Wolverines Fall One Game Short
by Dan Myers/CHN Staff
ST. PAUL, Minn. All in all, it wasn't a bad run for the Michigan Wolverines. Especially since they didn't bring their A-game.
Convinced his team didn't play its best hockey at the Xcel Energy Center, Wolverines head coach Red Berenson said he wished his team could have played a better championship game Saturday night in a 3-2 overtime loss to Minnesota Duluth.
"It went to overtime," Berenson said. "But it was clear who the better team was."
Like many of the pundits had predicted, it was the Bulldog power play that was one of the main differences — though not necessarily on the scoreboard. UMD did score once with the man advantage, but for the most part, Berenson said he was extremely pleased by his team's effort on the penalty kill.
Instead, it was the sheer number of chances Michigan gave Duluth — although Berenson was clearly unhappy with how the game was called. Michigan committed 10 penalties compared to Duluth's five.
"We said before the game, if they get three [opportunities], that should be it. We're not out there to take penalties," Berenson said. "Every time a player falls down, it shouldn't be a penalty, not in NCAA championship hockey.
"But I thought our penalty killing was outstanding, our defensemen, our forwards and our goalie."
The sheer number of man advantages contributed to the disparity in shots — UMD outshot the Wolverines in each period and 38-24 for the game. In goal, Shawn Hunwick played another fantastic game, stopping 35 shots on his 24th birthday. But unlike Thursday's 40-save win over North Dakota, it just wasn't enough.
For his part, Hunwick was named to the All-Tournament team. On each of the second and third goals, Hunwick didn't have a chance. On the game winner, Travis Oleksuk sent a perfect pass from behind the net to Kyle Schmidt in front who one-timed it into an open net.
"I thought we had a strong defensive effort," Hunwick said. "Where Johnny makes a good play, the puck goes right back to the guy, a little bit of bad luck. And there at the end, in overtime, anything can happen."
Perhaps the turning point in the game — or at least what meant the most at the end of it — was a disallowed goal just 4:20 into the contest. After an initial shot was stopped by Kenny Reiter, the puck sat in the crease for just a second or two. Just as Carl Hagelin got his stick on it, knocking it into the net, the referee blew his whistle. Immediately waved off, there was a short review before the call on the ice was confirmed.
"Since I was on the ice, I kind of knew they weren't going to allow that goal," Hagelin said. "From my angle, the puck was still loose. Obviously the ref didn't see it the same way."
Michigan recovered to take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission on Ben Winnett's goal off a face-off. It was just his fifth goal of the season but second in as many games in St. Paul.
But the Bulldogs recovered to grab a 2-1 lead in the second period and as the game moved through the third period tied at two, Hagelin's no goal proved large.
Perhaps the Wolverines' best chance to win came with seven minutes left in regulation. After Hagelin blocked a shot at his blueline, he spearheaded a 2-on-1 short handed break with Louie Caporusso. The UMD defenseman forced Hagelin wide and the slow developing chance had a quick ending when Hagelin dished to Caporusso for a one-timer at the hashes. But Reiter had already anticipated the pass, stacking the pads to rob Caporusso and keep the game knotted at two.
"Carl made an unbelievable play," Caporusso said. "I knew at one point he was going to pass so I got squared up and got ready for it. He did a great job of getting it through. I tried to shoot it as hard as I could. [Reiter] made a good stop."
UMD had a chance of its own to win just minutes before that after a shot went through Hunwick and was headed toward the net. As it was about to cross the goal line, junior defenseman Greg Pateryn reached out to knock the puck away.
"I think some guys got energy from it," Pateryn said "That's what our goalies expect. If something goes by them, they expect us to clean up."
Pateryn's quick stick allowed the game to go to overtime, where forward Scooter Vaughan thought his team would have a chance.
"We felt good," Vaughan said "We knew we were going to get some opportunities but we had to shut them down. They just had a good cycle down low and [Schmidt] tapped it into an open net."
The Wolverines will graduate seven seniors, including four of their top five leading scorers. (Hunwick is returning for a fifth year, because he didn't play at all his sophomore season.) It's a tight knit group that will no doubt carry with them this season that came up just short.
"That is the biggest thing about this program — the family we make," Pateryn said. "I think with these guys leaving, they won't be able to be replaced."
"As coach always says, we're only as good as our seniors," said sophomore forward Jeff Rohrkemper, who scored the game-tying goal late in the second period. "I think our seniors showed how good of a team we are because of them. They kept us going. It's a great group of guys."