Posted at 12:00pm -- 1/25/2010
Wolverines Squander Sweep Opportunity Versus Ferris
The Michigan ice hockey team is running out of time and chances this season. After posting a solid 2-0 shutout against the #9 ranked Bulldogs, the Wolverines went up to Ferris State for the conclusion of the series and dropped a heartbreaking 3-2 decision.
Yost arena provided the backdrop for the beginning of another crucial weekend for Michigan, and Michigan played well enough to earn a tough victory. Both teams played cautious hockey until the mid-point of the opening period, when, on the same sequence, officials called Michigan’s Luke Glendening and David Wohlberg for two different infractions. This established a solid two minutes of PP time for the best PP unit in the league. Michigan turned the tables on the Bulldogs and executed perfectly, not allowing a single shot during the power play, setting off a raucous ovation for the penalty killers. The period ended scoreless.
Early in the second period, Michigan finally broke through as Louie Caporusso set up Glendening on a 2-on-1 break. The Alternate Captain fired a shot over the glove of FSU’s goaltender Pat Nagle to give Michigan a 1-0 lead.
Five minutes later, Glendening struck again after Michigan had pinned Ferris deep into their zone. Glendening collected a rebound from a Scooter Vaughn shot that was blocked and beat Nagle from the slot. Michigan’s Chad Langlais clanked a shot dead off of the post just following that goal, but that was the extent of any further opportunities in the period for either team. The third period saw Michigan play dump and change hockey, basically limiting Ferris’ opportunities.
Bryan Hogan was called on and stopped 22 shots, including several outstanding toe saves to preserve the victory and record his third shutout of the season. Nagle was outstanding, stopping all but two of the 36 Michigan shots. Michigan was 0-4 on the PP and Ferris was 0-3 on the PP in what could be deemed a disciplined game for both teams- at least in the eyes of the officials. I think many of the Yost observers would agree that many calls were missed or were ignored.
Saturday’s game took a different twist, as officials called a total of 36 minutes of penalties on the teams. Ferris was whistled for 10 penalties for 20 minutes and Michigan was called for 16 minutes. Ferris State converted a short-handed opportunity early in the game, as Hogan misplayed a long Casey Haines shot from the blue line. He was out of position and couldn’t snare the long high shot that sailed over his glove. Michigan’s David Wohlberg struck gold at the 8:01 mark of the second period, converting a PP opportunity. Late in the period, Ferris’ defenseman Matt Case scored during a 4x4 play to send the Bulldogs in front 2-1 entering the third period. Both teams opened up in the third period, and both Hogan and Nagle were sharp. Michigan finally tied the game late, as Brian Lebler converted a Wohlberg pass on the PP, at 18:11. Michigan turned around and took an unnecessary penalty, and Ferris made them pay, as defenseman Zach Redmond ripped home a pass with :23 left in the game. Michigan threatened with one last push, but couldn’t solve Nagle. Ferris finished with 32 shots at Hogan, and Michigan directed 27 shots at Nagle.
It was a bitter pill to swallow, as Michigan proved it could play with one of the better teams in the league. But the season long issues that have plagued them came back again: a soft goal; poor defensive zone breakdowns; penalties, and not finishing offensive opportunities. The loss left Michigan alone in 7th place in the conference, one point in back of Notre Dame, and a handful of points behind both Alaska and LSSU.
Worst yet, after climbing to a bubble position in the PWR rankings at #16 following Friday’s win, Michigan slumped back to a tie for 18th spot, essentially out of the NCAA picture again.
Michigan will renew acquaintances with in-state rival MSU in East Lansing next Friday, followed by a neutral site affair at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday.
Michigan’s four-game unbeaten string was stopped on Saturday, as was their three game win streak against Ferris State.
Carl Hagelin also saw his consecutive point string end this weekend, as the junior forward recorded no points in either game. Credit Hagelin, though, for limiting the chances of Ferris’ top line.
David Wohlberg recorded three points (1G 2A) this weekend to lead the Wolverines offensively.
Luke Glendening enjoyed his first two-goal game and barely missed getting a hat trick as he skittered an empty net shot just wide in Friday’s opener.
At last glance, Michigan is now 5-6-1 against teams in the current top 25 PWR rankings, one of the indicators used to determine NCAA playoff eligibility. Beating teams (like MSU, Wisconsin ) that have such standing will improve their chances of moving up for consideration.
Based on my observations, Michigan will be in a horse race for the 4th spot in the conference. A quick check of the remaining schedules for LSSU, Alaska, Notre Dame and Michigan show that Notre Dame may have the easiest path left. The last regular home and home series with Notre Dame may determine if Michigan will gain a first-round CCHA playoff bye, or will have to play in the first round for the first time in over two decades. There is plenty of work to do prior to that, especially if they drop games to teams below them in the standings. This is not discounting teams like NMU, UNO or OSU- but it appears that their schedule is at least as demanding or more, than Michigan’s. Michigan will meet NMU at Yost for a pair of games and travel to UNO for a pair of games in February.
Yostmeister three star selections:
1. Michigan-Luke Glendening- two goals and outstanding defensive play led Michigan to victory
2. Michigan- Scooter Vaughn- was an absolute demon on the ice, playing terrific two way hockey, especially during the 5x3 PK and assisting on the second Glendening goal
3. Michigan- Bryan Hogan- solid in goal, keeping Michigan in control of the game during stretches where Ferris threatened
1. Ferris State-Pat Nagle- Another opponent’s netminder stymies the Wolverines
2. Michigan-David Wohlberg- 1G and 1A on the night
3. Ferris State- Casey Haines- contributed 1G and 1A, including the play that helped set up the GWG.
Written by Yostmeister
Go Blue -- Wear Maize!