Kobayashi Porcelain Co.

Submitted by Brian on March 15th, 2010 at 12:42 PM

3/13/2010 – Michigan 5, Michigan State 1 – 22-17-1, 1-0 series
3/14/2010 – Michigan 5, Michigan State 3 – 23-17-1, 2-0 series


Michigan forward Kevin Lynch (#11) plays against Michigan State in the CCHA tournament on Saturday, March 13, 2010 at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing.  The Wolverines won 5-3. (ARIEL BOND/Daily)

(Ariel Bond in the Daily)


(Cory Smith.)

"When I was in a barbershop quartet in Skokie, Illinois…"
-Verbal Kint

The twist, if done properly, obliterates the thing you thought you were watching and replaces it with something completely different. This can redeem previously idiotic plot points, like Patrick Bateman charging down an apartment corridor, chainsaw blazing, without anyone noticing in American Psycho. Twists have enormous power. A really great one can launch an interminable directorial career even if no one ever likes another one of your movies again.

Michigan's 2009-10 season had a plot. After 37 games of erratic play, defensive breakdowns, soft goals, stopped shots, and the occasional monster performance that served only to get your hopes up so they could be suitably dashed later, we thought we were watching a movie titled "Death Wish III: You Thought Hockey Was Immune" or "500 Shots Of Bummer," for which latter I am deeply, deeply sorry.

Ah, but the twist. In the preview I mentioned that karma was busy with State's football team and had not yet attended to the Corey Tropp situation. I owe that fanciful concept an apology.

Tropp watched. He stepped on a puck in warmups and he watched Steve Kampfer and his teammates storm into Yost West, dominate on and off the ice, and forcefully boot Michigan State from the tourney bid it thought was guaranteed at midseason. After two periods, shots were 32-10. The only relevant scoring Michigan State had in the series came thanks to the generosity of Tristin Llewellyn and some iffy goaltending from a 5'6"-ish walkon.

Tropp and his entire team watched Michigan salute their students—who outnumbered Michigan State's—as they waited for no one to sing their alma mater. When the last of them headed off the ice, season over, a third of the arena gave them a "seeya." Karma has paid in full.

Never in the history of the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry has a comeuppance been so sudden, unexpected, and richly deserved. The road to 23-17-1 as been frustrating as hell, but as I raised my fist for the "hail" in the Yellow and Blue the season rearranged itself into a series of necessary evils. Tropp had to explode so his loss could be a crushing blow. Michigan had to lose to Bowling Green so the 2-7 matchup would be these two teams, and it would have to be at Munn for maximum pwnage.

Maybe not everything was necessary. Michigan didn't have to give it away late in nonconference games against BU and Wisconsin. If they hadn't Michigan would have probably punched their own ticket last weekend. As it is, they still have a mountain called Miami to climb before they can even play for a shot at the tourney. The frustration of this season is still real. But that's not what I'll remember it for anymore.

Because screw that guy in the ear, that's why. And screw the coach who thought a harsh conversation was sufficient punishment. Michigan has postgame video up and twenty seconds in someone walks up to the camera loudly declaring "THAT IS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT." He passes the camera, and the back of his jersey reads "Kampfer."


He was the last guy off the ice. That's what I'll remember.

Pairwise Fretting

The sweep shot Michigan from 25th to 16Wth in the Pairwise and made the possibility of an at-large bid at least worth checking, but as of yet no one's put together a scenario in which Michigan splits at the Joe and manages to make the tourney.

Alabama-Huntsville winning the last CHA tournament moves the line to make to at least 14, and it will be 13 unless Cornell wins the ECAC, and it's really hard to move up by going .500, even against good competition. So Michigan will have to flip at least three comparisons. I don't see that happening. Sioux Sports has a new view where you can see the comparisons at a glance and it appears that Michigan has flipped all the comparisons they're going do. Actually going through the individual comparisons is blindingly painful: each common opponents category is a litany of missed opportunities. If Michigan wins two of the games they gave away—BU, BGSU, Ferris, UW, etc etc—over the course of the year they're probably a solid three seed.

That didn't happen, though, and it's win or go home.


  • Finally the Big Ten Network comes through: Friday's game against Miami is at 8 and is on BTN HD.
  • From time to time in Billy Sauer's first two years—when he was clocking with a season save percentage under .900—I felt panicked any time the opponent entered the zone, let alone put a harmless shot on net. That panic was orders of magnitude greater Saturday as Shawn Hunwick gamely tried to avoid blowing the above, awesome storyline in whatever way he could. That wander out of the net nearly killed me, and for large portions of the third he appeared to be throwing his glove out aimlessly.
  • I'm all for Hunwick as a concept but when your coach is calling you Rudy, there's not really any question about who the starting goalie is. Hogan (and Summers) "should have a chance to play" on Friday according to one of the assistants on WTKA, and while they're making noises about it being a tough call I will assume that Hunwick in net means Hogan is not ready to go.
  • I wonder how the guy who inexplicably knocked Langlais in the preview post by way of defending Tristin Llewellyn—who wasn't even mentioned—is going to justify that in the comments. It's the internet, after all. Changing your mind is not allowed. And this guy suggested that Eric Elmblad was a better option than Langlais, so he's not one of those people who is sane.

    Llewellyn was in the box for all three Michigan State goals on Saturday, the first two of which came when Llewellyn ignored a loose puck he could clear out of the zone to drive some guy into the boards… on a penalty kill! Bler. The tripping call he took later was just a run-of-the-mill penalty anyone could have taken; the first was totally insane.

    [Update! Llewellyn is +9 in the tournament! No one wants to play against him after he takes two penalties that make a laugher a tie game!]

  • Over the past couple week's I've been talking myself into the idea that Michigan could be really good next year based on their goal differential (now 10th nationally), the relatively light losses Michigan should experience this offseason, and Michigan's still-killer recruiting class.
  • On that recruiting class, specifically the defense: Michigan loses Kampfer and Summers to graduation. They bring in John Merrill, Mac Bennett, and Kevin Clare. Merrill will be a first round pick in the upcoming NHL draft. Bennett was already drafted in the third round by the Canadiens. And Clare is a polished stay-at-home defenseman who will probably go sometime in the middle rounds. Michigan is going to be scratching two scholarship defensemen unless someone moves to forward. So… should Langlais move to forward? He's probably the best puckhandler on the team right now and if he can adapt to the forward spot I envision him setting up Caporusso for his lethal wrister plenty. At a generous 5'9" he doesn't have an NHL career that would screw up.

    Would you rather scratch Rohrkemper or one of the freshmen defensemen/Llewellyn?

  • Lebler is probably replaceable but that "probably" is a testament to how well he's played as a senior. When he came to Michigan he had, I believe, 14 points his final year of junior. He's mixed grinding boardwork, big hits, and the occasional impressive snipe to best that considerably the last two years. He's developed to the point where I'm a little worried about his departure when Michigan has the #2 pick in the OHL draft and Jacob Fallon coming in. He's a totally different player but I'd compare his career track to John Shouneyia, a guy who started slow and was never a star but developed into a very good college player by the end of his tenure.
  • How about that Caporusso goal on Friday? I talked to like four people about it and everyone invoked Hensick. That's the kind of stuff that's been almost totally absent from not only Caporusso's game but that of the whole team. I still remember goals Hensick and Cammalleri and Comrie scored, and I'll remember Caporusso's cruise through the slot. Hopefully that, and the ridiculous tear he continues to be on, carries over into next season.
  • …assuming that there is one. I don't think he's at a point where a team is going to scoop him up but it's vastly more possible now than it was midseason. He's a Senators draftee and went at the end of the third round in his draft year, FWIW.
  • I missed this when it happened, but apparently someone printed up a long screed against Comley when he didn't dress a senior defenseman on Senior Night. Said defenseman, who hadn't played all year, immediately quit the team, and his girlfriend or a relative went all manifesto.



March 15th, 2010 at 1:09 PM ^

Stupid comcast. I had to settle for audio only this weekend, and those announcers were obnoxious. Awesome sweep. Great to see this story come full circle with corey tropp's tratorious foot and Kampfer's retribution. Little brother down; bring on the red headed stepchild of the CCHA (NTM). If we can seal the NCAA bid I like our chances the way we're rolling. Go Blue and Go to the Joe!


March 15th, 2010 at 1:30 PM ^

The announcers were the best part! I am not sure if anyone else caught it, but after the game had ended on Saturday, they were so upset that you could actually hear them arguing with their producer about keeping it professional on air. They were crushed, and it was awesome.


March 15th, 2010 at 2:03 PM ^

Don't worry you didn't miss much. The quality absolutely blew. It was equivalent to the U of M channel when they host a game. Also, 10 times at least the screen went black for 2-10 seconds. Of course it also happened when MSU went on a 2 on 1 and the announcers were talking about something other than the game so for 15 seconds I had no idea what happened.

After the game I watched the Wings on HD and my headache from squinting actually went away. Comcast needs an immediate upgrade!


March 15th, 2010 at 1:14 PM ^

Very well written article Brian. I'm living in hell (East Lansing) right now, and that just got printed to be posted on the wall of the office for all to see - just below the 4' x 6' M flag.

Go Blue


March 15th, 2010 at 4:39 PM ^

Michigan has pwned MSU in hockey and nothing else since Mike Hart's 'little brother' comment, so you go right ahead. I'm certainly not taking down my MSU football poster that I have on display in my office. Last weekend sucked, though, fo reals. A sweep in hockey conjoined to a terrible loss to a team coached by a guy named 'Tubby'. Crazy, if you think about it.


March 15th, 2010 at 1:15 PM ^

Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet justice.

Take down the RedHawks. This might be the first time in a long time I won't be watching basketball the first Friday night of the tournament.


March 15th, 2010 at 1:17 PM ^

While his last two films, "Lady in Water" (bad), and "The Happening" (truly awful) are all wrong, and "The Village" not much better, "Unbreakable" is excellent and awesome in every way, better technically than Sixth Sense, and "Signs" is a very good popcorn movie despite a flaw at the end.


March 15th, 2010 at 1:23 PM ^

since I haven't been paying attention to msu hockey, but is it possible that trott's 'injury' was actually a suspension under a different name. has he played against michigan since the incident?


March 15th, 2010 at 1:40 PM ^

I watched the highlights on MGoBlue. And, though it's hard to get a feeling (of the game) from the highlights, it sure looked like the team was FLYING during both games. It would really be nice if they got white hot and romped thru the NCAA tourney.


March 15th, 2010 at 1:46 PM ^

of the Kampfer quote, is that he doesn't bother to use the contractions, "That's" and "I'm". It's just so much more powerful and polished that way.


March 15th, 2010 at 1:56 PM ^

I didn't even notice it was Kampfer, but a great eye by Brian brings me a moment of justice which warms the cockles of the maize and blue part of my heart.

What I loved about the video is just well, Red. Red is 70. Red is perfectly attired in the same essential uniform he's worn behind the bench for 25 years, taking in a moment he may not have even expected to be in, and he's happy. 25 years behind the bench at Michigan and it still excites him that his boys are able to go in to Munn and sweep and keep the season alive. You don't want to question it too much, you certainly don't want to jinx whatever streak you may be riding at the moment, but you can tell that he's sensing something and he's loving the moment for what it is, a moment which will need to be packed away in the next few hours so the boys can be ready for what's next, most likely Miami.

So, let's go get the Dynasty, let's waste them away back to Ricoville, and let's keep hope alive. Because hope dies last.


March 15th, 2010 at 2:00 PM ^

If plus/minus included the goals scored while you're in the penalty box, his would be somewhere around -infinity. The guy single-handedly made it a game on Saturday -- State couldn't do anything offensively until they got the 2-man advantage. Yes, he does some good things while he's on the ice -- when he can manage to stay out there . . . .

By the way, I made it up to Munn for Friday's game, and that was pure 100% awesome. Good showing by Michigan fans at the beginning of the game, and we were the only ones left at the end! Who knew sporting events in East Lansing were so enjoyable?


March 15th, 2010 at 2:01 PM ^

There's only one problem with RCMB: it sorely tempts me to regress to using childish nicknames for MSU like Spartina. A senior quits because his asshole coach didn't dress him on Senior Night - I believe that's what they call "Rodriguezed" over there, unless it happens at State, in which case the coach is "a good man."


March 15th, 2010 at 2:08 PM ^

I can't do anything but comment, probably because I am a new member, but if you go to uscho.com, they have a pairwise predictor...If all the number one seeds win their tournaments, and all the 3's win the consolation games...we will still finish around 16th with a split...which won't help us because of Alabama-Huntsville and RIT or sacred heart, etc winning...


You can make a bunch of other scenarios, but it is potentially possible to make the tournament with a split...we will just need help...a lot of it. Realistically, we just need to play our best weekend of the year.


March 15th, 2010 at 2:19 PM ^

A well-written recap, Brian.

I was at MSU during the 2006-2007 season, and the general sentiment even then was that Comley was a bad coach and that MSU won the NC almost in spite of him. So while I don't know anything about this particular instance, I wouldn't be surprised that there is some dissension in the ranks. He's not known as much of a recruiter, and while he'll still nab some good kids (MSU being a draw for good hockey players), you definitely see a degradation in the quality of the program recently.

As for the post-game video - that was awesome.

matty blue

March 15th, 2010 at 2:28 PM ^

...i'm having some surgery on friday, which means i won't have to feel guilty about sitting on my dead ass and watching basketball and hockey all day and night. woot!


March 15th, 2010 at 5:00 PM ^

I've heard from people associated with the program that Elmblad is great in practice, but the fact that he's a walk-on keeps him off the ice unless it's a time of need (like last year at times - they are deeper at defenseman this year). He basically had a choice of going back to the team or taking his kneel-and-kiss on senior night, but his chances of playing time were minimal because of incoming defensemen leaving 8-9 on the roster again.

Here's the deal with that.

Unlike football, hockey coaches have to balance all of their scholarship players on the roster, and there really isn't space to allow walk-ons to play. A scholarship player will jump to his pro contract if he thinks his playing time will go down compared to a guy who isn't on scholarship. A freshman will decide not to show up if it looks like there's a chance of being benched as a freshman. It's just the way college hockey is. If they couldn't jump to the OHL or what-have-you, it'd be less of a problem.

Certain players that are currently on the roster were not planning on sticking around after last year, but are still here because of playing time, and other reasons.

P.S. I'll give it to you, Llewellyn's timing on penalties could be better. He's the 2nd guy in the box in 3 5-on-3s this year that resulted in goals (Kampfer was for 2, Hagelin and Wohlberg 1 each), but his play besides that makes him an asset overall. He was on the ice for the go-ahead goal, and during the 6-on-5 EN goal, remember. So he's really +6 for the tournament. If you count being the 2nd man in the box in a 5-on-3 as 2, he's +5. He's only caused PPG's in 4 games, 3 of which we won despite that, and the last one was in the 5-1 Miami massacre earlier this season, which his PPGA didn't change at all. He hasn't burned us as badly as people seem to think.

P.P.S. Has anyone else noticed that Kampfer's play fell off a significant amount from last year to this year? Perhaps his neck injury has had some recurring side-effects? I didn't realize that he wasn't doing as well until I started thoroughly digging through the numbers. I mean, I've noticed some errors while at games, but I tend to overlook them because he's Kampfer.


March 15th, 2010 at 5:23 PM ^

you think that Elmblad and Llewellyn are the only decent defenders on the team? Elbmlad's always really solid and only doesn't play because he's a walk-on and Tristin is God's gift to hockey and beyond that we got nothing. I'm just curious. By the way, in his 8 games last year(which, in his defense were not all great games for the team) Elmblad had one assist, was -2 and had one minor penalty.


March 15th, 2010 at 5:47 PM ^

I don't. For the record, in my opinion, Summers is the best defenseman on the team, Burlon is behind him, and then there's a mad dash for third place between Kampfer, Llewellyn, and Moffie, with all three having their ups and downs. I'm pretty sure I had a post sometime earlier this year ranking the defensemen, and it looked something like Summers, Burlon, Llewellyn, Kampfer, Moffie, Elmblad, Pateryn, Langlais, but that was the day after an exceptionally crappy performance by Langlais, and before Llewellyn's huge ups and huge down over the past 4 games.

I know what the stat line was for Elmblad last year, but still have heard nothing but good things about him in practice. He was serviceable last year.


March 15th, 2010 at 8:08 PM ^

didn't mean to be so angry/accusatory, it just seems like in every post I can remember (which honestly is not a lot, so I should judge less) from you, you're building up those two and sniping at someone different.

I definitely agree with your top two, beyond that I'm not sure I could rank the rest. Though I also agree that Tristin is good when he can stay on the ice and out of the box. I know absolutely nothing about Elmblad beyond his stats last year. I was thinking Kampfer had started the year far less than awesome but had really picked it up recently, which prompted the first comment.


March 15th, 2010 at 9:49 PM ^

If Llewellyn is as you say he is, he wouldn't have sat out multiple times this season. His propensity for taking penalties at inopportune times seriously pulls from the bank of good will. The whole team suffered this season with undisciplined play, but Tristin's was the most flagrant and dumb.

Oh, and while you're adding up +/-, check the RPI (GLI) game. I believe it was Llewellyn that backed off the forward that snapped that impossible winning goal past Hunwick. Just sayin'.

Michigan Arrogance

March 15th, 2010 at 8:47 PM ^

the funny thing is, I though Langlais was by far our best Dman last year. played on the PP, logged most of the ice time as the top D pairing.

I've never been much of a Llewellyn fan. too many penalties and bad decisions on the ice.


March 18th, 2010 at 3:25 PM ^

I'd start a new thread, but i'm a bit short on MGoPoints. Does anyone know where the band and/or student section (if there is one) will be located at the Joe?