WTKA Roundtable 4/5/2018: We Don’t Do Cups, Coach

WTKA Roundtable 4/5/2018: We Don’t Do Cups, Coach

Submitted by Seth on April 5th, 2018 at 11:30 AM

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Things discussed:

  • They ran into a buzzsaw. DiVincenzo reminds us of Clay Thompson.
  • It should have been a game but wasn’t a game because Michigan couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn. Someone on that team was going to erupt—someone on ours had to.
  • They needed a 40% shooting game to win this, 30% to be in this. That’s not too much to ask for—make their season average and that’s another 12 points.
  • The defense was fine—they made Villanova shoot hard shots for all of their points; Nova just happened to make their shots.
  • Will you see another Glen Rice? He was ahead of his time—the three was considered unmanly and stupid.
  • Could you tell me in November that this hockey team could have been a two seed?
  • ND has just one even strength goal against Michigan in four games.
  • Quinn Hughes is blowing up into a Hobey-level guy, his brother might accelerate and play a year at Michigan before being the top overall pick in the draft.
  • Mel calling out Brian for calling out Mel’s penalty kill.
  • Notre Dame is a very disciplined team but nobody in this Frozen Four is good enough that hockey plinko isn’t in effect.
  • Michigan dominated Ohio State in both recent matchups except in puck luck.
  • How college hockey recruiting has changed: Snake oil was a real thing in college hockey for a long time. Coaches learned to steal each others’ guys but Mel’s not going to put up with gentleman’s agreements, living with the reality of the Canadian juniors. Have to be aggressive down the road because half your class will drift off to OHL/QMHL/JJJoJoCHL/NHL.

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You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Podbean.

Segment two is here. Segment three is here.

THE USUAL LINKS

And anybody who’s seen one hockey game in their entire life—except for one Michigan player apparently—knows that of all the sports the one that most demands the cup is hockey. Can you imagine what went through Mel’s mind when he heard this? Like he’s walking into a new program like ‘alright we’re going to really improve here, what is the current state of our roster?’

Tech Effect

Tech Effect

Submitted by Brian on February 20th, 2018 at 12:23 PM

2/16/2018 – Michigan 4, Notre Dame 2 – 15-13-3, 10-10-3 Big Ten
2/18/2018 – Michigan 1, Notre Dame 0 – 16-13-3, 11-10-3 Big Ten

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[James Coller]

About halfway through the third period on Sunday I started to wonder about 1-0 victories, specifically how long it had been since Michigan had made one lousy goal stand up. (ENGs do not count for our reckoning.) I probably should not have done that. It's the kind of thinking you deeply regret when a puck passes behind the goaltender and still deeply regret even when it miraculously squirts out the other side. I still thought it, though. It seemed plausible Michigan would accomplish this thing.

The answer turns out to be shockingly recent: on February 15th of last year Zach Nagelvoort had a 42-save shutout as Michigan squeezed by OSU 1-0 thanks to a Nick Pastujov goal. But the larger wonderment still stands, I think, because you have to go all the way back to the 2011 Life As A Vole national semifinal against North Dakota to hit the next one.

Those games were similar in that both featured Michigan scoring a weird early goal and then hanging on for dear life. They got outshot 2 to 1 in both, and at no point until the final buzzer or blessed Scooter Vaughn empty net goal did victory seem probable. I know this about the 2011 North Dakota game because I remember every terrifying moment of the third period. I know this about last year's Ohio State game, which I probably did not watch, because I saw other games that hockey team played. At no point during either game did anyone wonder about 1-0 victories, because clearly this would not be a 1-0 game.

So they are very different than Sunday's 1-0 win against then-#1 Notre Dame, in which Michigan outshot the Irish by a large margin 5x5. Two power plays and another two minutes of frantic face-clenching action after ND pulled their goalie got ND to near-parity, but not quite, and when the buzzer sounded Michigan had finished its four games against the Big Ten's best team having outplayed them everywhere except their penalty kill. And on Sunday they'd done it in a very un-Michigan way: by matching Notre Dame's relentless discipline.

Each team had one opportunity at a three on two, sort of. Depending on how you want to classify odd-man rushes, it might have been zero. Notre Dame's didn't even get inside the Michigan blue line. I don't think I've ever seen Michigan have a game where they don't give up an odd-man rush. Maybe it's happened against a tomato can here and there, but probably not. The last five or so years of Michigan hockey has been about trying to outscore your mistakes, which they managed to do when they the Connor-Motte-Compher line and at no other point.

It's taken a while for new-era Michigan to work past the recent chaos. Since resuming in January, it appears they have. They're 8-5-1 against a slate of opponents who—except for Michigan State—are all either in the tournament or plausibly on the bubble. That's not the greatest run in the history of hockey; it has been good enough to take them from the deep 20s to a three seed. Expecting more would be insane. Just last year Michigan was hovering amongst the very worst teams in college hockey in Corsi...

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white included to demonstrate that there ain't no more teams

...and this year they're a point or two above average. This is a one year turnaround that matches what Mel did when he arrived at Michigan Tech. Tantalizingly, he had another gear from there.

Tech won 13 games the next year and 14 in 2013-14, the first year of college hockey's new landscape. This alone is impressive in the modern context of Tech hockey; that's the first time Tech had won double-digit games since Bob Mancini did it from 1993 to 1996.

That alone would not be impressive enough to grab the Michigan job, but then Pearson had the following three seasons:

  • 29-10-2, at-large bid to tourney as #2 seed, #5 ES Corsi*
  • 23-9-5, WCHA regular season champs, #3 ES Corsi
  • 23-15-7, WCHA playoff champs, NCAA bid, #3 ES Corsi

Unless Michigan hits the Jack Hughes jackpot, Michigan's not going to have another Connor or Larkin for a couple years here. The recruiting pipeline dried up a little deep into the Red era, so they'll have to make do with guys who grind their way up the ranks year by year, like Tony Calderone. It's been tough for Michigan to win with just those guys of late; transcendent talent was needed, and even then it wasn't always enough.

There's no transcendent talent this year. Even Quinn Hughes is a year away from being able to tell when he should plunder the opposition crease and when he should stay back. Michigan scores goals like the one lousy one they made stand up on Sunday: forcing a defensive zone turnover from the opposition and flinging it in over the goalie's shoulder before the defense can re-set. But it works, because they can go a whole game without giving up an odd man rush. For anyone who watched the last few years of Michigan hockey that sounds like a 180 on a dime in a leaky battleship.

Michigan looks ahead of schedule in year one, headed for a wide-open tourney with a couple of recent one-seed Ws painted on its nose cone. It turns out that Mel Pearson was exactly the right guy. Not because he's been in Ann Arbor for 30 years already. Because he'd already walked into a reclamation project with a power washer and some 20-year-olds.

PAIRWISE SECTION

I said last week that sweeping ND was close to a lock at-large, and whatever particularly devastating combination of events would have made that statement untrue have not come to pass. CHN just ran its Pairwise Predictor—20k Monte Carlo simulations of the rest of the season—and Michigan comes out with a 95% chance of a bid, and a two-thirds chance to get a 3 seed or better.

That doesn't mean this weekend's series doesn't matter. Those projections weight games according to KRACH, the statheads' preferred college hockey ranking system, and one of the main reasons Michigan is in near-lock territory is because that system gives Michigan an 82% chance to win any particular game against Arizona State. Splitting this weekend puts Michigan back down in the danger zone:

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1-1 this weekend puts Michigan at 13 or 14, most likely

Dave pointed out on the podcast that this year is ripe for bid steals because most of the top spots in the Pairwise are NCHC or Big Ten teams. Providence and Northeastern are the only HE teams currently in the tourney; BC and BU collectively have a ~34% chance to steal a Hockey East Bid. Cornell and Clarkson are the only ECAC teams in at-large spots. CHN gives those two teams a whopping 79% shot at winning the playoff title, but if Cornell does go down a bid steal is likely. Minnesota State is the only WCHA team currently in the field; that's another 38% shot at a steal.

It is possible for Michigan to fall to 14 if they sweep Arizona State and then get swept in the first round of the playoffs by a decent PSU or Wisconsin team, and at that point they'd be vulnerable if two bids get stolen. They are not entirely out of the woods but they'd have to blow it pretty hard to even put themselves in a spot where an odd combination of results booted them.

This weekend is one for focus, though.

Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: Mel Pearson’s Journey to Yost and Back

Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: Mel Pearson’s Journey to Yost and Back

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 10th, 2017 at 6:00 PM

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[courtesy U-M Athletics]

It’s a cooler than usual Monday in September outside Yost Ice Arena, nature’s heavy-handed hint that hockey season is just weeks away. Inside, the new head coach’s office looks decidedly less new than it did a few weeks ago. The smell of leather fills the air—new chairs—albeit less so than in July. The built-in book cases have filled up with years of accolades and other snapshots from a life in hockey.

Framed photos line the upper shelves, but Mel Pearson doesn’t reach for those. Asked how he first got involved in hockey, he rises from his chair and plucks a photo from the top left corner of the furthest shelf to the left. It’s propped up in front of another picture, the lone unframed photo in the bunch. Pearson lays it down on his desk next to the neatly organized stacks of paper, presumably drills and practice plans and  scouting reports that bear the emblems of teams from all over; one of the stacks is topped with a sheet that has the Pittsburgh Penguins’ logo in the top corner. “You’re just sort of born into it,” Pearson says, pointing to the back row of the photo. “This is Coach Berenson—this is an All-Star team up in Saskatchewan—and that’s my dad, so they actually had some history. It’s awesome. So they played together.”

It feels like a foundational event, a peek behind the curtain, the revelation of the moment that destiny staked its claim on a kid from Flin Flon, Manitoba. In reality, Pearson’s point is that the hockey world can be an awfully small place. George “Mel” Pearson’s son was about to criss-cross North America, a party to his father’s dream, soon to discover that sentiment was more true than he ever could have guessed.

[After THE JUMP: ties, timing, and the moment it all came together]

Notes From A Hockey Exhibition

Notes From A Hockey Exhibition

Submitted by Brian on October 5th, 2017 at 12:15 PM

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[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Michigan walloped a bad CIS team on Saturday, beating Western Ontario 10-1. The Mustangs were not a good team last year and seemingly came to Yost with less than a full complement of skaters; things did not improve with one injury and three ejections. But Michigan hockey has played a CIS punching bag annually and they haven't always looked like that. Since 2009-10, with tourney teams bolded:

  • Michigan 6, Windsor 2, shots 33-16 M
  • Michigan 4, Western Ontario 2, shots 39-29 M
  • Ontario Tech 3, Michigan 2, shots 56-28 M
  • Michigan 7, Windsor 3, shots 43-30 M
  • Waterloo 2, Michigan 1, shots 35-22 M
  • Michigan 5, Wilfred Laurier 2, shots 52-24 M
  • Michigan 8, Toronto 1, shots 52-12 M
  • Michigan 2, Windsor 0, shots 36-32 M

Beating up on Western Ontario doesn't mean Michigan Is Back, but the trend there is clear. All but one tourney team doubled up the opposition in shots; all but one team that missed was in a relatively competitive game, give or take the goaltending. Not clobbering Western Ontario would have been a real bad sign. Michigan avoided that.

GENERAL FEELINGSBALL

Feelingspuck? Doesn't sound right. Anyway: Michigan felt like a much-improved hockey team. Odd-man rushes, which happened seemingly three times a period during the last few years, were restricted to one early two-on-one and a breakaway when Quinn Hughes's stick broke. Meanwhile Michigan's breakout impressed with the diversity of approaches they took and their success at breaking the WO forecheck.

The forward corps is still short on talent, with two or three guys who would ideally be third-liners on the top two lines and a questionable bottom six. On the other hand, the return of Cutler Martin to defense—where I've always liked him—gives Michigan seven defensemen ranging from competent to excellent. Michigan has almost never had the kind of defensive depth they have this year, and with a more organized team supporting them and two good goalies backing them up Michigan could find success as a grind-it-out outfit that wins games 3-2 and 2-1.

Nobody wants Michigan hockey to look like that long term but beggars can't be choosers this year. If they get to the tournament, that's how.

[After THE JUMP: player-specific takes and a feel for the season.]

The Oral History of Yost, Part 4: The Way the West Was Won

The Oral History of Yost, Part 4: The Way the West Was Won

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 24th, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Previously: Part One, Part Two, Part Three

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[West Regional vs NoDak, 1998/Kalmbach via Bentley Historical Library]

The story is almost too perfect. You expect the details of a hockey story to flow from odd angles, to be all jagged edges and shoulders and elbows and yet this story is writerly and neat and almost formulaic. It follows the kind of structure script writers teach in their intro film classes: the protagonist runs through the gauntlet and passes a test that changes them, then uses their newly girded spirit to pass the ultimate test and reap a reward barely fathomable at the start of the journey. From humble beginnings, etc.

The necessity of icing an unusually high number of freshmen dampened expectations at the start of Michigan’s 1997-98 season, but there were enough upperclassmen remaining—Marty Turco, Bill Muckalt, Matt Herr, and Bobby Hayes, to name a few—to keep them from falling off precipitously. Yes, skating four freshmen defensemen was different, but close games can be won with a Hobey Baker finalist, Muckalt, leading the offense and one of the best goaltenders in the country, Turco, as the last line of defense.

And close games—one-goal games, to be precise—soon became Michigan’s calling card. Entering the NCAA Tournament, sixteen of their 42 contests had been one-goal games, including two of the games that got them to the GLI final and two of the games that got them to the CCHA Tournament final. The GLI and CCHA finals against Michigan State and Ohio State, respectively, left their mark. Both were losses and both snapped long streaks for the Wolverines, who had won two straight CCHA tournaments and nine straight Great Lakes Invitationals.

Those losses, however, ended up helping Michigan in their NCAA Tournament seeding. Not only were they placed at the West Regional, which happened to be held at Yost this season, but they were seeded third. This put them on the opposite side of the bracket from Michigan State, the one-seed and no. 1 overall team in the nation, and Ohio State, the no. 6 team in the country yet somehow the four-seed. Two teams they’d had a problem with all year, their two in-conference archrivals, were on a collision course.

That didn’t mean that Michigan’s road to the Frozen Four would be easy, though. North Dakota, the defending national champion and no. 2 team in the USCHO poll, was waiting in the wings. Michigan would have to fight the temptation to look ahead to that game and first dispatch six-seed Princeton, which made the Tournament by winning the ECAC and was listed last in USCHO poll’s “others receiving votes” section.

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Mel Pearson, assistant coach: Weird game. It just seemed like we were either looking ahead or...there was something going on in that game and we just didn’t have it and there was nothing going right for us. I think part of that was Princeton but I don’t think we respected them enough as a team. They worked hard and they didn’t give us anything and I think we just thought we were going to come in and throw down our sticks and they were going to fade away and we’d blow them out and go into the regional final but it didn’t work out that way.

Innocent play from the sidewall down near the zamboni. I can’t even remember who threw it at the net but somehow it hit a couple guys in front and went right between the goalie’s legs. We didn’t even have a player in front of the net. I think it went off of one of their players and went in the net. Once that goal went in it just seemed like, Okay, here we go. The crowd got into it a little bit. Princeton had played an absolute great road game. They didn’t let the crowd into it for the most part but once that goal went in we started to play better.

The thing I remember is it was just a weird goal, literally. One of our guys backhanded it towards the net, it hits one of their guys, a defenseman, goes off a skate between the goalie’s net and it’s in. It’s like, there’s nobody there. It’s one of the weirdest goals I’ve ever seen. Did we have anybody in front? I don’t think there was. It’s strange. It’s just like an act of the hockey gods.

[After THE JUMP: The hockey gods have a field day]

The Oral History of Yost in the 1990s, Part 3: One Goal Lead

The Oral History of Yost in the 1990s, Part 3: One Goal Lead

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 16th, 2017 at 2:30 PM

Previously: Part One, Part Two

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[Yost in the late ‘90s/Kalmbach via Bentley Historical Library]

Michigan’s heralded 1993 and 1994 recruiting classes began paying dividends immediately. The 1993-94 Wolverines had three winning streaks of seven games or longer in just a 41-game season, the longest of which reached 11 games. The 1994-95 team took something of a step back—their longest winning streak was only nine games—while still winning 30 games and finishing first in the CCHA.

The most dominant streak of the decade dovetailed with the vaunted recruits becoming upperclassmen. The nature of collegiate hockey scheduling left its mark on previous winning streaks; many took place across multiple road series with neutral-site games sprinkled in. In 1995-96, however, Michigan’s offense hit its stride just as the Wolverines returned home for a six-game homestand at the beginning of January. Their eight-game winning streak started with a GLI title that they took by a combined score of 9-2. They put up even gaudier numbers in front of their own crowd, averaging 9.6 goals per game over six home contests.

The season ended with Michigan’s first national championship in 32 years; before they got there, goalies were pulled, the wooden bleachers creaked and swayed, the crowd beyond the students got involved, and for opponents, the ghosts of Yost were growing louder.

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Brendan Morrison, forward (1993-97): That was an incredible stretch. I think we averaged that month or six weeks or whatever it was, we averaged something ridiculous like 8.7 goals a game or something like that. [Ed. A—They averaged 7.6 goals per game over the ten games from the GLI at the end of December through the end of January and the aforementioned 9.6 goals per game counting just the six-game January homestand.] Just absurd. I know every single home game we played, the other team’s goalie was pulled at some point. I don’t think it was a very fun place for other teams to come in and play. They knew they were walking into kind of the lion’s den there; we were rolling and scoring a bunch of goals. It was intimidating. I remember other programs coming out and verbalizing that it was a tough place to play. It was difficult. It’s almost like with our fans and playing in that arena, it was like you were up 1-0 or 2-0 before the game even started.

Marty Turco, goaltender (1994-98): For me, having us rolling teams, you look at the scores and you’re like rolling teams, yeah, 8-3, 7-2, 10-4. You’re like, Alright. Everybody else was happy except for Red because Red was like, “No one cares because we won and we dominated but how about those two you let in there?” I might not have been needed as much to have the game on the line early and mid-year, but he wanted to make sure I was the guy he thought I was at the end of the year. So it wasn’t all hunky-dory during that year [1995-96] for me in particular but it was huge in terms of growth.

Tim Carmody, student season ticket holder: It was exciting. It was definitely very relevant. People would go all the time. People would show up a little bit later for parties on hockey nights.

[After THE JUMP: the crowd’s creativity, the environment’s advantage, and the quirks of an old barn]

Unverified Voracity Mints Three Dollar Coin

Unverified Voracity Mints Three Dollar Coin

Submitted by Brian on May 31st, 2017 at 12:24 PM

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[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Baseball returns to the tournament. They kick off their tourney run at 1 on Friday against Florida Gulf Coast. Michigan was one of the last four teams in after a bit of a slump to end the season; they've got excellent pitching and questionable bats.

The Zaire holdup. Former ND quarterback Malik Zaire is going to grad transfer somewhere, and reports have suggested that if it can be Florida it will be. This is the holdup on UF's end:

The SEC has always been stricter on graduate transfers than other leagues, largely because some coaches disapproved of Ole Miss getting a waiver to enroll Jeremiah Masoli from Oregon in 2010, especially when he didn’t complete a graduate degree. So it put some rules in place, one of which restricts schools from taking graduates transfers for three years if their previous transfers didn’t work out academically. Well, Florida had two graduate transfers in 2015 that didn't meet academic benchmarks, so technically they shouldn’t be able to take Zaire -- unless the rule changes this week, allowing the SEC to drop all pretense that academics matter in this discussion.

Florida should know one way or the other soon, and then Michigan will know if they'll be taking on Zaire or (probably) redshirt freshman Felipe Franks in the opener. Zaire's done pretty well in sparing time over the last three years, completing 59% of his 98 attempts for 8.3 YPA and a 6-0 TD-INT ratio. It would be better for Michigan if the Gators did not have that option, and that's why everyone expects the SEC's grad transfer rule to go by the wayside in the near future.

Spartan blackout nearing its end. After months of nothing, the wheels have started to turn in East Lansing:

Blackwell's contract had been extended by a month twice, which struck me as odd by may have been required for the school's now-concluded Title IX investigation. With that complete a decision from the county prosecutor can't be far behind. Probably.

Meanwhile it was revealed today that former MSU WR Keith Mumphery was expelled last year for sexual misconduct. If the anonymous trio ends up booted, as it appears they will be, that's five in two years. 

Somebody still writes for ESPN! Congratulations to Kevin Pelton, the last man standing. He's got a fascinating piece on the emergence of the pull-up three pointer in the NBA. This is relevant to Michigan's interests since they've seen the same thing happen over the last few years with Nik Stauskas and Derrick Walton. The pull up 3 is a very very average shot even for guys who are the best at it, but the threat of it opens other things up on the pick and roll:

Portland point guard Damian Lillard, whose 445 pull-up 3-pointers since 2013-14 rank him third in the league over that span behind Curry and James Harden of the Houston Rockets, recalls learning the intricacy of pick-and-roll play from a trainer in 10th grade.

"He would always tell me, 'Everything is a setup,' " Lillard said.

The ability to shoot the pull-up 3 changes the way opponents defend pick-and-rolls and isolation plays, forcing them to come out higher to be able to contest a deep shot off the dribble. Lillard says he feels that difference on both ends of the court.

"You just know that you've got to be more in their space," he says of defending a player who can shoot the pull-up 3. "I know when a guy gives me space and I come off the pick-and-roll clean, that's a shot that I'm looking for because people want three points over two points now, especially with so many guys that can take and make that shot. So when I'm guarding a guy like that, I'm aware of it."

Here is a chart of pick and roll efficacy versus pull-up threes attempted for NBA players:

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Michigan fans are nodding at that slope. This is especially relevant to our interests because Michigan was about to find out what happens at the very lower end of that scale when Xavier Simpson stepped into Walton's shoes. Simpson was just 5/19 on threes last year and just about all of those were must-take catch and shoots.

Now they're likely to be on the higher end of the scale. Jaaron Simmons is coming off a season where he took a whopping 104 jumpers off the dribble, per Synergy, and managed exactly 1 PPP on them. That was 87th percentile. He was at 1.16 PPP last year when shooting off the dribble after accepting a pick and roll; that was 88th percentile. His eFG in those situations was 58%—ie, insane.

Amongst D-I players with at least 50 PNR pull-ups last year Simmons was 11th in PPP, and the folks around him are almost exclusively low-low majors. Two notable exceptions were #9 Markelle Fultz, the probable top pick in the NBA draft, and #2 Derrick Walton.

Muckalt more or less done. Also: Flin Flon! George Sipple confirms Tech Hockey Guide's report that Bill Muckalt will be Mel Pearson's second assistant. Tech promoted assistant Joe Shawhan.

In less relevant hockey news, today I learned that Pearson is from a place named "Flin Flon," which is a silly name to give to a place. Pearson is now the only person you know who worked in a zinc plant:

“I did a little bit of everything,” Pearson said. “I worked in the zinc plant one summer. I went underground at North Main for a couple summers, working in the steel shop, straightening steel and sharpening up. I had to fill in at the changehouse one year, too. I enjoyed it. You meet a lot of really neat people there and learn about the industry and the mine itself and how things operate.”

Flin Flon is a remote town of 5k. Very remote:

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And its name was acquired in the usual way:

The town's name is taken from the lead character in a paperback novel, The Sunless City by J. E. Preston Muddock. Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin piloted a submarine through a bottomless lake where he passed into a strange underground world through a hole lined with gold. A copy of the book was allegedly found and read by prospector Tom Creighton.

When Tom Creighton discovered a high-grade exposure of copper, he thought of the book and called it Flin Flon's mine, and the town that developed around the mine adopted the name. Flin Flon shares with Tarzana, California, the distinction of being named after a character in a science fiction novel.

The character of "Flinty", as he is locally known, is of such importance to the identity of the city that the local Chamber of Commerce commissioned the minting of a $3.00 coin which was considered legal tender amongst locally participating retailers during the year following its issue. A statue representing Flinty was designed by cartoonist Al Capp and is one of the points of interest of the city. In 1978, the National Film Board of Canada produced the short documentary Canada Vignettes: Flin Flon about the origin of the city's name.[4]

This has been today's MGoDiscussionOfCanadianSmallTownNames.

download

Hello: guy. Hockey has added this person:

Becker is an odd duck. He'll be 20 before he arrives this fall; unusually for an overager he was drafted. (In the seventh round, sure. Still: odd.) He was a Wisconsin commit who got thrown back in the pool when Mike Eaves was fired. His second try at a commitment was Tech.

Becker had a 16-12-28 line in 49 games last year. At 19 that's a statline indicative of a bottom six player. He's a big dude at 6'4", 198. More details at Tech Hockey Guide.

Also in hockey recruiting:

I've seen Norris anywhere from late first round to late second in draft projections; Pastujov seems to be moving back up into the third or fourth round range after an injury-plagued year or two. Chris Dilks recently profiled him:

After being considered one of the top prospects in his age group, Pastujov missed all but 5 games of his U16 season, and all but 14 games of his U17 seasons with the NTDP due to injury. He also missed a handful of games this season due to injury. I have no idea on the likelihood of re-occurrence. But even if he remains healthy, he has missed a lot of key development time in the past few years. …

NHL Central Scouting omitted him completely from their mid-term rankings before placing him 80th on their final list, and he followed that up with a point-per-game performance at the World U18s, which probably helps. There’s likely to be an extremely wide range of opinions on Pastujov though, just because there’s a tantalizing ceiling, but so little in terms of track record to go on.

If I were picking, I’d probably start looking at Pastujov as early as the late-second round. I have serious concerns given his injury history, but high-end scoring ability like he potentially has is going to be very hard to come by in this Draft.

Pastujov was a big big deal when he committed to Michigan; with Norris he has the potential to insert some of the top end scoring last year's team so badly missed.

Golazo. Francis Atuahene did this in a US Open Cup match:

Unfortunately for Michigan, Atuahene was about all they had going for them last year as they finished 4-11-4.

Etc.: Ryan Veingrad beats cancer, walks on. Florida opener set for 3:30, which is not at the same time as Bama-FSU. Northwestern scatback Solomon Vault will miss the 2017 season with injury. I am honor bound to link assertions that adding Rutgers and Maryland was a dumb long term move, but Delany's got his 20 mil so he don't care.

On Michigan Hockey’s Prospective 2017-18 Schedule

On Michigan Hockey’s Prospective 2017-18 Schedule

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on May 25th, 2017 at 2:02 PM

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[James Coller/MGoBlog]

You may have noticed a hockey schedule pop up on the board last week. It was posted by WD, which I appreciate as someone who values such staples of existence as our planet orbiting the sun and photosynthesis and the excellence of Oberon and Frita Batidos. Brian mentioned in a recent UV that it’s a much improved schedule, and it is, particularly in terms of the structure of the schedule itself and the calendar placement of games. How to feel about it from the standpoint of competition, though, depends on how much you like returning rivalries and increased conference play.

This looks different but also vaguely familiar so maybe explain this now. You’re onto something. The conference slate started at the beginning of December in 2016-17, but thanks to the addition of Notre Dame—and the subsequent addition of two conference series—the Big Ten season opens at the end of October in 2017-18. Those four additional conference games leave less space for non-conference tilts, which is a contributing factor in the lack of a team like BU or Union on the schedule. Even so, adding Notre Dame--which finished 13th in PWR, 20th in Corsi, and made last season’s Frozen Four*—is undeniably great. They’re a rival, they’re a top-tier program (read: they won’t be a PWR anchor), and their location allows for a number of Friday/Sunday home-and-home splits. Notre Dame is also young and returns everyone of importance from last season; Michigan doesn’t play them for the first time until January, so they’ll at least have time to get acclimated to Pearson’s system before playing them.

[After THE JUMP: a conference overview, when you’ll be watching both football and hockey, and a look at bye week placement]

Mel Pearson, Corsi, and You: A Possession-Driven Look at Michigan’s New Head Coach

Mel Pearson, Corsi, and You: A Possession-Driven Look at Michigan’s New Head Coach

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on April 27th, 2017 at 11:01 AM

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[Coller/MGoBlog]

Most old posts are embarrassing. My takeaway in reading through old work for research purposes is usually some stupid line that I wish I had framed a different way or a dumb joke that I forgot I made and spend the rest of the day regretting. Occasionally, though, I’ll read something that makes me feel exactly what I was feeling when I wrote it.

When I dug through old Goal-by-Goal Analyses featuring Michigan Tech I came across the mini-column I wrote at the bottom of this year’s Great Lakes Invitational post and felt the still-too-familiar raging bewilderment that marked much of the 2016-17 Michigan hockey season. The piece ended with boiled-over frustration about Michigan’s offense and their inability to get the puck in the zone; there’s a mention of how badly Michigan was out-attempted, but the Corsi hamblasting from Tech wasn’t unusual enough to garner anything more than an unfeeling, fleeting mention.

tech v m corsi

furthest right column is Tech’s Corsi For %

That’s Warner Bros. DC movie-level destruction; that’s also reflective of how difficult to stomach the 2016-17 Wolverines could be. If Mel Pearson’s Michigan Tech teams are any evidence, however, Michigan fans are in for a rebalancing in their squad’s putrid possession numbers. College Hockey News has some advanced stats available from 2013-14 on, including Corsi. Remember that Corsi is every shot attempted: shots on goal, shots that missed the net, blocked shots. (There’s a more complete primer at the bottomr of the post.) The general idea behind this is that a team has to have the puck to shoot it, so Corsi is a puck-possession proxy.

image (68)

thanks, Seth

Generally speaking, Pearson’s teams were good against very good teams and great against bad teams, at least in terms of possession. You can see from the trend line that they did exactly what you’d want a team to do against teams outside the PairWise top 16; the trendline drops below 50% on the doorstep of teams that would make the tournament.

[After THE JUMP: looking for surprises in Tech’s possession numbers]

On Mel Pearson, Michigan Hockey Coach

On Mel Pearson, Michigan Hockey Coach

Submitted by Brian on April 24th, 2017 at 1:17 PM

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Mel Pearson is Michigan's hockey coach now, and that's fine. Your author started stumping for Pearson shortly after he arrived at Michigan Tech and their program took off. This was year one, pre-realignment WCHA:

Tech won 13 games the next year and 14 in 2013-14, the first year of college hockey's new landscape. This alone is impressive in the modern context of Tech hockey; that's the first time Tech had won double-digit games since Bob Mancini did it from 1993 to 1996.

That alone would not be impressive enough to grab the Michigan job, but then Pearson had the following three seasons:

  • 29-10-2, at-large bid to tourney as #2 seed, #5 ES Corsi*
  • 23-9-5, WCHA regular season champs, #3 ES Corsi
  • 23-15-7, WCHA playoff champs, NCAA bid, #3 ES Corsi

It's likely that 2016-17 Tech would have had close to the same winning percentage Pearson's previous two teams did except for the fact that they spent about 8 games playing two goalies with .883 and .857 save percentages before freshman Angus Redmond emerged as the clear starter.

Schedule strength is a concern for WCHA schools so Dave broke down Pearson's "relevant" Corsi outings from the last three years. We defined relevant teams as Big Ten, NCHC, and HE schools plus Yale, an at-large bid from the ECAC in 2016. Red are clear Corsi losses, yellow tie-ish games, and green are clear wins. Keep in mind that some of these MSU and Wisconsin teams are very bad teams, as is this year's Michigan outfit. Nonetheless this is very impressive for a guy working at a severe talent disadvantage to most of these schools:

Pearson Relevant Corsi

Dave helpfully exclaimed about the 72-29 and 63-33 hamblastings of your Michigan Wolverines this year.

The modern WCHA is a mid-major conference but given what Tech was before Pearson arrived this is very close to hiring Lavall Jordan if he has a six-year tenure at Wisconsin-Milwaukee that includes two tourney bids and a regular season title. IE, the kind of hire major schools make all the time. Mel's deep roots with the program are certainly a bonus, but if Pearson's name was Neverheardof Annarbor he would still be a strong candidate.

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There is an undercurrent of discontent from Demand Excellence sorts. I do know that Michigan reached out to both Jeff Blashill and Mike Babcock at various points over the last few years and was unsurprisingly turned down by a pair of sitting NHL coaches. I have not heard that Michigan made overtures to any of the three slam-dunk college coaches (Nate Leaman, Norm Bazin, and Jim Montgomery) but I would not be surprised if anyone contacted offered a polite thanks-but-no-thanks. All three of those guys have essentially infinite job security at programs that are competing at a national title level. Taking over for a legend who left behind a very bad team is a recipe for a quick exit, pursued by a mob. Rich Rodriguez is nodding vigorously for reasons that are mysterious to him at this very moment. Michigan could have come in with a big offer and it might not do much other than get the coach in question a nice bump.

Mel's only a fallback because there's an unprecedented number of college hockey coaches who kind of look like Urban Meyer at Utah. In most circumstances the guy who took Tech to the tourney for the first time in 34 years—as an at large—would be one of or the top guy on the market.

Pearson's age is a downside. Michigan just experienced a long slide into darkness because of a not-uncommon phenomenon where legends go very, very gradually and then suddenly. But Pearson's status as an obviously very good coach right now should make for some productive years as he inherits Michigan's still-top-five recruiting and pairs him with whatever crazy Corsi mojo he's got. Pearson is the best clearly-available coach right now, and this is a team with ten NHL draft picks and a first-rounder inbound. Right now is good enough.

*["ES Corsi" == your percentage of all shot attempts at even strength. Not SOS adjusted, admittedly. There is also a "Fenwick" which is your percentage of all unblocked shot attempts; Tech was  #2, #3 and #2 in that stat. Here is a helpful intro to these kind of stats:

Unadjusted college Corsi is a very rough measure but as a teamwide stat over three seasons it strongly implies that Pearson's teams are excellent at puck possession. This is something my eyes have confirmed over the last few years of Michigan-Tech matchups, FWIW.]