Soooo… that happened. Shall we just go ahead and raise the white flag on this season?
Any hopes that Michigan was turning the proverbial corner after their 5-2 win over Michigan State in the Great Lakes Invitational consolation game have been quickly wiped out yet again. A few days ago the Wolverines got outplayed by the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 Team and lost to the kids for the first time ever. Then last night last place Bowling Green came to town and waxed the ice with the Wolverines, 5-1.
Simply put, Bowling Green came in with a purpose, while Michigan looked like a team without a cause. The Falcons came out with more spark and energy. They carried play, controlled the puck, out shot the Wolverines, and outplayed them, too. It was like role reversal from what we’re accustomed to.
Michigan resembled a pee-wee team. You had a bunch of individuals skating around out there chasing after the puck even if that meant leaving their assignment and getting caught out of position. There didn’t appear to be any strategy involved other than just go get the puck. And when they did get the puck, it was lets try to skate between two or three players all alone and have it knocked away.
It’s one thing to put up a fight and lose a game. It’s another thing to go on national TV and display a total lack of effort, teamwork, hustle, fight, leadership, and pride. I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, but I certainly didn’t see any of that from the guys wearing the block M’s on the ice last night.
Bowling Green struck 6:10 in to the contest when a shot was blocked in front of the net and went off to the side. The rebound was corralled and a weak backhander was thrown on net, but on its way there Bryce Williamson redirected it past Adam Janecyk.
Just 1:40 later the Falcons came down on a 3-on-2 break. Andrew Wallace dished the puck to Marc Rodriguez trailing the play and he fired the puck five hole from between the cricles to make it 2-0 BGSU.
On the ensuing play after the goal, Brennan Serville skated back to play the puck in the corner and got nailed in to the boards by Brent Tate. Serville went down in pain and left the game, while Tate received a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding. I must say I thought it was a horrible call against Tate. That was a clean shoulder-to-shoulder hit that he knocked Serville in to the boards with, and I think if Serville doesn’t get hurt, Tate doesn’t leave the game or get a penalty. I hate it when refs call games like that.
The Wolverines got a five minute power play and after getting a few chances early in the man-advantage, the last three minutes or so was downright pathetic. They could barely get the puck in the Bowling Green zone and couldn’t get anything set up. They certainly lived up to their 40th ranked power play. It was a wasted opportunity to get back in the game, which, unfortunately, is something we have said a lot this season.
The Falcons went back to controlling play and frustrating the Wolverines. With 31 seconds left in the period, Kevin Lynch was skating back out of the Bowling Green zone when he decided to blatantly cross check a Falcon player out in the open. You can call it a frustration penalty, but I call it stupid. Just like A.J. Treais’s unnecessary major penalty for contact to the head elbowing late in the game against Michigan State at the GLI, there was NO reason to do that. We’re not talking about a mad scramble in front of the net trying to save a goal. We’re talking about a guy standing at the blue line out in the open and just skating up to him and jamming your stick in to his gut. Treais is the captain. Lynch an assistant captain. This is what we’re getting from our leaders?
Michigan cut the Falcons lead in half early in the second period when Mac Bennett whipped the puck from the left boards towards the slot and Luke Moffatt redirected it past Andrew Hammond for his first goal of the season. Yes, of the season.
That momentum was short lived because a few minutes later Jacob Trouba went to the penalty box for incidental contact to the head elbowing. Incidental because he was aiming for the neck and happened to touch his head? Trouba was behind the Michigan net and a Bowling Green played skated at him and Trouba, in an effort to knock him away, pretty much gave him a stiff elbow to the neck. He’s lucky that wasn’t called a major penalty.
A few minutes after Trouba came out of the box, Moffatt went in for slashing. Michigan had a great scoring chance as Moffatt’s penalty expired, but Hammond came up with a big stop. Then a minute later, the Falcons Ryan Carpenter was left all alone in front of the net to tap in a loose puck. I mean, there wasn’t a Wolverine in sight of him on the replay. You would of thought Janecyk was playing the game all alone. Janecyk made the initial stop, but the rebound was slipped under him by Dajon Mingo (who was also unprotected) and sat in the crease, and Carpenter knocked it in. Horrible. Just…horrible.
Just under three minutes later Bowling Green extended their lead to 4-1 on one of those type of goals where, well, when the night’s going your way, it’s going your way. Mike Sullivan fired a shot from the left point on net that deflected off Adam Berkle past Janecyk. On replay, Sullivan’s shot was higher than the cross bar. It hit off Berkle or his stick up by his chest and redirected at a hard downward angle right on net. It’s one of those funny goals you hate to give up, yet I don’t know if Janecyk had much of a chance on it.
The Wolverines pulled Janecyk in favor of freshman Steve Racine to start the third period in an attempt to try to motivate the team. It almost worked early on as Travis Lynch had a breakaway and hit the post. Michigan seemed to play with more tempo in their game, but as usual they only finally start to do it down three goals in the third period. They also didn’t do much because it took them about 16 minutes to register their first shot on goal in the final stanza. When you’re down three goals with 20 minutes to play and it takes 16 minutes to get one shot on goal…yeah…
Bryce Williamson netted his second goal of the night with 8:09 to play when he stepped out of the corner and slipped the puck past Racine. Not a good goal to give up, but it’s what we’ve come to expect.
Late in the game, Mac Bennett was skating in to the BGSU zone along the left boards and Robert Shea caught him with a low hip check that actually got him in the side of the knee. Bennett went down and appeared to be in a lot of pain for several minutes before getting himself back up and to the bench. Hopefully it’s nothing serious because the last thing they need is another injury on the blue line. Kevin Clare is out, Serville might have separated his shoulder, and Bennett might have a knee injury.
With the Wolverines on one final power play, Phil Di Giuseppe and Alex Guptill got past the defense and went in on a 2-on-0 break. Di Giuseppe, on the left, opted to try passing across to Guptill, a left handed shot on the opposite side. It didn’t work. In fact, they didn’t really even get a shot off. That play basically sums it all up.
THE GOOD: Jon Merrill played a ton of minutes and was not on the ice for any goals against. He also had a team high three blocked shots. Jacob Trouba, back from his gold medal performance in Russia, probably didn’t even know what time of day it was but still managed to play well. In fact, during the TV broadcast they said he missed his flight in New York City on the way back, left his bags at the airport (including his sticks), and still hasn’t gotten them back yet. Zach Hyman had some good moments, including a great individual shorthanded effort late in the second period clearing the puck, racing for it, and drawing a penalty. Andrew Sinelli showed a lot of energy out there while most of the team looked tired.
THE BAD: Uh…everything else? The team looked tired. More dumb penalties from our senior leaders. Blown coverage after blown coverage (all five of Bowling Green’s goals came 5-on-5). Mac Bennett and Lindsay Sparks were both on the ice for four of BG’s goals. We got out shot 32-20, out hustled, out played, out worked, out everything. A team tied for last place in the league came in to our barn and dominated our team from start to finish. Pathetic.
QUOTABLE: ”I don’t know what the break did for some teams, but I can’t tell you it helped our team.” – Red Berenson