GBMWolverine: Michigan Hockey — Michigan Sweeps Ferris Recap — Alaska at Michigan — Preview
#6 MICHIGAN (15-6-4, 10-4-1-0) 2nd CCHA vs
#19 Alaska (10-8-4, 7-7-4-2) 5th CCHA
1/21/11 & 1/22/11 7:35 p.m. Yost Arena
TV: Friday: Fox Sports Detroit+ — Saturday: None. Big Ten Network.com will stream live.
Rewinding Michigan’s Last Game Action:
The Wolverines finally snapped out of their Friday night malaise and came back from a 2-0 early second period deficit to edge Ferris State 3-2 at Yost arena. Lee Moffie started the rally a little over five minutes into the second stanza. Matt Rust won an offensive zone face-off to which Moffie strode in and launched a seeing eye wrist shot through a maze of players that found the top corner of the cage. It ignited a barrage on Bulldog’s net-minder Pat Nagle, as moments later Brandon Burlon netted his fifth goal of the season to tie the score at 2-2. Burlon’s deep slot wrister found the top corner also, past a screened Nagle. Michigan completed their comeback with a fine effort by AJ Treais to keep a puck active inside the Ferris blue-line. He found Greg Pateryn in the deep slot again who fired a shot low that just missed. Carl Hagelin swooped in and found the rebound and deftly backhanded a blind pass into the crease that Chris Brown buried.
Ferris forced goaltender Shawn Hunwick to turn aside 29 of 31 shots but didn’t threaten much in the third period until the closing minute when Nagle was lifted for an extra attacker. Michigan hung on, though for a much needed opening series victory.
On Saturday, Michigan traveled to Big Rapids for the rematch. Both teams started off sluggish in the first ten minutes. The Wolverines began forcing the play and were rewarded in rapid fashion. Carl Hagelin countered a center ice turnover by Ferris into a 2×1 break. He used Chris Brown as a decoy and fired a short side shot that the Ferris defense-man tipped while sliding to block it. The shot eluded Nagle to give Michigan a 1-0 lead at 10:53. Fifteen seconds later Louie Caporusso used a turnover in the Ferris end to spring Wohlberg, who beat Nagle far side to give Michigan a 2-0 lead. Lee Moffie sealed the Bulldog’s fate at 18:09 by blasting a point shot past the bewildered Ferris net-minder on the power play at 18:09.
Michigan held onto their 3-0 lead until the midpoint of the second period, when, while shorthanded, Scooter Vaughn accepted a center ice feed from Wohlberg, broke around Ferris defense-man Zach Redmond and fooled Nagle on a wrist shot along the ice to give Michigan a 4-0 bulge. That is how it stayed at the end of forty minutes.
Ferris stepped up there play in the third period and finally found the net on a Mike Fillinger tip to make it 4-1. Derek DeBlois benefited from backup goaltender Taylor Nelson’s miscue to pot his first goal of his career. The freshman forward took an innocent shot that Nelson bobbled. He then fought through his check, picked up the loose puck and rammed it home. Moffie then put the finishing touches on a fine weekend by slapping a pass to Wohlberg for an easy tap-in while Michigan was on a 5×3 power play. The 6-1 score matched Michigan’s biggest margin of the season, along with the 6-1 swatting of UNO and the 7-2 crushing of LSSU earlier this season. It was quite a message sent in lieu of playing the nation’s stingiest defensive team on their ice. Ironically, Michigan last beat Ferris in Big Rapids by the identical 6-1 score two seasons ago and claimed the largest margin of defeat that Ferris has suffered all season.
Yostmeister’s Three Stars For The Weekend:
1. Lee Moffie, Michigan- 2G, 1A +2 for the weekend
2. Carl Hagelin, Michigan- 1G, 2A and started the Saturday barrage
3. Shawn Hunwick, Michigan- stopped 57 of 60 shots in route to the sweep
Nanooks Trek Into Yost:
The pesky Alaska Nanooks continue their typical long January road trip away from Fairbanks this weekend to face the Wolverines. The two teams met earlier this season in November and split a pair of games at the Carlson Center. Alaska won the opener 3-0 behind net-minder Scott Greenham, and dropped the Saturday game 5-2. This has been the only shutout the Wolverines have suffered all season. Last weekend, Alaska visited South Bend and split with the Irish, losing 2-1 before posting a 4-1 victory on Saturday. The Nanooks are very similar to the team Michigan just swept, except they probably can skate a bit better with Michigan. They also rely on excellent goal-tending and a defensive system that packs their team around their net, forcing opponents wide and making it difficult to fight through to the net for second chance rebounds. They clog the shooting lanes very well and have enough team speed to counter very quickly.
The Nanooks have a bit more offensive punch than Ferris State, but not by much. Still, their goal differential is very even, meaning they stay in most of their games, whether on the positive or negative side of the ledger. The roster is balanced with fourteen upperclassmen (five seniors/nine juniors) to compliment eight sophomores and four freshmen.
Michigan leads the series with Alaska, going 39-9-1, including a 20-3-1record at Yost, with those three losses coming in the last five seasons. Last season Alaska handed Michigan its first shootout loss at Yost arena.
The Wolverines take an 8-2-1 home record into the weekend, while Alaska is 4-4-2 away from home. Michigan is 4-1 in their last five games and 8-2 in their last ten games. The Nanooks are 2-2-1 in their last five games and 3-4-3 in their last ten games. Michigan improved to 3-5-2 on Fridays and 10-0-2 on Saturdays.
Alaska is led offensively by Freshman Cody Kunyk (6-10-16, +13) and Senior Kevin Petovello (5-8-14 +10). Super Sophomore Andy Taranto (7-5-12 +13) is the Nanook’s leading goal scorer. Fellow Sophomore Nik Yaremchek (5-7-12) is a steady line-mate. Junior Carlo Finucci always seems to find the net against the Wolverines, and has posted 5-3-8 this season. The real strength is on the blue-line, where five upperclassmen, a sophomore and a freshman patrol. Junior forward Joe Sova (3-12-15) is a slick assist specialist that frequently jumps up into the rush and mans the power play. Junior Aaron Gens (2-9-11) is a physical presence that clears space for goaltender Scott Greenham. The 6’2” 190 lb Junior is 10-8-4 and sports am impressive 1.97 GAA (top ten in the country) and a .926 save %. Sophomore backup goalie Steve Thompson has yet to see any game action this season.
Tale Of The Tape:
The Wolverines should be prepared to play another tight checking series this weekend.
Michigan moved up to 9th in the country (3rd in the CCHA) in scoring with a 3.56 goals per game average. The Nanooks are opportunistic on offense, only averaging 2.32 goals per game, (6th in the CCHA) 49th in the nation. Michigan has steadily locked down their defensive play, giving up an average of 2.36 gpg (13th) versus their stingy 2.27 gpg (5th) last season. They are the #1 defensive team in the CCHA allowing only 1.94 gpg. In contrast, Alaska only allows 2.14 gpg, 5th in the nation- but gives up 2.22 goals in conference, which is only 4th in the CCHA. The differences are slight, and suggest that neither team will give up easy goals in this series.
The difference maker in a series like this may be the special teams. Michigan’s power-play is slowly improving, although it only converted on 2 of 13 chances last weekend. Still, the confidence level is growing on both units and carries a 19.6% success rate, 21st in the country and 3rd in the CCHA. The Nanooks are only converting at a 15.8% clip, T-38th in the nation and 6th in the CCHA.
The one concern Michigan fans may have coming into this series is the penalty killing. Michigan did kill 6 of 7 PP chances against Ferris State, so that suggests that: 1) the urgency to stay out of the box is taking hold and 2) the units are playing better- even though Ferris’ PP is not overwhelming. The Wolverines also notched their 5th shorthanded goal of the season. Michigan is 40th in the country (once again, out of 58 D1 teams) with an 80.3% kill rate. They are 3rd in the CCHA, though. Similarly, Alaska has better overall statistics with an 84% kill rate (T-18th), but has not been as successful in conference, where it is ranked 4th.
Michigan is finally playing a team that takes more penalty minutes than they do. The Wolverines have cut their time to 14.2 minutes per game, 24th overall, where Alaska is taking 16.5 minutes per game, tied for 15th worst in the country. That extra two minutes could result in a game winning chance for the Wolverines.
The stats pretty much look like the immovable object meeting the impenetrable force, though. I’ll give the edge to Michigan only because their PP looks stronger right now and their PK should hold up against a nominal threat. The x-factor is going to be the goal-tending in this series. Shawn Hunwick is now 8-4-4 (matching last season’s win total) with a 2.45 GAA and a .916 save%. Greenham is a big, mobile net-minder that swallows up net. Combine that with a shot blocking, lane clogging defense, and Michigan will have to find creative ways to dent the twine. In contrast, Michigan has been outstanding defensively in their last three outings. Hunwick, by the way, also leads the CCHA in save% (.937) and GAA (1.78). The first one who blinks will probably lose.
Keys To Victory:
-Michigan must score first. Alaska doesn’t gamble often, but can be vulnerable to their aggressive style of fore-checking. Michigan has the speed to counter, and must take advantage of the few opportunities they earn. You force the Nanooks to open up and it could lead to more scoring opportunities. Conversely, they score first and they’ll suck the life out of the Wolverines and the crowd. It will lead to the type of forced errors that plagued Michigan early on last Friday before their defense-men bailed the offense out.
– Make Greenham move side to side- in other words, make the extra pass cross ice in the offensive zone and take advantage of the gaps on the backside of the defensive box Alaska will undoubtedly employ. Their strategy is to force shots from the perimeter that are easily seen and stopped. Crashing the net will not work if shots aren’t getting through, either.
– Michigan’s Defense has accounted for 20% of their goals this season. Utilize pinching wisely, and bring in the late man from the line. Be careful, Alaska’s counter is lethal.
– Hunwick doesn’t have to outplay Greenham, he just needs to be steady and let his offense work.
Michigan took an excellent step towards breaking out of the weekend split routine. It’s time to crank it up and put more pressure on Notre Dame. These games won’t be easy but are important in taking hold of the CCHA and improving towards the playoff run. I’m still not convinced that Michigan knows how to put consistent efforts together against a desperate team.
But, what the hay, it’s time to start believing: Friday night- Michigan 2-1. Saturday night- Michigan 3-2 (OT).
– Congratulations to Defense-man Lee Moffie who was named the CCHA Defensive Player of the Week. Moffie has scored three goals and assisted on one other in the past three games.
-Carl Hagelin leads the Wolverines in offense with 13-17-30 and a +13 rating. Other leaders: Caporusso, 7-14-21 (+14), Wohlberg, 11-6-17 (+4), Rust, 3-14-17 (+5), Burlon, 5-11-16 (+8), Merrill, 5-10-15 (+8).
-David Wohlberg (2G 1A) joined Carl Hagelin as the only players with 10 goals on the season. He tallied 15 goals in his freshman season when he was named CCHA rookie of the year.
-Michigan improved to 6-4-2 against ranked teams.
– Louie Caporusso (4-5-7 in ten games) leads the Wolverines in scoring against the Nanooks. Chris Brown (2-4-6, 5 games), Carl Hagelin (0-6-6, 10 games), Matt Rust (0-5-5, 9 games) and AJ Treais (2-2-4, 5 games) also are guys to watch this weekend.
-Bryan Hogan still is being held out of practice, but is working one on one with Michigan’s physical therapist to improve his ailing groin injury. He is aiming optimistically to be ready to dress in time for the MSU game scheduled for 1/29. He probably will not see game action until the Wolverines travel to Miami, 2/4 and 2/5.
-Michigan has won 7 of their past 8 games and has outscored their opponents 33-15. They have won three straight, outscoring opponents 13-3.
-The Wolverines defense continues to aid the offense- contributing 3G and 3A this past weekend and has accumulated 17-48-65 for the season, good for a top five spot in the country.
-Michigan has tallied three goals in one period nine times this season, including twice this past weekend.
-The Wolverines have twenty-one separate players that have scored this season and are an impressive
13-0-1 when giving up two or less goals in games this season.
– No word on the extent of AJ Treais’ injury or whether he will suit up this weekend. The sophomore forward was hurt late in Friday’s game and did not play on Saturday. According to Coach Berenson, Treais is “banged up” and did not practice on Tuesday.
-Michigan’s impressive weekend jumped them another spot in the polls this week to #6 nationally. The NCAA also changed their calculation method for figuring the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), which factors the strength of schedule as well as the comparisons against common opponents (based on the given team’s results). This is commonly referred to as the TUC, or teams under consideration. In the past, RPI allowed a given team’s factor to include opponents that had an RPI of .500 and above. Certain bonuses were also added for quality wins (such as beating a top opponent on the road, for example). This was removed a few years back and a straight cutoff of TUC was established for the top 25 RPI teams. In other words, a given team’s schedule strength was reduced if the teams they played fell beneath the top 25 RPI. This in turn affected TUC and ultimately influenced the team’s overall Pairwise Ranking- the system loosely used to predict the NCAA seeding process. (Did ya get all that?)
The NCAA silently reverted back to using the .500 RPI method this week, but without bonuses. The theory is it will allow teams from weaker conferences the opportunity to battle for NCAA tournament consideration because their schedules, although weaker, will allow more common opponents to enter into their statistics. For instance, this rule change now sets the “TUC Cliff” at 34 teams instead of 25 teams, which boosts the RPI and PWR for weaker teams. (There will be more opportunity to claim comparisons against teams that have an RPI at or above .500.) The TUC Cliff will not be static, so the number of teams it includes will strictly be based on their RPI.
What was the ramification this week? Well Michigan was able to claim comparisons against Ferris (they went 3-0-1) and Michigan State (2-1) that they wouldn’t have in the past few seasons. This pushed their PWR up to #5, meaning they are the top #2 seed in one of the four regionals at this point. If, by chance, Ferris and MSU fall below a .500 RPI, (MSU and NMU are on the ledge) it will reduce Michigan’s PWR. It has sent a minor bit of discomfort across college hockey as there are now teams in the NCAA tournament that probably got a boost from this as well that most likely would be a bubble team otherwise, and other teams like Maine and Miami that are on the outside looking in if the tournament was to begin today.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — YostMeister
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