Hyman, Sinelli, Nieves, and Moffatt yes. Trouba and Merrill did what they could given that the former just got back from Russia and it was the first time the latter had seen any real action this year. Put it this way: There was a play in the third period where Nieves absolutely got on his horse, skated across the neutral zone, and caught up with a puck carrier. It was the type of play that Hagelin made look routine. It jumped out at me because I'm pretty sure that's the first time this entire season that I've seen someone skate like that. I haven't seen a ton of games, but yeah...

It was never even really a game. Michigan had a brief span after Moffatt made it 2-1 where they looked like they were getting it together, then BGSU popped in a couple of quick ones and that was that. You come out in the third period down 4-1 and you can either fight to get back in the game or you can roll over and die. What happened? It took Michigan 16 minutes to register a shot on goal. It was another embarrassing performance in a year full of them. Ferris, FYS, Cornell, Michigan Tech, now BGSU. It's almost like they need some genf20 plus, a good product to boost performance.

Much like Michigan Tech's goalie had not given up fewer than 3 goals all season before shutting out the Wolverines, Bowling Green hadn't scored more than three goals all season before hanging 5 on the Wolverines. At Yost.

Usually in a game like this you can say "Well at least no one got injured" and even that wasn't the case tonight. Brennan Serville was knocked out of the game in the early going with what Billy Powers believed was a separated shoulder. Late in the game, Mac Bennett was injured on a hip check/clipping play by the Bowling Green bench. He went down in serious pain. Best case that's a charley horse. Worst case....well, let's not talk about that. It looked bad:

Animated: #Michigan's Mac Bennett takes a hip check alon... on Twitpic

What's next. Ah, the captains. Okay, I know nothing about how the guys in the room are, leadership, who's vocal, who isn't, who should be, or anything like that. I know nothing about motivating a team. What I do know is that against Michigan Tech, captain Lee Moffie was given a penalty for reaching over the bench and hitting a Tech player as he flew by the Michigan bench after going up 3-0. They scored on the power play to make it 4-0. Captain AJ Treais took a contact to the head penalty late in the GLI game against FYS. He was given 5 and a game and subsequently suspended for tonight's debacle. Then tonight, captain Kevin Lynch skated offsides by about 20 feet, came back out of the zone and cross-checked a guy in the ribs for absolutely no reason. He was given a penalty for that. BGSU didn't score on the power play, but you can't have seniors making plays like that. You just can't. It sets a terrible example and you can't preach discipline when the guys who are supposed to be leaders are taking penalties like that.

Moving on to the actual game:
BGSU struck first as Bryce Williamson spun away from Serville in the high slot and was left alone in front to tip in a centering pass.

True to form this season, the goals came in bunches. Not even two minutes later, Moffie stepped up at center ice to go after a loose puck and it was chipped away from him. That led to a 3-on-2 the other way. Moffatt got on his horse to try to get back and get the late man (if we saw that effort against Cornell in overtime last year, the game wouldn't have ended when it did), but the pass got to him and Rodriguez got a shot away before Moffatt could get there. One forward was driving the net and there may have been a slight screen, but the shot went five hole and BGSU had a two goal lead.

Michigan had a chance to get back into the game with a five-minute power play after Serville was knocked out of the game, but mustered maybe one decent scoring chance. They registered four shots on goal on the power play, but nothing special.

Moffatt brought the Wolverines back within a goal off a nice feed from Bennett. Moffatt was cruising in the slot, Bennett slid a pass to him and he tipped it past Hammond. That was Moffatt's first of the year. Now with video! Thanks to CJZero on Twitter for this. Nice goal, and another nice play by Moffatt who has had a couple of beauties the past couple of games after struggling offensively most of the year.

After a few minutes of looking like Michigan might get back in the game, the Falcons pretty much put an end to any comeback hopes. Their leading goal scorer, Ryan Carpenter, helped regain the two goal lead on a complete defensive breakdown. Trouba, Bennett, and Nieves all were in the corner. Moffatt thought about coming down low then went back to his point. Sparks did the same. It left the middle of the ice wide open. The puck came into the slot and Dajon Mingo was all alone. He got a shot off that Janecyk stopped a chunk of. It sat behind him in the crease and Carpenter was able to come in, also unmolested, and knock it home. No one around.

Then if there was a microcosm of the season, the fourth goal was it. Adam Berkle went to the net, Moffatt had him completely tied up and the shot from the point hits Berkle and goes in. Whatever. That's when you know it's not going to be your night. They'd replace Janecyk with Racine after the second to try to spark something.

Michigan had a couple of chances in the late second, early third, but couldn't capitalize. Hyman was going to be in cold turkey but was hauled down. Travis Lynch had a breakaway and hit the post. Merrill just missed Sparks on the backdoor.

The Moffie took Williamson into the boards behind the net to Racine's left. He got on Williamson's right shoulder, however, and the Falcon was able to spin back away from him, cut out in front of the net, and stuff one home.

Here are the BGSU goals. Keep your eye on Serville on the first goal (he loses his man in front), the disaster that is Michigan's defensive zone coverage on the second goal in the clip, and how just getting a little too far to the right on a check can lead to a goal on clip number three. If Moffie is slightly more toward the goal side of the ice, it cuts off that lane completely. He got on the wrong shoulder of Williamson and it led to a lane to the net. Thanks again to CJZero.

Bennett's injury and a Michigan 2-on-0 that didn't lead to a shot on goal later, and Michigan had a 5-1 defeat to the no-longer-last-place-Falcons on their home ice. Got outshot 32-20, and may have lost two more defensemen. All in all, just a crap night.

The Wolverines need to regroup quickly, as the Nanooks come to town this weekend. There's no way to make the tournament as an at-large at this point I don't think. They'd pretty much have to win out, and given that they haven't strung back-to-back wins together since the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th games of the year, that ain't happening. They'll have to win the CCHA Tournament, which means the pressure should be off for the time being. You've got exactly two months to get it together in time to play to save your season. Just get home ice in the first round and make it a little more doable.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

GLI Wrapup/BGSU Preview

GLI Wrapup:

MTU 4, Michigan 0
For anyone who thought (or was hoping) that the 2-0 win over Western Michigan prior to the Christmas break would be a springboard to a more Michigan hockey-like second half, the GLI opener provided a nice dose of "Not so fast, my friend".

The Wolverines played a thoroughly uninspired game against Mel Pearson's Huskies and fell by a 4-0 score. Michigan Tech goalie Pheonix (sic) Copley had not given up fewer than three goals in a game the entire season, until the GLI where shut out the Wolverines and followed it up with a shutout against Western Michigan in the championship game.

I only saw about half of the game and the defensive-zone coverage was junk. Adam Janecyk showed that he wasn't immune to the piss-poor defense that's plagued Michigan this season no matter which goalie has been between the pipes.

The game actually started off pretty well. Michigan dominated the first five minutes and were denied by Copley on a couple of great chances. Then Michigan Tech came down and scored on their first real chance of the game. Jujhar Khaira brought the puck behind the net and was followed by a couple of Wolverines. No one covered Alex Petan streaking into the slot and he was left wide-open for an easy goal.

Treais had a good opportunity to tie the game up when he blocked a shot in the defensive zone and took the puck the length of the ice. Copley waited him out and then got a glove on his shot, however. The Techsters made it 2-0 with a power play goal off a great tip from Khaira on a David Johnstone shot. PDG nearly brought the Wolverines back within one in the waning seconds of the first period, but his shot at a wide open net was deflected by Steven Seigo.

Janecyk tried to keep the Wolverines in the game in the second as a nothing play turned into a breakaway, and he stopped the rushing MTU player. He made twelve stops in the second period and held the Huskies at bay until 4 minutes into the third when someone (Bennett I think) turned it over just inside the MTU blueline and it led to a 3-on-1 the other way. A pass got through to Petan, which turned it into more of a breakaway. He scored to make it 3-0. After that goal, Moffie got a penalty for reaching over the boards to hit Petan, who was doing a fly-by of the Michigan bench. MTU had five shots on the ensuing power play and eventually scored. That was all she wrote.

Michigan 5, Michigan State 2
Credit to the team, though...the next night, they took on Michigan State in the third-place game and they got themselves up off the mat and salvaged something out of the weekend with a 5-2 win. We've seen enough uninspired performances against Michigan State (which I don't get), even in the GLI (which I also don't get), where it would have been really easy to mail that game in. They got down 2-1, but then blitzed the Spartans for four goals in the third period. The best part was that most of the goals were by guys who needed some good things to happen for them offensively (or deserved to be rewarded, in Copp's case): Moffie, Copp, K. Lynch, PDG, and Hyman.

Moffie made it 1-0 a few minutes into the game on an odd-man rush where Treais was able to get him the puck streaking down the left side. The Spartans responded when Tanner Sorenson fought off a Clare check to sneak out in front of the net and slip a puck through Janecyk, on maybe the only goal of the weekend that Janecyk should have stopped.

Three minutes later, Clare couldn't chip the puck past a Spartan along the sideboards. Darnell won a battle for the puck and slid it out to RJ Boyd. He was uncovered and Janecyk stopped him, but Matt Berry pounced on the rebound for his 11th on the year.

The Wolverines tied it up 1:29 into the third on a play that looked very similar to their first goal. Three men were up, Hyman with the puck, but instead of going cross-ice to T. Lynch, where Moffie was earlier in the game, he went to the late man, Copp. Copp ripped a shot into the top part of the net for his second.

With the Wolverines on the power play just under a minute later, Treais's shot from the point hit post and sat in the crease. PDG's whack at the rebound was denied but it popped out to K. Lynch and he buried it to give Michigan another one-goal lead.

Michigan's fourth goal was one for the highlight reel. Moffatt spun off a check in the corner and brought the puck out toward the front of the net, down on one knee, with a defenseman sliding at him, he whipped the puck behind his back right on the tape to PDG, stationed at the backdoor. He lifted a shot past Hildebrand to give Michigan a 4-2 lead. I can't imagine there will be too many prettier passes than that this season.

Hyman added an empty-netter on a play where the puck never actually went into the net. A Spartan threw his stick to deny Hyman the tally, and the official correctly awarded the goal. Janecyk stopped 35 shots in the win. It was the first time since their last victory over the Spartans that Michigan scored more than 3 goals in a game.

The only downer of the game was AJ Treais being given 5 and a game for contact to the head late in the third period. He was suspended for a game by the CCHA and will thus miss Michigan's game against Bowling Green on Tuesday night.

NTDP 5, Michigan 3
Michigan's lone game this weekend was the annual exhibition against the crosstown kids from the NTDP. For the first time in the history of the series, the high schoolers earned bragging rights, downing the Wolverines by a 5-3 score.

On the bright side, Michigan signee Tyler Motte had a pair of goals to earn the #1 star of the night. Both of those were assisted by future classmate JT Compher, who was the #3 star of the game. Motte now has 12-9--21 on the season, good for second on the team in goals and points. Allen is tied with Motte with 21 points, and is fourth in goals and second in assists.

There were two other positives:
1) Two short-handed goals by Lee Moffie. Combined with his goal in the GLI, maybe that's a sign that he's breaking out of his season-long slump. Moffie has just 5 points this season and an even rating after he broke out for 32 points and a +22 a year ago. If he gets it going, that would be a major positive for any potential Michigan turnaround.

2) The return of Jon Merrill. From what I understand he didn't play very much--possibly only on the power play--but seeing #24 back out on the ice no doubt brought a lot of smiles from the Yost faithful. There are a lot of problems with this team and getting Merrill back won't fix them all, but adding one of the top players in the conference back into the lineup can only help.

I suppose Derek DeBlois should get a "positive" as well. He had 3 assists and was +3 on the night.

Jared Rutledge played the whole game in net and gave up five goals on 37 shots. Quick strikes were once again Michigan's downfall. After playing to a 2-2 tie through two periods, Michigan gave up two goals in 38 seconds to fall behind. Boo Nieves continued his strong play as of late by bringing Michigan back within one, but Trevor Hamilton scored (on an assist from Michigan signee Evan Allen) to ice it.

You can't get too down about an exhibition game, but it would have been nice to see more signs of life from a team that needs to put a few good performances together and get on a roll to dig their way out of this mess. While it was the first time USA has beaten the Wolverines, they've definitely come close before (against better Michigan teams to boot). There's no shame in losing to them--the NTDP has tied Minnesota, Notre Dame, and New Hampshire this year--but yeah. The Wolverines were, in fact, outshot 37-22 on the game, which isn't especially inspiring.

The US World Junior team captured the gold medal, and Jacob Trouba was a big reason why. He was named Best Defenseman in the entire tournament after scoring 4-5--9 in seven games and providing the US with strong play in his own end. His point total was good for fifth overall and tops amongst defensemen. He joins Erik Johnson and Joe Corvo as Americans who won the Best Defenseman award.

After a must-win game just to get out of the medal round, USA beat the Czechs 7-0 in the quarterfinals before slaughtering Canada 5-1 in the semifinals. They beat Sweden 3-1 to capture gold. Canada did not medal, though Don Cherry says that the US can thank the CHL for having beaten Canada, despite all five goals coming from NCAA players. So there's that, Canada.

Matt Tkachuk, son of 500-goal scorer Keith, visited Yost a couple of weeks back, but pledged a verbal commitment to Notre Dame earlier this week.

Bowling Green:
The Falcons are tied with Northern Michigan for last-place in the CCHA, with a 2-7-3-1 record (they have a couple games in hand on NMU though). They're 5-10-5 overall, but are actually 3-1-2 in their last six, with wins over Alaska, Niagara, and Canisius, and ties against Alaska and Canisius. Their lone loss in that span was against Notre Dame.

The Falcons haven't scored more than three goals in a game the entire season, and have just 20 in 12 conference games. They have scored 3 times in four of their last six games, however, so they're coming in playing the best hockey that they've played all season.

Their top five scorers are all sophomores. Ryan Carpenter leads the team in goals (6) and points (13). Dan DeSalvo has 11 assists on the year, and Mike Sullivan has added nine back on the blueline.

Andrew Hammond is 3-7-3 on the season with a 2.84/.913. Freshman Tommy Burke hasn't played much as of late, but he was in net for today's win over Canisius. He is 2-3-2 with a 2.23/.905. I'd expect to see Hammond, however. Last year Michigan got 8 pucks past him in three games, winning two, but Hammond had 46 and 55-save performances in the losses, the latter coming in double-overtime in the CCHA Semifinals.

Tuesday's game is at Yost and will air on the Big Ten Network (!). This is a key week for Michigan as they have three home conference games (the latter two are against Alaska) before going on the road for their next four and eight of the next ten, with the ninth at the Joe).