I'm Not Saying, I'm Just Saying Comment Count

Brian February 6th, 2012 at 12:32 PM

2/4/2012 – Michigan 4, Miami 1 – 16-9-4, 10-7-4 CCHA
2/5/2012 – Michigan 3, Miami 0 – 17-9-4, 11-7-4 CCHA

Pull the string on a college hockey observer and you'll get a torrent of profanity about the latest refereeing injustices. Do it again and you'll get a statement about how it's a weird year. Do it a third time: more torrents of profanity. A fourth time and you get this: "there are no elite teams this year." Don't bother going any further. It's torrents all the way down.

It's just that… I don't know. I'm definitely not saying this, you know… but… would they be saying that if Jon Merrill hadn't been suspended for the first half of the year?

Consider Michigan's season. When Merrill came back from suspension Michigan was 11-8-3 and yielding 2.6 goals a game. Since, 1.25. They've gone 6-1-1 in that stretch against four opponents fighting for tourney bids with all but one win coming by multiple goals. Nine of Michigan's eleven non-wins in the first half were one-goal contests.

How many of those does Merrill—and the marginalization of Michigan's third pair—swing to the positive? How many goals per game is having him worth? The answer can be a lot less than 1.35 and still be enough to propel Michigan's season record into territory only Minnesota-Duluth is scraping this year. Past it, maybe. The idea I am creeping up to gingerly and fleeing in fear from after considering its audacious blasphemy is obvious.

What if Michigan is this year's elite team?

Look at it from a neutral observer's perspective: here's this team tied for second in RPI and PWR, third in KRACH. It's 10-1-2 in its last 13 games and midway through that stretch added a top-pairing defenseman from the WJC team. Their goalie has entered a new plane of existence in which it's reasonable to put up a .980 over a month. They are surging towards the top of what looks like college hockey's toughest conference. If not Michigan, then who?

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

Mentioning that point in November when it looked like the team was dead and buried and marveling at the huge distance from that point to this one is obligatory and discharged here. The shift has been abrupt and dizzying.

What changed? Merrill is obvious but Michigan was already on a 4-0-1 move when he re-entered the lineup. The formation of a thunderous top line helps a lot, as does Hunwick going from "still a guy you can win with," as I termed him in a post around the midseason mark, to a surefire Hobey finalist*. And then there's just… this feeling. Of competence and confidence.

Whatever it is, Michigan has rarely found themselves threatened since the halfway point. If it's still a little shocking that this Michigan team is rolling everyone not named Notre Dame, it's true, and the longer it goes on the more confident you can be in your delicate assertions that Michigan might be pretty good at hockey this year.

*[As in top ten, not necessarily top three. That's a possibility, though.]

The throbbing pestilence

The fetid sore on hockey that is Keith Sergott cannot be better summarized than by the meaningless penalty to Blake Coleman with one second left in Friday's game. After they'd let Miami run Hunwick twice without putting Miami on the penalty kill, a pissed-off Coleman plows Hunwick. Sergott does what Sergott does by Sending A Message and making this guy's penalty a major.

This infuriated me. One: the penalty was not a major. It was not dangerous at all, not much of a hit, and warranted two minutes. Two: twice earlier in the game Hunwick had gotten run harder and Sergott either ignored it or evened penalties up. Since the player did not get a DQ, the net result is to make it look like you're being strict without actually penalizing the behavior on the ice in any way whatsoever.

That's Sergott's MO. That's why he was on the ice when Conboy and Tropp assaulted Steve Kampfer, and his inability to keep tempers in check is indirectly responsible for the suspensions handed out at the end of Saturday's game. His incompetence is total, which shouldn't be surprising since he is Bull from "Night Court."

Yost Built has a good summary of this guy's track record:

You'll remember that Sergott was the official a few weeks back at Notre Dame, when he let the Irish run Hunwick at every opportunity and usually just evened things up on the rare occasion that he did call anything. He was also the official when Steve Kampfer was attacked by Andrew Conboy and Corey Tropp. He was also the official of the ND/WMU game when the wrong player got ejected. Even if you set the bar for your officials at "Don't endanger players with your incompetence", Sergott fails in a big way. He shouldn't be reffing BGSU/Alabama-Huntsville, let alone high-profile games.

His existence as a referee is on the same plane as the CCHA adopting "gongshow" as a title sponsor.

Antidote. Denard was at the Friday game:

Denard_is_in_the_house%21[1]

Bill Rapai

Highlights

Further highlights from Friday:

And Saturday:

Bullets That Shawn Hunwick Perceives As Lackadaisical Watermelons

Hobey? Yost Built lays out the case for Hunwick:

Hunwick moved into 4th place in the history of the program with his ninth-career shutout. He also now ranks second nationally in wins, is fifth in save percentage, and ninth in goals-against. Hobey. Seriously.

Of the eight guys in front of him in GAA, four come from minor conferences (Union, Niagara, RIT, Quinnipiac), and he's played twice as many minutes as Knapp and CJ Motte. Only Douglas Carr from UML and Kent Patterson from Minnesota are from major conferences, have played around as many minutes, and have a better GAA. And Patterson is only .01 ahead.

The four guys ahead of him in save percentage play for Niagara, Union, RIT, and Robert Morris. And none of them are within 225 saves of him.

He is obviously the best candidate amongst goalies. Can he win against the usual parade of scoring forwards?

Baseball standings. Here you go:

Rk Team W L T Pts. Games GB
1 Ferris State 12 6 4 41 22 -
2 Western Michigan 11 8 3 39 22 2/3
3 Michigan 11 7 4 38 22 1
4 Notre Dame 11 8 3 36 22 1 2/3
5 Lake Superior 9 9 4 35 22 2
  Michigan State 10 9 3 35 22 2
7 Miami 11 11 2 36 24 2 2/3
  Ohio State 10 9 5 36 24 2 2/3
9 Northern Michigan 7 9 6 30 22 3 2/3
10 Alaska 7 13 4 27 24 5 2/3
11 Bowling Green 4 14 4 19 22 7 1/3

The conference title race is still competitive, but Ferris State has a clear edge since they're in first place and have a BGSU series left. Michigan will either have to fly through the last three weeks or hope for Ferris to drop some points this weekend at Notre Dame.

The final week could be a barn-burner: WMU plays a home and home with Ferris as Michigan travels to BGSU. If the standings look like they do right now that could be a weekend where a split in FSU/WMU gives M the title.

The call out. Red Berenson is not a guy who expresses much emotion publicly, so a relatively gentle statement like this

"We'll keep sending the information to the league but the league has to respond. I don't know that they've done a good job of it so far."

…says a lot about how frustrating it's been to watch the league ignore opponents making the Hunwick a target part of the gameplan without consequences. After Saturday, Red's opening statement was this:

"Don't ask me about the officiating."

So people figured out ways to ask him about the officiating without really asking him about the officiating. It was like watching JoePa interviewed at Media Day, when every question was not about retiring (nudge nudge wink wink). So Red said "we should not have to kill that many penalties in a game like that" when asked about the penalty kill and "it was the way the game was being handled" when asked about the emotions escalating at the end.

Legion of Boom! Top line nickname? No? Maybe? Yes? Needs more brutal hits, probably. Whatever.

Level up. When AJ Treais got a pass from Lee Moffie, held it… held it… held it(!) and then passed it back to Moffie at just the right moment for him to bang it into the net I was not surprised.

This was surprising. After a couple years of watching Treais be not Mike Comrie I'd resigned myself to the fact that he wasn't going to be the devilishly entertaining short guy that is my favorite hockey archetype*. But dang if he isn't basically all of Michigan's secondary scoring in the Legion of Boom era.

A lot of this has come from sniping. See his first goal Friday above. Yeah, Reichard could have done better there but Treais had about a square inch of real estate to make that relevant and nailed it. Then he zinged himself:

I saw a very small spot. I was just trying to get it to that spot, and the puck went in. I haven't done that since juniors. Usually my goals are back-door tap-ins.

This has not been true of late. High-variance shooting percentage aside, Treais has started walking dudes and generating chances. It seems like the light has gone on.

Moffatt and Brown are also contenders in this category.

*[Austin Czarnik's a good example. Western's captain this year is the best I've seen, though.]

You knew this was going to be in the post halfway through Saturday's game. I find it inexplicable that Lindsay Sparks ever gets scratched. He makes that line with Moffatt and Hyman so much more dangerous. Multiple times against Miami he set up excellent scoring chances by driving into the offensive zone and then pulling up to survey guys diving to the net or setting up in the slot; he also rang the post on a wrister.

Maybe he's not the greatest defensive player in the world but he's a chance generator. Against the flailing bottom sixes of the CCHA he's got to be a net positive.

Next up on "I can't believe this guy is a scratch": Mike Chiasson.

The Keith Sergott of power plays. A salute to the Miami PP, which sunk further into the depths after going 0/12 on the weekend. They dip to 13% on the year even without considering the shortie; Michigan's penalty kill is up to 16th.

Miami is now 8 of 94 on CCHA power plays.

!!!

Goal controversy. I will trade Blasi the goal they got double-reviewed Saturday for Fort Wayne, and I'll include Tayshaun Prince.

Vogelhuber. I'm  little surprised "Vogelhuber" is not a rank in Vogon society.

Pairwise Bits

I did mention that Michigan's bye-week fall was mostly illusory and a strong weekend would see them pop up. I didn't think it would be all the way to second, and it really isn't all the way to second: they're in a three-way tie with Mass-Lowell and UMD that sees each competitor take one comparison and lose one from the other. Michigan wins the tiebreaker by the hair on its chinny-chin-chin.

There's not a whole lot of complexity here. Michigan will win comparisons based on RPI against virtually everyone with two exceptions:

  • #1 BU. Michigan probably has to have BU get at most a tie out of a weekend series with Northeastern to pass them before the playoffs give people a bunch of unplanned series not accounted for in the TUC stuff.
  • #4 Duluth. M is going to have a hard time winning this comparison unless Duluth spits the bit down the stretch and they play very well. COP is basically Duluth's without very specific events unfolding and they have a ~1.5 game edge in TUC.

If M goes 3-1 in the next two weeks they're in great shape; 2-2 and they are probably going to drop to fourth or fifth. The margins here are very narrow, just like they are in the CCHA. Michigan is assured of nothing but has positioned itself well.

Random factoid: every game Michigan has played has been against a TUC (above .500 in RPI) save for their opening swing against Bentley, SLU, and Niagara. This will be an even more impressive statement in two weeks because both MSU and Northern are also TUCs.

Elsewhere

WCH on the weirdness of the series. The Daily on Hunwick's weekend and the ref business:

Despite forbidding any questions on the matter, that Berenson spent much of his time speaking about officiating and taking shots at Blasi (after a dominating sweep, no less) says quite a lot.

Referees Brian Hill and Keith Sergott lost control of the game, Blasi lost control of his players, and Michigan was the team getting penalized.

For those keeping track at home, yes Keith Sergott is that Keith Sergott, the one who presided a particularly touchy and physical Michigan-Notre Dame series two weeks ago.

So, in honor of Berenson and in the spirit of reticence, I too ask that you not question me about the officiating.

Yost Built on Friday and Saturday. Saturday:

So after the first 13:50 of the game, the RedHawks had had nearly eight full minutes of power play time. In that 7:57 span with Miami up a man, shots were 5-5 and goals were 1-0 in favor of the Wolverines. That is some penalty killing!

There is also a quality ref rant in that post.

Comments

fitty88

February 6th, 2012 at 12:52 PM ^

and saw that there were only two posts.  Thought...better comment on that.  What are the odds that one of them is about Denard's Perry shirt!  Phineas and Ferb's ubiquitousness continues to expand!!  They are one of the reasons I am so glad I have kids (That I am watching it with them makes it easier to suffer the eye rolling from my wife when caught watching!)

 

snackyx

February 6th, 2012 at 12:59 PM ^

Spot on. 

Blaise is a greasy little gnome who knew exactly what he was doing with the goonfest at the end of the game.  McQueenville used to pull this same crap against the Wings when he coached St. Louis and routinely got his ass kicked.  With the game well out of control, McQ would stack his lines with nothing but knuckle-dragging mouth breathers with about one minute left and...cue the crowd...it was WWF time.  The league HAS to take a look at this behavior, and has to kick Sergott's ass back to high school games.  Will the Big 10 league have to hire these clowns once the CCHA goes bye-bye?

streaker

February 6th, 2012 at 2:24 PM ^

glad that snackyx mentioned high school because this jackwagon can't even officiate Division III games. Heard worse things from Adrian fans about him, with one prominent fan I know who is a Ferris State grad- like Sergott.

One Yost off ice official also told me that the commish, Fred Pletsch, is majorly over his head. That shouldn't stop an experienced head of CCHA officials like Steve Piotrowski from taking command of his minions. These guys all suck and it has nothing to do with the fact that the athletes they are officiating are bigger and faster than them.  Assertiveness should be a major criteria for becoming an offficial. That, and the ability to tell twerps like Blasi to suck it when the calls don't go his way.

 

UMQuadz05

February 6th, 2012 at 1:04 PM ^

Woo-ha!!  Remember in the winter of 09-10, when Brian tried to figure out when the last time the hockey, bball and football teams all had rough seasons?  When's the last time all three were doing so well?

Smash Lampjaw

February 6th, 2012 at 1:17 PM ^

I get a kick out of all the sidelong glances of fans trying to watch Denard without looking like they are looking at him. I would be the same way, and thinking all the while about what great thing I could say to him, because we are besties.

MastaDon

February 6th, 2012 at 1:23 PM ^

You just described what I was doing the majority of the game considering he was sitting next to my friends and me (I know cool story bro). Unfortunately I was incapable of coming up with anything witty enough do other than stare when he was not looking.

Tha Quiet Storm

February 6th, 2012 at 1:34 PM ^

Denard is to M B-ball and hockey as Lloyd Brady is to M football.

(I'm sure someone thought of this before I did, but I'm going to be proud of myself for at least a couple minutes.)

Sambojangles

February 6th, 2012 at 1:54 PM ^

No mention of the Children of Yost throwing the candy back on the ice after the second intermission on Saturday? The bag of Starburst broke and scattered all over the ice, forcing the refs to pick it all up. Pretty funny, though I can't imagine any linesmen will throw us candy any more.

M Fanfare

February 6th, 2012 at 2:02 PM ^

A buddy of mine was at the Hockey Banquet after the Fort Wayne Atrocity, and Berenson was not so subtle about the officiating. He said, "The referee's name is [name]. I'm sure he's a good family man. A good husband. A good father. But he is a bullshit referee!"

The crowd went wild.

Don

February 6th, 2012 at 2:15 PM ^

were as gutless, cowardly, blind, and incompetent as Hill and Sergott, we'd all be speaking German and saluting portraits of Adolph Hitler III today.

Fhshockey112002

February 6th, 2012 at 2:48 PM ^

First the CCHA is really bad at letting their top officials ref the games where emotions will be high.  A ref like MATT SHEGOS, who officiated the Big Chill game, as well as, a National Championship game, is considered one of the top officials in all of hockey. 

Second, Sergott is liked by Ferris fans because he is a Ferris Grad.  Not that he is biased in anyways (I am not trying to start that rumor) but it's more supporting a graduate of their university.

Finally, I think it's partially the NCAA and CCHA's fault in this matter.  They have changed "emphisis" on so many rules of the past 2-4 years that it's tough to have consistant officiating from week to week.

RHammer - SNRE 98

February 6th, 2012 at 5:19 PM ^

1.  substantive - Is the doubly reviewed (thanks Enrico) replay up on the intertubes anywhere?  Can't seem to find it.

 

2.  editorial - Please tell me brownie didn't tebow after that beauty of a goal (smh...)