Thursday, February 11, 2010

Michigan Hockey: Recaps for Bowling Green and Wisconsin

Posted at 12:00pm -- 2/11/2010

Michigan Hockey Recaps: BG and Wisconsin

Michigan has just completed three games in a six day stretch, starting last Tuesday, 2/4, with a narrow 2-1 victory at BGSU. On Saturday, 2/6, Michigan traveled to Madison, Wisconsin to play the Badgers in the Camp Randall Hockey Classic. The Wolverines carried a one goal lead into the last nine minutes, but fell to Wisconsin, 3-2. Last night Michigan returned to Yost arena for the second half of the home and home series with Bowling Green. The Maize and Blue played just well enough to shut out the Falcons 4-0 in a game closer than the score indicates.

Michigan and Bowling Green have had some real tight contests the past few years, and last Thursday’s game was no exception. Both teams played very good defense in the contest which was essentially settled in the first period. Michigan benefited from a five minute HFB penalty assessed to BG midway through the period, and the Wolverines tallied PPG’s by Matt Rust and Chris Brown, about a minute apart, to take a 2-0 lead. The Falcons came back with an even strength goal with about four minutes left in the period as they capitalized on one of the rare defensive breakdowns for Michigan in this game. Neither team was able to score the rest of the way, although the Falcons forced the play in the third period, including cranking a shot off the goalpost with a little less than ten minutes to play. Michigan ’s Lee Moffie took an unnecessary boarding penalty with a little over three minutes to go to set up the Falcons with one more chance. Michigan fought it off, except for one instance where a wrap-around the boards hit a bad spot, forcing the puck to ricochet into the crease while Michigan goal tender Bryan Hogan was behind the net expecting to play it. He quickly scrambled to the front of the net and fought off two BG players in order to make a diving save.

Hogan stopped 12 of the 13 BG shots, while Falcon’s netminder Nick Eno made 28 saves on 30 shots. BG was 0-5 on the PP, while Michigan decided the game with 2-7 PP conversions.

At Madison, Wisconsin, the Wolverines and Badgers wrestled with the extreme elements and poor ice conditions at the second outdoor event for both teams. The Badgers got on the board first, as an innocent shot from the right circle trickled between Hogan’s pads and a rushing Jordy Murray buried it to give Wisconsin a 1-0 lead three minutes into the contest. Michigan’s fourth line lit the lamp with a little over a minute left in the first period, as Scooter Vaughn tapped in his own rebound to even the score at 1-1.

The second period was scoreless, although both teams had glorious chances, including a Michael Davies breakaway that was denied by Hogan, and several good chances by Michigan’s David Wohlberg. The ice became a factor, as a big divot was created in the crease area at the end that Michigan defended twice. An attempt by Michigan to have the teams switch ends at the halfway point of the third period was denied by officials.

The third period was filled with drama, as Michigan’s Kevin Lynch placed a perfect snap shot from just inside the blueline past screened Wisconsin goaltender Scott Gudmandson to give Michigan a 2-1 lead with nine minutes left. But, as fate would have it, Wisconsin was issued two questionable power play chances in the last five minutes, and capitalized on both of them. Captain Chris Summers was victimized on both penalties- the first a border line tripping call as he got his stick tangled up with a Wisconsin forward deep in Michigan’s corner (a call, or similar calls, that weren’t made the previous 55 minutes of the game). It took the Badgers ten seconds to free up high scoring defenseman Brendan Smith, who took a perfect pass from Michael Davies and fired in a partially deflected shot from the right circle.

Wisconsin took the momentum from the game-tying goal and forced the play into Michigan’s zone. A scramble ensued in front of Hogan as the puck entered the top of the crease, and Hogan covered it as Summers was closing off a Wisconsin forward. Summers was called for a very weak slashing penalty, as he closed his stick across the Badger forward’s stick as he pressed toward Hogan, and Wisconsin went to work again. Derek Stepan and Davies teamed up again on what looked like the very same play, and fed Smith for a one timer from the same spot. He smoked a shot that beat Hogan high on the short side to give Wisconsin the lead with 1:22 left on the clock. Michigan’s David Wohlberg had one last attempt to tie the game, but his shot was stopped close in and he crashed into Gudmandson, forcing a penalty and essentially ending any opportunity for Michigan to pull Hogan.

Coach Berenson was very discrete in his post game comments, only suggesting that Michigan didn’t step up and kill those penalties in the last five minutes, or they would be discussing a Michigan victory. To a man, I am sure that Michigan knew they played well enough to win, if not for some WCHA home cooking.

Last night, Michigan came out sluggish against BGSU, but managed to put together enough offense to sleep walk through a 4-0 victory.

Both teams played cautious in the first period, as neither team could generate any type of offensive cohesion. Michigan was frequently missing passes, or turning the puck over, leading to BG chances. But, unlike other games this season, the forwards were back checking effectively and the defense was forcing BG to take their play along the boards wide, setting up fairly easy stops for Hogan.

Michigan’s Louie Caporusso finally got Michigan on the board about seven minutes into the second stanza, circling out of the right corner and snapping a wrist shot between (back up) goalie Andrew Hammond’s elbow and his body (starting goaltender Nick Eno had to leave the game moments earlier due to being cut on his calf by one of his defenseman’s skates). The Michigan lead held up going into the third period.

Caporusso essentially ended any hopes BG had for another third period upset at Yost, by burying his second goal of the night (9th of the year) at 3:17. Michigan forced the play into the BG zone, and after two clearing attempts, Michigan’s Chad Langlais finally found Caporusso alone at the side of the net with a half-empty cage staring at him.

The Wolverines clamped down on the Falcons, giving them a few opportunities (Steve Kampfer came back on a breakway to make a terrific defensive play), but overall, they sustained little pressure. Brian Lebler added the third goal (a career high for him, also) on a nice rush by he, AJ Treais, and Chris Brown. Brown rushed the puck in, Treais drove the net, and Lebler snuck in as the trailer and drilled the well-placed pass by Hammond at 15:08. Brandon Burlon added a well-placed PP marker at 16:11 to end the scoring.

The Wolverines still had to fight off a 5x3 BG advantage in the last minute to preserve Hogan’s fourth shutout this season. He stopped 21 shots, while Hammond stopped 24 of the 28 shots he faced in relief of Eno, who finished with 12 saves. Michigan was 1-5 on the PP, while BG was 0-6.

Michigan now goes on the road this weekend to play at the University of Nebraska-Omaha in a critical two game series. Michigan currently holds fourth place, 2 points better than UNO and Alaska, 4 points ahead of NMU, and 5 points in front of LSSU and Notre Dame. Ohio State is 6 points in back of Michigan for the last CCHA tournament first round bye position.

YOST Bits:

Michigan evened their record against their cluster mates at 5-5, holding a 3-1 advantage over the 12th place Falcons. The Wolverines were 1-3 against MSU, and close out their cluster play in the season finale home and home series against Notre Dame. Both teams won on their ice back in December.

The Wolverines are languishing in 20th position in the PWR rankings, meaning that it will take a long winning streak (including the CCHA playoffs) to qualify as an at large team. My guess is that they will have to go no worse than 5-1 to end the regular season and then make the CCHA Final (that would be another three victories, providing they finish 4th or better in the conference) to have a chance to acquire enough TUC comparisons to outlast other bubble teams. Since this factor is so fluid, it is only speculation at this time. But be sure that if Michigan falters the next few weeks, the only way they will make the NCAA tourney for the 20th straight year is if they win the CCHA tourney and gain the autobid.

Michigan played in front of 55,031 fans in Madison- many of them clad in Badger colors- and will revisit Madison next November for the CHS games. Michigan is now 6-5 against Wisconsin in the past 11 games.

Carl Hagelin was held off the scoreboard in last night’s game- a rare feat for the opponent to do. Hagelin collected two assists in the previous two games at BG and at Wisconsin, to extend his team lead in points.

Chris Brown added three points in the two games against the Falcons to creep into third place in freshmen points in the CCHA.

Yostmeister three star selections:

Last Thursday:

1) Michigan - Steve Kampfer - two PPG assists paced the Wolverine offense

2) Michigan - Matt Rust - one PPG and strong in the faceoff circle

3) Michigan - Louie Caporusso - one assist and is awaking offensively

Last Saturday:

1) Wisconsin - Brendan Smith - netted the game tying and game winning PP markers

2) Wisconsin - Michael Davies - set up both the game tying and game winning goals

3) Wisconsin - Derek Stepan - also set up both Badger PP goals

Tuesday Night:

1) Michigan - Louie Caporusso - two goals to lead Michigan in a game that they struggled through.

2) Michigan - Chris Brown - awesome power forward reminiscent of former Wolverine Jason Ryznar - two assists to add to his totals.

3) Michigan - Steve Kampfer - solid defensively last night, as was most of the blue line crew - and made an outstanding play to prevent a golden chance for BG to get back into the game.

Written by Yostmeister

Go Blue -- Wear Maize!

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