In my first or second season at Yost we sat maybe a section over from a guy who really wanted to be funny but mostly yelled things like "I want a piece of you, Ham." You see, it's funny because his last name is "Ham," and ham is also a lunchmeat so you could take a piece of him because he would be salty and delicious. And then you would put him in your mouth. Do you like where this is going? Check Y or N.
A few years later there was this lady in the endzone with a cowbell. She rang it with a ruthless military efficiency at the appropriate times. She was perhaps the best person with cowbell I have experienced, but she played with such intensity she came off as slightly insane. Someone once told me she had failed when she tried out for the hockey band. Ah: she had spent her time at Chateau d'If pounding out the insistent rhythm of "Go Blue" on the dungeon wall.
Maybe around the same time, maybe earlier, there was a generation of supremely vile screamers who sat in the heart of the student section and launched largely incomprehensible rants at whoever was an opportune target. I know they were supremely vile because at that point the visiting parents were seated right behind the visitor's bench—right in front of the vile generation—and screaming matches between them were a common occurrence. Meatheaded fathers trundling up the aisle in search of someone to fight weren't common occurrences, but they weren't exactly uncommon. I remember one particular UNO parent climbing the stairs with death in his eyes.
A few years after that they'd moved the parents and a couple guys who wore costumes to the game closest to Halloween decided they'd just start wearing them all the time, so you'd look over in the student section and see a penguin or Frankenberry or guys dressed up like knights for no apparent reason. This year there's a guy in a dog costume who screams so loud I can hear him across the ice.
There is a man who wears a "666" jersey that says "heckler from hell" on the back. He has always been there.
Hockey crowds invented "can't read, can't write" and, when Bobby Williams was running things into the ground and virtually everyone on Michigan State's team had been arrested or rumored to be having serious life problems with drugs, "snort green, smoke white." When Boston U and future NHLer Brandon Yip came to town someone started going "yip yip yip yip" like the aliens on Sesame Street and soon everyone was doing it and that's probably where the bizarre penalty kill hooting comes from. We used to chant "goalie, sieve" fairly generically until some guy came up with the version that goes from slow to fast to slow again, and now everyone does that.
At some point in the middle of the last decade there was a weird old man who started showing up in the student section. Whenever there was the vaguest impression of a penalty on the other team he would exclaim "HEY!" When the penalty impression was fairly strong he would continue saying "HEY!" for a solid minute. He did this flatly, without affect, just "HEY" repeated over and over with the same intonation. After a few games of this it was a little annoying but when someone started doing it with him to mock him everyone started doing it and it was just this mass of people screaming "HEY" like they are endeavoring to be a hockey metronome. Once it lasted for five solid minutes after a particularly egregious no call.
The student section's favorite name ever was "Cockburn," even though it was pronounced "coburn." This did not matter to them in the slightest.
There was also a comically long edition of If You Can't Get Into College Go To Blank directed at… oh, I don't know… Western or LSSU or Northern or something. Before each verse Superfan's sidekick would call out the next school you should apply to before Western or Lake State or wherever—"Schoolcraft!"
The band director used to dance. When Michigan was winning people would start screaming "dance" at him. There was specific dancing song, and often it was preceded by false starts that would draw boos and chants of "overrated." When the students were baying at their peak the director would finally relent and the dancing music would play and the director would dance and everyone would point at him and chant "Disco Nix," or other appropriate naming device that follows "Disco." Afterwards the noun-sieve cheer was "dancer, sieve."
At some point in the awkward transition period between Jack Johnson's dad dances to everyone dances there were three or four competing dancers, many of whom were just… wow. One of them was the spiritual descendent of Ham Guy and would not be dissuaded from dancing no matter how much you told him he should not do so. He probably had Asperger's even if that doesn't exist anymore.
There is one guy in my fogey section who is awesome. He is a big dude who brings the paper and when he is incensed he does not care he is around very many people who do not care quite as much as he does, he stands and bellows something or other I can't hear because I'm behind him. A few years ago when I was on the other side of the ice there was a guy who got so mad he'd leap up in his seat and lean over the boards so he could scream at the refs good and loud. I don't think he ever got booted out because he looked like an accountant.
Every time I go to the Joe I see one of the ushers from the student section there in civilian clothes, looking so happy he can face the ice the whole time and not kick anyone out for saying something naughty.
Some kid got his mom to make a giant Swedish flag so whenever Carl Hagelin scores it can cover an entire section, and everyone signed it and gave it to him on Senior Night and everyone hopes it's not an NCAA violation so he can keep it. There was a group of guys with vuvuzelas last year who were not annoying.
I was there the first time a kid on the zamboni took his shoe off, and the first time the kid on the zamboni who'd taken his shoe off threw it into the student section. The kid looked delighted he'd done this.
PLAYOFF TIME IS HOCKEY BEAR TIME
|WHAT||Michigan vs Minnesota-Duluth|
|WHERE||XCel Center, St. Paul, Minnesota|
|THE LINE||Come on|
Record. 25-10-6, 15-8-5 WCHA. Duluth is necessarily less terrifying than North Dakota. They're approximately as terrifying as UNO: they finished a point behind the Mavericks in the WCHA and were +28 in goal differential (UNO was +35). Their nonconference performance was a bit better than UNO's, but other than a weird nonconference matchup with North Dakota the opponents were not strong. KRACH—which stopped updating before tournament results came in—has them 7th. Michigan is 6th. (North Dakota was an easy #1.)
The Bulldogs spent time earlier in the year at #1 but struggled late in their conference schedule. After a sweep of Michigan Tech in late January they finished the regular season 3-4-3; their best opponents were CC (one point) and UNO (split). In the WCHA playoffs they beat St. Cloud in the first round, then lost to Bemidji in the quarterfinals.
In the tournament they were fortunate to be the only non-AH/ECAC team in Yale's regional. They beat Union 2-0 despite getting outshot 32-26 by scoring two power play goals. Against Yale they jumped out to a 3-0 lead. After Yale got one back, Brian O'Neill, the goalscorer and Yale's best player, was kicked out of the game on a clean open-ice hit. UMD scored twice on the ensuing five-minute power play and that was all she wrote; Yale did add two PP goals of their own in the third. Yesterday they fell behind in the first period twice but bounced back quickly; their power play scored three more goals. An ND shortie closed the gap but not all the way.
If you're scoring at home, Duluth has two even strength goals in three NCAA tournament games. They've been outshot by 6, 7, and 13.
Previous meetings. None. How about…
Common opponents. Chart? Chart.
|Northern Michigan||3-2||-||-||3-2, 5-0|
|Notre Dame||4-3||-||-||5-3, 4-2||1-3|
|Wisconsin||2-0, 6-5, 3-2||2-3||-||4-4|
|Colorado College||-||4-5||3-3||6-5, 2-1|
|North Dakota||3-2||0-5, 2-4||-||1-0(!)|
Duluth is 7-6-4 with a –1 goal differential; Michigan is 11-3-1 with a +19 goal differential. Woot? Well, here the schedule strength is not close at all since Michigan's only got the one game against North Dakota and four against meh CCHA teams like LSSU and Northern. On the other hand, Minnesota was pretty bad this year and Michigan only got one crack at them—they lost, but if they played four they might have done better than 1-1-2.
Yes, everyone on UMD dyed their hair blond.
Yes, this makes everyone look like eurotrash except the guys with beards.
Yes, the guys with beards just look amazing.
Clint Austin/Duluth News
Dangermen. Also way less terrifying than North Dakota's. Closer to CC's with a stronger second line and much worse depth. CC has six forwards with more than 20 points; four are on a PPG-ish pace. From Michigan's perspective, that's better than UND's six. Their top line is outstanding—brothers Mike (28-26-54) and Jack Connolly (18-41-59) team with Justin Fontaine (22-36-58) to create a line on par with CC's Schwartz/Schultz combo and not far off UND's Frattin/Malone/Trupp. Their even strength numbers are a bit less impressive, as 26 of the line's 68 goals came with an advantage. Scooter actually has more ES goals than Jack Connolly and Fontaine. That's not to say scoring on the PP lots is bad thing—it's just that they're two different phases. North Dakota's even strength scoring was far more intimidating.
The second line is pretty strong as well, with JT Brown's 16-20-36 leading the way and a couple others not far behind. After that scoring collapses. One guy has thirteen points and then it's a bunch of nothing—this should be a game in which Michigan's third and fourth lines dominate.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Junior Kenny Reiter is a step back from UND's Aaron Dell but is better than the goalies for either of Michigan's regional opponents. He has a slightly above average .914 save percentage. Tiny Jesus is up to .925 after blanking North Dakota.
Faulk has played Michigan before. Mark Bialik/AnnArbor.com.
The UMD defense has one ultra-star in freshman Justin Faulk, a second round pick of the Hurricanes in last year's draft. Faulk has 8-25-33 and is hyped up by many as the best freshman defenseman in the country. Jon Merrill might have something to say about that, but he's very good. The United States of Hockey scouts him:
As I mentioned, a big reason UMD’s power play works so well is because of the threat Faulk provides from the top of the point. Teams don’t want him to unleash his accurate and heavy shot without someone in his face. Due to that, there’s more room down low and on the half walls for the Connollys, Brown and Fontaine.
The other thing about Faulk, as friend of the blog Corey Pronman pointed out, is that he doesn’t shoot if he doesn’t have a lane and is far more than an offense-only defenseman. I think that’s why he’s probably the best pro prospect playing.
People in the NHL think he has "50 point upside."
UMD was hit with the mid-season departure of former Chicago first-rounder Dylan Olsen, who was going to be academically ineligible for the second half of the season. An injury to junior Brady Lamb made them quite thin for a time in February. They're better now, with senior captain Mike Montgomery and freshman sensation Justin Faulk (2010 second-round pick by Carolina) taking most of the big minutes. Lamb and sophomore Wade Bergman will see plenty of ice time. Sophomore Drew Olson needs to be more consistent, but he's been better while paired with fifth-year senior Trent Palm.
Sounds like the third pairing is a bit of an issue.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||5.1||4.2|
|PP Ag / G||4.8||4.5|
Duluth is slightly less likely to draw and more likely to commit an infraction. Michigan can't buy a call.
This is the same story as the previous two games: UMD, CC, and North Dakota are 7-8-9 in power play effectiveness, which means they're very very good and you are playing with fire every time you go to the box. The only power conference teams in front of that trio are BC and Miami. UMD's given up only three shorthanded goals compared to CC's 11 and UND's 7, so they're even a bit better than the numbers suggest.
Michigan's mediocre play earlier in the season gave way to an outstanding penalty kill in the tournament. North Dakota could hardly get set up on their five opportunities and CC was shut down. They're still languishing in the 20s; they're playing much, much better than that.
On the flipside it's a matchup between the #27 PP and the #27 PK that will be won or lost by the accuracy of Michigan point shots.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Rust Annihilation Co. Again Michigan comes across a team vulnerable to the incredible shutdown line they've iced since the three-game slide at the three-quarters pole. With last change Michigan will throw Rust, Glendening, and Winnett out there against the Connollys and hope to outscore with their other three lines. (Yes, three. I take it all back, fourth line.) If Rust and company can do what they did to the Schwartzes Michigan is halfway home.
STAY OUT OF THE BOX. I realize this can be difficult when refs think your shoulder is your elbow and ignore boarding and charging from the other team, but seriously: UMD has two even strength goals in the tourney. That's not very many. While Michigan doesn't have many more they are a different sort of team. Michigan is 6th in goals allowed, UMD 17th. If Michigan keeps the penalties in check and kills them the way they did against UND they're three quarters of the way home, leaving…
Scooter, Caporusso, Moffatt, Treais, someone: score. Hagelin and Caporusso will draw the second UMD scoring line, leaving a bunch of mugs up against Michigan's third and fourth lines. With UMD's third defensive pairing also a little shaky, those lines need to be at least +1 collectively. We can't bank on the Annihilation Co actually outscoring the opposition's mad awesome line again.
How likely is this? At least somewhat. UMD's been significantly outshot in the tournament despite a wicked power play; if Michigan can play the game five on five they should have a territorial advantage. They bombed a team with a similar lack of depth in the regional final and only scored two because Joe Howe went Hunwick and Joe Howe's posts did too.
Burlon? I was surprised Burlon wasn't ready to go. Actually, I'm not sure he wasn't. It sounds like the reason he was scratched was Red wanting to leave the regionals lineup intact. That's very strange to me because Clare does not get a whole lot of run—certainly not as much as Burlon would—and there's at least one shift a game where the speed of these good WCHA teams clearly overwhelms his ability to get rid of the puck in an effective fashion. I'm guessing we'll see Clare out there again, but there's a case that you can hide Burlon against these iffy UMD lines, especially with last change. Having him out there for his offense seems like a benefit.
You can make the same case for Sparks over Rohrkemper but that's definitely not happening. /shakes fist
HUNWIIIIIIIIICK. From the North Dakota preview:
Hunwick has done it before this year and while my past self is inventing a time machine just so he can show up right after I type this to slap some sense into me, most win scenarios involve Hunwick setting up halfway to the blue line and stopping every first shot and then doing some crazy stuff you can't even believe is happening.
He probably won't have to do that in this game—shots figure to be at least even—but if he's on like that it's party time. He can't possibly be again, but this is hockey so yeah he could.
Pray like hell. Seriously, yo.
The Big Picture
Win or die.
i just did one of these but in the meantime there has been a TWB post on Shawn Hunwick…
Jon Merrill rang an almost-perfect shot off the crossbar, and with 13:26 remaining in the first period Ben Winnett — a player who had scored all of three goals this season — eventually corralled the rebound and buried it to give Michigan the all-important 1-0 lead. A North Dakota fan flashed his middle finger, one of those derogatory gestures meant to say, “Enjoy it while you can,” in expectation of the inevitable comeback. The Sioux battled back with increased intensity, turning up the pressure on the Wolverines and turning the game into one of those Hockey Games That Take Years Off Your Life. Watching North Dakota play, it was hard not to agree with Middle Finger Guy: This was far from over.
…and a torrent.
4/7/2011 – Michigan 1, North Dakota 0 – 29-10-4, national championship berth
[Ed-M: M 2, NoDak 0 if you count the empty-netter but it felt like 1-0]
42:40: The first time I looked at the clock. You'll note this is still in the first period. At this point I was a bit uncomfortable with the way things were tilted and wanted them to get to the locker room to regroup so they could get back on the relatively even footing it seemed they'd grasped. I mean, North Dakota seemed better but there was a bit in there where this looked like a plausible hockey game.
40:59: Ref gives Michigan embellishment call as player tries to hop around defender to grab the puck. Furious.
40:00: Exhale. Pop on twitter to complain about Rust's elbowing call. Think back to the 2003 Yost regional final when Mark Mink turned a harmless shorthanded CC turnover behind their own net to a wrap-around goal. Remember shouting "you haven't done anything all year but I FORGIVE YOU" at Mink. Half wince at persistent complaints about amount of playing time handed over to Ben Winnett over the years, half take credit for goal since universe tends to say "oh YEAH" at blog assertions.
39:30: This isn't going well. Already.
36:55: Derek DeBlois is headed off the ice when the puck approaches the bench; he hesitates for a second, looks like he's going to play it, and then continues. They call too many men.
34:55: Michigan kills another power play without really letting North Dakota get set up. That's their third; at no point has UND looked dangerous.
35:00: Still not going well at all.
33:03: Ref fails to call a matching minor on a Sioux slash. Power play.
29:50-ish. Hunwick robs Chay Genoway as he plunges into the slot, Eric Werner-style. He receives a cross-slot pass. A pass that goes from one prime shooting area from another is completed and Hunwick makes the save with his body. He's outside the crease as he does this.
29:05: The point at which I look at the clock and say "over half this period is gone" with sudden relief and realize I have been looking at this hockey game as the world's longest penalty kill since the 42:40 mark. I admit this to myself now. We are going to look like Wayne State against Colorado College the night before Mink scores the goal that forgives all: lined up on the blue line like men being executed for treason.
25:00-ish: Gregoire turns Langlais and comes swooping in on net right-to-left. He's on his forehand and has the entire net; Hunwick slides with him and stones him.
24:12: Hunwick drinks water. A friend who sits in the end zones at Yost told me that Hunwick is finicky about his water. Whenever a ref comes by to drink some his body language reads "why do you have to be like that?"
20:00: Exhale. Type "shitshitshitshitshitshitshit" into twitter because at this point analysis is impossible. I'm pretty sure Clare isn't playing much and there have been points when the fourth line has gotten trapped in its own end against the Frattin line that I can remember now but it's fight or flight.
18:00: Ten percent.
16:00: Twenty percent.
15:51: Frattin plays in on Malone as Glendening gets beat around the corner. Hunwick goes for a poke check and gets it; I realize this about five seconds later since the animal terror had been focused on the area behind Hunwick where the puck would pop out as the inevitable, devastating five-hole goal was scored.
I think about how I've seen this story before.
In 2004 Boston College was bombing Al Montoya but Michigan was hanging on to a one-goal lead thanks to goals from Mike Brown and Andy Burns—basically Winnett, except Burns was a defenseman scoring his first of the year. After a hectic nine-minute stretch without whistles in which Michigan finally started playing BC even, Michigan gave up a goal off an offensive zone faceoff. Whole self deflated, etc. BC won in overtime; shots ended up 42-15 BC.
12:33: I am being hunted. A shadow passes to my right as I scurry, tiny legs whirring through wildflowers. The shadow is getting larger.
10:01: AAAAAIIGH FRATTIN—HUNWICK!
I have no idea where the puck is but I don't care because it's not in the net. Air Force did this to us. God, we were good that year.
When I came home my then girlfriend had someone over. I said nothing, went into the bedroom, and closed the door. She silently brought me a glass and some whiskey, and I thought she was as wonderful as anything could be in a universe of total blackness.
9:32: Nothing much is happening righ—DON'T EVEN THINK THAT
8:50: Merrill holding call. This is all my fault.
6:50: Merrill comes out of the box without North Dakota getting much more than a point shot, but Michigan gets stuck in their end just as the penalty expires and is clearly gassed. I remember a game against Maine in which Michigan was down to five defensemen, one of whom was a walk-on, but not like Hunwick is a walk-on. Like a walk-on walk-on. They mostly played four guys. Mike Komisarek was a giant, a future pro who was unbelievably good, but by the end of the game he could barely move, and Maine put the Comrie era to bed.
The puck slides to the blue line, but not out. The linesman doesn't see it that way. Good linesman. I take back everything bad I've ever said about offsides.
5:00: Seventy five percent.
4:00: Now counting in minute increments. At 3:14 I decide there are three minutes left. I hate that 2:37 is still three minutes. 2:16: two minutes. Kill one power play. Come on.
1:13: Goalie gone. "Get it out," someone screams. The puck does not get out.
57.5: A pass slithers out from behind the net and manages to avoid the mess of sticks and skates camped out there. This memory does not require a refresher from wikipedia because it's terrifyingly recent: UMD just scored into a wide-open net against Notre Dame on this exact same pass. Hagelin throws himself at the shot and blocks it. The puck turns heel and ends up right back on Trupp's stick. He walks into the slot and lets it loose; Pateryn has thrown himself at this one and the puck deflects into the corner. It's thrown back out into the same spot on the ice, where Trupp waits; Hagelin has recovered and chucks the puck into the other corner.
44:1: UND recovers and throws a couple passes around the perimeter. The second one is one-timed; Hagelin is again there. He blocks it. Puck turns back into an American hero by somehow lying directly at Hagelin's feet after the block. He's attacked by the defenseman who just fired it; Hagelin evades him; Michigan breaks to center ice three on two; Hagelin passes it over to Caporusso as another Sioux player comes up to stop him; Louie does the same when the last remaining defender approaches him at the blue line; Scooter—of course it is Scooter—slides the puck into the empty net.
Someone tries to shake my hand or something and is hugged.
I didn't want to lead the post with this but there was quality work done on the board last night, most of it inspired by this guy:
[click for big]
Usually bird-flipping maniacs don't look like accountants. Our previous experience tends more towards lawyers:
Two things to note:
- Louie Caporusso giving him the bird right back—I didn't even know you could do that in a hockey glove.
- See the guy in the white giving a death stare that moves from Scooter to the bird-flipper? Yeah, if you watch the Winnett goal that guy flips off Winnett. North Dakota fans: classy.
Complete this photoshop espectacularrrrr.
Hell Yes Bullets
Random guys who played well unexpectedly. Luke Moffat had as much of a game as you can have as a third/fourth liner in a game where you're pinned in your own end most of the time. Melrose was all about Rust, and with reason. Moffie was not exploited—he went with Frattin in the first period and tied up his stick, turning what looked like it was going to be a dangerous chance into a weak shot Hunwick had no problem with.
Rust. RUST. I think we're getting a sense of just how silently good he is. Michigan's late-season renaissance has come with Rust logging huge minutes against top lines and it doesn't seem to matter who's on his wing. A win tomorrow makes Shawn Hunwick a legend and it should probably make Rust one too—Schwartz, Frattin, and UNO's big guns have little to show in three nerve-wracking games. If UMD says the same tomorrow he instantly becomes the most underrated Michigan player in the last decade.
Ref complaint. Seriously, the reason people say "keep your head up" is so you can get hit in the head with someone's shoulder, and calling a charge on Michigan after an obvious charge on North Dakota makes me want to die, not to mention a trip on the goalie late in the game that was totally ignored. Yost Built heard it was Scott Hansen from HE and immediately said "that's the guy who waved off the Ryznar goal in Buffalo"—so, yeah, basically any time Michigan gets a HE crew they will have screwed Michigan at some point in the past.
ESPN non-complaint. Melrose was all about North Dakota last night and people were all about ripping Melrose, but he was right. This was a "sometimes the best team doesn't win situation" and it was obvious on the ice. Kudos to Michigan for doing what they needed to but asking Melrose not to marvel at the Sioux is asking him to turn a blind eye to reality. Red agrees:
“I’ll tell you, they’ve got to be stunned,” Berenson said. “I know we were in '97. We were stunned. There’s so much momentum built up in your season. They rolled through the season, they rolled through their playoffs, they rolled their playoffs, they rolled through the first regional.
“But they’re stunned. They can’t believe it. They’re going to second guess themselves.”
Michigan just beat '97 Michigan. That team was stacked, and saying so doesn't make you a bad dude.
Also, I love Gary Thorn so much.
Gurrrrrgh. Someone retweeted Lee Moffie apologizing for nailing some dude in the crowd:
I followed Moffie since that's entertainment right there, and then it suggested I follow "ajtrea23," which is obviously AJ Treais even if the number is messed up, and I clicked through. Treais's bio:
University of Michigan 13'. The Andover High School 09'. A less dynamic version of TJ Hensick.
My spidey sense told me to Google this and sure enough:
Tell Winnett I'm so so sorry.
The highlights in non-picture format:
Yost Built on the flipper:
didn't you feel like that when Andrew Volkening shut us out 2-0, despite the Wolverines outshooting Air Force 43-13? Didn't you feel like that when Ryan Miller beat us 1-0 in a game that we outshot Michigan State by a 31-13 count?
This is how it feels to have the goalie that makes opposing fans do...well...that.
Sioux fans are going to think about this game--this season--for the next decade as the one that got away. This is going to be their 1997. The year their team was near unbeatable during the year, actually unbeatable for the 2 1/2 months heading into the tournament, and that damn tiny walk-on goalie slammed the door on them.
And you can't have one without the other…
Junior defenseman Brandon Burlon is listed as a healthy scratch on Michigan's line chart for tonight's Frozen Four semifinal against North Dakota (8:30 p.m., ESPN2).
I wonder how much run they'll give Clare; it'll probably depend on how effective North Dakota's forecheck is.
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.
I'm a bit too young to have anything personal to say about Vada Murray. I don't remember him playing, as anything other than a guy with cancer.
It's one of the great things about the internet, though, that the collective can make up for any one individual's shortcomings. Wolverine Historian put together a Murray highlight reel that lets you see what Jamiemac wrote about a couple years ago in HTTV—Murray and Tripp Welborne blocking everything in sight—amongst other things:
RIP. Also if you would talk to God about lightening up on the safeties now that would be good.
PLAYOFF TIME IS HOCKEY BEAR TIME
|WHAT||Thursday: Michigan vs North Dakota
Saturday: Michigan vs Notre Dame, UMD, or grudging acceptance
|WHERE||XCel Center, St. Paul, Minnesota|
|WHEN||Thu: 8:30 PM.
Sat: hypothetically 9 PM
Record. 32-8-3, 21-6-1 WCHA. Yeeeeaaaargh. NoDak's dominating run through the WCHA ended in regular season and playoff championships and the underlying numbers are almost more impressive. The Sioux had a +50(!) goal differential in 28 conference games and were +86(!) overall.
North Dakota hasn't lost since January 28th and hasn't even tied since February 18th. In their last 15 games they are 14-0-1 and most of those games have been hammerings. A large chunk of that is due to playing Michigan Tech four times (total goals: 28-4) in a weak section of their schedule, but like holy balls. Two weeks ago they were the sole one seed to come out of the regionals and they did it without drama, annihilating RPI 6-0 and Denver 6-1.
They are an easy favorite to win the title, but Michigan has weighted plinko on their side this time.
Previous meetings. None. How about…
Common opponents. Chart? Chart.
|Nebraska-Omaha||6-5, 4-2||0-1, 4-8||6-1, 3-2||2-4|
|Notre Dame||6-3||2-2||5-3, 4-2||1-3|
|Colorado College||6-0, 4-3||2-4||6-5, 2-1|
That's less alarming than it could have been. UND is 9-4-1 with a +8 GD. Michigan is 8-3-1 with a +9 GD. Schedule strength is crose enough. These are all good opponents (and Minnesota), suggesting that maybe when it comes to the top of the schedule the teams perform similarly. Too bad that suggestion gets way less powerful when you throw in games versus teams like Miami and Denver in.
Matt Frattin is so tired of having to do this every game
Dangermen. Like UNO, North Dakota has three solid lines of scorers. Like Colorado College, the top line is lethal. This is not a very good combination if you are going up against them. Hobey lock Matt Frattin leads the nation in goals with 36 and added 24 assists. Who's up for queefcore-scored highlights? You are:
Meanwhile, Jason Gregoire missed around a dozen games and still checks in with 25-18-43. Corban Knight, Evan Trupp, Danny Kristo and Brad Malone are all essentially PPG scorers, and then there's Brett Hextall (yes that Hextall) and his 13-16-29. If you ordered the rosters on a PPG basis you'd run through two full lines of Sioux before reaching the second Wolverine*.
These guys come in all shapes and sizes. Malone is a prototypical power forward with 108 penalty minutes who does most of his work in and around the crease; Trupp is one of those little buggers listed at 5'9". Mostly they're big, though. Rare is the North Dakota player under six foot and most are heavy for hockey players. They score lots, too.
*[This is a tiny bit pessimistic since Gregoire and Kristo both missed a big chunk of the season, allowing some of the other guys more time in high leverage situations (read: power play) to put up points. But not very.]
Defense and goalie and whatnot. After a couple of opponents whose goalies were less statistically impressive than Shawn Hunwick they run up against one for whom that is emphatically not the case. Sophomore Aaron Dell is in the top ten in save percentage with a .924. Hunwick's .922 is hot on his heels, FWIW, but it was nice going up against a couple of tourney teams and thinking "it's more likely their guy implodes than ours."
As for the defense, they are Chay Genoway, Jake Marto and huge. Geonway is basically Chad Langlais surrounded by snipers, a 5'9"—four FAKES out of five, there—defenseman able with the puck. He's got 31 assists on the season, good for eighth nationally. Marto is their version of Merrill. He's around 6'0", has 8-11-19 (five of those even strength), and took just three minor penalties the whole year. The other four guys are all at least 6'2" with freshman Derek Forbort topping out a 6'5". They're not offensive threats, but they don't have to be.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||5.2||4.2|
|PP Ag / G||4.7||4.4|
Despite a well-deserved rep for being dicks, North Dakota doesn't rack up penalty minutes quite like Red's old teams that had so much talent they didn't have to care. They do take more than their share of minors but kill 86% of them—fifth—and have eleven shorties. Since they've only given up 28 PPGs… yeah, they do not care about going to the box.
That talent allows them to draw a ton of penalties—they are second nationally in opportunities behind only Colorado College. Their power play is very, very good, too. It is just ahead of CC's at 23.3%, so if you thought watching the Schwartzes ping-pong the puck around was terrifying you're in for more of the same when Michigan is shorthanded.
Michigan remains mediocre in both phases but the penalty kill has dragged itself up from the mid-30s to 22nd in recent weeks.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
No pressure, and by no pressure we mean turn this coal into a diamond or we kill your dog
Burlon readiness check: harsh. Michigan's main advantage relative to 90% of college hockey is the ability to throw out any defense pairing against a top line and have confidence they will not get bombed. That was not the case last weekend when Kevin Clare was forced into the lineup by Brandon Burlon's allergic reaction; in the two weeks since Burlon has regained most of the weight he dramatically lost* and has been practicing on the regular. Given how leery Red was of putting Clare out even against CC's mediocre-at-best second and third lines, there's no chance he doesn't go with Burlon even if he's not saying so publicly.
So… how are you feeling, Brandon? Strong and good? Yes? Ready to live up to Red's declaration it's like "nothing ever happened"? We ask because there's no shallow end here. If anyone's going to be sheltered it will be Lee Moffie and even he is going to have a hard time escaping some very dangerous players. Burlon is going to have to do heavy lifting right away. If he's trying to check Malone in the crease it might not go so well.
*[80% of that was water but whateva.]
Enjoy your front-row seats, fourth line. I think we might see Moffatt on the power play some and Michigan will throw them out there every once in a while, but the fourth line is going to be vapor.
Scooter! Vaughn's moment of brilliance ended up being decisive and it will take something like it to take what looks like a loss and turn it into a win. Maybe from Scooter, maybe from someone else, but scrappy gritty Novakgoals aren't going to get it done against North Dakota. There might be some, but without someone stepping up and saying "Hobey this, Frattin" the prognosis is grim. Another breakaway that ends without even the threat of a goal would not be so good.
Of course, Michigan could just let Moffie shoot from the point at every opportunity and watch it pinball around, catch the post, and deflect in. That works too.
Carl/Rust. Michigan's other big advantage is they can ice a truly shut-down checking line and back that up with Carl Hagelin. I think they can keep it relatively even when those guys are out there—the problem is going to be the third line—and that should keep it within the range where bouncing pucks matter. Shut North Dakota down as long as possible, put something past Dell, and watch the pressure ratchet up until it shatters glass.
STAY OUT OF THE BOX. Stay out of the box. No box. Srs.
Steal it. Hunwick has done it before this year and while my past self is inventing a time machine just so he can show up right after I type this to slap some sense into me, most win scenarios involve Hunwick setting up halfway to the blue line and stopping every first shot and then doing some crazy stuff you can't even believe is happening.
Believe in the plinko. The NCAA tournament is stupid and unfair and a disaster and this year that's the way we like it.
Pray like hell. Seriously, yo.
The Big Picture
Win or die.
“[The Fighting Sioux] roll three pretty strong lines, so I think their depth is their biggest strength,” said Blais, who guided North Dakota to two national championships during his 10-year tenure from 1994 to 2004. “But they might be more talented [than Michigan] because of players like Frattin and Genoway that can make a difference in a game.”
Everything you could want from the North Dakota perspective. Comparison:
- Profile of Red Berenson in the News: 1000 words.
- Profile of Brendan Morrison in the Daily: 2400 words. No pictures by "Danger Nesbitt" this time but some archived stuff from the Daily in a slide show.
They're both good pieces but since the length and care taken in the Daily article is no exception—this happens like all the time—it's a good example of why it seems like the best sports section covering Michigan, period. The students are all trying to get clips that will get them jobs that will probably never let them write anything as good as the thing they did when they were writing to impress potential employers, because who has the money for that? Also the Daily kids obviously care. That's not something you can say about everyone. Or even most people. Also also, the Daily pieces seem specifically written for the web what with their multimedia aspects and newshole-crippling length.
Michigan Hockey Net digs up good old times against the Sioux:
7) They have the #2 offense and the #3 defense in the country. That ranks them second in scoring margin (+2.00 goals per game) behind only Yale, which doesn't really count since we all know the ECAC sucks.
Bring the Payne. MI CB LEVITICUS PAYNE has just achieved more than most of us will over the course of our lives: he's made the Name of the Year bracket.
[click for big.]
He's a 12 seed in the Bulltron regional against a "Silverberry Mouhon," which is mellifluous but is no LEVITICUS PAYNE. The Mercedes Bunz/Col. Many-Bears Grinder winner in the second round might be tough.
College football is also represented by South Carolina uber-recruit Jadeveon Clowney and former Michigan recruit Quinta Funderburke, who ended up signing with Arkansas. 2013 Purdue basketball commit Basil Smotherman Jr. also makes it. I'm pulling for Smotherman because for the duration of his career I'm going to pretend everything he says on the court is a Fawlty Towers quote.
Also everything Matt Painter says is going to be "BASIL!" I might watch every Purdue game during this era.
Schedule bits. The Big Ten released conference schedules for 2013 and 2014. Illinois and Purdue rotate off; Penn State and Indiana rotate on. Michigan won't see Wisconsin until 2015. That's why the Big Ten will add a ninth conference game sometime in the near future—four years off is a bit much.
At least that's good in terms of schedule strength… unless that thing where any team that doesn't play Michigan is guaranteed to collapse keeps happening. If Illinois and Purdue are insanely good next year our curse continues. Illinois could actually… naw, nevermind.
Monocle follow-up. Women's basketball is out of control:
Some schools paid their coaching staffs many times what their teams earned, the data show. The Texas A&M staff received $1.36 million, or 114 percent of operating revenue of $1.19 million, and Michigan State paid out $833,931, or 87 percent of operating revenue of $954,779.
At Auburn University, salaries and benefits cost $1.14 million, or 1,783 percent of the Tigers’ operating revenue of $64,225, and the program posted a $3.16 million operating loss.
Auburn continues to live by the motto "go big or go home." The 53 BCS schools vulnerable to FOIAs collectively lost over two million dollars each.
Those numbers are insane. Money is being transferred directly from football and basketball players to women's basketball coaches. At least with revenue sports there's some justification for paying the head of your program a lot of money—he's in charge of something that makes money and might stop doing so if you suck. There's no reason any women's basketball coach not at UConn or Tennessee should be making more than 100k. What's going to happen? Are the empty seats going to stop coming?
There's a lot of blather in that article from administrators talking about "the market," but that market is shaped by all the extra cash sloshing around because revenue athletes get the same scholarship as everyone else. Even UConn lost nearly a million dollars last year because it paid its head coach nearly two. There's an easy way to close that gap.
Do it or I'll burn you with my eye lasers. Outstanding find from MVictors, as he runs across a wire photo showing what Yost used to look like in the days of Cazzie Russell:
Greg advocates putting the old man back up—"Extend the Yost brand," he exhorts—and this is obviously the most fantastic idea ever.
BONUS: it reminded me of the Martin Van Buren alert system, wherein Old Man Murray put up a picture of MVB on their page and would change it to a "dramatic approximation of Martin Van Buren as he would appear if he were alive today" in the event some random person important to misanthropic gaming nerds* in 1999 updated her "page":
MVB, devil MVB
Michigan could do the same whenever Michigan State came to town or something. Best idea ever? Best idea ever.
*[so, so guilty as charged.]
Exit Fiesta. The NCAA's going to meet about the Fiesta Bowl whatnot soon and could pull the licenses from both the Fiesta (which would be a big deal) and the Insight (which would be a big deal to Minnesota). The shocking, shocking abuses uncovered have caused at least a few guys within the ivory tower to grumble about a playoff:
“The bowls ought to be put under the control of the N.C.A.A.,” said William E. Kirwan, the chancellor of Maryland’s university system and co-chairman of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, which discusses and sometimes makes recommendations on the major issues of college sports.
“One way to accomplish that is to go to a playoff and let it be an N.C.A.A. championship. That would be one way of breaking the back of the B.C.S. I’ve never been in favor of a playoff, but given what I see going on, I think it’s time to press that issue.”
He's got a point. Money currently being spent on strippers and golf by bowl executives could instead be used on strippers and golf by women's basketball coaches.
Nervous yet? In an article heavily laden with moody pictures of confetti, Luke Winn drops the bomb you've been bracing for in a way-too-early top 32(?):
13. Michigan John Beilein is on the verge of a breakthrough in Ann Arbor — that is, if point guard Darius Morris returns for his junior season. Tim Hardaway Jr. was perhaps the nation’s most underrated freshman in ’10-11, and the Wolverines showed flashes of their potential by nearly knocking off Duke in the “third” round. They could make an outside run at the Big Ten title.
Deliciously, Michigan State does not feature. Draymond Green's reaction to this:
As for the Wolverines, that 13 is uncomfortably close to the #15 ranking they got in the preseason AP poll before they imploded two years ago. It's also ridiculous to make these lists before the NBA draft deadline, not that it stops CBS (16) or ESPN (also 16).
Etc.: Corn Nation covers Bo's final season as part of their countdown to joining the Big Ten. Via On The Banks, here's an academic economist who actually seems to have a clue about college athletics. Polynomial efficiency margins from Maize Colored Glasses.
The Conference of Leaders and Legends and Champions and Successes and Deliverables has released its industry-leading, no frills, easy-to-use schedule of play through what we can only hope will be Brady Hoke's fourth consecutive Big Ten Championship. ESPN's Adam Rittenberg managed to get early dibs on the Big Ten's 2013 and 2014 conference schedules (HT: dkeesbury), so we can bring you the near future's road to Pasadena / Wherever-Probably-Not-Glendale-lolz:
2013 Big Ten Schedule:
|Oct. 5||MINNESOTA*||Ann Arbor, Mich.|
|Oct. 12||@ Penn State*||University Park, Pa.|
|Oct. 19||INDIANA*||Ann Arbor, Mich.|
|Nov. 2||@ Michigan State*||East Lansing|
|Nov. 9||NEBRASKA*||Ann Arbor, Mich.|
|Nov. 16||@ Northwestern*||Evanston, Ill.|
|Nov. 23||@ Iowa*||Iowa City, Iowa (We're from Iowa!)|
|Nov. 30||OHIO STATE*||Ann Arbor, Mich.|
2014 Big Ten Schedule:
|Sep. 27||@ Indiana or Illinois?||Bloomington, Ind. or Champaign, Ill.?|
|Oct. 11||MICHIGAN STATE||Ann Arbor, Mich.|
|Oct. 18||@ Minnesota||Minneapolis, Minn.|
|Oct. 25||PENN STATE||Ann Arbor, Mich.|
|Nov. 1||IOWA||Ann Arbor, Mich.|
|Nov. 8||@ Nebraska||Lincoln, Neb.|
|Nov. 22||NORTHWESTERN||Ann Arbor, Mich.|
|Nov. 29||@ Ohio State||Columbus, Ohio|
There's no Purdue. :-[(
And no Wisconsin.
I said No Wisconsin!
And no Illinois.
Earlier there was a discrepency on MGoBlue.com that had Michigan playing the Illini instead of Indiana. That has been cleared up - the mothership just had a typo.
TYPOS IS UN-AMERICA
By 2014, Michigan State gets moved back to mid-October, which if I knew Michigan State existed when I was a kid* I guess that would feel more appropriate than mid-November. This seems to be a quirk of the schedule and not the Big Ten acknowledging rivalry dates are important, other than the BIG rivalry between Legendary Leadership, and Leaders of Legend. That – the conf. championship – will be on Dec. 7, 2013, and Dec. 6, 2014, respectively; locales TBD.
* My father went to MSU in the 60s - but like who of his generation remembers anything from that time? Nobody talked about Michigan State at Quarton Elementary School is what I mean.
The Rittenberg article also quotes a TV guy in the conference who seems to favor 9-game conference schedules:
"That's just the mathematics of it," said Big Ten senior associate commissioner for television administration Mark Rudner, who puts together the schedule. "While teams are still playing eight conference games, out of the total inventory of games available, we're playing a smaller percentage. We've added a 12th institution. Part of this could be solved if we went to a nine-game [Big Ten] schedule moving forward.
"It's not ideal, but hopefully moving forward it can be addressed."
Okay, so there's one guy who's maybe probably voting for 9 games at the next meeting. Reason for: one week in September we play the Wisconsin Badgers instead of the Not-a-State University Baby Seals (and MSU lines up Ohio State instead of the Northern Colorado School for Mimes). Reason against: fewer bowl-eligible Big Ten teams -- you're turning 12 almost-guaranteed wins for conference teams into exactly 6-6), plus all the same reasons BCS teams choose to play kick the can in September instead of each other. I'm for 9. I also think it's a pipedream.
Other random, non-bulleted thoughts:
Nothing lasts forever: Other than Penn State games, the schedule does set up nicely early in the season, but with brutal Iowa/Nebraska/Ohio State Novembers broken up by that quasi-traditional Northwestern-in-a-cold-November-Rain game.
Not a good refrain: When we rebooted the ND rivalry again for '02, I wanted somebody to notice that Michigan would end up getting both the Irish and Ohio State at home on odd years, thus leaving Michigan State the de facto big home game of even years. Surely when adding Nebraska, this would be rectified so that…dammit! So from now until the conference adds a 9th game or whatever, on odd years we get Nebraska, Ohio State, Notre Dame, and the Brown Jug game. On even years we visit all of them, and get Michigan State at home.
Also, MSU doesn't play Ohio State these two years, if you're the type who likes to grumble early.