Mens Club Hockey Advances to Nationals

Submitted by Hill.FootballR… on February 27th, 2012 at 5:12 PM

Just wanted to pass along some smaller Michigan sports news. I was in Chicago this weekend, so I decided to go watch the Michigan games since I had time at night. Just for some back story first, there are 8 teams who are seeded based on their regular season record in the central region and if you win two games you go to nationals in a single elimination type tournament. Last year Michigan went to regionals as the 9 seed and beat the 4th seeded (the 1st and 2nd seeds get an auto-bid to nationals) Lindenwood in a major upset 4-1. They then went on to play the home team, DePaul, and won 5-1 after taking a first period 4-0 lead and not letting them back into the game. They went on to win 3 major upsets at nationals to advance to the semis where they lost to Michigan State who then lost to GVSU in the finals. These were the #1 and #2 seeds from the central division and part of the reason Michigan doesn't always have the best record since they play these teams twice each. 

This year however, Michigan was the 8 seed at regionals with a 14-11 record going into the tournament and played Ferris State in the first game. They won 5-4 in a good game, but then since they were the lowest seed remaining, they had to play the 3rd seeded DePaul again. This year DePaul thought they deserved an auto-bid over Michigan State since their record was 24-0-3 although they didn't play too many top ranked teams. Michigan took a 1-0 lead on the power play, but were down 2-1 after the 1st after giving up a power play goal and a goal with less than 10 seconds left. Michigan then scored 2 breakaway goals (one shorthanded) and a 3on1 goal to take a 4-2 lead before DePaul answered with a PP goal (after a terrible tripping call) of their own to put the score at 4-3 after 2. Michigan then scored on a slap shot to take the 5-3 lead with about 18 minutes remaining.

Michigan then got a couple of very questionable to bad calls against them and DePaul finally took advantage with another PP goal on a rebound. Then with their goalie pulled, DePaul had to trip a Michigan player before he could put in the empty net with 33 seconds remaining. In the strangest chain of events I have ever seen, a DePaul defensemen fired it down the ice, the puck was knocked down out of mid air but a Michigan defenseman tried to push it out of the zone only to hit it off the back of his partner. The puck the bounced to a DePaul played at the blue line who took a shot that hit off a Michigan player and snuck into the net with 4.8 seconds left. It was incredible and the DePaul crowd went crazy. The game then went to overtime with all the momentum in DePaul's favor. The overtime was fairly even with very few (none that I can remember) scoring chances. DePaul then made a critical error and passed the puck to a player changing who played it while 6 men were clearly on the ice. Michigan lost the draw and DePaul cleared the puck, Michigan broke out and a player skated behind the net and bounce passed the puck back to the left defenseman who took a slap shot. On the rebound, the same player who passed to the defenseman got the rebound and put it top shelf. It was incredible and an amazing finish to a great hockey game. I found out later from some of the parents that the player who scored both breakaway goals finished off the hat trick in OT. He was a senior and this would have been his last game had they lost like all of the seniors. 

I know this isn't a varsity sport but the story was incredible and it was great to see the seniors celebrate. They will be huge underdogs again in Fort Myers and apparently already knew they would play the home team FGSU (also the #1 team in the country) in the first game at nationals. If anyone is in the area the weekend of March 16th I would recommend going to a game; I have seen and played a lot of great hockey and this was great hockey. 

I also found it interesting, that in my opinion, the 4th best defenseman for Michigan was Chris Brown's younger brother who is a freshman.