Oddly Timed Hockey Update
Sometimes you start typing up a UV bit and then you hit 600 words and break it out into a post you had not intended to write.
So: hockey. It's been playing. They spent the first couple weeks wandering about looking pretty bad, then annihilated St. Lawrence to be an incredibly underserving #1. One Hunwick game misconduct later they came back from Northern with just two points in their CCHA opener and that ranking was gone.
Ferris rolled into town last night with a 6-0 record and sweep of Miami to their credit; Michigan came away with a validating 5-2 win. I have a habit of watching Ferris early in the year, thinking they're really good, and then watching them go .500, but I mean it this time: I think this is a really good Ferris team. This time I'm on steadier ground what with their record.
I'm still getting a handle on the team since it is hugely different than last year's outfit, but I think it's going to be more fun to watch than last year's edition. That's not to say it will be better—they won the league and got to overtime in the national title game—but they've already scored more pretty goals than they did all of last year.
That's thanks in part to Lindsay Sparks going from oft-scratched to the team's leading scorer. I won't question Red Berenson in case he decides to look at me with disappointment, thereby turning me into dust, but… I don't get it, man. The last couple years it seemed clear he was more of a threat than several second-liners, let alone the Rohrkempers of the world. This year he's looking like an all-conference player. He's already got 11 points, many of them featuring top-level skill.
Freshman takes in order of eeee:
- Phil DiGuiseppe. As I tweeted yesterday, guy can play. Slick passer, good jump, good size, good hands. Sometimes you pull these guys out of Junior A (not B, as I erroneously tweeted) and it turns out they can't make the transition. No such problems for DiGuiseppe, and he just turned 18. Star potential.
- Zach Hyman. Hyman hasn't leapt off the page as much as DiGuiseppe but he'll get there. He's good good balance and hands and he's been an effective part of the Sparks line.
- Mike Chiasson. Steady, conservative defensive defenseman. Will be a four year player; should quietly hold down a second pairing for most of his career.
- Brennan Serville. Has not been as noticeable but seems to have a regular spot. Don't know much about his game yet.
- Travis Lynch. Slotted into a spot with Wohlberg and Glendening and has 3-3-6 already. Had a sweet deflection last night on a Bennett point shot. Not sure if he can keep this up but he's been on a tear since about two seconds after he committed.
- Alex Guptill. Getting a generic-big-guy vibe from him. He'll slouch around the third line most of his career before suddenly getting really good as a senior, like Rohlfs or Lebler.
Szuma and Sinelli got in one game; they get incompletes. They are the new generation of healthy scratches.
Random other items:
- Greg Pateryn is a long-limbed rock. Tough to get enough space to get a good chance when he's on the ice. He will screw up too often to be truly great but if they come through this period without Merrill okay it will be because he held down the fort against top lines.
- Kevin Clare is unbelievably slow. I think he's the guy who sees his playing time decline when Merrill gets back.
- Derek Deblois looks like he's taken a step forward this year. Ditto Brown.
- I guess I can't complain when David Wohlberg is above a PPG but I don't like having him on the same line as Lynch (freshman edition) and Glendening. I'd like to see what a Sparks-DiGuiseppe-Wohlberg line could accomplish, and let the Lynches and Glendening anchor a checking line.
- The official scorer at Yost is padding opponent shot totals like a mother. Anything that gently rolls to a stop two feet in front of the goal is counted. I'm of a mind to look at Hunwick's home/away splits last year to see if there's a big difference in save percentage.
Michigan's streak of picking up an NTDP goalie has hit a third straight year with the commitment of 2012 G Jared Rutledge. Hurray. You're worried.
You're right to be, but Michigan's streak of having that goalie blanch at the prospect of competing with Shawn Hunwick and bolt to the OHL should end at two since Hunwick will be gone after this year. Rutledge, like Trouba, waited a long time to figure out what he was going to do so he wouldn't end up breaking his word:
"I told Red I didn't want to be their hat trick," Rutledge said with a smile. "I told them all along that when I made my decision, I was going to be 100% sure I was coming there. I couldn't be happier and I'm really excited."
Tell us what we've won, me.
Rutledge is a smallish goalie reputed to have excellent anticipation, rebound control, and positioning:
Rutledge is technically and positionally very sound, is excellent at controlling rebounds, handles the puck well, competes hard, has a good glove, doesn’t get phased on the rare occasion he does let in a bad goal, and is extremely good at anticipating the play. Though he isn’t overly big, he challenges exceptionally well, and makes life miserable for shooters. If you don’t beat him on the first shot, chances are you won’t get another opportunity.
Sounds like a less-tiny Hunwick who isn't constantly kicking pucks out into the slot. (No offense intended to Tiny Jesus.) He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2010 OHL draft by Saginaw and is kicking around draft lists as a "B"—mid-round—prospect. His stats are pretty solid—he's averaged between .910 and .920 save percentage splitting time between the U17 and U18 teams, generally outperforming his competition in the same situation.
Hockey recruiting class: complete? Michigan might add a walk-on piece here and there, but this looks like it's about it for next year (question marks denote kids Heisenberg has listed as 2012 or 2013:
- Forwards: Boo Nieves, Daniel Milne, Justin Selman, Max Shuart(?)
- Defensemen: Jacob Trouba, Connor Carrick, Spencer Hyman(?)
- Goalie: Rutledge
If Merrill makes it through his current suspension I'm guessing he will be around next year as well. It seems like someone who was going to leave after this year anyway would book it given the severity of the punishment. If so they may or may not add Hyman. Right now they're scheduled to bring back everyone save Pateryn and I'm not seeing a ton of departure threats. Maybe Bennett. Hyman would be the seventh defenseman at best in that situation because Michigan would be insanely loaded on D: Merrill, Bennett, Trouba, Moffie, Carrick, Chiasson, Serville, and Clare plus Szuma and possibly Hyman. If Merrill and Bennett both take off then there'd obviously be room.
I wish there was a little more depth in the forward corps—I haven't seen any buzz about Milne and Selman being draftable—but a quality goalie plus two first-round types is a big haul to go with what's looking like a promising freshman class.
The scoreboard is hypothetically awesome but they're still trying to figure out how to use it. Goal replays are erratic; highlight packages sometimes don't appear at all in intermissions, and penalties never get replays. If they're willing to put the Wohlberg goal up last night as it was being reviewed I don't think that's a controversy thing. I get that there's only one camera but at least some of the penalties are on the puck.
As for Yost… man, it has been off. I think moving the seniors close to the band was a mistake. When they were in the middle of the ice the chants had a smaller maximum distance; now the two sections furthest away from the band are mostly empty and totally lame. Are ticket prices too high? Michigan ran that Groupon special and packed the empty endzone seats; once that stopped we were again treated to nearly-empty sections in both endzones. I sit amongst the old fuddies now and they're not around either.
Another possibility: odd starting times have thrown people off after decades of Friday, Saturday, 7:30, see you in two weeks.
Whatever the explanation, I'm not feeling the same sort of excitement in the building that there was even a couple years ago. We're seeing the same sort of apathy infect the student section at football games. I think it's time to start taking attendance and offering people nice perks for showing up on time, like better seats next year. The AD's solitary focus on money is making the product worse.
you're onto something: it's too expensive. i'm a graduate student. my wife is a school teacher. she wanted hockey season tickets, but they stopped offering spousal packages for all sports at some point in the past few years, and i can't justify the cost of full price tickets. i've complained to the ticket office and to DB directly about the fact that i can't afford a spousal ticket at full price. nobody cares.
I agree that that sucks, but don't you have a friend in your graduate program who would buy the tickets if you wrote him/her the check?
but i find it sketchy, my wife is very opposed to that sort of rule-breaking, and none of my colleagues responded when i emailed about something similar in the past, so i'd have to actually single somebody out and press them to do it, which is extra sketchy. anyway, the universally applicable problem is that ticket prices are out of hand.
My first thought was:
Old time hockey? Eddie Shore? Then I read "oddly timed" and was less excited
You have Phil's name right in the tag, but in the caption and body, you have "DiGuiseppe."
2nd period was great. FSU had previoiusly given up 5 goals, 1 on the PP, and in the space of just over half a period, we bombed them with 3 goals, 2 on the PP.
Totally agree on Yost being off this year, and you're on point with the cost of student tickets. They were always expensive, and they're even moreso now. And piping in RAWK at the ends of the intermissions after the band stops playing is absurd. Get yer hands off my Yost, Special K.
I'm completely confused by the student section distribution thing. And even more confused by what those two densely-populated sections are doing. What are these goofy new hand and body motions whilst clapping along to the intro to The Victors? Why on earth would you ever change the Bullwinkle dance? How hard is it to find two cowbell players who can actually play together? What on earth was that stupid song they played last night with the lyrics on the screen? Some kind of hockey polka? What?
If you're going to put a name on the student section and act like you're doing something cool and unique in the arena where Michigan's traditions of unified student sections began (before these kids were even born), stick with what worked and stop trying to reinvent the wheel. It looks forced, hokey, and un-Yost-like. Rabble rabble get off my lawn.
Although kid with the panda outfit, strong work, man. It's gotta be hot in there, but it looks hilarious.
That song seems to be hockey's answer to Take Me Out to the Ballgame, only much, much worse. Last night's game was the first I've been to since I had student tickets over a decade ago. I couldn't figure out if they had always played that song and I just didn't remember it, or if it was new to Yost. I've definitely heard it at Wings games at the Joe though. In any event, bad song.
Well, there's Good Old Hockey Game, which has been played in one form or another by the hockey band since 2006 or 7 (I can't remember when, it was a trombone-only thing for a while when it started), but last night they played something much different and incredibly hokey with words on the scoreboard and everything. No idea what it is, but it's awful.
I think Yost is always a little subdued early in the season. The place never really seems to get rocking until December (or until the first home game against MSU should that be earlier).
The bitch this year is that Michigan plays like 2/3 of it's home dates before Christmas. 8 home games in October? 6 home games in November? Number of home games after the New Year? Six. Total. It'll be tough for the team to build up any momentum in the winter when they're on the road 2 out of every 3 weeks. I don't know if this is just a subtle parting middle finger from the CCHA to a B1G team bailing on them, or just a quirk in the schedule, but it sucks.
I hope that the B1G hockey conference does a better job of balancing out home dates across the entire season.
I've had student tickets for the past three years and gone to nearly every game. The first month has almost always been extremely dead. Everybody will show up the first time we play ND or MSU and from then out attendence stays strong.
you're giving Serville too much credit and definitely T. Lynch and possibly Guptill too little. Actually, I think you're right about Guptill, just whenever Serville is on the ice I'm busy frantically hoping he doesn't give up some far too good opportunity to the other team. Obviously he has potential or he wouldn't have been drafted in the third and D is a hard position to learn, but right now ugh. I think Lynch (the younger) has done a really, really nice job, very solid defensively and does enough things right, if not spectacularly, offensively where I'm very comfortable wherever Red wants to put him. I hate hate hate forwards on the point on Power Plays, I think they're generally way too ready to make a mistake that's going to lead to a short-handed breakaway (but I'm not going to argue with Red and I think Jerry York has run a couple 5 forward power play units in his time and I'm not going to argue with him either), but Wohlberg is playing like a man possessed, last night especially, he did really really well. I can see how it would be good for him to get more chances offensively than he is with his current line, but I think for now leave him, PDG and Sparks where they're obviously comfortable right now and move them if the offense gets stagnant. Also, as it is right now, the offense is pretty well split across three lines, which is harder to match-up against than just being able to put out your best D-pair and a Rust-type forward or two.
Serville: I agree. he was fine tonight, but in a couple previous games, i saw him get walked and seemed really slow. I bet he's the guy that loses time when merill returns
The long slide away from bringing in crazy fandom towards money-dominated decisions has been a long time coming. My freshman year was the last year people got tickets based on their spot in line ... camping out for tickets was a rite of passage. Two years later they doubled the price of admission for student season tickets. And then with the blue blood section (e.g. dinner in a comfy seat combined with golf clapping). And the moment before now they started telling the student section to "Settle down... you can't say that! Don't you know this is hockey!?"
Hey DB ... in regards to your Yost decisions ... "YOU JUST SUCK!! YOU JUST SUCK!! YOU JUST SUCK!!"
I'm interested to see what happens when they add more "Premium Seating" to Yost, being that the Club Level has been consistently 50% or more empty almost every game since the deck was installed. They say it's sold out, but I refuse to believe that many people dump that much money on those tickets and such a high proportion of them are empty every single game.
Hmmmm…. No one pays too much attention to what seat they’re assigned to in the student section. I sit (stand) in the student section in the same general vicinity as where the guy with the cowbell typically is, but I’ve never been in the same seat twice. There is a significant amount of interaction between the band and the students, which is nice, and the atmosphere is far better than any other sport I’ve been to. Student attendance has also consistently gone up game to game.
the group dance session during the second intermission for the sudden lack of Yost karma. Totally has jumped the shark to me. Nothing like watching the yellow jackets become disabled after six minutes of "dancing with the oldies". Bring back Superfan to dance and leave the canned music at Munn and JLA, too.
On the ice, gotta love the freshmen energy. Gotta hate a little on Kevin Lynch for less play and more penalty.
And kudos to the Banana, too. The Gorilla didn't eat you. Ugly Gorilla.
It has seemed somewhat quiet to me also. Attendence seems to be down. Maybe as people realize the team is pretty good (and fun to watch) the seats will fill in.
Food is worse and more expensive. When Brandon said that he was looking for options to upgrade, I didn't realize it was profitablity not fan experience that was being upgraded.
Piped in music is lame.
What's with train whistle for the goal horn?
Scoreboard is nice but I think it is 20% too large. It over powers the ice.
Regardless, Yost is still one of the best sports values and experiences so I will continue coming.
student hockey prices are beyond absurd. As a student who has to pay for all my own tickets its an easy decision to pay $100 less for basketball tickets and just scalp tickets for the big hockey games for like $30 total.
New scoreboard already has a busted pixel (on your side of the ice Brian). I sit there staring at that stupid green pixel wondering if David Branding paid for the extended warranty or not.
Nice to have the new scoreboards but WTF. Did he get these out back of Best Buy in the busted joint bin?