Rudy Wears Shawn Hunwick Pajamas

Rudy Wears Shawn Hunwick Pajamas

Submitted by Brian on January 23rd, 2012 at 1:38 PM

1/21/2012 – Michigan 1, Notre Dame 3 – 14-9-4, 8-7-4 CCHA
1/22/2012 – Michigan 2, Notre Dame 1 – 15-9-4, 9-7-4 CCHA

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Rudy does not impress Shawn Hunwick

At one point this weekend one of the announcers called Shawn Hunwick "Rudy" and then laughed about how Notre Dame fans would be mad about that comparison. I just don't even know where to start with that. Maybe here:

Minutes Team YR Minutes GA GAA
Kent Patterson (COL) Minnesota SR 1618:54 56 2.08
Shawn Hunwick Michigan SR 1573:27 57 2.17
Kevin Kapalka Lake Superior SO 1519:14 63 2.49
Andrew Hammond Bowling Green JR 1507:05 67 2.67
Paul Karpowich (STL) Clarkson SR 1458:58 51 2.1

Rudy was an annoying twerp destined for sketchy pump-and-dump stock schemes who got in late in a blowout once. His life story is a tale of how plucky determination can turn you into a successories poster model and scam artist. Rudy's about as real as Notre Dame football's status as a national power.

By contrast, no one in the country is more important to their team than Hunwick. He plays every minute unless he's probably concussed or Michigan is up 10 goals. He is top ten in save percentage despite getting bombed, despite playing behind a poor penalty kill and mostly without Jon Merrill. He's so good not even the CCHA Gongshow can deny him his rightful place as the all-conference goalie this time around. (Surely. Surely?)

Like Jordan Kovacs, Hunwick long ago left walk-on territory. The journey looks like this:

  • We're starting a walk-on? Death!
  • He's tolerable for a walk-on but this is a signifier of how far we've fallen and we'll never get good until we get some talent in here.
  • He's really good for a walk-on. I should probably stop calling him a walk-on.
  • He's pretty good. I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.
  • He is my binky.

For both of those guys the term "walk-on" is no longer a signifier of anything other than an improbable backstory. Rudy they are not because they are actually good at things.

--------------------------------------

It's time to ask the question: is a five-seven walk-on who came to Michigan never expecting to play a game the best goalie in the history of the program?

Statistically, the answer is yes. Al Montoya put up an .895 as a disinterested junior and is out. Marty Turco's billion wins and tourney heroics obscure the fact he put up sub-.900 save percentages until his senior .907. I can't find full Steve Shields stats; the one year hockeyDB has also shows a .907.

Michigan's record book goes back to 1962 and currently lists Billy Sauer's 2007-2008 season at the top of the heap because it hasn't been updated in a couple years. Hunwick's two seasons as the out-and-out starter be 1-2 if whoever's responsible for the book could be convinced you weren't having them on. It's not even a debate when it comes to save percentage. Unless there's a sumo wrestler from the 1920s everyone's forgotten about, Hunwick is the all-time best.

However, hockey's changed considerably even over the last 15 years. In 1996 and 1998 when Turco was regarded as a god despite having those ugly numbers. That was not all in fans' heads, either. Turco went on to a long, successful, colorful NHL career. His first year in the AHL he put up a .920; two years later he was in the NHL. Clearly there was something about Michigan's mid-to-late 90s firewagon hockey that exposed goalies to a lot of high quality chances.

Save percentage alone is insufficient and if there were sports talk radio dedicated to Michigan hockey, people could rage about their favorites without anyone stepping in to say "you're wrong." Because who knows?

But it's not that we can answer that question definitively. It's that we can ask it at all.

------------------

It is a sad but undeniable fact that Sauer will mostly be remembered for tourney meltdowns. Hunwick has last year's North Dakota game to his credit. Montoya had a couple of stolen tourney games on his ledger; those are the only ones I can remember that came anything close to last year's grand theft. How close was that? Not close at all.

In the end answering the unanswerable question is going to come down to a few games in April. At this point there's only two ways the question can be answered: maybe, and yes.

*[Michigan's hockey statistical DB doesn't go very far back.]

Bullets

A good weekend. Speaking of! Hunwick had a second consecutive monster weekend, giving up three goals on 74 shots. One was a no-chancer on a cross-crease pass, another a slot rebound that is the one consistent weakness of his game, the third a close-in shot it was hypothetically possible to stop but very difficult. Last week Ohio State managed one goal.

Michigan's third pairing got stuck in the zone against ND's hard forecheck, the second line seemed to spend most of its time futilely attempting to get the puck back from the Costello line, and defensive breakdowns put him under duress. He still cracked the top ten in save percentage.

You can argue he's the best in the country. The top four are at Union (ECAC) and three Atlantic Hockey schools; #7 is an ECAC guy; #9 is another AH guy. NMU's Jared Coreau and Miami's Connor Knapp are platooning. That leaves Hunwick, OSU's Cal Heeter, Merrimack's Joe Cannata and Mass-Lowell's Doug Carr at the top of the leaderboard in the Big Three conferences.

No one in that group has a huge lead in save percentage and Hunwick's ominpressence would seem to give him an edge. He's logged more minutes than anyone other than Minnesota's Kent Patterson; he has four full games on Cannata. He gets bombed, too. Michigan is yielding a blizzard of shots. That may hurt him when voters look at goals allowed, but he's got a shot at All-American type things.

A bad weekend. No one player is 100% responsible for any goal but Luke Glendening was the guy trying to check the guy shooting on all three of Notre Dame's goals (ENG ignored). Notre Dame's second on Friday was a backcheck he did not get position on and did not control the opponent's stick; the other two were just derpity doo.

Friday:

Saturday:

(It's possible Merrill was more at fault on the last one.) Glendening also took two dumb penalties, one boarding, one interference.

So… like… he's the captain and everything but he has nine points in 28 games, three in 20 CCHA games; he's –3 in those 20. PDG is +4; Treais does not have conference stats listed at MGoBlue for some reason. Anyone else with those numbers would be fighting Andrew Sinelli for playing time. I'm just this guy on the internet but it's hard to see what Glendening is bringing to the table in terms of stats or the eye test.

Even if Michigan doesn't have a cornucopia of great options, the lines after the raging goal-fest that is Guptill-Wohlberg-Brown haven't been producing much of anything of late. It's time to throw the bottom nine in the blender and see what comes out.

An ugly weekend. Notre Dame was thugtastic to the point where Berenson's biting his tongue:

“They play an overly — I don’t know if it’s overly physical, but some people would say it’s — you know, there’s — I’m not going to say it. But yeah, it’s physical hockey,” Berenson said.

Guptill did not mince his words, though:

“I think they played a really dirty game, I’m going to be honest,” said freshman forward Alex Guptill on Saturday. “It was dirty; it was a mean series. You had to be playing tough out there to get any kind of ice.”

Hunwick is a hothead who will take retaliation penalties; Notre Dame was clearly trying to get him off his game with constant late chops that never get called and a bunch of stuff that probably should have been, most notably a cross-check to Hunwick's head. Hunwick kept his head for the most part. While he picked up a penalty it was a hockey-ref cop-out special wherein a bunch of guys end up in the box and no one gets a power play.

None of this rises to the level of OUTRAGE, but it's annoying when your goalie is under assault constant enough for announcers to delicately bring it up both nights and the referees won't put someone in the box for a couple minutes to stop it. I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Pairwise bits. Michigan stays fifth in RPI and slides a spot in the PWR for reasons I won't bother figuring out until a couple more weeks are gone.

LIES! A quick glance at Michigan's comparisons is encouraging. Duluth and BU are likely out of reach unless those teams fade hard down the stretch. Comparisons lost against CC, Denver, Lowell, and Ohio State are within reach.

Michigan has significant RPI edges on the first two schools but that Union loss kills them in the COP; everyone is two games above .500 against teams under consideration but CC and DU have had fewer TUC games and therefore have a higher winning percentage. Michigan ties Lowell in COP and will remain tied unless Lowell faces BC or Northeastern in the Hockey East playoffs. Lowell has a significant TUC advantage; the teams are virtually tied in RPI. Because RPI is the tiebreaker, whoever wins that will win the comparison.

Ohio State, meanwhile, got just a tie from a series against Ferris State. They're now 0-3-3 in their last six and have finally bled off their huge advantage in PWR. They've dropped to 4th and are also a tiny hair above Michigan in RPI. OSU has slightly more than a one game lead in TUC; they do have a significant common opponents advantage but not one that Michigan can't make up what with OSU being in the same conference at all.

Michigan can of course slide down by losing a bunch of games. The point of this section: a one-seed is very much in play. Michigan has at least six more opportunities against TUCs and the toughest four games of the brutal stretch run are in the books at 3-1. They've got a bye week, Miami, a road-and-Joe with State, Northern, and then @ BGSU.

Weekly "I can't believe all these CCHA teams are in the tourney" update. Still six or seven. OSU-ND-M-FSU comprise a block from 4 to 7, Northern is 10th, and MSU and Miami are tied for 14th.

Weekly CCHA cat-in-sack update. Nothing is resolved. Miami swept WMU, making things even worse. Baseball standings:

Rk Team Points Games GB
1 WMU 33 18 -
2 OSU 35 20 1/3
3 Ferris 31 18 2/3
4 Notre Dame 30 18 1
  Miami 33 20 1
6 Michigan 32 20 1 1/3
  MSU 29 18 1 1/3
8 LSSU 30 20 2
9 NMU 25 18 2 2/3
10 Alaska 21 20 4
11 BGSU 13 18 6 2/3

Eight of eleven teams are within a weekend of first place; the difference between the conference champion and not even getting a bye is four points.

Weekly inexplicable Steve Mike Chiasson scratch. Saturday. Got away with it. Still don't understand it.

Argh argh argh argh 2 on 0. It is emblematic of Michigan's odd-man-rush struggles that Guptill and Brown—two of the top three scorers—broke in alone on struggling Steve Summerhays and didn't even got a shot off. They had the right idea but Brown's pass was too far in front of Guptill. That would have made the last period a lot more relaxed.

In all other matters, first line uber alles.

Elsewhere

The power play got extant this weekend. Treais's goal was particularly pretty. The penalty kill also did well. Yost Built recap:

On Friday, Notre Dame made it their goal to seemingly hit Shawn Hunwick as much as possible and try to get in his head. They ran into him, slashed him after the whistle, high-sticked him, at least a half-dozen times (many in the first period alone). The first instance led to a power play. Then the incompetent boobs officiating the game, Keith Sergott and Barry Pochmara, decided to basically let ND do whatever they wanted to our goalie. At one point, Hunwick got frustrated enough that he threw his stick to the ice after a scrum. I thought they then called him for unsportsmanlike conduct--that seemed to be the consensus on the telecast as well--but in the box score they've got him down for slashing. I'm guessing the reaction was based on them evening it up after he got slammed into for at least the fifth time.

He mentions how Friday's game was frustrating for the large quantity of chances against an iffy goalie that were spurned; co-signed.

Penn State picks up their first ever NHL draft pick. Max Gardiner was third rounder in 2010. If you're counting on your fingers trying to figure that out, Gardiner spent a year at Minnesota, where he was 1-2-3 in 17 games and then made a dash for the USHL. Michigan will see him when he is an upperclassman.

Oddly Timed Hockey Update

Oddly Timed Hockey Update

Submitted by Brian on October 28th, 2011 at 3:38 PM

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DiGuiseppe, Sparks, Hunwick laying down the thunder. Via Daily, Daily, Mining Journal

Sometimes you start typing up a UV bit and then you hit 600 words and break it out into a post you had not intended to write.

So: hockey. It's been playing. They spent the first couple weeks wandering about looking pretty bad, then annihilated St. Lawrence to be an incredibly underserving #1. One Hunwick game misconduct later they came back from Northern with just two points in their CCHA opener and that ranking was gone.

Ferris rolled into town last night with a 6-0 record and sweep of Miami to their credit; Michigan came away with a validating 5-2 win. I have a habit of watching Ferris early in the year, thinking they're really good, and then watching them go .500, but I mean it this time: I think this is a really good Ferris team. This time I'm on steadier ground what with their record.

I'm still getting a handle on the team since it is hugely different than last year's outfit, but I think it's going to be more fun to watch than last year's edition. That's not to say it will be better—they won the league and got to overtime in the national title game—but they've already scored more pretty goals than they did all of last year.

That's thanks in part to Lindsay Sparks going from oft-scratched to the team's leading scorer. I won't question Red Berenson in case he decides to look at me with disappointment, thereby turning me into dust, but… I don't get it, man. The last couple years it seemed clear he was more of a threat than several second-liners, let alone the Rohrkempers of the world. This year he's looking like an all-conference player. He's already got 11 points, many of them featuring top-level skill.

Freshman takes in order of eeee:

  1. Phil DiGuiseppe. As I tweeted yesterday, guy can play. Slick passer, good jump, good size, good hands. Sometimes you pull these guys out of Junior A (not B, as I erroneously tweeted) and it turns out they can't make the transition. No such problems for DiGuiseppe, and he just turned 18. Star potential.
  2. Zach Hyman. Hyman hasn't leapt off the page as much as DiGuiseppe but he'll get there. He's good good balance and hands and he's been an effective part of the Sparks line.
  3. Mike Chiasson. Steady, conservative defensive defenseman. Will be a four year player; should quietly hold down a second pairing for most of his career.
  4. Brennan Serville. Has not been as noticeable but seems to have a regular spot. Don't know much about his game yet.
  5. Travis Lynch. Slotted into a spot with Wohlberg and Glendening and has 3-3-6 already. Had a sweet deflection last night on a Bennett point shot. Not sure if he can keep this up but he's been on a tear since about two seconds after he committed.
  6. Alex Guptill. Getting a generic-big-guy vibe from him. He'll slouch around the third line most of his career before suddenly getting really good as a senior, like Rohlfs or Lebler.

Szuma and Sinelli got in one game; they get incompletes. They are the new generation of healthy scratches.

Random other items:

  • Greg Pateryn is a long-limbed rock. Tough to get enough space to get a good chance when he's on the ice. He will screw up too often to be truly great but if they come through this period without Merrill okay it will be because he held down the fort against top lines.
  • Kevin Clare is unbelievably slow. I think he's the guy who sees his playing time decline when Merrill gets back.
  • Derek Deblois looks like he's taken a step forward this year. Ditto Brown.
  • I guess I can't complain when David Wohlberg is above a PPG but I don't like having him on the same line as Lynch (freshman edition) and Glendening. I'd like to see what a Sparks-DiGuiseppe-Wohlberg line could accomplish, and let the Lynches and Glendening anchor a checking line.
  • The official scorer at Yost is padding opponent shot totals like a mother. Anything that gently rolls to a stop two feet in front of the goal is counted. I'm of a mind to look at Hunwick's home/away splits last year to see if there's a big difference in save percentage.

Recruiting

Michigan's streak of picking up an NTDP goalie has hit a third straight year with the commitment of 2012 G Jared Rutledge. Hurray. You're worried.

You're right to be, but Michigan's streak of having that goalie blanch at the prospect of competing with Shawn Hunwick and bolt to the OHL should end at two since Hunwick will be gone after this year. Rutledge, like Trouba, waited a long time to figure out what he was going to do so he wouldn't end up breaking his word:

"I told Red I didn't want to be their hat trick," Rutledge said with a smile. "I told them all along that when I made my decision, I was going to be 100% sure I was coming there. I couldn't be happier and I'm really excited."

Tell us what we've won, me.

Rutledge is a smallish goalie reputed to have excellent anticipation, rebound control, and positioning:

Rutledge is technically and positionally very sound, is excellent at controlling rebounds, handles the puck well, competes hard, has a good glove, doesn’t get phased on the rare occasion he does let in a bad goal, and is extremely good at anticipating the play. Though he isn’t overly big, he challenges exceptionally well, and makes life miserable for shooters. If you don’t beat him on the first shot, chances are you won’t get another opportunity.

Sounds like a less-tiny Hunwick who isn't constantly kicking pucks out into the slot. (No offense intended to Tiny Jesus.) He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2010 OHL draft by Saginaw and is kicking around draft lists as a "B"—mid-round—prospect. His stats are pretty solid—he's averaged between .910 and .920 save percentage splitting time between the U17 and U18 teams, generally outperforming his competition in the same situation.

Hockey recruiting class: complete? Michigan might add a walk-on piece here and there, but this looks like it's about it for next year (question marks denote kids Heisenberg has listed as 2012 or 2013:

  • Forwards: Boo Nieves, Daniel Milne, Justin Selman, Max Shuart(?)
  • Defensemen: Jacob Trouba, Connor Carrick, Spencer Hyman(?)
  • Goalie: Rutledge

If Merrill makes it through his current suspension I'm guessing he will be around next year as well. It seems like someone who was going to leave after this year anyway would book it given the severity of the punishment. If so they may or may not add Hyman. Right now they're scheduled to bring back everyone save Pateryn and I'm not seeing a ton of departure threats. Maybe Bennett. Hyman would be the seventh defenseman at best in that situation because Michigan would be insanely loaded on D: Merrill, Bennett, Trouba, Moffie, Carrick, Chiasson, Serville, and Clare plus Szuma and possibly Hyman. If Merrill and Bennett both take off then there'd obviously be room.

I wish there was a little more depth in the forward corps—I haven't seen any buzz about Milne and Selman being draftable—but a quality goalie plus two first-round types is a big haul to go with what's looking like a promising freshman class.

Environment

The scoreboard is hypothetically awesome but they're still trying to figure out how to use it. Goal replays are erratic; highlight packages sometimes don't appear at all in intermissions, and penalties never get replays. If they're willing to put the Wohlberg goal up last night as it was being reviewed I don't think that's a controversy thing. I get that there's only one camera but at least some of the penalties are on the puck.

As for Yost… man, it has been off. I think moving the seniors close to the band was a mistake. When they were in the middle of the ice the chants had a smaller maximum distance; now the two sections furthest away from the band are mostly empty and totally lame. Are ticket prices too high? Michigan ran that Groupon special and packed the empty endzone seats; once that stopped we were again treated to nearly-empty sections in both endzones. I sit amongst the old fuddies now and they're not around either.

Another possibility: odd starting times have thrown people off after decades of Friday, Saturday, 7:30, see you in two weeks.

Whatever the explanation, I'm not feeling the same sort of excitement in the building that there was even a couple years ago. We're seeing the same sort of apathy infect the student section at football games. I think it's time to start taking attendance and offering people nice perks for showing up on time, like better seats next year. The AD's solitary focus on money is making the product worse.

Unverified Voracity Is Small, Moody

Unverified Voracity Is Small, Moody

Submitted by Brian on October 21st, 2011 at 5:44 PM

Welcome your semi-regular five-PM-on-a-Friday tab-machete C&P job. First, Stuffing the Passer:

Ron Paul makes an appearance. Why is this not a weekly feature at halftime on NBC I will never know.

Saving our bacon (not that Bacon). The Daily deploys the massive profile machine on Shawn Hunwick:

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STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. — Inside the home of Rich and Robin Hunwick, tickets from the Big Chill at the Big House and Michigan jerseys line the living room walls, set alongside childhood snapshots of their two boys, Matt and Shawn.

Tucked away in the corner of the room is a picture of Shawn, no older than seven, posing in a goalie squat in the net, his equipment swallowing his small frame.

Nothing about this picture is striking. Just a relic from a picture day many years ago.

As per usual, the result here is better than anything the local papers are putting out.

Spite for justice. The Dispatch writes up a piece on high school uniforms in Ohio with a cool story bro from back in the day:

Eastmoor Academy’s uniforms, featuring a blue and white winged helmet and players’ names on the jerseys, are among the most striking in central Ohio. Others, including Watkins Memorial, have borrowed the winged-helmet theme associated with Michigan.

The story associated with Eastmoor’s helmets is legendary. Hall of Famer Bob Stuart, who coached there from 1956-84, was incensed because Ohio State didn’t recruit Warriors linebacker Mike Boren — father to recent Ohio State players Justin and Zach — in 1979, so he introduced the winged helmets the following season.

“It’s a true story; I wanted to stick it to Ohio State for that,” Stuart said. “Plus, I had always admired Bo (Schembechler) and I thought those helmets were unique. We introduced them, the kids seemed to like them and they stuck. And, by the way, I never heard anything from coach (Earle) Bruce.”

No God Please No. Holdin' The Rope sneers at your QB controversy meme, internet:

Not only did Devin just look like a guy who shouldn't be playing right now, from the fumbled snap to the touchdown pass launched from three yards past the line of scrimmage, to the 4th and forever in which he scrambled forever, crossed the LOS, and eventually circled back with what looked like an intention to throw the ball. If I wasn't drinking a cocktail fashioned from the always zesty ingredients of depression, frustration, and anger at the time, I probably would've laughed.

Of course, the argument for Devin is that he's got a stronger, more accurate arm and just generally looks the part of what Michigan quarterbacks once were and ostensibly will be once Denard graduates. Unfortunately, he wasn't really appreciably better than Denard in the passing department (certainly not in a manner that would make Hoke unseat Denard because of Devin's aforementioned strengths). He missed painfully open receivers--guys so open hand-wavingly open that they could have been castaways waving at a rescue plane up above--and wasn't exactly accurate, in addition to the aforementioned Yakety Sax shenanigans.

Be who you are you square-jawed thug-enabling bible-thumping hypocrite who smells like cabbage. Hoover Street Rag on the Gholston business:

Michigan State's current national identity, as much as they have one in football, is built around essentially "Sparty, no!"  That's not just with Michigan fans, when Rece Davis says it on College Football Final, you have an identity crisis.  You will not embrace the Little Brother standard, and that's probably wise, because no one wins with that.  But pure evil, goatee wearing evil, yes, that is what Michigan State football could be.

Fascinating.

Think about it, think about all of the time you could save.  You wouldn't need to feign sportsmanship at press conferences, you could just come out and say that your players played sixty minutes of unnecessary roughness and you were lucky you didn't get caughtYour players could come right out and say that the game was played dirty. You wouldn't need to ignore the actions of your team off the field and you could immediately allow players who had served jail time back on to your team without any kind of punishmentYou wouldn't need to spend days on internal reviews of a punch by one of your players caught on camera. It would just be who you are.  You could be like the Raiders of the Big Ten.

Disagreement. Touch The Banner says Martin should have shut down the play picture-paged late yesterday:

The defensive line can do much more.  First and foremost, Mike Martin can make the tackle.  The star defensive tackle that people seem afraid to criticize is the first person who makes a mistake here.  He's responsible for the playside A gap but refuses to get off the center's block.  If Martin gets off the block quicker and wraps up Edwin Baker, the play gets made for a loss or a minimal gain.

It's true that middle linebacker Kenny Demens doesn't do a great job on the play.  In my opinion, he should be attacking the offensive guard's outside shoulder, thus maintaining B gap responsibility.  Instead, he takes the guard on head up and then gets stalemated.  If he takes on that guard with his inside shoulder, the WILL (Brandin Hawthorne) is screaming downhill and will tackle Baker for about a 1-yard gain.  (With the way Hawthorne reacts, it looks to me that he's just flowing to the ball and that the free safety is responsible for supporting the weakside A gap.)

The Demens stuff I agree with—he got hit with a minus two on that play. The Martin stuff I don't know about. He doesn't make the TFL by himself with a blocker on him but he does force the back into an awkward, difficult cut that should expose him to linebacker play. It's not the best play in the world but it seems like a positive. Also, I gave Martin a –1 for the last game. It's not about being afraid to criticize a guy.

Magnus goes on to complain about my complaining about MSU LBs reading the play faster than Michigan LBs because they are not concerned about Denard throwing the ball, which okay. But Demens has a guy releasing into him downfield and does not understand the structure of the play and thus spills it. That's reading as well. MSU LBs scrape to the POA much better than Michigan has—how many times have I complained about one or the other MLB not reading a pulling OL and arriving late to the hole? Lots. These guys have had trouble diagnosing jets sweeps and triple options by offenses run by Alex Gillett and Kain Colter. The threat of play action is not a problem there.

Etc.: Adam Jacobi truthbombs Dantonio. Answer This, the Ann Arbor-themed bar quiz romantic comedy featuring Ralph Williams as the protagonist's enormous-handed father, is having a special screening at the Michigan Theater Sunday.

Links And Then The Other Side

Links And Then The Other Side

Submitted by Brian on April 9th, 2011 at 5:08 PM

A brief set of links before the moment of truth.

locker-room

via

Burlon will not play; line chart is the same as it's been all tournament.

Ten Things from Yost Built:

In reading up about Duluth, it sounds like they're scary offensively, but are largely a one-line team. Michigan will have last change in this game, which is a good sign as we can get Rust's line out there against the Connollys. The defensemen don't activate often, but Faulk is as good as it gets at both ends of the ice. He's got a killer shot on the power play, and that opens things up for the Connollys and Fontaine down low.

I forgot to put that some guy named Tim would look up "sieve" in whatever language was needed to communicate with a goalie who needed to be informed that he was one.

Hunwick hits the NYT:

“A year ago, I would have told you there was no chance this would be happening,” Berenson said. “And yet he nearly got us to the Frozen Four last year when he had to come in in the late season as an emergency. He had never started a Division I game.”

“And even this year, when he was competing for the starting job and Hogan was healthy, it looked like Hogan was going to take over. Then Hogan got hurt again, Hunwick came in, got a shot, and he’s played every game since. And here we are.”

His dad was puzzled by his decision:

"That's all he's ever done, is play goalie," his dad said. "I don't think he's probably ever played 12 games out. … I can't imagine why you'd want somebody to shoot the puck at you."

Red on Glendening, the other consistent member of the Annihilation Co:

“It seems like a lot of the younger generation, they feel entitled, and not as willing to work,” Berenson said to media before practice Friday. “But I tell you what, the kid sitting at the end of the table here, Luke Glendening, he came to Michigan like (senior goaltender) Shawn Hunwick — with no expectations. I didn’t know if he would ever play a game, and when I saw him on the ice, I realized that this kid has something special.“

Hagelin took the last one hard last night:

His postgame obligations complete, Carl Hagelin limped his way back down the hallway underneath the Xcel Energy Center on Thursday night and slowly made his way to the Michigan dressing room.

A large bag of ice was taped around his left ankle and foot, altering his gait.

Others: Spath on Red's legacy. Nesbitt drafted by AnnArbor.com to write on the final. Burns on seniors/team stuff that seems like the truth instead of a cliché this time around.

Let's go blue.

Puck Preview: Minnesota-Duluth, National Championship Game

Puck Preview: Minnesota-Duluth, National Championship Game

Submitted by Brian on April 8th, 2011 at 4:01 PM

PLAYOFF TIME IS HOCKEY BEAR TIME

The Essentials  alaska-nanooks

WHAT Michigan vs Minnesota-Duluth
WHERE XCel Center, St. Paul, Minnesota
WHEN 7 PM
THE LINE Come on
TELEVISION ESPN
 

Minnesota-Duluth

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.

  Minnesota-Duluth Michigan
  Wins Losses Ties Wins Losses Ties
LSSU - - 6-6 7-2, 3-2    
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
Nebraska-Omaha 4-1 2-5 - 6-1, 3-2 2-4  
Minnesota 6-4 2-3 2-2, 2-2   1-3  
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.

bulldogs0407_500pxmike-connolly

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.

University of Michigan's Chris Brown checks U.S. National Under-18's Justin Faulk in the third period at Yost Arena on Oct 3, 2009.  U-M won the exhibition opener, 4-2.  (Mark Bialek for AnnArbor.com)

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."

Six of his eight goals are on the PP, and no other UMD defenseman has more than a few goals with token assists—they're a stay at home bunch. UMD radio guy Bruce Ciskie on the D corps:

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:

  Duluth Michigan
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

matt-rust-osu

Erin Kirkland/Daily

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.

Elsewhere

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.

Life As A Vole

Life As A Vole

Submitted by Brian on April 8th, 2011 at 1:46 PM

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]

image

little pimpin'

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.

imageimageimage

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.

imageimageimage

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?"

imageimageimage

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. imageimageimage

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!

image imageimage

AIGH MALONE

image

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.

Fifty percent.

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.

image imageimageimage

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.

imageimageimage

Someone tries to shake my hand or something and is hugged.

0:00. 60:00.

Photoshop Espectacularrrrr

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:

NORTHDAKOTABIRD.gif.pagespeed.ce.LV0aMSQ8oF

[click for big]

Usually bird-flipping maniacs don't look like accountants. Our previous experience tends more towards lawyers:

steve-breaston-gets-the-fin

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.

Anyway:

michigandiff

And:

hunwick-troll

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 want to apologize to the guy I hit in the face today in crowd. #toughmits #peterpanic #bouncingpucks

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:

image

Tell Winnett I'm so so sorry.

Elsewhere

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.

I don't even blame the guy, really. HSR. You can stream the game again if you want. Blazefire says that was Lloydballed—I wonder how much of it was optional. Daily coverage includes:

"Kevin Hunwick" reigns supreme. Mets Maize on blind terror.

Check, Please

Check, Please

Submitted by Brian on March 28th, 2011 at 1:15 PM

3/25/2011 – Michigan 3, Nebraska-Omaha 2 (OT) – 27-10-4
3/26/2011 – Michigan 2, Colorado College 1 – 28-10-4, Frozen Four

image

Jake Fromm/Daily

The course of the season showed that if Michigan was going to make the Frozen Four they were going to do it one way: narrowly. If you need a number, during the course of the UNO broadcast they put up a stat showing Michigan's record in one-goal games was 10-3. That's just how they do.

That record is now up to 12-3 after history's greatest video review and the Joe Howe show (wsgs Joe Howe's Posts) and if there was ever any chance we remembered this hockey team as the weird one that kind of reminded you of Ron Mason that's gone now. This team isn't trying to win games –1 to –2 but you'd be forgiven if sometimes you thought they were.

It's working, though. I spent the second intermission Saturday thinking about Buffalo, when Michigan dominated Minnesota for two periods but didn't put enough of that domination on the scoreboard to prevent Minnesota's rally from tying the game; Michigan lost the game and Al Montoya's brain in overtime on one of those bizarrely frequent OT goals that comes from almost the goal line on the left side of the net*. I spent the third period thinking about how beautifully boring it was until Red channeled into Lloyd Carr by slipping Jeff Rohrkemper out there for a power play shift. He was immediately punished for punting from the 34 by a Rohkemper boarding penalty and nine seconds later CC fumbled a puck into the net. Everyone braced for a storm. That storm was a single pea-sized hailstone. The most nervous moment after that was a bunch of players rooting for the puck on the boards with the goalie out and twenty seconds left.

Michigan had outshot their opponent 43-22, played a game universally acclaimed as their best of the season, and won 2-1 because Scooter is an animal and pucks that come off Lee Moffie's stick will hit the post and go in even if they have to deflect off three guys to do it. There is a natural inertia pulling them towards narrow wins you're uncertain about; even now that they've reached the Frozen Four there's a feeling they don't really match up with a North Dakota.

There's also the feeling they just might, though. Because what the hell, Michigan's 11-1 since the line shakeup after Michigan's dismal 0-3 stretch against MSU and Miami. Season goals slipping away and faced with the question of how to get the most use out of some good forwards who never, ever score Michigan put together a vintage Todd Marchant checking line and let anyone who might put the puck in the net forget about guys like Jaden Schwartz.

This has been remarkably effective. If the announcer didn't bring his name up every time he wasn't making a joke-type assertion about the "hockey hotbeds" of California, Texas, and Arizona, the viewer could have forgotten about Jaden Schwartz. Lingering irritation at Matt Rust's bad OT penalty against UNO evaporated as his line erased Schwartz, Schwartz, and Schultz with a healthy assist from Jon Merill at his most subtly awesome. The Schwartzes got their goal on a four-on-four scramble; everything other than that was frustration. In the second period they started jawing and shoving people because they were getting nothing. This was one day after they turned defending national champs Boston College into a lump of smoking carbon.

I watched North Dakota pummel two teams, one of them not even in the ECAC, this weekend. I remember Michigan's last two not-very-competitive matchups against them. I have considerable doubts that Michigan will beat them since they're by far the best team left standing. Doubts about doubts come when you close your eyes and see Jon Merrill gently shepherding you, the puck, and a hockey team into a deep, peaceful sleep as Matt Rust obscures the face of North Dakota Hobey finalist… oh… you know… what's his name.

*[Almost certainly an artifact of my introduction to college hockey but they seem to happen all the time: Josh Langfeld's championship winner, the Vanek goal (at 1:00) that put Michigan out in Buffalo, and ND's winner against Merrimack were all bizarre nothing shots from the same area of the ice that took the goalie by surprise.]

A Tiny Window Of White Bullets

Scooter!

Also the other two goals but mostly Scooter!

You do not have a twitter account that concerns itself with Michigan hockey if you didn't tweet "Scooter" followed by one to three exclamation points after his goal, which was completely unbelievable even as it was happening. CC does not have the greatest defensemen in the world but holy crap where did that come from?

Monster faceoffs. Michigan both faced and received extended periods of 5-on-3 time in the first period, and during both they got clean, critical faceoff wins. Moffie's goal was a direct result. The lack of a CC goal on their terrifying PP was greatly aided, as well.

Clare escape. To recap the thing I kept talking about during the game: after a tough shift in which Pateryn and Clare got caught in the zone forever, allowing the Schwartz line to get out against them and some other random non-Rust forwards, Red pulled Clare out of the lineup for more than a period. Pateryn took shifts with the second pair D to give guys a break. Clare returned about halfway through the second and actually got some PK time a bit later, which I guess makes sense because your breakout on the PK is slapping the puck down the ice. I saw him out there a couple times in the third, as well, but his minutes were minimized.

All this invites questions about Burlon's availability. He's got two weeks to recover from his strep and penicillin reaction, so I imagine he'll be in the lineup. Losing 15 pounds is kind of a lot, though, and I wonder how effective he'll be.

RNG in full effect. Hockey's vaguely weighted plinko system was a little more random than normal this time around: FF participants are two three-seeds, a two, and a one. One seeds went 2-2 in the first round, bringing their record against fours to 11-9 the last five years. That goes beyond "anything can happen" into "your excellent season gets you nothing."

What's wrong? I don't think you can blame the Pairwise. The "better"* ranking system, KRACH, already updated for the weekend's results and still has Yale a #1. The only difference between KRACH's top seeds and the PWRs is putting Denver above Miami, and there's a fair chance that wasn't the case before the events of the weekend.

You can blame insular schedules. Yale's nonconference schedule consisted of single games against CC, Air Force, Cornell, and Vermont and an "Ivy Shootout" against other ECAC members. The only evidence we had that Yale was a top seed other than their ECAC schedule was a 5-1 win over a .500 WCHA team and a 2-1 record against Atlantic Hockey—yeah, they'd already lost to first-round opponent Air Force.

This vapor-thin trail coupled with some other ECAC nonconference games convinced the ranking systems the conference didn't suck despite years of evidence to the contrary. The last ECAC team to make the Frozen Four was Cornell in 2003 and that last to win a title was Harvard in 1989.

That only explains perpetually disappointing ECAC #1s, which are rare. The rest of it is on a tournament format which has #1 Miami play #4 UNH in New Hampshire in a single-elimination game.

*[FWIW, KRACH is mathematically pure but has a tendency to go nuts about nonconference results. In certain years it would put up to eight WCHA teams, some well below .500, into the field.]

Abandabuildings. It was no surprise to see literally every seat in the upper bowl in St. Louis empty. We wondered if a couple of friends had actually made the trip despite stern clucking about teaching the NCAA a lesson, and I said "if they did they'll be on TV because they'll be the only people there," and midway through the second there they were. Even the NCAA's comically generous numbers only show 55% capacity.

Every year we get sterile half-full buildings as teams get shipped halfway across the country and fans have to deal with the possibility they'll get on a plane to see their team play once, or if they're lucky play twice and make the Frozen Four and then you've blown your budget on regionals already. Insert usual rant about using home sites here.

The good news is the NCAA has not selected regional sites past next year. In the past sites have been selected three to four years out, so that's a clear sign this failed format is on its last legs. Last year there was a report out of Grand Forks that change was coming, with home sites and "super regionals" of an undetermined nature.

The bad news is that once again the CCHA has no regionals within hundreds of miles of it—the closest is in Green Bay as the St. Louis regional moves to St. Paul. At least Michigan's getting out of that rinky-dink operation, and as a bonus the failures of its commissioner* now directly benefit it.

*[Seriously, what has Anastos done since 1998 that a lump of quartz couldn't? The CCHA has gone nowhere, and has clearly become the region of the country that either gets screwed over by the committee or can't scrape together a bid that makes any more sense than having a regional in St. Louis.]

I am Jack's total lack of surprise. The crew doing the Yale-UMD game that chucked Yale's best player out of the game for a clean open-ice hit were from the CCHA. Yale's coach was infuriated enough afterwards to lead his presser with "the game was taken away from us." Yet more reason to be happy we're getting away from the league—hopefully most of the refs don't follow.

Videos

Via Boyz in the Pahokee as per usual.

Elsewhere

Daily game story and gallery featuring a great shot of the Scooter(!!!) goal:

image

Everyone in the shot including Scooter is thinking "WTF?"

Yost Built recaps the game with gusto. Not so sure that "this is the year" since North Dakota is terrifying but Mark Burns is. Hunwick:

“I think they did have a few pretty good shots early on,” Hunwick said. “But this is an opportunity to play for the Frozen Four. I think I made a couple good saves. It’s pretty easy to stay in the game when you’re playing to go to the Frozen Four. They didn’t really get anything going too much until they got into the power play. Once they got into the power play, I really had to be sharp.”

Seriously, that power play was terrifying. That first period five on three was awful.

Torrent of the CC game.

Unverified Voracity Levitates Hair

Unverified Voracity Levitates Hair

Submitted by Brian on March 10th, 2011 at 11:36 AM

Just like Haloi Ngata. Tom points out that Jake Ryan's twitter photo displays the first fruits of hiring Greg Mattison—redshirt freshman Richard Ash's levitating hair:

richard-ash-levitating-hair

So we've got that going for us.

Too awesome to don't click here. Irrelevant, but here's three of my favorite things in one thing:

Further position clarification. Just to highlight something from Tim's post:

Cameron Gordon will play outside linebacker, because they want to get the guys into the best position they can to make plays. "And then what's the most upside." He has great ability to grow, and has that upside at OLB. "As compared to being a safety, I think he can do that too, but we have other guys that can do that."

Specifically, Gordon will be the SAM linebacker, which is a spot fairly similar to the "spur" Michigan used last year in their disaster of a 3-3-5. This answers one of the main questions from the Hello Old 4-3 posts. It seems like your starting front seven next year will be:

DL: Van Bergen-Campbell/other three tech-Martin-Roh
LB: C. Gordon/Demens/Winner of massive WLB free for all

Only the WLB spot and three-tech are up in the air.

SPARKZZZZ. A Daily article on Sparks does seem to confirm the only possible reason Lindsay Sparks would mostly hang out in the press box on a team decidedly lacking in… well… spark:

By the time Michigan headed into the stretch run, the offensively-skilled forward had played in just 10 of his team’s 34 games, mainly due to concerns about his defense. … According to Michigan coach Red Berenson, Sparks took his game to another level in practice in recent weeks. It paid off. He took the ice in both games of the final regular-season series.

Sparks picked up an effort-y assist against Northern and flashed near-Hagelin speed against Western. Surely he's a regular next year with all the departures. Prepare for me to badly overrate him.

SNUBZZZZ. Michigan didn't have a whole lot of individual stars this year but it's a somewhere between disappointing an enraging that Shawn Hunwick didn't get even a single vote for All CCHA. Spath has numbers:

Hunwick went 14-6-1 in 21 CCHA games - the coaches are only supposed to consider conference statistics - ranking second in winning percentage (.690) to Notre Dame's Mike Johnson … Hunwick also ranked second in save percentage (.931) and second in goals against average (1.95). He was the lone netminder in the CCHA to rank in the top two in winning percentage, save percentage and goals against. …

Nagle went 12-12-4 for the Bulldogs, ranking seventh in winning percentage (.500) while his .920 save percentage also ranked seventh among conference netminders and his 2.11 goals against average left him fifth. Greenham …. ranked sixth in save percentage (.921) and seventh in goals against average (2.19).

And Hunwick has the CCHA's most entertaining twitter feed. Watch him talk smack to Steve Kampfer:

@SteveKampfer47 If I was in the NHL and playing in boston, I wouldn't be still flying girls in from Ann Arbor. #boom

.010 in save percentage + twitter should be a slam dunk for All CCHA, especially since the team that, you know, won the league only scored two of 12 players. I guess people are still hung up on the fact that he's just two cells pasted together.

Q: what was the last time Michigan had a goalie as good as Hunwick was this year? If you go by the stats, Billy Sauer's junior year is the recent best by a Michigan goalie. (The online database appears to start midway through the Tuco years.) He put up a .924  before his spectacular Frozen Four meltdown. Hunwick's .920 in 27 games is the next approximately qualifying season—if you want to roll his junior year in to get to 38 games that hardly changes the number—and then it's Montoya, Hogan, Montoya, Turco, and Josh Blackburn's four identical .905s.

If you think Sauer's meltdown poisons his whole year this is Michigan's best goaltending since Al Montoya was a sophomore who gave a crap.

Fab Five preview. Dylan got his hands on a promotional copy of Sunday's Fab Five documentary and provides first thoughts:

The brash exuberance of the Fab Five is not just captured through the clips on the court, which are obviously entertaining. A majority of the interviews do a great job of portraying the same energy. Whether it’s listening to the Fab Five describe their feelings on Duke and Christian Laettner – using words like “Uncle Toms” and “soft bitch” – or one of the many hip hop icons of the time explaining their cultural influence.

This is a no punches pulled documentary even without the presence of Chris Webber:

The range of topics discussed spans just about everything that you would expect to see. There are pictures of Jalen chugging beer out of a 40 and he discusses his drug house incident. There are also other ugly sides, such as shots of all of the racial hate mail from Michigan alumni and the inevitable discussion of the NCAA sanctions.

As I said, prepare to be massively conflicted. Sounds like it will be appointment television: 9PM, Sunday, ESPN.

Back to being an insufferable thing. Now that Jim Harbaugh is just another fish in the sea instead of the Chosen One we can resume thinking of him as kind of an asshat. This won't come as a surprise to anyone who perused the Stanford roster in the aftermath of Harbaugh's comments about Michigan funneling kids into easy classes, but—surprise—Stanford funnels its players into easy classes.

Not news, but this is a quote from the quote gods, one every Cal undergrad will be wearing next year:

"(Stanford) accommodates athletes in the manner that they accommodate students with disabilities."

Etc.: Bruce Ciskie has a good take on the brutal hit Max Pacioretty took from Zdeno Chara a couple days ago. UMHoops previews the BTT.

AP Bio

AP Bio

Submitted by Brian on February 28th, 2011 at 2:07 PM

2/25/2010 – Michigan 3, NMU 2 – 22-9-4, 19-7-1 CCHA
2/26/2010 – Michigan 5, NMU 0 – 23-9-4, 20-7-1 CCHA – Champions

Shawn Hunwick of the Michigan hockey team plays against Windsor in an exhibition match at Yost Ice Arena on Sunday, October 4th 2009(SAID ALSALAH/DAILY)a-bear

My AP Biology teachers were not very good at anticipating how much minutia an average high school student could write down in 54 minutes. They consistently wrote tests that were ten minutes too long. This compounded itself over the course of a day, so when we showed up for the last hour there was always a class full of frantic scribblers occupying our seats forever. Forced to wait, definitely not making any bus, and unbound by anyone showing up after us, my class would dribble out of the room anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes after the official end of the school day.

Except for me. Pointless memorization was my jam, man. I blew through the tests in a half hour, then waited outside for a friend who would need a ride. I'm sure this privately infuriated my teachers since most of my time in their class was spent asleep. If I'd failed a test or even not done so well they could have swooped in with Life Lessons, maybe even called my mom to describe what a terrible student I was. But as long as I was the only guy finishing their insane tests on time they were powerless.

--------------------------------

Michigan has not been a particularly entertaining hockey team this year. They've been gritty and frustrating and occasionally elegant but only from the back end; Hagelin has been fast and Hunwick surprisingly effective. They split with an awful MSU team and didn't look like they even belonged on the same ice as Miami. They blew leads to tie seemingly all of their nonconference games. They didn't score much in the way they were trying to. It's been jarring.

Even this weekend they spent the first 90 minutes asleep. On Friday, Shawn Hunwick and some emergency defending saw them scrape a win they didn't seem to deserve. On Saturday it was looking like they were going to do the same after the first 26 minutes saw 12 shots total, one of them an attempted pass by Hagelin that a Wildcat deflected into his own net. Since I was watching the internet feed on my computer my melodramatic twitter feed features an existential crisis, incredible frustration, and the phrase "awful, awful, awful."

After the existential crisis the previous class shuffled out and Michigan got down to business. There was a humorous scene in which they wrote so fast smoke rose from the paper. When it cleared no one was even mad two goals had been waved off because four others had stood.

What was that? Was that something that's been there all along but isn't unearthed on the regular, or was it just like Michigan starting the Minnesota basketball game off 6 of 6 from three, a statistical fluke? Should we call Michigan's mother to tell on him?

I'm not sure we can. The test is in and it says "A":

image

No matter how deeply suspicious we are or are not, the test says "A". Michigan may have gotten blown out of Oxford but Miami won four fewer games in the league. On Saturday Notre Dame had three goals disallowed and scored none against Western Michigan. They did not put a knuckling puck through the Bronco goalie with 40 seconds left, then flick one into the top corner with two left. They allowed twelve more goals than Michigan and scored only three more. I'm still not sure how that's true but it is. Last year Michigan finished seventh in the league, and this year they won it.

-----------------

Now we come to the knee-buckling section of the schedule. Last year Michigan reached this point down their starting goalie, playing a first-round series for the first time in forever and staring down the barrel of Michigan State, Miami, and someone else if they were going to extend their tourney streak. They did, and then they were robbed of a Frozen Four bid in one of the program's all-time classic games. They died like Vikings, turning their league D into a B.

This year they've got a much easier road. They've guaranteed themselves an at large and won't face either of the CCHA's other elite teams until the final. Hold serve and you're one game away from a one seed and a friendly bracket.

I don't know what to think. Maybe the subtler qualities really do exist and this series of narrow victories is just what happens when you're a really good defensive team that lacks magic midgets. I've never deeply cared about a team like this. Maybe this is what life is like when you've got six good to great defenders and Scooter Vaughn is vying to be your second-leading scorer. Or maybe the Miami series was a dark preview of what will happen whenever Michigan meets an elite opponent.

I'll know in the next month. They've got an A so far, but the only thing that matters in this class is the final. This is not fair. It is, however, college hockey.

Pairwise

The usual extreme detail from mfan_in_ohio.

Somewhat briefer: for a moment on Friday night Michigan had fallen to tenth despite their win against NMU, but when the dust cleared from the weekend Michigan moved up into a tie for fourth(!) despite losing OSU's record and gaining MSU's in their TUC category. Then a butterfly flapped its wings, sending MSU below .500 RPI. Voila:

image

Bracketology stuff usually has Michigan playing RPI/CC in the first round and getting the winner of Union/UMD in the second if they get there. Stop the season right now. I want to get off.

How did this happen?

Merrimack blew up. The lead people including myself thought was unassailable evaporated in a single weekend as meh Maine (14-10-6 before the weekend) swept. I think we PWR watchers underestimate how quickly teams high up in the RPI can backslide if they get swept. Merrimack has terrible Providence this weekend and can only lose ground—sweeping leaves their RPI basically where it is now.

WCHA teams did too. UMD only got one point out of their weekend with CC, and UNO split with Denver—the exact result Michigan wanted.

CCHA playoffs rooting guide:

  1. In the first round you want Alaska over MSU, NMU over BGSU, and OSU over LSSU. NMU [M: 2-0 against them] can approach the cutoff with a sweep and OSU [3-1] can get over the hump with one.  MSU [2-2] is thousandths away from the cutoff and if they don't lose things could get ugly. OTOH, this might not be so bad. Unless BGSU pulls a massive upset MSU would then play Michigan in the second round. Michigan could put them right back under .500. Even if they didn't the record would then be 4-2, which whatever.
  2. Second round assuming no upsets: Michigan, obvs, over OSU or LSSU. NMU over Miami, as that would make them a TUC. Ferris-WMU doesn't really matter since it appears the Bulldogs are locked in as a TUC, and neither would ND-Alaska.
  3. At the Joe it probably won't matter as long as Michigan wins.

The most important other thing: Die, Denver. You die and go to hell. Also, pull hard for UNH against BC this weekend.

Non-Bullets Of Silverware

Wat. If you were one of the dedicated few ripping the NMU radio guy a new one on twitter as you watched the B2E feed you might have wondered what the hell Michigan players were doing after the game, unless you were also one of the many who played NHL 94 incessantly. Michigan Hockey Net digs up a junior team doing the same thing. I'm impressed guys who were about three when '94 came out have even heard of it.

Feed BTW. It probably wasn't worth seven bucks if we're talking about a random midseason series. With the title on the line, though, I shelled out both nights and was relatively impressed. Negatives: the quality is not super high and you aren't getting replays. Positive: the feed was very smooth. I missed maybe a minute of game time total to internet hiccups.

The quality wasn't good enough for me to be able to say much about specific players, however. It was tough for me to figure out who was who most of the time.

One exception. Hunwick bounced back huge on Friday night after a disappointing series against Western. He stole that game. On Saturday he had very little to do, so points to the team defense there.

Highlights. HT to Michigan Hockey Net for digging up highlights from Friday and Saturday. Friday:

Saturday:

That post from MHN has a bunch of other stuff including Andrew Cogliano fighting someone much bigger than him.

Elsewhere

Locker room Celebration footage from MGoBlue. Daily recap features Burlon's game saving… uh… save:

“You’re instincts take over on a play like that,” Burlon said after Friday’s game. “(Hunwick) was the goalie on that one, but then, I’ve got to play goalie. You do anything for the team to get the win and that was just one of those plays.”

Yost Built hasn't updated. Frowns.