Friday, April 11, 2008

Frozen Four Semis

Apologies to all the Sioux fans who apparently came here looking for fawning praise of their team's performance today. They got absolutely blown out by Boston College, and there's not a lot of positives to point out.

I will say that the Sioux looked nothing like the North Dakota team that played much of the second half of the regular season. They just happened to hit a rough patch at the wrong time in the season. They were able to get away with it in the regional tournament since they had a pretty easy draw. They ended up beating a team that needed an automatic bid to qualify for the tournament, and squeaked out a win against a team that didn't belong in the tournament. Today, against an opponent of equal ability, they got hammered.

A lot of the problems North Dakota had against Princeton, specifically some defensive breakdowns, happened again today. The difference was that Jean-Philippe Lamoureux wasn't playing well at all today, as opposed to his stellar play in the regional final. North Dakota's powerplay also look completely out of sync this afternoon, which was something they really relied upon against Princeton.

Also, for as anti-Gerbe as I've been all year, he did have a great game today. For what it's worth, I have absolutely no problem with him being on any All-American team, because he's definitely one of the best players in the country. But the fact remains that he's also one of the very few players in the country to draw a non-fighting suspension from his league, which should probably eliminate him from an award where one of the main criteria is on-ice character.

The second game of the day between Notre Dame and Michigan was a great one. It was like a great heavyweight fight where one team would get knocked, then pick themselves up off the mat and deliver a heavy punch of their own. Any game with about 4 huge momentum swings like that is a great one.

Billy Sauer was almost painful to watch for Michigan. It really seemed like he had turned a corner with a solid season, and great play in the regional final. Then he let in three goals, all shots he should have stopped, with each goal getting progressively softer. It was a pretty gutsy move by Red Berenson to switch goalies after the first period, but probably a move that had to be made because of the way Sauer struggled.

You have to give Notre Dame a lot of credit for not panicking after Michigan tied the game in the third period. It's probably a concern that Michigan was able to crawl back into the game after Notre Dame built a big lead, though I thought 3 of Michigan's 4 goals came off lucky bounces for Michigan.

Ryan Thang and Kevin Deeth really played outstanding games for Notre Dame. Notre Dame has some great senior leaders in guys like VanGuilder and Sheahan, but I really think their sophomore class brings a lot of talent and energy to the table, and is a big reason why they've been so good the past two years. On a similar note, Michigan's freshmen line of Matt Rust, Carl Hagelin, and Aaron Palushaj played a great game for Michigan. They bring a lot of effort and intensity every night, and are a big reason why Michigan was, and will be, so successful.

It sets up an interesting final match-up between Notre Dame and Boston College. Notre Dame has beaten BC the last three times these teams have met, including a 7-1 win in Boston last year. Boston College is playing exceptional hockey right now, while Notre Dame just seems to have fate on their side. Hopefully it should be another fast-paced, high-scoring game.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not a lot of positives to point out? I guess that depends. I see plenty of positives in watching the Sioux get destroyed in a packed NHL arena and on major cable TV.

Kurt said...

Well painful loss for Michigan (I thought we had destiny on our side) but Notre Dame played a great game. Great effort from both teams and probably entertaining to watch (too tense for me). I wonder whether ND will have a full tank less then 48 hours later vs. BC.

Oh well, great year for Michigan (better than I imagined it could be). Too bad that Porter and Kolarik did not win it all.

Anonymous said...

I suppose Notre Dame didn't "belong" in the tourney either....funny. Your MSU pandering is insane....if only they could beat that Neb-Omaha powerhouse. LOL

gofalcons said...

Wow, kurt, humility from a Wolverine? I didn't know that was possible :)

Seriously though, where was this Notre Dame team at the CCHA championships? They were the 4th best team there and now they're going to the national championship?

WeisGipper said...

Such a great contest last night between Notre Dame and Michigan. It truly shows the poise and character of the Irish after the contest was tied at three!

Jeff Jackson is producing another Miracle on Ice!

If anyone is interested about Notre Dame hockey, just come on over to Irish Band of Brothers:

http://irishbandofbrothers.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

gofalcons... Michigan State was the exact same way last season. They finished fourth in the CCHA, sucked in the CCHA playoffs, then went on to win the national championship. The lesson is... finish fourth in the CCHA!

Bomber said...

Did Ryan Duncan play last night? How about VandeVelde? Did he suit up? Will the "Pact" boys come back next year? Talk about overrated teams.

Anonymous said...

8:18....well said. Seeing the Sioux lose, especially in blowout in the FF, is spectacular.

Anonymous said...

The Sioux got what they deserved. There is nothing better than seeing a bunch of dimwits dressed in green, barking and shouting before the game, watch their team get pasted.

Once again, JPL = diver. He tried it last night several times. He may had have a good season, but that kid needs a lesson in sportsmanship.

Kurt said...

gofalcons,

Well it seemed to work for Michigan State last year. I think between MSU, Michigan, ND and Miami, all four teams were pretty equal in talent (although Michigan and Miami were the most consistent). It just came down to who was playing the best at the time.

Of course, I have some residual Michigan arrogance in that I think Michigan would probably win a majority of those matchups (they did win the two earlier meetings) but that's the beauty/scariness of the college hockey tournament.

Anonymous said...

So even though Michigan graduates some big players, they have a nice crop of underclassman. Any danger of one or more of them turning pro in the off-season?

Anonymous said...

I must say, after watching the two games last night, goaltending in these games was Terrible. That is with a capital T. At least 4 of the BC goals were weak, 2 of the first 3 by ND were incredibly weak, and 2 of the 4 UM goals were sieve like. The tying goal for UM was a save that any tender in the U14 girls national championship game could have made. How a team can score from behind the goal line, short side in a Frozen Four game is beyond me. I loved the comment by Ray Ferraro when ND scored between the arm and body, "He found the 19 hole on that one".

Kurt said...

Anon,

Michigan graduates only two (but they are big ones) - Porter and Kolarik. There is a chance they lose Mitera (#1 Dman) and I suppose there's always a chance they lose someone else from the freshmen class (Patch, etc.) but those two plus possibly Mitera are the only ones I expect.

Anonymous said...

Thanks kurt.

Michigan seems to have better luck than WCHA teams holding on to talent. You guys ought to be good next year, too.

Cristen said...

Kurt- what about Fragner? I'm sure he'll be missed. ;)

MHNet said...

Michigan's flight risks are Mitera and Summers. Phoenix GM Don Maloney has gone on record saying Summers is ready to turn pro, so obviously they want to sign him. Of the freshman, I'd say Pacioretty is the only big risk of leaving. I'd be surprised if anyone else left early, but anything is possible these days.

Anonymous said...

anon 1:16: perhaps a little extreme; agreed that Sauer was weak; but Mich D got walked on two of the regulation goals. First three Sioux goals were all off stupid D turnovers (only one could be considered soft, game was over after that). Yes, Sauer was weak, but ND goalie only gave up one soft one (admittedly a very very soft one); two out of three were on power play; and two out of three were funny bounces (one off post) in front of the net. So give the ND kid (and yes, they are still kids) credit for not crumbling at the end. /K-Man