Saturday, March 27, 2010

2010 NCAA Hockey Tournament Regional Preview -- Part 2 -- Michigan Preview


Posted at 8:00am -- 3/27/2010

Midwest Regional:

#1 Miami (CCHA) vs. #4 Alabama-Huntsville (CHA) 4:00 pm 3/27

#2 Bemidji State (CHA) vs. #3 Michigan (CCHA) 7:30 pm 3/27

Regional Final 8:00 pm 3/28

MIAMI (27-7-7)

The RedHawks are smarting after the Wolverines derailed their dream of sweeping the CCHA regular season and tourney titles. They enter play as the #1 overall seed and the #1 team in the country. Regardless of what happened against Michigan, this team still possesses one of the top ten offenses in the country scoring at 3.4 goals per game and still maintains the top defense in the country at 1.9 goals against per game. Senior Jarrod Palmer, junior Andy Miele, junior Carter Camper and junior Tommy Wingels all have 38+ points. Defensively, sophomore Chris Wideman leads the attack with 5-16-21 including three points last weekend. He and freshman Joe Hartman anchor one of the best defensive pairings in the CCHA. The goaltending is still solid although sophomore Cody Reichard got roughed up in the CCHA semifinals. Both he and Connor Knapp hold goals against averages under 2.00 and almost identical save percentages at .924 or slightly less. Miami fans must be concerned though, that their team has been a nominal 4-3-1 in their last eight games. Worst yet, Miami had only given up four or more goals four times in their first 33 games, but has yielded four or more goals three times now in their last eight games. They are still a loaded team looking to right the ship. My guess is that it will start with the goaltending reins being handed to Knapp, renew an emphasis on defense and better their overall discipline.

BEMIDJI STATE (23-9-4)

The Beavers secured their berth in the NCAA tournament with their consistent play and solid non-conference schedule this season. They won the CHA regular season title and lost in the first round of the CHA tournament. BSU played teams from the CCHA eight times going 4-2-2 against them, with wins over WMU, NMU, Miami and UNO. They also swept Minnesota-Duluth and beat Minnesota from the WCHA-going 9-5-2 in their non-conference tilts-more impressively because 11 of those 16 games were on the road or at a neutral site.

The Beavers have slipped lately, posting a 5-3-2 mark in their last ten games.

Bemidji State appears for the fourth time in Division I NCAA tournament play since the university moved up from Division II in 1998-99. Bemidji State has 13 total NCAA tournament appearances and are six time national champions: five times in Division II and once at the Division III level from 1983-1998.

The Beavers are led by their top line of All-CHA First Team junior Matt Read (19-21-40 / +29), freshman Jordan George (13-21-34/+22), and All-CHA Second Team junior Ian Lowe (20-10-30/+25). All-CHA First team sophomore Brad Hunt anchors the defense and contributed 7-26-33 /+17- and also shared the team penalty minutes lead with 33 minutes in the box this season. The lineup is also balanced with good secondary scoring from sophomore Ben Kinne (10-14-24), senior Tyler Lehrke (9-15-24) and junior Ryan Cramer ( 13-8-21 ). All-CHA First Team goaltender Dan Bakula sports a 19-7-3 record with a .919 save % and a 2.27 GAA. Back-up Mathieu Dugas holds a 4-2-1 record with a 1.93 GAA and a .918 save %.

BSU’s roster is predominantly Canadian (14) with (1) Swede and (10) Americans hailing from North Dakota (1), Wisconsin (1) and Minnesota (8). They have four seniors, six juniors, seven sophomores and eight freshmen on their team. When BSU is playing well, they feature an up tempo heavy forecheck and backcheck in order to utilize their team speed. They averaged two goals per game in their 9 losses and over four goals per game in their 23 wins and 4 ties. They can bang when they want to, but rely mostly on their pressure style to create turnovers. BSU likes to jump on opponents early, outscoring them 40-14 in the first period and finish well also- outscoring opponents 55-39 in the third period.

The Beavers will not sneak up on anyone in the tournament this season. Last season they shocked #1 seed Notre Dame and Cornell to advance to the Frozen Four before losing to Miami in the national semi-finals. They are well seasoned and are not intimidated. It will be a solid test for Michigan, very similar to NMU or a good WCHA team.

BSU is ranked 7th nationally in goals per game at 3.53 and are just as stingy defensively, only allowing a 5th best 2.28 goals per game. The Beavers PP is an average 19% (25th) and their PK is a commendable 12th at 84.8%. They are a disciplined team, only taking an average of 12.2 penalty minutes per game, good for 14th best in the country. Overall the BSU statistics demand respect, especially with a proven ability to play with the “big boy” conferences. I still surmise that their numbers are skewed by a weak conference and that their depth and defense is not as strong as it appears. Offensively, though, the Beavers can compete with most anyone in the country, especially since this is what their game is patterned to do.

ALABAMA-HUNTSVILLE (12-17-3 )

The Chargers are the Cinderella team of the tournament, having won the last CHA conference tournament title to gain entry into the NCAA playoffs. They are an experienced team on the blue line, with a total of 15 upperclassmen on the roster. They are not as gifted offensively, so they place their faith in solid defense and the CHA tourney MVP junior Cameron Talbot (11-17-3, 2.64 GAA and .922 sv %.) The offense is young, supported by freshmen Matti Jarvinen (5-12-17), Justin Csiter (5-7-12) and Keenan Desmet (3-9-12). Junior Andy Coburn (7-13-20) and sophomore Cody Campbell ( 7-13-20 ) are the top points leaders.

The Chargers are aggressive and physical but typically have been burned by sacrificing solid positional play to make those jarring hits. Former MSU Spartan Danton Cole coaches the Chargers and emphasizes a prevent defensive style, packing in his veteran defense around the net to block shots, clog up passing lanes and force turnovers, while setting up a semi-neutral zone trap when play is out of the Charger’s offensive zone.

The numbers bare out trouble for UAH- scoring at a 2.2 gpg clip, while giving up 2.7 gpg; an anemic .132 PP conversion while killing penalties at a solid 86.4%, 4th in the country. The Chargers average six penalties per game for 12.6 minutes.

UAH was 4-6-1 in non-conference play this season, with a split @ Notre Dame, and wins at Air Force and Mercyhurst of the AHA conference. Even worse, the Chargers enter the tournament 0-6-1 against other tournament teams (0-5-1 against BSU) with the other loss against Vermont.

This is UAH’s second appearance in the NCAA tourney, with their first in 2007. They took Notre Dame to overtime after coming back from a 3-0 deficit before losing in the Midwest Region in Grand Rapids.

Michigan has played the Chargers twice in games held in separate years at Yost arena and beat them both games.

UAH is looking for a new conference home since the CCHA rejected their application to join last summer. UAH will continue its program as an independent for at least the next two seasons.

MICHIGAN (25-17-1)

Some fast facts on the Maize and Blue:

Michigan moved up to 11th in the latest polls.

Michigan has scored 28 goals in the six win playoff run. The Wolverines have scored first in eight straight games and are 22-4 this season when doing so, including being 18-1 after holding a first period lead.

Carl Hagelin (17-30-47) has a point in 16 of his past 17 games and continues to lead the Wolverines. Matt Rust (13-25-38) has tallied in 12 of the past 17 games. The hottest Wolverine is Louie Caporusso who is 20-21-41 on the season with nine goals and four assists in his past seven games. Kevin Lynch got the game winner against Miami and added another to bring his totals to 6-9-15 for the season. Chris Brown was held off the scoreboard but is still leading the freshmen in scoring with 13-14-27. Steve Kampfer paces the blue line with 3-19-22 including three big assists last weekend. He is +12 for the playoffs.

Michigan expects Captain Chris Summers to return to the lineup this weekend. Shawn Hunwick will be given the nod in goal again. He is 7-2 this season with a 1.86 GAA and a .912 save %.

The Wolverines will play in their 33rd NCAA Tourney which is #1 amongst all Division I schools. They have a 46-25 record and have won a Division I leading nine national championships. Michigan has appeared in 23 Frozen Fours and has won 24 Frozen Four games. This will be the first meeting against Bemidji State . A victory will give Coach Berenson his 700th victory in his career.

Michigan moved up another spot in scoring this week, now averaging 3.28 GPG, 14th in the country. The Wolverines improved two spots to 6th in goals against, averaging 2.28 GPG, essentially tied with BSU. The PP jumped from 24th to 17th, converting at a 19.6% clip on the strength of three PPG’s over the weekend. The PK dropped from 7th to 8th even though their percentage improved to 86.5%. Michigan continues to improve their discipline, with the average penalty minutes dropping to 16.2 per game, 15th worst in the country.

Michigan improved to 5-5-1 against tournament teams with Wisconsin being the only out of conference team the Wolverines played this season.

Yostmeister keys this weekend:

1. Bemidji State is a talented team that can skate with Michigan and will apply the same formula that has jumpstarted the Wolverine’s success. The Wolverines must be patient and disciplined against them.

2. BSU doesn’t fare well in tight checking, low scoring games. It will be better to take what BSU gives and not try to engage in a wide open up and down affair with them. The first goal will be important, especially since BSU is an underrated defensive team. A strategy is to force BSU to take chances and counterattack, stay focused on protecting Hunwick.

3. Hunwick has to be his steady self. Bakula also doesn’t appear to be a goaltender that will steal games. Call it a slight edge to Bakula, but not by much right now.

4. Take away the top line and let Michigan’s depth counter BSU’s. Michigan has gotten at least one point from every starter in the past six games. Depth Edge: Michigan.

5. Conversely, BSU will have match-up problems now that Michigan is getting scoring from three lines. They’ll most logically try to take Caporusso away, so the entire BSU lineup must produce or Michigan will win. Offensive/defensive Edge: Michigan

6. Special Teams: Michigan has been solid on the PK all season, getting production on the PP. Edge: Michigan.

7. If Michigan defeats BSU and moves on, my presumption is that the Wolverines will face Miami again. If that is the case, the same formula applies: force Miami’s defense into mistakes, make the chances count, and stay focused defensively. Lightning can and will strike twice, but Michigan will have to play perfect against a Miami team seeking retribution.

Midwest Regional Predictions:

Saturday: Miami 5 Alabama-Huntsville 1

Michigan 4 Bemidji State 3 (OT)

Sunday: Miami 3 Michigan 2

Mind: Miami will move on to face North Dakota in the Frozen Four in Detroit .

Heart: Secretly I know Michigan can defeat Bemidji on Saturday and show the RedHawk faithful that their Dynasty is yet to be established on Sunday. Michigan advances on a double OT winner from Matt Rust. Joy fills Ann Arbor and silent glee is echoed amongst the committees that established the Frozen Four in Detroit. GO BLUE!

Written by Yostmeister

Go Blue -- Wear Maize!


3 comments:

David said...

great stuff - thanks!

Jim R. said...

Hey GBMW,

What a great read and also thanks for covering hockey because it seems like a lost art anymore.

The paid sites barely even cover it now except for when they won at Joe Louis Arena. I mean Rivals would usually cover it a little bit, but scout never does and they are suppose to have a hockey guy, but haven't seen him write an article in months.

So thanks a lot for not only your football coverage, but also your hockey coverage with your previews/recaps.

Yostmeister said...

Labor of love, guys. Thanks for the kind words.

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