Posted at 8:00am -- 1/18/2010
Michigan Icers Lament Mixed Results Against Alaska
To a man, the Michigan Hockey team fully understood what each hockey game meant going into this weekend. The team had begun to awake from their early season slumber and had strung together a 7-3 showing from the past ten games. The offense, particularly the power play, was coming alive. Here was a chance, at home, to build on that success against a good opponent.
Friday night the Wolverines made good on their effort, blasting the Alaska Nanooks 6-0 behind Brian Lebler’s two-goal effort. Saturday the Wolverines didn’t come out as desperate, and settled for a 3-3 OT tie, thanks in part to a Chad Langlais goal with 2:19 left in the game. Michigan then looked completely gassed in dropping the first shootout they have participated in, 1-0.
The Wolverines played perhaps their most complete game of the season on Friday, limiting the Nanooks’ opportunities and capitalizing on their unusually undisciplined play. The game was tight for the first fifteen minutes of the opening period with the Nanooks carrying the play and displaying their aggressive forechecking style. Michigan broke through on Alaska as Carl Hagelin secured a turnover deep in the Nanook zone, while both teams were playing 4x4, and threaded a perfect pass from the corner to a pinching Lee Moffie. The freshman defenseman scored his 2nd goal of the year to set off the Michigan offensive barrage with three minutes left. Twenty-seven seconds later, Michigan converted their first of two PP markers on the night. Chris Brown tallied from Caporusso and Kampfer to extend the lead to 2-0. Less than a minute later, Brian Lebler sent a wicked wristshot off the far post behind Alaska goaltender Scott Greenham to end his night, and send Michigan to the locker room with a 3-0 lead.
Back-up netminder Steve Thompson took over in his first ever appearance for Alaska. He was promptly greeted by AJ Treais’ goal on a nice cross-ice feed from Ben Winnett. Michigan took a 4-0 lead to the locker room, outshooting Alaska 23-9 at that point. Lebler struck again in the third period and Lindsay Sparks scored on the PP to round out the scoring. Bryan Hogan turned away 17 shots to earn the shutout. Alaska took 11 penalties for 22 minutes, while Michigan held off 5 Alaska PP’s.
The Wolverines dominated that game, although the officiating had a large hand in deciding both Friday’s and Saturday’s games.
Saturday’s game took on more meaning- a Michigan win ties them with Alaska (for what would turn out to be 5th place) and any lesser result would keep Michigan from a chance at moving up in the standings. On the other hand, Alaska needed to secure points since the difference between their fourth place perch and ninth place was a mere six points.
The game was tight in the first period, with Michigan holding the territorial edge in shots and opportunities. Late in the period, though, Chad Langlais was hurried in his own zone and threw a blind pass up the far boards. It was intercepted before it exited the zone and quickly became a scoring chance. Kevin Petovello converted a neat three-way passing play by lifting a high shot far side on Hogan to give the Nanooks a 1-0 lead with 1:15 left in the period. Michigan out-shot UA 10-4, but couldn’t solve Greenham.
The second period was the turning point, as both teams enjoyed numerous power play opportunities. Michigan was awarded an early chance and made good, as Chris Brown scored his second goal in two games, tipping a Louie Caporusso pass over Greenham at 2:15 to tie the score at 1-1. Seconds later, Michigan’s Brian Lebler was penalized for tripping and twenty seconds into that PP, Tristin Llewellyn was sent off for holding, setting up a 5x3 for almost a full two minutes. Alaska’s Dion Knelson wheeled out of the corner to Hogan’s left and scored in the five hole to give Alaska a 2-1 advantage, just thirty seconds into the first penalty. Thirty seconds later, Carlo Finucci scored on a neat pass at the edge of the crease to extend the lead to 3-1. Kevin Lynch came back at 15:11 to tip in a Matt Rust feed to cut the lead to 3-2 after two periods. Carl Hagelin also assisted to extend his points streak to five games. Michigan held a 23-12 shot advantage.
The third period saw Alaska pin Michigan deep into their zone and made it difficult for the Wolverines to mount any offense. Alaska actually outshot Michigan in the period, 10-9, mostly on the generous PP advantages they were given. Officials penalized Michigan eight times in the game, compared to four times for Alaska. Michigan continued to press the Nanooks, and, on a delayed penalty, Chad Langlais tied the game from Matt Rust at 17:41 to send the game into OT.
Michigan outplayed the Nanooks in the extra frame, pressing for the victory. Greenham was outstanding though. Alaska nearly won the game, early in the extra frame, as a defensive mix-up allowed an Alaskan forward to move into the slot and blast a shot off of the inside of the post to Hogan’s left. Alaska was only credited with one shot on goal in overtime, while Michigan peppered Greenham with six shots. Both teams were rewarded with a well earned point, and played for the extra point in a shootout- Michigan’s first ever since the rule inception in the CCHA two seasons ago.
In the shootout, Carl Hagelin, Chris Brown and Louie Caporusso took their opportunities at Greenham, but were stoned. Dion Knelsen made a nifty dipsy-doodle move to go backhand over Hogan on the Nanooks’ second attempt to win the shootout.
Michigan appeared demoralized by the outcome, knowing that they let more points slip away. The silver lining is, the Wolverines sit in a sixth place tie with Notre Dame. Michigan has played two less games than most teams in the league, and stands four points behind Alaska in 5th place, and five points in back of LSSU, in 4th position.
Michigan returns to action next weekend, hosting 3rd place Ferris State in a home and home match-up, with Friday night’s affair at Yost. Game time is slotted for 8:05 pm.
Michigan has now moved into a three-way tie for 17th position in the PWR rankings, which is used to determine placing for the NCAA tournament. Michigan would most likely have to win significant games against Ferris and Michigan State in the next two weeks to make a run at an NCAA at-large slot OR win the CCHA tournament outright for the autobid.
Carl Hagelin added two assists this weekend to boost his team-leading total to 27 points.
Bryan Hogan was solid in net this weekend, as defensive breakdowns and shorthanded situations were more to fault for the three goals allowed in Saturday’s tie/shootout loss.
Chris Brown finally returned to the scoresheet, potting two goals this weekend.
Michigan’s last OT game was the forgettable NCAA frozen four matchup with Notre Dame in April 2008.
Yostmeister three star selections:
1. Michigan- Brian Lebler- two goals and a rattler off the cross bar in what was his best output this season.
2. Michigan- Tristin Llewellyn- stepped up and provided two assists and his best defensive performance of the year.
3. Michigan- Ben Winnett- two assists and a fine defensive effort
1. UA- Scott Greenham- the difference between a Michigan victory and taking two points for his team.
2. UA- Dion Knelsen- the senior scored an unassisted PP goal and netted the shootout winner.
3. Matt Rust- involved in two goals, including the tying goal, and was dangerous all night.
Goat ears awarded, ironically, to Lebler and Llewellyn, for their lack of senior leadership on Saturday.
Written by GBMW Staff
Go Blue -- Wear Maize!