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GBMWolverine: Michigan Hockey — National Title Bid Falls Short In Overtime, 3-2


Posted at 6:00am — 4/19/2011

GBMWolverine: Michigan Hockey — National Title Bid Falls Short In Overtime, 3-2

Shawn Hunwick was stunned. Ben Winnett was inconsolable. The Wolverines, to a man, left everything on the ice in St.Paul, but could not find the magic to finish off what was another amazing playoff run. The Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs were crowned national champions ending the 2010-11 season and the careers of seven Michigan seniors.

The Wolverines were good, but were not at their best- at least to Coach Red Berenson- and fell victim to too many penalties and an anemic offensive attack. Say what you want about the Hockey East officiating- and there could be much to complain about- it was really about how Michigan seemed to play on their heels against another big, fast and offensive minded WCHA team. The game started out auspicious enough with the officials waving off what appeared to be an early first period goal by Carl Hagelin. It was quickly brushed aside as the officials blew the play dead (at least it was their intent) before the puck was poked in.

Nonetheless, Michigan did take the lead off a Matt Rust face-off win and a quick Ben Winnett shot that found the short side. The Wolverines played a solid first period and skated off with a 1-0 lead.

Penalties quickly wore down the Wolverines, as they gave up two quick goals in the second period, with one coming on a gratuitous PP bounce. Fourth liner Jeff Rohrkemper batted in a backhander in the deep slot late in the period to knot the score, although the Bulldogs had a clear territorial and shot advantage.

The third period seemed to be played entirely in Michigan’s end, with Hunwick coming up with huge saves to keep the game tied. Greg Pateryn also saved a potential go ahead goal by swiping the puck from the goal line, then starting a play that culminated in a Hagelin to Caporusso two on one rush. Caporusso got a shot away but Bulldog goaltender Kenny Reiter moved across to snare the shot with a little more than seven minutes left. That was probably the Maize and Blue’s best scoring chance with their two top snipers in tow.

The game drifted into overtime with Michigan clearly dominated by the aggressive Bulldogs. Michigan failed to get a group of tired skaters off of the ice and ended up pinned in their own zone for much of the three minutes and change of overtime. It appeared that Michigan finally cleared the zone but failed to get the puck beyond the Duluth defensemen at center ice, who promptly counter attacked. The winner was scored from a play behind the Michigan goal, where Travis Oleksuk centered a pass to a streaking Kyle Schmidt who was not picked up by a Michigan forward. Ben Winnett tried to hold him off, but Schmidt muscled his way in and fired a one timer before Hunwick could move laterally. The season was over.

The Wolverines probably went farther than most pundits thought they would- outlasting a tough UNO team in a controversial overtime finish- then winning a pair of defensive gems against a dangerous CC team and undoubtedly the most talented team remaining in the tournament-North Dakota. Minnesota Duluth, too its credit, out maneuvered Michigan’s attempt to slow the game and wore out the Wolverines down the stretch. Coach Berenson later lamented the missed opportunity suggesting that the program has rarely made it to the last game in the past decade and that he maybe underestimated Minnesota Duluth.

Furthermore, Berenson suggested- not to make excuses- that the team did not play as well as they could although they were shorthanded (due to the loss of Jacob Fallon and Tristin Llewellyn and the season ending injury to David Wohlberg and illness of Brandon Burlon.) Ending the season in such bitter fashion clearly devastated the team and- to a lesser extent- the thousands of fans that rode this miracle to St.Paul.

Berenson is right in that these moments do not come along too often- and as a dedicated Michigan fan I can tell you that to come within one shot of another championship and lose is about as painful as it gets.

YostMeister Three Stars of the Game:

1. Brady Lamb – UM-D – the junior d-man assisted on all three Duluth goals.
2. Kyle Schmidt – UM-D – scored the GWG goal as his line accounted for two of the three goals for UM-D (along with Travis Oleksuk who had 1G and 1A.).
3. Shawn Hunwick -Michigan – knocked away 35 shots in the loss.

Tomorrow we will have a look at the future of the Michigan Wolverine program.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — YostMeister

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