Dec 9, 2011; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines forward Kevin Lynch (14) receives congratulations from teammates after scoring a goal in the second period against the Michigan State Spartans at Yost Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

GBMWolverine: Michigan Hockey -- Notre Dame at Michigan -- 2nd Round of CCHA Playoff Series

Posted at 6:00am — 3/9/2012

GBMWolverine: Michigan Hockey — Notre Dame at Michigan — 2nd Round of CCHA Playoff Series

#4 Michigan (19-11-4) vs. Notre Dame (19-16-3)
Yost Ice Arena — Ann Arbor, Michigan
7:35 p.m. Friday 3/9 & Saturday 3/10.
Third game if nec. Sunday, 3/11.
TV: None

Michigan sat back last week and watched the first round of the CCHA playoffs and saw- without surprise- Notre Dame knock off the Buckeyes (ending what has to be the most catastrophic collapse in CCHA history) while LSSU and the surprising BGSU Falcons advanced to the 2nd round. It was the second time in two seasons that BG upset NMU in Marquette. It set up probably an equally daunting next round for Michigan, who certainly thought that an upset may derail the suspected match-up with LSSU. Instead, the top seeded FSU Bulldogs will entertain the Falcons, the Wolverines will get free falling Notre Dame, and Lake State moves into Kalamazoo to play WMU. (Miami was already set to play MSU in Oxford.)

The Irish split with the Wolverines down in South Bend this past January and will pose as many problems for the Wolverines as Lake State would have. Michigan enjoys a 72-49-5 all time record and closed the season on a 14-3-2 run, while the Golden Domers barely hung onto NCAA tournament contention (and still would not qualify) closing out their final 19 games at 9-10.

Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

Scouting the Fightin’ Irish:

The South Benders are better than their record, so let’s just get that out first. Nothing matters now but winning and the Irish are capable of playing with anyone in the country. The difference in this match-up may not be the offense- which both teams have balance- but in the defense, an area that Coach Jackson warned would be a sticky point this season. It didn’t seem to be a problem at home, but on the road the Irish were loose in front of their net and it cost them more often.

The tandem of TJ Tynan (13-28-41) and Anders Lee (16-17-33) anchor the top two lines. Riley Sheahan (9-15-24) adds muscle and PP scoring while Billy Maday (12-14-26) lends key points and senior leadership. Defense-man Sam Calabrese (3-13-16) locks down a mobile and offensive minded blue line crew. The defense is young, though and has been exploited.

Notre Dame is leaning on Steve Summerhays in net for the most part. He’s gone 10-6-0 on the season with a 2.47 GAA and a .883 save %. Mike Johnson has struggled this season, but could see time. He’s 9-10-3 with a 2.69 GAA and the same .883 save %. It always seems that Irish goal-tending improves in time for Michigan.

Tale Of The Tape:

Michigan has been more balanced on offense than the Irish and contains more scoring depth. ND’s top two line are potent, but so are Michigan’s. It will be the unsung players in this series that may get it done. The Wolverines own the offensive category, though, ranking 10th at 3.33 GF per game. ND is 42nd at 2.61 GPG. Defensively, Michigan is 7th in the nation at 2.19 GPG, where the Irish are 24th at 2.68 GPG. That half a goal per game difference will be important. Michigan checks in on the PP at 16.4 % (42nd) while ND is more of a threat at 19.2% conversion (T-26th). Michigan’s PK has almost been perfect at home lately and sits 9th (84.4%) while the Domers have sunk to 28th at 82.1%. It is an area Michigan exploited in their two game series earlier. Both teams are sitting at 13.3 PIM’s per game, so that is a wash.

Charting The Wolverines:

Michigan’s offense is built on an up-tempo style, which suits the Irish just fine. They’ll skate with Michigan unless the Irish get the lead and then will lock it down. If not, the Irish will gamble with their defense- and Michigan should get many odd man chances from it.

The go to guys against the Irish have been Wohlberg (2-2-4, 11 games) Treais (2-2-4, 9 games) and Pateryn (1-3-4, 9 games.) Brown and Glendening share 3 points each against their rivals. It will be the top two lines that will dual with ND’s top two lines- with the home team at least a goal better at Yost than on the road. Michigan has outscored their opponents by a +30 margin while the Irish have actually been outscored 102-99 by their opponents.

Guptill leads U-M with 16-15-31, +14. Wohlberg is 13-17-30, +13. Lee Moffie leads the blue liners with 6-23-29, +21. The hot handed AJ Treais is 15-12-27, trailing Brown’s 11-17-28. This balance should give Michigan a strong edge.

Shawn Hunwick is 21-10-3 with a 2.04 GAA and a .932 save %. He is focused and ready to prove that he is not the 2nd team CCHA goaltender as voted recently, but THE goaltender in the CCHA.

Michigan Wolverines players celebrate. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Expectation:

These games are never easy and they shouldn’t be. The Irish will be playing for their season since they will most likely have to win the CCHA tournament to advance to the NCAA tournament. In the end though, Michigan is a much better defensive team (especially at Yost) and will earn more scoring chances. Notre Dame will improve their chances by getting on top early and by having their goaltending out chance Hunwick. The x-factor will be stopping the Irish’s top guns and keeping them off the PP. Michigan advances to JLA, but not without a classic weekend battle.

Friday: 3-1 Michigan. Saturday: 4-2 Notre Dame. Sunday: Michigan 2-1 OT.

Yost Bits:

-Yost fans NOTE: Anyone that uses Crisler arena parking is advised to take Main Street to Stadium Blvd. to access parking lots due to construction. Stadium Blvd. will be closed east of Crisler Arena until November, 2012.

- As I mentioned earlier, Shawn Hunwick was voted 2nd team all-CCHA. All’s he does is win games, but I guess the CCHA still doesn’t get it. He also made the cut to the top 10 Hobey Baker Finalists. Fellow teammates Chris Brown and Lee Moffie were given Honorable Mentions.

- Other honors: Coach Red Berenson, (COTY), Greg Pateryn (Defensive Defenseman Of The Year), Luke Glendening (Defensive Forward Of The Year) and Alex Guptill (ROTY) were all named finalists for those awards, which will be given next week at the CCHA Awards Dinner.

-Junior Jeff Rohrkemper was named to the all-CCHA Scholar Athlete Team, Freshmen Alex Guptill was named to the All-Rookie Team and Phil DiGiuseppe was given an Honorable Mention.

-Michigan enters play 2nd in the Pairwise rankings (meaning they would be a #1 seed in the NCAA tourney). They are also 16-10-4 against Teams Under Consideration (TUC) this season- an element in how the PWR is composed. Five CCHA teams are still in position for the NCAA tourney with several others on the bubble, including third seed WMU.

- Birthday greetings this past week to freshman Alex Guptill (3/5) and to sophomore Kevin Clare next week (3/13).

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Highlight Video:

Inside Michigan Hockey – March 8, 2012

Taking On Michigan

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — YostMeister

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