Michigan continued its improbable run to the CCHA championship game, and possible NCAA tournament berth, with a 6-2 win over #1 seed Miami Saturday evening in the CCHA semifinal.
A scoreless opening stanza saw the Wolverines perhaps get the better of the RedHawks the first half and Miami controlling play as the period ended. Michigan’s best chance came on a backhander that went off the right post, off the back of RedHawk goalie Ryan McKay, off the post again and it slid to the outside of the net before it was blown dead.
The RedHawks best chance came in the period when they snapped a wrist shot that got through Steve Racine, went off the post, and it laid in front of the goal line. Jacob Trouba came diving in to knock it away to keep it a scoreless game.
Early in the second period, Riley Barber turned the corner on Lee Moffie and Racine had to make a good stop. Moffie was assessed a penalty for hauling down Barber. On the power play, it was Michigan taking advantage when Kevin Lynch stole the puck at the Miami blue line and broke out 2-on-1 with Andrew Copp. Lynch passed the puck over to Copp as they entered the Miami zone and the freshman knocked a backhander through the five hole of McKay to give U-M a 1-0 lead at 3:26.
Michigan playing a lot in their own end these past few minutes. 10:55 to play in the 2nd, Michigan up 1-0 on the Dynasty
— MichiganHockey.net (@MichiganHockey) March 23, 2013
Around the midway point of the period the Wolverines found themselves playing in their own end for a good two-plus minutes. The momentum was definitely turning in Miami’s favor as they were applying a lot of pressure, but couldn’t bury the puck.
These boys are playing like they wanna keep the streak alive!
— Brandon Rogers(@btrogers5) March 23, 2013
And then the Wolverines exploded with three goals in a 2:11 span to blow open the game.
Jacob Trouba sent a beautiful pass from the top of the left circle across to Copp along the goal line near the right corner and he fired a sharp angle one-timer that went off McKay’s pad in to the net to make it 2-0 at 9:22 of the second period.
A minute and a half later A.J. Treais carried in and threw a pass from the end back out between the circles to Luke Moffatt for a one-timer that beat McKay upstairs.
Then 43 seconds later, Alex Guptill carried in on the right and the puck seemed to just glide forever it went past the Miami defenseman and Guptill managed to skate around him and pick it back up, dish over to Treais on the left side of the doorstep and he banged it past McKay to make it 4-0.
Blasi pulls McKay and puts in Williams. That’s why he’s coach of the year people.
— Block ‘M’ Hockey (@blockmhockey) March 23, 2013
McKay, who entered the game with a nation-leading 1.20 goals against average and .954 save percentage, saw his night come to an end.
The RedHawks would get one back with 2:46 remaining in the period when Austin Czarnik won a face off in the Michigan zone and knocked the puck towards the front of the net. Jon Merrill went sliding down and knocked the puck through Racine and Sean Kuraly made the easy tap in to cut Michigan’s lead to three goals.
With Michigan seemingly—and unwisely—taking their foot off the pedal to breathe some life in to the RedHawks, Miami would kill their own momentum with a bad penalty tripping Trouba as he skated around the net. Then with 53 seconds left, Trouba was losing an edge heading to the end board to get the puck and rather than just letting him crash on his own, a Miami player decided to smash him from behind in to the boards, giving the Wolverines a 5-on-3 power play for about a minute.
U-M couldn’t capitalize as the second period closed but would begin in the third period with the man-advantage. And it wouldn’t take them long to cash in.
Just 55 seconds in to the third frame, Kevin Lynch sent a pass from the corner to Guptill at the left hash, and the former CCHA Rookie of the Year snapped a wrist shot past the glove of replacement goalie Jay Williams.
All the FIVE TIME, FIVE TIME, FIVE TIME, FIVE TIME, FIVE TIME CCHA Coach of the Year could do is look constipated.
My favorite sight: Rico looking like he swallowed a lemon! Must be playoff time! twitter.com/YostBuilt/stat…
— Yost Built (@YostBuilt) March 23, 2013
A few minutes later the refs would call a GONGSHOW penalty on Mike Szuma and the RedHawks converted to make it 5-2. It was the first power play goal the Wolverines have given up during the playoffs.
The Wolverines would continue with penalty trouble as Lee Moffie went to the box, then after his penalty expired Michigan made a horrible line change and got nailed for too many men on the ice because they aren’t Ferris State. The Wolverines would successfully kill off that one, too. Of course, in between those two penalties Trouba got royally tripped in the neutral zone, but the refs declined to call that one. #GONGSHOW
Guptill would add his second goal of the night with 7:46 to play and that was all she wrote.
Hey Miami, how’s your dynasty? #notone
— Children of Yost (@ChildrenOfYost) March 23, 2013
Michigan will face Notre Dame in the final ever CCHA Championship game today at 2 p.m. ET. The Wolverines need to win to keep their NCAA tournament streak alive. If you’re in the area—Joe Louis Arena…go…NOW!
Bring it home, boys! Go Blue!
RAPID FIRE: Alex Guptill extended his point streak to ten games with eight of those games being multi-point contests. He’s netted nine goals and ten assists during that span. They said on TV during the game that Miami has never beaten Michigan in the CCHA playoffs. And they never will.