Monday, March 15, 2010

Michigan Hockey: Michigan Icers Broom MSU In CCHA Quarterfinals

Posted at 4:00pm -- 3/15/2010

Michigan Icers Broom MSU In CCHA Quarterfinals

Hand me a towel, because I need to GLADLY wipe the egg off of my face. In the meantime, bottle whatever the Wolverine hockey team is doing because it is finally working. Michigan not only swept the Spartans out of the CCHA playoffs on their home ice, but just ended their NCAA hopes as well.

Buoyed by the resurgence of complete team hockey, the Wolverines are now poised to make a run at the CCHA Championship for the 20th consecutive season. The Wolverines pulled off the sweep in convincing fashion at Michigan State, a site that could be considered as their most difficult opponent site. Taking a “just us” attitude, the Wolverines smothered the Spartans 5-1 on Friday and then, after giving up a 2-0 lead in the first period, rallied to steal a 5-3 victory on Saturday. It was the first back-to-back victories at Munn arena for Michigan since the program turned the trick in March of 1975 and December of 1975.

On Friday night, Michigan came out as the confident aggressor, beating MSU to every loose puck, out-skating the Spartans and taking advantage of MSU’s sluggish play to roll out to a 3-0 first period lead. Carl Hagelin got Michigan started seven minutes into the game with an unassisted breakaway goal just seconds after MSU’s Cory Tropp ripped a shot off of the goalpost. Three minutes later David Wohlberg- playing some of his best hockey this season- took a Lee Moffie pass and beat MSU’s goaltender Drew Palmisano to make it 2-0. Louie Caporusso then capped off the frame with a pinpoint laser from the slot to stake Michigan to a 3-0 lead at the 13:35 mark. Luke Glendening and Greg Pateryn assisted.

MSU took a late penalty to end the first period, and Michigan’s Steve Kampfer converted a PP point shot past Palmisano at: 21 to give the Wolverines a commanding 4-0 lead. Freshman Derek Grant banked a shot off of a Michigan skate on the power play to draw the Spartans closer, but Caporusso notched his second goal of the game at 19:17 to break the Spartan’s back. Michigan locked down the Spartans in the third period and skated off with the win.

Shawn Hunwick stopped fifteen MSU shots. Michigan State pulled Palmisano to start the third period and inserted senior Bobby Jarosz. He stopped all seven Michigan shots in the period, where Palmisano stopped twenty shots in his two periods of work. Michigan fired thirty-two shots in the game.

Not only was Michigan’s performance on the ice dominant, but Michigan fans were very audible in the sparse Munn arena crowd. You could often hear Michigan fans clearly producing chants such as “I can’t hear you” or other typical Yost arena chants after goals. The Spartans seemed to be in such a daze that they even activated their scoring horn when Steve Kampfer scored the fourth Michigan goal. It was surreal.

Saturday night drew a more partisan MSU crowd, but it had little impact on the Wolverine’s confidence. MSU’s coach, Rick Comley, made line-up changes and also was forced to insert a substitute for star forward Corey Tropp who stepped on a puck during warm-ups and sprained his ankle. The Spartans came out with more emotion, but Michigan matched it and got the all-important first goal. Matt Rust blistered a shot from the right circle on the power play at 8:25 to start the Wolverines. Palmisano got a piece of it, but it deflected just under the crossbar. Ben Winnett and Brandon Burlon assisted on the goal. AJ Treais followed: 21 seconds later by burying a blind pass into the slot from David Wohlberg from behind the goal to stretch the lead to 2-0. It was at this point that Comley yanked Palmisano and replaced him with Jarosz.

The Wolverines then took a series of bad penalties- a trademark of the entire season- to get the Spartans back into the game. Chad Langlais hooked Jeff Petry on a partial breakaway, and then a minute later Tristin Llewellyn took an undisciplined elbowing penalty behind the net to give the Spartans a 5x3 chance with about four minutes left in the period. Junior Andrew Rowe- who has haunted the Wolverines all season- scored seconds into the opportunity, bouncing a shot off of Kampfer’s skate and past Hunwick. Rowe followed up: 36 seconds later with a rush into the Michigan zone, circled the net and stuffed a wraparound between Hunwick’s pad and the post to tie the score at 2-2.

Llewellyn took another bad penalty at the 19:00 mark, and the Spartans capitalized. Senior Nick Sucharski accepted a pass to Hunwick’s right and was checked as he weakly dribbled a shot towards the net. Hunwick slid over and anticipated a harder shot- and the puck slipped through his pads with: 007 seconds left to give the Spartans the momentum.

The Wolverines re-grouped in the second period and held MSU to one shot for the entire period, while totaling 16 shots of their own. Ben Winnett made a terrific play to hold the puck into the Spartan zone on a power play (he typically plays the point on the first unit), stepped around a defender in the slot, and fired a shot just inside the post to knot the score at 3-3 with sixteen minutes left in the period. The score remained that way heading into the third period, although Michigan had a wide advantage in shots (32-10) and scoring chances.

Michigan hemmed in the Spartans to begin the third period and it paid off. Steve Kampfer kept the puck deep into the Spartan zone, while both Chris Brown and Brian Lebler did excellent work along the boards. Lebler forced a shot from the side of the net and jammed away at the puck, which squirted free to Brown. He lifted a shot that squeezed between Jarosz’ pad and the post to give Michigan a 4-3 lead with seventeen minutes left. The officials went to review and confirmed the goal- which was very similar to the GWG Brown scored at JLA against the Spartans. Both teams had glorious chances to score during power plays and other opportunities- with the best being during a Spartan shorthanded chance when Leveille missed a wide open net after a 3x2 break. The Wolverines locked down the last seven minutes of the game and David Wohlberg salted it away with an empty net goal assisted by Louie Caporusso at 19:29.

Michigan fired 44 shots on the Spartan goaltending, and was 2 for 3 on the PP. The Spartans fired 21 shots- 11 in the third period- at Hunwick, but could only mange the three first period PP goals. Hunwick made 18 saves, while Palmisano made 6 saves. Jarosz played well stopping 33 shots in his last appearance as a Spartan. The Spartans are now sitting 18th in the pairwise rankings and are most likely done for the season at 19-13-6.

Michigan now moves on to face either #2 Miami at JLA OR, if Miami gets upset on Sunday night in the third game of their series with OSU, the Wolverines will face NMU in the CCHA semi-finals next Friday night. Northern Michigan defeated Alaska in their series and Ferris State will also be at JLA after knocking off UNO.

YOST Bits:

Michigan finished the season series against the Spartans 3-3, not only sweeping the last two games at Munn, but winning the last three games against MSU away from Yost. Michigan is now 8-3 in their last 11 games against the Spartans.

The one sore spot that bit Michigan this weekend was penalties (12-24 minutes) and penalty-killing, the team gave up 4 goals in 9 PP chances in the two games. The 3 PPG’s allowed Saturday were the most Michigan has allowed in one game this season. Michigan had lost every game this season that they had given up multiple PP goals up until last night. Maybe it wasn’t the frequency of penalties as much as the timing of when they took them. The penalties not only negated two other Michigan power plays, but also allowed a 5x3 chance that the Spartans capitalized on. I’m sure Coach Berenson will remind his troops that this is something to work on before next week.

Louie Caporusso continues to take to the offensive. He tallied 2-2-4 this weekend, and took over the goal scoring leadership from Carl Hagelin with his 17th and 18th goals on Friday. Hagelin also added his 17th on Friday. Caporusso has now accounted for 7-4-11 in his past five games.

David Wohlberg is also on a roll, contributing 4-3-7 since February 27th. Ben Winnett added his 5th multi-point game of the season on Saturday. Chris Brown has four GWG’s this season to lead the team, two of which have come at the Spartan’s expense.

As of this article, Michigan is sitting just on the outside of qualifying for the NCAA tournament as an at-large team. They have moved up to 17th in the PWR. They will still (in all reasonable terms) need to win the CCHA tourney to secure an NCAA berth. The Pairwise rankings are very fluid right now, with several teams needing to play a third game today (Sunday) in their conference tournament to advance.

Michigan is just behind Vermont, U-Mass Lowell and U-Minnesota Duluth. If those teams all lose in their playoff series third game tonight, the Wolverines may move up slightly, depending on whether that gives them enough to flip the comparisons against those teams into their favor. Furthermore, Michigan’s at-large opportunity was further damaged by the upset of Bemidji State in the CHA conference tournament. BSU has a strong enough PWR to qualify as an at-large team. UAH (the team the CCHA rejected entry to the league) won the CHA tourney championship last night to gain the autobid. This means that there is one less spot open in the NCAA tourney. Michigan would most likely have to climb to 14th spot to gain an at-large bid. The Atlantic conference tourney winner (probably RIT) will take the 15th spot, and UAH the 16th spot.

I’ll update the PWR later this week as part of my next preview.

Yostmeister three star selections:


1. Michigan - Louie Caporusso - 2G and 1A

2. Michigan - Luke Glendening - 2A

3. Michigan - Carl Hagelin - 1A


1. Michigan - Ben Winnett - 1G and 1A - no bigger goal than the tying goal to change momentum

2. Michigan - David Wohlberg - 1G and 1A - playing as good as he has all season

3. Michigan State - Andrew Rowe - 2G and single handedly brought the Spartans back

Honorable Mention: Chris Brown - the new Spartan killer scores the GWG

Check out this video to watch Michigan celebrate in the bowels of Munn Arena:
Michigan Hockey celebrate at Munn

Written by Yostmeister

Go Blue -- Wear Maize!


Anonymous said...

Hello,nice post thanks for sharing?. I just joined and I am going to catch up by reading for a while. I hope I can join in soon.

Yostmeister said...

Welcome anon, feel free to join the posting board and add any comments there as well.

FWIW, Michigan will play Miami on friday. They survived a three game series with Ohio State.


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