Tuesday, January 2, 2017
Michigan 6, Michigan State 4
Great Lakes Invitational consolation game
UM 0 MSU 1 EV 00:26 Assists: Lewandowski
Luce tries to handle a pass to him at the blue line and bobbles it, trips, and ends up staring at a nearly stationary puck between himself and a charging MSU skater. He flails around in an effort to bat the puck anywhere but where it is. This fails, and Lewandowski flips the puck over Luce’s stick. He plays it to himself off the boards.
Lewandowski cuts inside and glides back outside to retrieve the puck off the wall. Luce gets up and tries to chase him down, but Lewandowski ends up with an uncontested zone entry. Luce starts to close the gap as Lewandowski carries down the wing. Cecconi is at the point where he’s realized he’s no longer needed to come across and cover, so he starts to turn. He’s still looking at the puck carrier, though.
Or, more accurately, the guy who used to be the puck carrier. Lewandowski somehow sees Hirose trailing and flings the puck his way. You can see from the shadowy image of a guy with one skate on the ice that Hirose has to body the puck to contain it.
I mean, come on. That is not even remotely on Lavigne. You’d like to see Cecconi pick up on the fact that there’s a trailer earlier so that he isn’t caught flat-footed and can gap up, but the shot itself is an immediate and perfect backhander off a puck that rolled down a guy’s body. Weird.
[After THE JUMP: hat trick and a butt goal]
UM 0 MSU 2 EV 4:34 Assists: Gatt & Milan
Milan digs the puck out behind the net and carries to the corner. He sees that he has a passing lane to the blue line and fires. Nothing unexpected thus far.
Gatt steps in and fires. Pastujov had moved to the boards to take Milan as he skated up, but he has to peel off and try to close on the point. He does an admirable job; that stick blade is out of the shooting lane by a half blade’s length, and he’s about to get his stick parallel with the ice.
Lambdin gets good position in the slot. Martin tracks him into the slot and is fighting Lambdin the whole way; gonna need higher-def footage than this to pass any judgment about stick positioning or anything that intricate. Slaker’s guy cuts to the front of the net and he sticks on him really well, but then Slaker shoves his man into Lavigne. This erases any shot Lavigne had at stopping the redirection due to the timing of the shove. He’s out of position as the puck enters the crease.
UM 1 MSU 2 EV 3:12 Assists: none
WInborg wins a footrace and jams at the puck, but Lethemon seals off the post and the puck is knocked away toward the corner.
Winborg heads to the front of the net to screen. Sanchez gets to the corner with plenty of time and space, and he’s able to turn on the puck and check his options with plenty of time to make a decision.
Sanchez sees that Becker’s fronted by a State defender in the slot, so the only good option available is to shoot it himself. Winborg does a really nice job sticking in front of Lethemon, who has to peer around him to track the shot. Sanchez picks a spot for his snap shot: just to the right of Winborg a bit above the leg pad and under the glove hand.
UM 1 MSU 3 PPG 6:28 Assists: Milan & Gatt
I couldn’t find video of this one but it was a pretty straightforward snap shot from the circle that somehow got through Luce and I believe found a small gap short-side on Lavigne.
UM 2 MSU 3 EV 15:39 Assists: Piazza & Porikos
Porikos has the puck in the corner and reaches past a State defender who’s burrowing through him to pass it up to Pastujov.
Pastujov has a clear diagonal passing lane open to the blue line, and he decides to make the pass to Piazza. This is his intent from the second he receives the puck, as he gets the pass on his backhand and only spins far enough to see the open defenseman before passing. Pastujov then loops through the circle and heads for the net.
Piazza doesn’t even take a stride forward before snapping it on net, opting to do so because he sees that there are two Michigan skaters that could be interfering with Lethemon’s ability to track the puck. At the time the shot is released, Pastujov is near the bottom of the circle and in great position to pounce on a rebound.
The shot misses, but that ends up working out just fine. Pastujov reads the shot and gets behind the net to retrieve the puck, pulling to the side of the net and flipping the puck up and in off of Lethemon’s outstretched arm.
UM 3 MSU 3 EV 16:37 Assists: Calderone & Dancs
Marody carries into the offensive zone chased by a State defender, then throws on the brakes to create time and space and surveys. He doesn’t have anyone to pass to back at the blue line just yet, but he senses Dancs cutting off his back and throws the puck to the back of the net for Dancs to go and get.
Dancs turns to wall off the defender behind him, which allows him the necessary space to send a hard backhanded pass to a waiting (and unchecked) Calderone.
Calderone waits just long enough to settle the puck, reading his angle on the fly. The two nearest State defenders are about to be carries too far up-ice by their momentum, which gives him a clear passing lane to Marody.
Marody glides toward the crease as the pass gets off Calderone’s blade, and thanks to keeping his stick on the ice he’s able to get the perfectly threaded pass (it goes through the defenseman’s legs) and redirect it into the net.
State’s netfront defender was on Marody’s side of the ice and then skated to the top of the crease to cover for his teammate, who went behind the net to deal with Dancs. Lambdin, who was covering Marody way back at the beginning of the play (when he put on the brakes to shake him), never gets back into it, instead gesturing at Marody with his stick to let his teammates know there’s an unchecked guy lurking at the side of the net. The netfront defenseman turns and picks up Marody too late.
UM 4 MSU 3 EV 1:39 Assists: Sanchez & Boka
Remember when Cutler Martin was a forward? So does he. He carries the puck in by himself and, seeing that his options are to carry down the wing or drop it, decides that he’ll carry without a defender in his way. He does so by pulling off a really, really nice shot fake. Look at the screen cap below and you can see that he looks very much like he’s about to wrong-foot the puck through the guys in front of him. He then pulls it and gets outside, the nearest defender momentarily frozen.
Martin digs in and sees that he has a lane to the front of the net. If only there was someone there for him to take a pass. If only there was someone there to create a deflection. If only there was someone there to generate a…
BUTT GOAL. You’ve probably seen forwards bank it off the goalie’s butt from a sharp angle, but here Martin sees the backskating defenseman and figures he can get the puck on net with a rear-end redirection. He’s right, too. Lethemon has zero chance.
UM 5 MSU 3 PPG 3:57 Assists: Calderone & Cecconi
Cecconi is circling back with the puck and plays it from his blue line up to Marody on a diagonal at the opposition blue line. Marody gains the zone along the wall to keep play onsides and then chips it ahead to Calderone. He has the good fortune of two State defenders both deciding to play him immediately, which lets Calderone slip past them to retrieve the puck.
Calderone tries to (I assume) shoot, but the outstretched stick of the State defender deflects the puck away. It travels on a line straight back, where Marody just happens to be.
The last two goals are proof positive that GIFs and screen caps are both necessary for GBGA. Two State defenders see Marody about to get the puck and both try to close up on him, one looping up through the center of the ice and the other stepping up from the bottom of the faceoff circle toward the top. They run into each other, though, which allows Marody to toe-drag the heck out of a State defender before firing an absolute laser that hits the top corner.
UM 5 MSU 4 PPG 9:46 Assists: Hirose & Milan
No video whoops
UM 6 MSU 4 EV 16:13 Assists: Calderone
Calderone steps up on a State skater at center ice and times his swipe perfectly, stripping the puck and heading into the offensive zone with one defender in front of him along with a teammate trailing and another defender to his right.
Calderone looks to shoot and loses control of the puck. Immediately after, Marody cuts to the middle of the ice and his leg gets tangled with the State defender’s leg, sending him tumbling to the ice as Calderone whacks at the loose puck.
Miller’s fall stops the puck from sliding away, and Calderone picks it up and pulls it around his outstretched body.
Calderone centers it for Marody, but it’s really almost for Dancs or Marody as Dancs crashes the net hard. State has three skaters back but one’s on the ground and one’s behind Calderone, so Dancs is unchecked and Marody’s able to get his shot up and over Lethemon as Gatt turns to try and poke the pass away.
A few thoughts, of which there will be more extensive ones after the ND series:
They don’t always start on time (h/t Babs) but they’re resilient. I didn’t watch the first game thanks to the WCHA’s crazy per-game stream price and FSD’s decision to only televise the second day, so I can’t tell you exactly how the comeback was mounted, but Michigan was down 4-1 to BGSU after two periods. They made it 4-2 early in the third, Bowling Green added another, then Michigan scored a few seconds later to make it 5-3. A few minutes later it was 5-4, and BGSU didn’t seal their win until they picked up an empty-netter with 1:15 left. Michigan then went down two against State and responded, a big third period pushing them over the top. They aren’t a very skilled team, but they keep skating.
The DMC line is awfully skilled, though. They aren’t as flashy as the CCM line but Dancs, Marody, and Calderone consistently put themselves in good positions in the offensive zone. Their passing is what sets them apart.
Any illusion that this would be a repeat of the last time these teams met was blown up early. Michigan played a home-and-home with State in early December that ended with a rough game in East Lansing, as Michigan generated a ton of shot attempts from the outside while State picked their spots carefully and scored from the front of the net with relative frequency. It looked like Michigan would be in for a similar night after the fluky first goal and the déjà vu inducing second goal. Defensively, Michigan’s still attempting to address a seasons-long propensity to leave guys unchecked in and around the slot, but they found a way to offset that issue—it cropped up again on State’s fourth goal—by getting guys to the front of the net. Michigan’s success this year is going to depend on how well they’re able to retain possession in the offensive zone and get a screener in front of the goaltender, especially if Lockwood misses the rest of the year. Long wristers from outside won’t cut it. One thing to watch against Notre Dame is whether the second-through-fourth-liners are able to get to the front of the net.