Michigan Hockey: CCHA Tourney Championship Bid Spoiled; Season Ends In Disappointment
Heads hung low and tears mingled with the sweat that rolled down their faces. The Wolverine hockey team’s bid to win the CCHA tournament and a ticket to their record setting 23rd straight NCAA tournament ended a week ago this past Sunday. Notre Dame completely outplayed Michigan and earned the last Mason Cup, 3-1.
The Wolverines were never comfortable in their final game, maybe from a combination of emotion, exhaustion and apprehension after dispatching Miami the day before in a physical contest and taking on an even more physical Notre Dame team. The Irish used the same formula as they had against Michigan all season: a hardy fore-check, a disruptive back-check and an active defense that would not allow Michigan to free wheel through the neutral zone. The Wolverines were on their heels immediately and survived a first period that saw them badly out-shot but in a 1-0 lead thanks to a shorthanded goal late in the period. Notre Dame made few mistakes, but yielded their only odd man rush to Travis Lynch, Derek DeBlois and Jacob Trouba. DeBlois was set up nicely but was denied by Irish net-minder Steven Summerhays. Trouba fought off two defenders and Summerhays for the rebound and fed a pass to DeBlois who slammed it home.
That was all the offense Michigan was allowed to generate, though. Summerhays was sharp, stopping anything else that the Wolverines could muster. In the meantime, Michigan was forced to take penalties and valiantly fought off the Irish onslaught. Notre Dame broke through halfway into the second period, though on a rush that ultimately created a rebound chance that was batted by Michigan’s net-minder Steven Racine. The tide turned after that, and the Wolverines and Irish were tied after forty minutes.
Notre Dame struck early in the third period (:29) as a strong rush pushed back the Michigan defense. A miscue in communication between Mac Bennett and Jacob Trouba resulted in a blown coverage that resulted in the go ahead goal for the Irish. A lucky bounce off a mishandled puck found its way to an uncovered Notre Dame forward who buried it past Racine. Michigan actually out-shot the Irish from that point forward as they sat back in a defensive posture. DeBlois, Lee Moffie and Justin Selman all had glorious chances to score in the last five minutes, but were denied by Summerhays. An empty net goal in which Racine was caught trying to get to the bench before realizing that the Irish stopped an entrance dump-in, sealed the game. Racine tried to race back to the net but could not prevent the game clinching goal from being scored.
The Wolverines ended the season 18-19-3, marking the first season since 1988 that they finished under .500. It also marked the first season in 23 seasons that they would not extend their postseason to the NCAA tournament.
Michigan’s Jacob Trouba, Andrew Copp and Steven Racine were named to the CCHA All-Tournament Team. It was a hollow reward for a team that firmly believed that it had placed the ugly regular season behind them and that they could will their way to a conference championship and national tournament bid.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — YostMeister
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