Michigan Hockey: Midwest Regional — Cornell Big Red vs. Michigan Wolverines — Preview — Part I
#3 Michigan Hockey Poised For Long NCAA Run In Midwest Regional
#3 Michigan (24-12-4) vs. #14 Cornell Big Red (18-8-7)
9:00 p.m. Friday 3/23 Resch Center, Green Bay, Wisconsin
DirecTV Channel 208
#6 Ferris State (23-11-5) vs. Denver (25-13-4)
5:30 p.m. Friday 3/23
Saturday: Regional Championship Game, 9 p.m.
What’s at stake:
All four teams are vying for the Midwest regional championship and a berth in the Frozen Four on Thursday April 5th in Tampa, Florida.
Rewinding Michigan’s Last Action:
The Wolverines took on the WMU Broncos last Saturday night in the CCHA Championship contest and fell short, 3-2. Western opened up a 3-0 lead on the strength of a couple rebound goals sandwiched between a greasy PP tally. Michigan fought back in the third period on a PP and a shorthanded goal to narrow the margin, but could not find the equalizer. Michigan still obtained a #1 seed in the NCAA playoffs and was assigned to the Midwest regional in Green Bay.
Mike Shafer’s team is big- VERY big- as Red Berenson described them and added that they are physical and hardworking. They are a prototypical ECAC team that will try to control the boards, slow the pace down, force turnovers and capitalize on a couple opponent mistakes. They will not impress the common fan with their offensive skills, but they don’t try to. “Big Red” finished behind Union in the ECAC standings and was third in the ECAC tournament, losing to Harvard before finishing off Colgate in the consolation.
The team is fairly experienced with a solid group of upperclassmen leading the way. Junior Greg Miller (6’0”, 195) leads the offense with 14-16-30, +20. He also wins 54% of his faceoffs. Fellow junior defenseman Nick D’Agostino (6’2”, 181) tallied 8-12-20 with 6-6-12 coming on the PP. Senior Sean Collins (6’3”, 203) brings 13-11-24 as well as a 55% faceoff win percentage and headlines his four member class. Freshman Joel Landry stands 6’2”, 185 and added 6-16-22 his inaugural year and fellow frosh Brian Ferlin (6’2”, 201) was ECAC ROTY with an 8-13-21, +15 line.
The goaltending is handled by sophomore Andy Iles (18-8-7, 2.13 GAA, .918 save %, 2 shutouts.) The 5’9” 180 lb netminder played in every game this season.
Cornell’s marquee non-conference games this season saw them drop a 2-1 OT affair to BU and also a home 5-2 loss to U-Mass of the Hockey East Conference. The Big Red handled the Atlantic Conference’s Niagara (1-0) but dropped a 5-4 home loss to Mercyhurst. Ironically, they went on the road and stunned Colorado College 3-1 and tied the Tigers, 3-3. Cornell’s biggest obstacle in the ECAC was Union, although the Big Red tied (4-4) and defeated the Dutchman, 3-2.
This is Cornell’s seventh meeting against the Wolverines, who hold a 3-2-1 mark over their eastern foes. Michigan defeated the Big Red in 1990 in a best of three series at Yost Arena to begin their legendary 22 year stretch in the NCAA Tournament. It was the Cornell fanbase that introduced the Michigan partisan crowd to the many taunts and chants that have been expanded upon today. Michigan last battled Cornell in the 1996-97 season and fought to a 3-3 tie at Yost arena in what was the only blemish on Michigan’s home schedule during that fantastic season which ended in a disappointing 3-2 loss to BU in the NCAA semi-finals.
Tale Of The Tape:
Michigan has had to fight through some rather stingy CCHA teams the past few weeks and it has caused some offensive concern. The Wolverines are still tied for 10th in the country offensively though, averaging 3.25 GPG. Cornell is not as deep, but gets the job done with a 2.91 GPG average (23rd.)
Defensively, Michigan slipped to 4th in the nation at 2.15 GPG, where the Big Red is 12th at 2.27 GPG. Michigan did muster a PP goal last weekend, but is still only converting at 15.3 % (46th) while Cornell is at 16.9% (40th). Michigan’s PK, which has some dents in the armor, sits 13th (84.5%) while Cornell is a subpar 78.9% (48th). The Big Red average about 13.4 minutes in penalties per game (30th) which is just a hair worse than Michigan’s 12.8 MPG (36th.)
Michigan doesn’t hold a clear advantage in any one category, but offers more scoring depth and defensive ability, especially if they forge to a lead. Both teams have special team’s gaps which will probably wash any advantage either way. Michigan’s speed may force Cornell into taking penalties unless they resign themselves to a patient dump and chase style game while holding back a forward to blunt the Wolverines counterattack. Conversely, Cornell’s size and cycling ability may wear down the skilled but non-physical Michigan defense. Look for Greg Pateryn and Jon Merrill to log yeoman-like minutes.
In part II of the preview we will talk about Charting The Wolverines, Expectation, Looking At Denver/Ferris State, and What About The Other Regionals.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — YostMeister
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