Sunday, February 24, 2008

A tale of two games

Disclaimer: i know the title is ridiculously cliche, but this isn't a newspaper for pete's sake it's a blog.

All cliche's and things aside the two games were truly contrasting to each other. If anybody could take momentum our of this game, it was the maize and blue. Taking a loss like that against an arch rival like Michigan State was incredibly disheartening for the Wolverines. I wasn't in the locker room, and unfortunately for the purposes of this blog, my parents don't have cable, so i was unable to watch the first game. But from what i read on the Daily's blog about the game it was a very sad sight for Billy Sauer to give up five goals on 22 shots was enough to remind any observer of last year's letdowns. However Sauer proved once again that he is not the goalie he was last year.

In Friday's game the story was Jeff Lerg in the first two periods. By the end of the second period he had stopped nearly 30 shots on goal while only giving up one goal with his team clinging to a one goal lead despite having only 10 shots. It was tough, but like i said before he's the little goalie that could, which made me feel a little bit guilty singing along to the "Midget Goalie" chant that the Michigan fans in the Joe were chanting.

Despite the fact that most games the Spartans win are games in which they score three or more goals, they are not an explosive offensive team. The play their tempo and more often then not they are able to dictate the pace of the game from there and use it to their advantage. They were able to do that in Friday's game and in part of the second period of Saturday's but Michigan outplayed them towards the end.

Getting into what happened Saturday, Michigan did something in the first period they failed to do in their first three games against State, they scored. As a matter of fact my mom and i had only been sitting down for a few minutes when this happened because we had to walk halfway around the Joe from the Gordie Howe entrance to find our seats. It was worth the walk. We were a 1 1/2 sections away from the pep band and the overwhelming majority of fans in our area were wearing the yellow and blue.

Tim Miller scored his first goal of the season, taking a huge step towards earning back the alternate captain title he lost a few weeks ago to Mark Mitera. Aaron Palushaj scored the second in a fashion that reminded me that he might become Michigan's next offensive defenseman in the mold of Jack Johnson (could it be???? **gasp**).

Other impressive performances were turned out by Michigan's Travis Turnbull, who despite not having any points this past weekend proved once again that he's the fastest skater on the team. His draft stock will definitely be boosted by the way he's played this season. If he can acquire moves similar to the ones that Porter and Kolarick have in addition to the deadly speed that he already has should be a either a deadly force in the CCHA next year, or a first round draft pick, or both.

Michigan has several things to take positively out of this huge series:

No.1. They don't have to play MSU at Munn until next year
No.2. They finally proved that they can beat State, and not only did they do that, they beat them at the Joe, which is the only logical place they'll play them next.
No.3. The third period was the most physical period they've played in all year that they've won. Michigan doesn't have a ton of big men up front or in back, but on Saturday they showed a lot of heart on the fore and back check, their hits were hard clean, precise and they were not penalized during the period at all. (side note: it seemed the refs were letting both teams play in general, cause i don't remember there being a single penalty called on either team despite the fact that they were knocking each other over every chance they got.)

Things that Michigan can't take positively out of this weekend:

-Kevin Porter has never beaten MSU on the road in his college career equating him with a level of Chad Henne like frustration.
-Miami swept Western Michigan as expected, and Michigan still has yet to wrap up the CCHA regular season championship. (Though they are closer Saturday then they were on Friday.)

All in all, the icers have a week where they have no classes and nothing but time to prepare for their season finale against Ferris State. In the last couple of weeks the Bulldogs have been a team that has been equated with the phrase, expect the unexpected. After last year's last place finish, they didn't appear to make a huge improvement, then they took three out of four points against a stumbling Notre Dame team. Then a week later they swept Miami and were riding a huge hot streak before they lost to Bowling Green on Saturday. Ferris State was ranked on the Inside College Hockey polls last weekend, the top four teams in the conference are already locked up for their first round byes, and the Bulldogs want to take a bite out of the Wolverines going into the playoffs, that will be as much preview as i am going to give, because i highly doubt i'll see either game next weekend, barring some kind of divine providence or big paycheck, i don't see it happening anytime soon.

Sorry i don't have pictures right now, it's break, i had midterms and i'm feeling particularly lazy. Normally i write this blog as soon as the series ends, but not this week.



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