Puck Preview: Lake Superior

Submitted by Brian on March 5th, 2010 at 2:23 PM

lake-superior-stateThe Essentials

WHAT Lake Superior @ Michigan
CCHA First Round
WHERE Ann Arbor, Michigan
March 5th/6th, 2010
If necessary:
7:35 PM EST March 7th
THE LINE College hockey lines, junkie?
TELEVISION Friday: Comcast Local
Saturday: Fox Sports Detroit

Michigan plays on the first weekend for the first time since the CCHA switched to its current, extremely welcoming playoff format.

Lake Superior State

Record. 15-16-15, 10-15-3-2 CCHA. Tenth place with 35 points. Overall goal differential 91 for, 107 against. Conference goal differential of 66 for, 90 against. Michigan swept (wha?) Lake Superior in the Soo 5-1 and 6-3 in late October.

Dangermen. Lake State's top scorers are all juniors. Rick Schofield has a 15-13-28 line, Will Acton 10-14-24, and Chad Nehring 12-5-17. Nehring has six power play goals and must be the designated sniper with that combination of PP effectiveness and assist paucity.

Overall, LSSU is their usual hardworking, stone-handed selves. They languish at 47th in scoring offense with just over two and half goals per game.

Defense and goalie and whatnot. Lake State's primary goalie is Sharks draft pick Brian Mahoney-Wilson, who's putting up slightly above average numbers. His .914 save percentage is 24th nationally. Lake Superior gives up a lot of shots, though, and they check in below average with a 2.97 goals against average.

Bryan Hogan's numbers remain pretty ugly but they are now irrelevant as he sits out with a groin injury. Tiny walk-on backup Shawn Hunwick will play this weekend. While Hunwick did all right against Notre Dame his first night out, Red's take on Hunwick's performance Saturday is less encouraging:

"He got out of sync," Berenson said. "He still made a couple of good saves, but those goals, he would save every day in practice. Those aren't goals that wouldn't normally go in, and he knows that. He needed to put that behind him and say, 'never mind' and move on. And he didn't."

Special teams. Your power plays per game stat:

  LSSU  Michigan
PP For / G 4.4 5.8
PP Ag / G 4.4 5.5

If Nehring isn't scoring, no one is. LSSU's power play converts at a 16.5 percent rate, 42nd nationally. Michigan's creaky power play isn't a ton better at 18.6 percent—same as Miami!—but it is better. Michigan also remains near the top of the penalty kill charts at 87.3 percent (sixth). Lake Superior is fifteenth at 84.2. Michigan's specialty teams are marginally more effective than Lake State's.

As per usual, LSSU doesn't take or draw many penalties.

Michigan Vs Those Guys

Do whatever you did before. Michigan's crushing sweep of Lake State in October is a major reason LSSU's conference goal differential isn't much different than last place Western Michigan's and Michigan's is actually five goals better than second place Michigan State. Think about that as you slowly claw the goo from your eyes.

Keep it super simple, please. With Hogan out and a shaky Hunwick in the lineup, it's imperative to keep the turnovers down against a team that's not likely to generate a ton of good scoring chances by itself. Steve Kampfer's recent generosity should end, please.

Don't take a penalty ten seconds into your own power play four times. My head will explode. So will Tim's. Our lives are in your hands.

The Big Picture

With Michigan barely hanging on as a TUC, the Pairwise does not matter. Michigan will not get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. As far as the conference goes, it's really hard to see either of the CCHA's two awful teams winning on the road, especially when those trips are to Alaska and Nebraska. That means Michigan is all but locked into a second-round series against Michigan State at Munn.

If the team is fortunate enough to make it to the Joe, they'll probably face Miami in the semifinal. The pulse is faint indeed.

Etc.: Is this supposed to be reassuring?

Never mind that the CCHA tournament doesn't begin until Friday. The Michigan hockey team has been in playoff mode for weeks.

It is not. Mac Bennett fight!



March 5th, 2010 at 6:18 PM ^

for taking the time to run through this preview. It is unfortunate that there is no video access outside of the MI footprint for the games broadcast on Comcast local, so I'll be listening to the radio online unless there is some miraculous video feed that emerges.

Hopefully we can make a miracle run to keep the tourney streak going. I'd like to see Hunwick build up some confidence tonight...


March 5th, 2010 at 9:08 PM ^

Comcast really needs to do something about that, they could go a long way toward winning customers to their global cable hegemony by leveraging their local investments throughout their whole footprint.


March 6th, 2010 at 9:12 AM ^

Pretty EZ to beat a team with 1/2 their goal scoring out of the lineup sick (the top line that Brian previewed.)

I thought Michigan slept walk through the first and could have been behind if not for Hunwick. Owned the 2nd period and then relaxed after it was 3-0. If they don't sweep tonight (depending on whether the Lakers are healthy) I'll be surprised...even if it just postpones the inevitable. I see two teams wanting spring break more than playing hockey at this point, and I don't blame them.