Monday, February 01, 2010

Michigan Hockey: Michigan Icers Salvage Weekend Split With Spartans

Posted at 12:00pm -- 2/1/2010

Michigan Icers Salvage Weekend Split With Spartans

Chalk up another weekend of mixed results for the Wolverines. Michigan, desperately needing a sweep to stay in the NCAA picture and gain conference points in order to have a crack at the last CCHA first round bye spot, came out flat on Friday in East Lansing and lost 3-2, but redeemed themselves at JLA on Saturday in come from behind fashion, winning 5-4.

Munn Arena may be quiet as a library for most games, but not for the rivalry games against the Wolverines. A lively crowd saw MSU physically pounce on Michigan and totally outplay them for the first 45 minutes. The same issues- turnovers, lack of discipline, poor defensive coverage and soft goaltending helped stake MSU to a 3-0 lead.

Play was sloppy for the first fifteen minutes of the first period, but it yielded nothing on the scoreboard. Michigan then took a series of penalties that allowed MSU to earn the crucial first goal. Corey Tropp drove a backhander home from a scramble in front of Bryan Hogan at 15:16. The period ended with MSU holding a 12-8 shot advantage.

The second period was littered with penalties as both teams became sloppy. MSU advanced their lead to 2-0 late in the period on an Andrew Rowe goal off of a 2x1 break. The shot from the left hash deflected off of Brandon Burlon’s stick and beat Hogan off of the short side goalpost.

Tropp struck again on the power play early in the third period, off of a fat rebound from his initial shot. About a minute later the game took a sudden reversal. State became overaggressive after a Michigan rush, and was penalized for a five-minute major (yanking the facemask) and a minor that was going to be called prior to the scrum that broke out. Michigan’s Carl Hagelin converted a nice passing play 5x3 to inch the Wolverines to 3-1. Louie Caporusso then scored on the power play with a little over three minutes left.

Soon thereafter Michigan State appeared to have iced the game, as Rowe scored on a weird series of events. The play came into the Michigan zone, and Hogan deflected a shot from the point high in the air. He flailed for the puck and missed it, as both teams converged on the crease. Captain Chris Summers also jumped for the puck and, prior to touching it, was drilled from behind by Rowe. The puck landed in the crease and Rowe jammed it in, as Summers raced to the officials to dispute the goal. The officials, much to their credit, ruled that the goal would not count as Rowe interfered with Summers, and he was sent off for a minor penalty.

Michigan couldn’t convert on the power play but held the pressure into the State zone as Hogan raced for the bench to add the extra attacker. Chris Brown squeezed a loose puck beneath MSU goaltender Drew Palmisano, but official Matt Shegos disallowed the goal, whistling the play dead after he had lost sight of it a millisecond after the initial shot. That pretty much ended things. Michigan was penalized 14 times for 36 minutes, while State was sent off 13 times for 29 minutes. Michigan out-shot the Spartans 24-23 in what had to be one of the most disappointing efforts of the season- at least for the first two periods of the game. Michigan didn’t generate many offensive chances, and the Wolverines were very fortunate that the Spartans allowed them back into the game. It would have been a tremendous boost going into Saturday to come back and earn any points.

Saturday night, in front of a near sell out of over 18,000 fans, Michigan and MSU squared off in an exciting up and down affair. Michigan showed right from the start that they were desperate and hungry to earn a victory over State. They also showed their willingness to win battles and be the physical aggressor, at least in the first half of the game.

Michigan had the better end of the opportunities (although MSU nearly scored right from the opening faceoff) in the first period, and finally solved Palmisano 4x4, as AJ Treais poked home a Chris Summers rebound. Summers was a force on both ends of the ice, as he took a loose puck at center ice, raced into the MSU zone, split the defense and got away a low shot that Palmisano deflected directly to Treais. He scored at 13:07 to start a three-goal avalanche. Summers was also responsible for the next tally, as he fired a bouncing shot that deflected off of a Spartan defenseman and squirted past Palmisano. Brian Lebler followed a minute and a half later by firing home a perfect pass from Chris Brown to send the Wolverines off the ice leading 3-0.

The Spartans stayed patient in the second period, turning aside numerous Michigan chances to extend the lead. Early in the period Andrew Rowe was left alone, though, while killing a penalty and potted a short-handed goal as a result of a perfect cross ice pass from Dustin Gazley. Five minutes later, Michigan ’s defensive coverage broke down as Brett Perlini blasted a big rebound home to make the score 3-2 with twelve minutes left in the period. Palmisano thwarted a tremendous chance on the power play by Louie Caporusso, and Hogan kept the Spartans at bay to end the period 3-2. Michigan held a 23-11 shot advantage, but felt as if they had let their momentum slip away.

The third period was a roller coaster. Michigan took an ill-advised penalty to close the second period, and State wasted no time capitalizing on the power play in the early moments of the third period. Jeff Petry snuck down from his point position past Matt Rust and deposited a fumbled Hogan rebound at: 50 to tie the game. The Spartans them pressed hard for the winner and had Michigan on their heels for most of the first ten minutes. Dean Chelios stole the puck from Ben Winnett behind the Michigan goal as he was trying to break out and put a backhander past Hogan with a little less than 7:00 left in the game. The Spartans were looking to ice the game as Michigan took an undisciplined penalty soon after. The penalty-killing duo of Matt Rust and Carl Hagelin (who else?) goaded Palmisano into a turnover in the Spartan’s right corner. Hagelin circled and snapped a shot that was blocked by the trio of Spartans covering up. The puck then squirted to Rust alone at the left post and he sent it in to tie the game with a little under 5:00 left to change the momentum back to Michigan.

The game winner occurred with 2:07 left, as Lebler and Treais combined to keep the play into the Spartan zone. Both players took shots that were blocked, a scramble ensued and Chris Brown had four whacks at the puck as it lay at the right post. He finally pushed it past Palmisano, and a defender sitting inside the net, to give Michigan the 5-4 victory.

There was still high tension to sit through, though, as State desperately tried to tie the game. They had several good chances, but in the end it was the work of Rust, Hagelin and Kevin Lynch that pushed the puck out of harm’s way and secured Michigan’s first victory this season over their in-state rivals.


Michigan has now yielded three or more goals in seven of their past ten games. During that stretch they are 5-4-1.

With the win on Saturday night, Michigan has beaten the Spartans the last five straight meetings at JLA.

Michigan now sits tied in sixth place with Alaska in the CCHA with 31 points, one point behind Notre Dame (with two games in hand) and LSSU, who are tied for the last first-round bye position. OSU and UNO are tied for seventh place, one point behind Michigan and Alaska. Tenth place NMU is only three points behind the Wolverines, and only four points from the coveted fourth place spot. Needless to say, Michigan needs to bury their next four league opponents (BG, UNO, NMU and ND) to have any opportunity to secure fourth place. This is the craziest race I have seen in along time.

Michigan sits tied for 17th position in the PWR (Pairwise rankings) and actually they are 19th- and need to win out to have a chance of moving into the top sixteen spots. The only impact opportunities left on the schedule are against Wisconsin and Notre Dame, since both teams are currently in the top 25 in the RPI (ratings percentage index) and are considered “teams under consideration” if they remain top 25 RPI teams. This, of course, also assumes Michigan beats the other teams on their schedule (Wisconsin sits at #3, ND #25. NMU is #26, and could become a TUC if they have a good showing this coming weekend against Ferris). The RPI component is one of the factors that determine the PWR calculation.

Here is an explanation of how it works:

USCHO Explanation

Michigan now prepares for a critical three game stretch in six days: @BG this coming Thursday, @Wisconsin for the Camp Randall Outdoor Classic on Saturday and back at Yost for BG on Tuesday, February 9th. ALL the games are important- but the BG games will at least keep Michigan in the CCHA race with wins. The Wisconsin game is solely a game to boost their PWR strength and to take what is called a comparison win for RPI purposes, over Wisconsin. Lose both or either of the BG games and it is pretty much so-long NCAA and most likely so long 4th place.

Yostmeister three star selections:


1. Michigan State-Corey Tropp- two goals buried the Wolverines

2. Michigan State- Andrew Rowe- another goal against a team he owns

3. Michigan State- Jeff Petry- was physical and bottled up Michigan ’s offense


1. Michigan-Chris Summers- finally took charge with 1G and 1A and was solid on both ends of the ice (except for a critical giveaway late in the game that Hogan stopped)

2. Michigan-Chris Brown- netted the gritty game winner and set up the third goal

3. Michigan-Carl Hagelin- two assists and without his hustle play, and that of teammate Matt Rust, the season would have, for all practical purposes virtually ended with that potential devastating loss.

Honorable mentions to Brian Lebler (1G, 1A), AJ Treais (1G, 1A) and Matt Rust (1G, 1A) for Michigan; Jeff Petry (1G, 1A) and Torey Krug (2A) for MSU.

Written by Yostmeister

Go Blue -- Wear Maize!

1 comment:

Yostmeister said...

Michigan is actually 6-3-1 in their last ten games.

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