Michigan Lacks Desperation in Loss
by Casandra Pagni/Special to CHN
DETROIT After manhandling Bowling Green last weekend in the CCHA quarterfinals, Michigan headed into Friday night’s semifinal against Western Michigan on a high note.
Even though junior forward David Wohlberg suffered a season-ending collarbone injury last weekend, the Wolverines downed the Falcons easily, outscoring them 9-2 on the weekend. The offense was clicking, multiple players were contributing — namely sophomores A.J. Treais, Lindsay Sparks, and Lee Moffie — and senior netminder Shawn Hunwick looked stellar between the pipes.
But on Friday night at Joe Louis Arena — a place No. 5 Michigan has had success at this season — the big guns for the Wolverines forgot to show up.
And, when the scorers of last weekend did show up in Detroit, they fired too late.
The Broncos defeated the Wolverines, 5-2, and Michigan lacked intensity from the get-go.
Freshman forward Derek DeBlois took an early boarding call to give the Broncos their first power play of the game, and when freshman defenseman Jon Merrill got whistled for delay of game, Michigan was forced to kill a 5-on-3 penalty. Western Michigan scored on that opportunity — its first goal of the game came with 10 minutes remaining in the first period and they never looked back.
“I liked our first five minutes and then the penalties started and we couldn’t kill a penalty,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “And then we (were) on our heels after that. We’ve played from behind all year, been able to do it, but we couldn’t get that goal back.”
While the Broncos outplayed the Wolverines for much of the first period, the Wolverines headed into the first intermission down just 1-0. While Hunwick let up one goal, the Michigan offense out-shot Western Michigan 6-4 after the first period.
“I think they did a good job, obviously,” senior forward Carl Hagelin said. “At the same time you can’t take stupid penalties like we did. I think we were maybe not aggressive enough. I think overall in the game we didn’t show enough desperation to win the game.”
But in the second period, everything unraveled for the Wolverines.
Western Michigan poured on its offensive attack, stealing any momentum away from Michigan. The Broncos drained two goals in the first half of the second period, before Moffie was the first Wolverine to contribute on the night.
Moffie took a pass from senior defenseman Chad Langlais at the blue line and one-timed it past Bronco netminder Jerry Khun for Michigan’s first tally of the game.
Moffie’s seventh goal of the season got the Wolverines on the board, but the damage had already been done. The Broncos continued their offensive prowess and scored twice more, including just 40 seconds after Moffie’s goal, to end the second period.
“Timing in goals is huge. We needed one, we got one (from Moffie),” Berenson said. “If we get another one the next shift, we’re back in the game. Instead, we give up one the next shift, and so we’re back where we were — a three-goal deficit.”
After 40 minutes of play, Hagelin and senior forward Louie Caporusso — who returned to the lineup this week after suffering a lower body injury against Northern Michigan three weekends ago — had zero shots on net.
Hagelin — who scored the game-tying and game-winning goals against Western Michigan to secure the Michigan sweep of the Broncos in late February — didn’t score a goal last weekend against Bowling Green and finished the weekend with just one assist.
But while Hagelin has struggled to find his game-time shot in the last week, the Broncos kept the rest of the Michigan senior forwards’ offense at bay on Friday as well. Caporusso, Hagelin, and Scooter Vaughan — Michigan’s second-leading scorer with Wohlberg out — failed to register a single point against Western Michigan.
The Bronco power play converted on three of its five opportunities, getting six shots on Hunwick with the man-advantage. Moffie’s second period goal came on a Michigan man-advantage, but it wasn’t enough to combat the Bronco’s power play unit.
But despite poor penalty killing for the Wolverines, it was the offense that didn’t bail Hunwick out in the second period — when he needed them to most.
Hunwick was pulled in favor of senior goaltender Bryan Hogan to start the third period, just as the Wolverine fans at Joe Louis Arena stopped rebutting the Western Michigan faithful, who drowned out chants of ‘Go Blue’ with yelling of their own.
Sparks scored the only Wolverine goal of the third period, but no other Wolverines were able to find the back of the net, sending Michigan to a consolation game matchup with Notre Dame at 3:35 PM.