A few weeks ago I posted a survey for all Mgoblog users to take. First of all, THANK YOU to the 500 participants! You have immensely helped me out for a class, and hopefully you have helped to make Mgoblog a better online community. As many of you requested in the survey thread, below are the statistical results from the survey and a few insights from the essay responses.
Insights (based on feedback received from survey questions and essay responses):
The point system does not affect motivation to post on a large scale, but it does largely affect the content being posted. While many Mgoblog members appreciate the value of a point system, they believe that the members and moderators are incorrectly using it because of opinion-based voting (rather than content-based), inflated reputations due to over-posting (quantity, not quality) and the exploitation of such reputations. Based on this research, I would make the following recommendations to improve the Mgoblog online community:
- Stress quality (not opinion) based voting to the members. Make it clear to all members that “Upvoting” and “Downvoting” is for quality-based feedback only. All members should have the right to their opinions, and their value and reputation as a poster should not be jeopardized because of varying opinions.
- Continue to support the voting function, but eliminate points for posting. As a result, quality of posts will be stressed, rather than the quantity of posts.
- Set an automatic ban number for members that obtain a certain amount of negative points. This will guarantee that members of poor value and reputation will be excluded as soon as possible.
- If/when these changes (or similar) are enacted, return all posters’ points to 0. This should be done so true reputations can be built within the better system of moderation.
The last "fun" question was meant to judge the Mgoblog community's confidence of win percentage for the upcoming season.
The Mgoblog community expects Michigan to lose to Iowa (close one), Nebraska, and Ohio State, finishing with a record of 9-3. Our most likely loss, according to the amount of votes, is Nebraska.
Thanks again to all participants, and GO BLUE!
And with that, the 2010-2011 Michigan Wolverines hockey season is over.
One bad turnover, one quick pass-and-shoot, and Minnesota-Duluth has won the national championship.
On one hand, I should be feeling disappointed. I should feel terrible right now. Instead, while I'm not ecstatic, there's an inner sense of contentment.
In hockey, like life, it is not necessarily the ending that is as important as the journey to get there, especially in college hockey. This is not the end of anyone's story, but merely the closing of a chapter, as we turn the page to next season, next job, and next life milestone. This is especially true in college hockey, as any team is merely a waystation for what is to come in life. Every member of that roster came into Michigan with different circumstances, and will leave changed for the better, win or lose.
It's with this outlook that I can't help but be satisfied with the season. This season was left better than it was approached, and that has to leave a great impression.
Before this season, the Michigan fanbase could expect greatness from the team only if everyone played as well as they could, and I do mean everyone. There was no surefire star on this team, no obvious future NHL'er that could carry the team all year. Instead, Michigan was a very good team from top to bottom, and greatness had to come from hard work, solid play, and a little luck.
If things came together, this story would go down as a great one. If not, this squad risked the same ignominy that the football team has had recently. Remarkably though, Michigan's stories, big and small, were as epic as we could have hoped.
Shawn Hunwick was not supposed to be a Michigan goalie. He certainly was not even supposed to become a full-time starter. Summing this up is today's New York Times article on him, titled "Walk-On Goalie Is on Brink of Title". Not "Shawn Hunwick, Walk-On Goalie Is on Brink of Title." Merely "Walk-On Goalie". Walk-on players, of any stripe, aren't supposed to get much playing time, much less at such a crucial position. That article isn't just amazed at what Hunwick has done, it's astonished that a walk-on could be the winning goalie for a national championship. Any walk-on would be amazing, especially in this role.
Meanwhile, Hunwick barely played during his freshman year, did not play during his sophomore year, and ended up backstopping a miracle run in 2010 before coming in during the biggest regular season game in school history during the warmups, and never giving up the job since. At the end of the season, Shawn had a tournament run for the ages, with game after game of fantastic goaltending. Is that anything to be disappointed about?
Carl Hagelin was not supposed to be a team MVP at the University of Michigan. No Swede had ever played in Ann Arbor before, as the Swedish path to pro hockey wove through various national elite leagues. Carl's first trip to Ann Arbor was even as an afterthought, tagging along with his brother to Red Berenson's summer hockey camp. Eventually, Hagelin settled on Michigan to continue his hockey career, coming in as a fairly unheralded recruit, and the first ever Swede to play for Michigan.
Four years later, the Michigan Hockey Pep Band was playing the Swedish national anthem before Senior Night. The student section was signing a giant Swedish flag with good luck messages. And Carl Hagelin ended his career at Yost Ice Arena as a team legend, with a last-second overtime goal to keep CCHA championship dreams alive. Over the course of four years, Hagelin has developed into a remarkable player, with team records for speed (60-0 on team races up the Michigan Stadium steps), team scoring championships, a team MVP award, being named the CCHA's top defensive forward, and being named an All-American.
At this time next year, around the time that new banners go up, and old banners get updated, there will be a Carl Hagelin plaque hanging in the north hallway of Yost. Is that anything to be disappointed about?
Four months ago, we were all somewhat worried about Michigan Hockey. The team was underachieving, as every weekend brought a loss on Friday night, before a consoling win on Saturday. There weren't that many strong weekends for the Wolverines, as it looked like a repeat of 2009-2010's struggles. Only, how many streaks could one team go on? Would this be where the luck ran out?
The fulcrum of the season, for better or worse, looked to be the Big Chill, coming up that weekend. Years of preparation went into this game, with everything seemingly ready except for the host team.
It took a last second injury to place Shawn Hunwick between the pipes for Michigan that day, and he did not give up a goal. From that point on, he was rolling, for that game, for that season.
Just over the halfway mark of the first period, freshman Jon Merrill, until that point just known as a big recruit, scored to put Michigan up 1-0. He'd score another later on, as Michigan romped to an eventual 5-0 win, and Michigan started on the first real winning stretch of the season. Nine wins in ten games put us in contention for a CCHA title, and brought another GLI championship to Ann Arbor.
Two months ago, Michigan was again reeling. The season seemed to have slipped away with two brutal losses in Oxford, Ohio. The Wolverines came into a weekend series at Miami with a chance to put the Redhawks away, and instead came out of it in 3rd place. 4-2, and 3-0. Two crucial losses, with no games left to play against the teams above us in the standings.
Michigan came back to Yost needing to win with outside luck for a championship. In the first weekend, the Wolverines held onto two games against Ohio State, both by one goal, both with great defense at the end. Meanwhile, Miami split a series with Lake Superior State, and began running out of games, ultimately getting passed by two teams.
In the second weekend, Michigan started off on Friday with a blowout win over Western, 6-3. Michigan played with desperation, scoring two goals in the first period, two goals early in the second, and keeping Western at arms length. Despite all of that, every point was crucial, as Notre Dame kept winning to stay in 1st place.
On Saturday night, it wouldn't be so easy for Michigan. Western jumped out to a 3-1 lead, Michigan fought back to tie the game at 3, and Western punched back with a goal early in the 3rd period for a 4-3 lead.
Over that last period, Michigan played like their season came down to it. After chance after chance barely missing, Carl Hagelin came into the Western zone, fired a random shot on net, and the puck squeaked into the bottom corner. 4-4. Tie game. At that point, I firmly believe that Michigan willed that puck in. The players, the fans, everyone. Everyone in that building willed the puck into the net, and there was nothing that could be done about it. Five minutes later, the same thing. One last rush before losing any hope of three points, and Carl's last shot won it. Michigan had to win this game, and we won on our last gasp.
Naturally, Michigan would win during the last weekend of CCHA play, and have Notre Dame lose, at home, on Saturday night, on three goals that were waived off, to finally win the conference title. What a way to end the regular season.
Can either of those two parts of the season be considered a disappointment?
Sure, we didn't win the national championship. We lost in overtime, of the very last game of the year. Still though, three straight tournament games where we hung on by the closest of margins, and all of them were victories? I guess we couldn't make it four straight, but three straight victories like that ain't that bad.
At the end of the day though, this Michigan Hockey team was a remarkably fun one to watch. The journey of this season was one to remember, even if the ending was not absolutely perfect. Even before the tournament, the season was filled with great performances, unbelievable games, and a roster full of players that will go down as greats.
Looking back, any Michigan Hockey fan has to be satisfied. This season was one to remember, and one to remember with pride, joy, and fondness.
And as always, go Blue.
Some people said some things after the NCAA basketball tournament that I wanted to address, that can also be extrapolated to the NC game today. A great number of people, especially from that Rural College Up North, began calling Michigan fans “Fair-weather fans,” because the basketball games have not been very high in attendance in recent memory. While some might agree, I have serious issue with this.
I will be honest, I have never enjoyed basketball as a sport. I was raised in an area where football reigned supreme, and everything else was secondary. Coming to Michigan back in 2005, especially with how basketball was back then during the Amaker era, reaffirmed those conceptions. Football was King. I’m not ripping on basketball; this is just a statement of fact.
During the most recent basketball season, I kept up with the team, but did not watch many of the games. My work schedule did not grant me many evenings or weekends to enjoy them. But when they were selected for the tournament, I was ecstatic. I ducked out of work to watch the Tennesse game, and was absolutely devastated by the Duke loss. Now the lay may call me a “fair-weather fan”, but I have a dissenting opinion.
While I do not go out of my way to watch basketball, I live for all things Michigan. Since I was a kid it was my dream to attend UM, and when I was accepted I could not have been more excited. I have a block “M” tattoo on my back, and I wear it with pride and honor. I am a fan of the University. I am a fan of every Wolverine out there, and will root for them to succeed in everything they do (barring the obvious, like This Guy). Rooting for the basketball team was not “becoming a fair-weather fan” but rather rooting for my alma mater, my peers, and friends. .
Even if you have never watched a hockey game in your life, I want everyone to root with all their might for this team. Root for the University of Michigan, its glory, tradition, history and future. Wear your colors proudly, and scream until you can’t scream anymore. Then scream some more. If you’re going to the game, scream louder.
These boys will be giving it their all in under 15 hours and every Michigan fan needs to do the same. Cheer, scream, celebrate, and if necessary, though I hope it won’t be, cry. Even if you don’t like hockey, remember you are cheering for something bigger than the sport, bigger than the University—you are cheering for history. Student athletes give so much effort and time and heart to the University of Michigan, and we owe them the same.
Go Blue, and let’s celebrate a National Championship tonight!
“Okay, boys. We have a one score lead. I want you to run up the middle three times and punt. We’ll play solid prevent, and then we’ll do it again, and again.”
As fans, we remember this as the most irritating trait of Coach Carr. His endless focus on reducing variance and stalling his way to wins was infuriating. We recall the many games against Tressel and our bowl opponents that this strategy cost us. We remember punting from the 40 on 3rd and 2. We remember that fourth quarter field goal when M was up only 3 that we just knew would come back to bite us.
What we forget is that in the years Lloyd had a satisfactory defense, it worked. It worked to the tune of an 88% winning percentage. It worked to the tune of 5 Big Ten titles and a National Championship. And it didn’t work because Lloyd was lucky. It worked because he knew exactly what he was doing. I mean, seriously, I assume that nobody who knows anything about college football would ever question whether Lloyd Carr had a plan. At times, certain coaches seem to be winging it, throwing things out there just to try to find a magic formula. Not Lloyd Carr. Even during losses, he was always in control.
Last night, the ghost of his coaching career possessed Red Berensen. Shawn Hunwick stopped 40 shots, and Michigan spent the final two periods of the game playing prevent. Defensemen flew all over the ice, clogging lanes and disrupting flow. When Michigan did obtain the puck, we made three rushes up the middle and punted, clearing the puck from about center ice and setting up the defense again and again.
“Make that lead hold up, boys! Drive them crazy!”
Just like a Lloyd coached game, UND had chances, and plenty of them. But what they got very little of was the break away, one on that makes goalies around the world wet themselves. Most of their good chances erupted from a pile of bodies, more of which were Maize and Blue than Green and White. But it was always in a pile of chaos that’s hard to take advantage of.
“We’re gonna out-execute them. No mistakes. Do it right every time.”
As fans, like so many Lloyd coached games we watched, a lead felt an awful lot like a deficit until a kid named Scooter buried an empty netter with 35 second to play. We spent most of the night screaming at the TV, “Cmon! Get it going on O! Get some shots! Generate some pressure!”
Red knew though, as Lloyd did, better than us. UND was, and is, an offensive juggernaut that will make you pay for your mistakes. But discipline, quality play and the refusal to make any of those mistakes will drive your opponent crazy. They continue to push, waiting for that moment when you dedicate four to their end and they can put out a two on one break. Don’t give it to them.
Does it always work? No. Can you do it with just anybody? No. You need a star, too; someone to make a play when variance does overwhelm discipline. It’s important to recognize those stars. They’re the guys that make Lloyd and Red’s brilliance work. Lloyd had Charles Woodson. Red has Shawn Hunwick.
But that’s all part of the plan. Play clean. Play smart. Execute. Get your stars in position to pick up the slack and win the big ones. Stymie everyone. Be solid. Be stoic. Be brave. Be Michigan, and you will be a champion.
We Salute You, Coach.
Chris Barnett was a big pickup for Michigan in the 2011 class, but Brady Hoke would like to add more depth at the tight end position this year. Evan Baylis (6'5", 225 lbs) is one of the prospects the Wolverines are going after for 2012. The Colorado native talked about his visit to Michigan this past week and how he feels about the Wolverines in general. Here's a look at his film and his thoughts.
TOM: Tell me where you're at right now with the process. What trips have you taken so far?
EVAN: I took some trips over spring break. I went out to Michigan last week [March 28th & 29th], Oregon, and also Stanford. I was thinking about revisiting some places, but I have lacrosse right now so I'm just trying to figure out some time.
TOM: When you were at Michigan what all did you do and see?
EVAN: I was there for two days and got some good time with the coaches. We missed practice, but we got to see everything else. We met with all the coaches, saw campus, and talked to the academic advisors. The next day we went on some more tours and more personal meetings with the coaches. I got to talk to Coach Ferrigno about how they'd use me in the offense. We also talked to one of the professors in the engineering department.
TOM: Is engineering what you want to go into?
EVAN: I'm not quite sure yet. I think I either want to go into engineering or business; I'm kind of up in the air about that.
TOM: So it sounds like academics are really a priority for you then?
EVAN: Yeah, academics is really important because I want to make sure that I'm all set after football. I want to have a good degree and everything.
TOM: Backing up to the coaches meetings, when you talked to Coach Hoke what was he talking to you guys about?
EVAN: Coach Hoke was more general about the program and what do as a football team. He was telling me how they felt about me and that Michigan would be a great place for tight ends. They're coming in with a winning mentality, which I like.
TOM: After you talked to the coaches you said you got a tour, did that include the Big House?
EVAN: Yeah, we saw the locker room, the weight room, and the Big House. That was my first time in the Big House and it was shocking. On a good day we have maybe 2 or 3 thousand people, so it was shocking. It's nothing compared to what we see.
TOM: A lot of the schools that you have offers from and that you've mentioned are closer to the west coast. What made you initially interested in Michigan?
EVAN: I have relatives in Michigan, and my grandparents used to live out there. I've been out to Michigan a lot, and I like how they're switching to a pro style offense. I really liked talking to the coaches too, I think I got along with them really well.
TOM: For anyone that doesn't know a lot about you, how would you describe yourself as a tight end?
EVAN: I'm kind of intense, and I really like to get after it. I play hard for pretty much the entire game. I think I have good footwork and good speed. I like getting passed to a lot, but I also like blocking a lot too.
TOM: And where are you at right now with the process? Do you have a top group yet?
EVAN: I'm kind of narrowing down my schools right now. I'm not too far into it yet, but I want to make my final decision by the beginning of the summer. I haven't been everywhere that I'm considering so I don't really have a ranking right now. I have a general idea, but I'm trying to figure out which schools would work best.
TOM: To go back to the west coast thing. Is distance going to factor into this for you?
EVAN: Being far away from home doesn't have too big of an impact for me. I have relatives in Michigan, which would make it feel somewhat like home. That wouldn't be a problem.
TOM: When do you want to make your final decision then?
EVAN: I want to make it by the beginning of the summer and just get it out of the way.
We’re a couple weeks away from the massive void that is playoff hockey and basketball. What is close at hand before then are exciting M events: Lion Kim at the Masters, the Frozen Four and the Spring ‘Game’. Sure, we have our other Winter and Spring sports at UofM to cheer, but it’s the latter of this year's ‘April Three’ that likely stirs us most. Without the winged helmets, not much else matters. Or does it?
As has been well documented here, this year’s last football practice has been dubbed the Mott Spring Game. And to boot, there’s a post today regarding the matching commitment from the Beam family – an unbelievable commitment at that.
C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is a blessing to those in southeastern Michigan. It is the best insurance you can have if you have children – insurance being something you’re willing to pay for but hope to never use. As I’m sure many of you are aware, Brian Griese, Steve Hutchinson and Charles Woodson have made significant contributions to that insurance tab with donations to Mott and have collectively made it their personal missions to make a difference with the construction of the new Mott hospital.
Being ‘all in’ has become a consistent theme of late. Hopefully, we can all agree that being ‘All In for Mott’ is a great thing. And beyond the Spring game contributions and other fund raisers around Ann Arbor, there’s amazing events through Griese/Hutchinson/Woodson Champions for Children campaign. The fund raising events for Mott (http://champsforchildren.org/) include tailgates at multiple locations around the country and an annual event in Ann Arbor.
Personally, I have been fortunate enough to never need Mott. Neighbors of mine have needed the services of Mott for 2 of their children, as has our AD. I appreciate that we’re all in different positions to give and subsequently, we all can’t attend events like those in the Champions for Children campaign, but given how important Mott is to kids, and to our legacy as a Michigan community, I hope you’ll spare a few bucks at the Mott Spring Game.