GBMWolverine: Michigan Hockey — Bowling Green Falcons vs. Michigan Wolverines — CCHA Semifinals — Preview
#3 Wolverines Face Cinderella BGSU In CCHA Semifinals
Friday — 3/16/2012
Joe Louis Arena — Detroit, Michigan.
TV: Both games will be shown on FSDet+ and FSOhio
DirecTV Channels: 660/661 SD, 660-1/661-1 HD and 664 SD, 664-1 HD
FSOhio Customers might want to check out this link depending on your area: FSOhio
#3 Michigan (23-11-4) vs. Bowling Green (14-23-5)
#7 Miami (23-12-2) vs. #17 Western Michigan (19-13-6)
Scouting the Falcons:
Michigan and Notre Dame squared off last weekend in what was a classic battle between two old rivals. Michigan broke the Irish’s spirit last Friday, surviving a 2-1 2OT affair won by Chris Brown. On Saturday, Notre Dame listlessly accepted a 3-1 defeat which ended their season. David Wohlberg potted two goals in the win. Now Michigan eyes the CCHA semi-finals with trepidation as upstart Bowling Green has surprised NMU (in Marquette for the 2nd year in a row) and CCHA regular season champions Ferris State (in Big Rapids) to advance to the Joe Louis Arena for the first time since 2001. The Falcons ousted the Wildcats in three games then turned the same trick against the Bulldogs- and their supposed CCHA 1st Team goaltender, Taylor Nelson. BGSU stunned Ferris twice in OT to win Friday and Sunday to advance.
The Bowling Green Falcons are trying to accomplish something that has never been done in the CCHA playoffs: win the tournament title without playing a single game at home, and winning from the last place position. It is truly remarkable that a team of this talent and experience level could knock off the aforementioned teams, but they did it- and did it by outworking their opponents.
You may say that beating Michigan earlier last month gave the team confidence. They truly believe they can compete with anyone and have gone out and done that with steady goaltending, timely offense and stingy defense.
The x-factor has been the sudden Hobey Baker like scoring touch from freshman forward Dan DeSalvo (14-11-25) who has scored ten playoff goals in the Falcons six CCHA tournament games. He had only scored four goals during the regular season- and ironically wasn’t even put into the lineup when Michigan finished the season at BGSU. Fellow freshmen Ryan Carpenter (10-19-29) leads the team in points, followed by Adam Berkle (7-14-21). Sophomore Camden Wojtala (10-11-21) and senior Cameron Sinclair (5-6-11) round out the cast of consistent offensive threats. The secret strength of the Falcons, though, may be in their blue-line where three juniors have risen: Max Grover, Bobby Shea and Ryan Peltoma. They are not offensively gifted, but have forged a strong show of leadership to demonstrate to the 17 freshmen and sophomores on the roster. Net-minder (junior) Andrew Hammond (14-22-5, 2.72 GAA& .902 save %) has suddenly risen as a formidable goaltender and has played beyond his capabilities during the Falcon’s run.
Look for BGSU to use a sticky fore-check, an opportunistic transition to offense, and decent penalty killing in order to stay close against Michigan. Their season will ride on it.
Tale Of The Tape:
Michigan has the distinct statistical advantage on BGSU- but in this game, it won’t make a huge difference. The Falcons are confident and have proven that they are never out of game- roaring back in both series deciding matches against NMU and FSU. At one point they were down 3-0 to Ferris and then took the game over. The Wolverines out muscle the Falcons in the offensive category, though, ranking 10th at 3.29 GF per game. BGSU is 55th at 1.95 GPG. Defensively, Michigan is 4th in the nation at 2.13 GPG, where the Falcons are 38th at 2.90 GPG. Michigan checks in on the PP at a meager 15.6 % (44nd) while BG is a nonexistent 8.6% (56th). Michigan’s PK has improved dramatically and sits 7th (85.1%) while the Falcons sit 25th at a respectable 82.6%. Both teams are sitting at just over 13 PIM’s per game, so that may not be a factor. Michigan is tied for 35th and BG is 25th in that category.
The bottom line is, BG is much improved versus their averages. A better indicator may be their playoff numbers which show a more balanced offense and better defense. Michigan is peaking though and with the same commitment to defense they showed last week against the Irish, they should cool off the Falcons.
Charting The Wolverines:
Michigan’s offense was slowed last weekend only scoring five times against a talented Notre Dame team. Still, they won both contests while only allowing two goals. I suspect that they will continue to push their offense even if they gain a lead, considering that is how NMU and Ferris both gave away their series.
The go to guys against the Falcons have been Wohlberg (5-7-12, 11 games) and Brown (3-4-7, 10 games). Alex Guptill leads U-M with 16-16-32. Wohlberg is 15-17-32. Lee Moffie leads the blue liners with 6-24-30. AJ Treais is 15-14-29, tying Brown’s 12-17-29.
Shawn Hunwick is 23-10-3 with a 1.97 GAA and a .934 save %. His career stats reflect a 4-1 mark against the Falcons with a 1.27 GAA and a .943 save % to go with one shutout- which he earned in his last outing at BG. Michigan has outscored their opponents 125-81 (+44) and know that BG will not give them much. It will be up to them to impose their will and their talent on the Falcons.
Michigan knows to a man that BGSU has nothing to lose, even with the nervous pressure of being in this position for the first time in a decade. The simple formula of playing sound defense at the sacrifice of offense has gotten the Falcons to this point. Give them opportunities, though, and they will cash them in. Michigan made too many mistakes against them in Bowling Green and look to tighten up. In the end, their transition game will offer goal scoring chances. Hammond will have to stand on his head, which he is capable of. Upsets have occurred over the year- such as a 7-4 spanking Michigan got in the semi’s against UNO in their inaugural season in the CCHA, and last season against WMU. Coach Berenson will remind his troops of the past, and will also drive home the sober message that BGSU is no different than those teams.
Michigan is too strong, though and moves on, 4-2.
- Several honors were handed out Thursday night at the annual CCHA Awards Dinner held at the Fox Theater in Detroit. Alex Guptill was elected CCHA Rookie of the Year. Chris Brown was honored for the CCHA “Play of the Year” for his almost end to end rush against Miami, resulting in a game breaking goal. Luke Glendening was voted as the CCHA’s “Defensive forward of the Year.”
- Shawn Hunwick was snubbed again as the electorate voted Miami’s Connor Knapp as CCHA “Goaltender of the Year.” Ferris State’s Bob Daniels won CCHA “Coach of the Year” over Red Berenson.
-Michigan enters play 2nd in the Pairwise rankings (meaning they would be a #1 seed in the NCAA tourney). They are also 18-10-4 against Teams Under Consideration (TUC) this season- an element in how the PWR is composed. Four CCHA teams are still in position for the NCAA tourney with several others on the bubble, including third seed WMU.
-Michigan has a 4-0-0 record this season at JLA and is 5-0-4 in OT. BGSU has not played a neutral ice game this season and is 2-0-4 in OT.
-The Wolverines will either face Miami or WMU (win or lose) in their game Saturday. Both teams are considered “TUC’s”. WMU is fighting for their NCAA lives and needs to at least play in the Saturday championship game to possibly secure a NCAA at large bid and would gain an auto bid with a tournament championship. Michigan is guaranteed a NCAA position and is playing for the CCHA tourney championship as well as a chance to secure a #1 regional seed.
A report on Michigan’s opponent for Saturday will follow their result on Friday night.
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Inside Michigan Hockey: March 15, 2012
CCHA NOW 3-14-12
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — YostMeister
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