Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Michigan Hockey: Wolverines Hockey Season Ends On Bitter Note, 3-2 2OT

Posted at 4:00pm -- 3/31/2010

Wolverines Hockey Season Ends On Bitter Note, 3-2 2OT

The clock struck three minutes to midnight last Sunday night and the fairy tale story of the Michigan hockey revival came to a crashing halt. It was at that moment that the Miami Red Hawks willed a double OT 3-2 victory away from Michigan and abruptly ended any hopes of the Wolverines crashing the Frozen Four party in Detroit.

Only twenty four hours earlier had the Maize and Blue dispatched of a very talented Bemidji State team 5-1, setting up the re-match from the CCHA semi-final game.

Saturday night was special for Michigan, as they used their successful mix of speed, defense and timely offense to blow past BSU. Michigan held a third period lead thanks to a first period Luke Glendening goal and a late second period 4x4 goal by Louie Caporusso. BSU outshot the Wolverines 14-10 in the third period and finally broke through on Shawn Hunwick, as Ian Lowe scored a PPG halfway through the stanza. Michigan roared back on two Carl Hagelin goals, one shorthanded, to pull away. Michigan was penalized by the Hockey East Association officiating ten times for twenty minutes in the game, compared to BSU’s six times for twelve minutes. The wide open affair saw plenty of up and down action, plenty of scoring chances, and terrific special teams play by Michigan. Hunwick was dynamite again making at least four good stops to keep Michigan in the game. BSU ended their season 23-10-4 and will now move into the WCHA next season.

Miami ended UAH’s playoff hopes with a systematic 2-1 victory. They appeared to be fresher than Michigan on Saturday maybe due to the physical nature of Michigan’s game as well as having the advantage of playing earlier than Michigan. The Wolverines cam out flying, though, and Miami goaltender Conner Knapp had to be sharp in the opening seconds as Michigan had two great chances to take the lead.

The officiating once again called this game tight (at least through three periods) as Michigan was sent off six times and Miami was assessed seven penalties in the game. Miami opened the scoring in the first period with a PPG as Pat Cannone chipped home a centering pass over Hunwick at 12:08. Michigan’s David Wohlberg came right back and powered a rebound of his own shot past Knapp to tie the game at 13:42. Chad Langlais scored Michigan’s lone PPG of the evening at :49 of the second period, as he blasted a shot top shelf past a screened Knapp. The lead didn’t last long as Miami again took advantage of their power play chances as Cannone drove the net and pitch forked home a puck that Hunwick had frozen under his outstretched pad. It is important to note that this goal was allowed because of the proper positioning of the official and his generous allowance of time given for the play to continue even after Hunwick secured the puck.

The game remained tied even as both teams pressed. Michigan’s David Wohlberg was stopped on two clean-cut breakaways and Miami controlled the third period, hitting iron with 3:00 left. It appeared that Michigan was worn down and just hanging on near the end of regulation. They came out with fire in their eyes during OT, though.

Three minutes into OT, Michigan’s Carl Hagelin circled the Miami net on a strong rush. The Miami defenseman clipped his helmet and was going to be assessed a penalty. Hagelin centered the puck and it bounced off of a squirming Knapp in the crease and came to a streaking Kevin Lynch. Lynch buried the puck milliseconds after the official blew the play dead for presumably losing sight of the puck. The game should have ended, and Michigan should be dancing still. But after review it was waived off as the puck did not enter the net prior to the whistle (or the intent of the whistle). The only explanation, which was not offered was that Miami “touched” the puck long enough to consider control. My explanation is simple: The officiating was out of position in the corner, lost sight of the puck amongst a maze of players, and blew it dead prematurely. There is no reversing a judgment ruling like this, and Michigan was screwed for at least the third time in two seasons on account of officiating incompetence. Michigan did have other chances to end the game, such as a Hagelin breakaway that he was stopped on- or a Matt Rust cross bar that he clanked- but it shouldn’t have come to that. The Wolverines outshot Miami 20-6 in OT and were spent.

It took less than two minutes in the second overtime for the Red Hawks to push the Wolverines into their end, apply heavy forechecking pressure and force a turnover. Miami’s Alden Hirschfeld snapped a fifteen foot wrist shot from the circle that Shawn Hunwick would have liked to have back. The shot hit the inside of his pad, bounced off of his skate and into the net. The carriage had turned back into a pumpkin.

Now, I may be mixing in some slanted commentary into this, but as a Michigan fan I am getting tired of being on the short end of the stick in cases of officiating malfeasance. The stakes were too high and frankly, both teams deserved to win on their merits. It was a shame anyone had to lose this game. Miami’s Connor Knapp was simply superb and snatched this win, making 55 saves. Miami completely shut down the neutral zone and forced Michigan to play a dump and chase game. The physical nature of the game took its toll and in the end Miami was just a hair better than Michigan. That is, unless you consider the gaffe that allowed Miami’s season to continue and Michigan’s to end.

Miami will move on to play Boston College in Detroit, while Michigan will say goodbye to Captain Chris Summers, Brian Lebler, Steve Kampfer, Anthony Ciraulo and Eric Elmblad. When you look at the big picture, though, and see where this team was in mid-February and what they accomplished since then, you have to be proud as a Michigan fan. The team honored us with the best hockey in the country their last eight games and almost did the impossible. For that they should be honored and respected. Well done Blue.


Ft. Wayne was very hospitable to the regional guests that they entertained and did a great job. Notre Dame should be commended for their hosting and the NCAA should be throttled for the idiotic sanitizing it does to take any fun from the fans in the name of “equality”. By this I am talking about how the NCAA dictates what teams can do and when they can do it (such as their bands or canned music in the event that they don’t have a band) in the spirit of competitive advantage. It totally doused any enthusiasm and spirit, if you ask me.

Secondly, for those of you that couldn’t make the trip, the NCAA capitalized on profitability here. The three game pass was outrageous as was the single game pass. Combine that with bowing down to ESPN for the game times, the event only attracted upwards of 4-5,000 in attendance per session. Quite pathetic considering the proximity to Detroit/Ann Arbor as well as Oxford, Ohio.

Steve Kampfer ended his career at Michigan with a four assist weekend, two in each game. He really was an anchor on defense, posting a solid plus/minus rating during the entire playoffs and cut his careless turnovers completely. He will truly be missed.

Brian Lebler also ended his Michigan career with the highest points total of his four seasons. He assisted on Caporusso’s GWG and also scored the empty net goal against BSU. He will be missed for his physical presence, although his discipline was less than acceptable at times.

Chris Summers made it back from injury to play in the Regional and was very solid. He was instrumental in drawing the penalty that led to Louie Caporusso’s game winner against BSU. Chris’ steady influence and outstanding speed will also be missed.

Michigan’s season long bugaboo- penalties- bit them hard again this weekend. Although I am quite boorish on the officiating skills of the HEA’s Bunyon and Gravelese, the Wolverines still were very careless in the taking of blatant penalties. Others were simply not called and/or missed leading me to further digress about the consistency of NCAA officiating in general. Nonetheless, Michigan’s discipline is something that hopefully will be improved with experience and confidence next season.

Carl Hagelin and Louie Caporusso paced Michigan’s attack this weekend: Hagelin was 2-1-3, while Caporusso was 1-1-2. Luke Glendening added 1-1-2, Lebler was 1-1-2 and Matt Rust added 2 assists. Chris Brown, David Wohlberg and Kevin Lynch added single points.

The offensive thrust from the blueline was also impressive: Chad Langlais was 1-2-3, Kampfer was 0-4-4.

Another glaring key to the Miami game was that the fourth line got abused to the point where they were only taking two shifts late in the third period and Overtime. Michigan pretty much went to three lines plus using Scooter Vaughn and simply got worn down by the extra depth that Miami has.

Looking forward to next season, Michigan will return barring any unforeseen early departures, all but one of their top 12 forwards. Michigan has talented freshmen forwards coming in to compliment the core scoring threats of seniors Carl Hagelin and Louie Caporusso. They also have a solid corps of returning defensemen including seniors Chad Langlais and Tristin Llewellyn, juniors Brandon Burlon and Greg Pateryn, and sophomore Lee Moffie. Michigan will have three freshmen blueliners coming in.

If anything, the emergence of Shawn Hunwick will stimulate a goaltending competition with Bryan Hogan. The real question will be whether Michigan will sign another goaltender for the 2010-11 season considering that both Hunwick and Hogan will be seniors. Their only returning goaltender for the following season would be a walk-on that hasn’t played a single minute. My bet is that Michigan will also sign another backup for next season to replace “baby” Summers and target a stud freshman goaltender for the 2011-12 season.

I’ll keep the GBMW hockey audience informed of any roster changes and present interesting tidbits about next season as the summer progresses. Thanks to our readers for their comments. I’ll be observing the Frozen Four in two weeks and will finish off this season with a final report on the event downtown.

Yostmeister three star selections:

1. Michigan - Louie Caporusso - GWG
2. Michigan - Shawn Hunwick - stopped 26 shots and only allowed 1 goal
3. Michigan - Carl Hagelin - 2G and 1A, including the backbreaking 3rd goal

1. Miami - Connor Knapp - 55 saves, many of them ridiculous
2. Michigan - Steve Kampfer - 2A, solid play
3. Miami - Pat Cannone - 2G
Honorable Mention: David Wohlberg (1G), Chad Langlais (1G) and Shawn Hunwick (32svs) from Michigan; Jim McKenzie (2A), Alden Hirschfeld (GWG) and Carter Camper (2A) from Miami

Written by Yostmeister

Go Blue -- Wear Maize!

1 comment:

Ted said...

Well this team went a lot farther than most people believed just a month ago, but disappointed with how it ended.

Keep up the good work.

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