GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. —
The teams in this year’s Midwest Regional are responsible for 16 of the 57 NCAA titles handed out since 1948. Michigan leads the way with nine of those titles. Wisconsin has five championships, while Colorado College has two. Colgate has played in one NCAA championship game, losing to the Badgers in 1990.
Coming into Friday’s contest, Colorado College had given up just three shorthanded goals in 40 games this season.
In the semifinal, the Tigers gave up two to Colgate, Jon Smyth’s unassisted tally at 8:16 in the first, and Adam Mitchell’s goal at 10:56 in the second.
Colgate was second in the ECAC for shorthanded goals this season, and Smyth’s and Mitchell’s were the Raiders’ eighth and ninth of the year.
“You just have to put yourself in a position to pressure when you can,” said Smyth, “or take advantage of their mistakes.”
The last time CC gave up a shorthanded goal was in a Feb. 11 4-3 loss to St. Cloud State.
Colgate captain Mitchell was barely audible in the postgame press conference. “You can tell by his voice that he’s not feeling well tonight,” said Colgate coach Don Vaughan. “He’s actually quite sick.”
When asked about the ailment, Mitchell said, “I couldn’t tell you. Sore throat.”
Mitchell had two goals in the contest and finished the game +3. His shorthander was his fourth of the season.
By the Book
Smyth was given a 10-minute misconduct for — as it was explained to him — intentionally sending the puck into the crowd at 6:29 in the third.
“It was a disappointing play,” said Smyth. “The puck was just sitting there and I just flipped it toward the boards, bounced it off the glass … and it got up on me and flew all the way over. For whatever reason, they stuck extremely [close] to the book in that incident.
“I can say that I did not intentionally do that.”
Vaughan jumped to his player’s defense. “I didn’t see it, but Jon answered it perfectly. I know he wouldn’t do that on purpose.”
“I didn’t expect to spend the rest of the game in the box,” said Smyth.
The game was officiated by the all-Hockey East crew of referee Conrad Hache and assistant referees Kevin Shea and Jack Millea. Vaughan said that the game was called in similar fashion to what he’s seen from ECAC officials this season.
“I thought they did a good job. There was pretty good flow to the game. They have a difficult job out there.”
Even It Up
With the win tonight, CC is now 16-16 all-time in the NCAA playoffs.
The Tigers have won two national championships, in 1950 and 1957, and wound up runners-up in the title game to Michigan three times — 1952, 1955, 1996.
He Said It
Asked who he preferred to play in Saturday’s regional final game, CC head coach Scott Owens said, “I just hope it goes into the wee hours of the night. That’s my only hope.”
Junior forward Jeff Tambellini scored his 22nd goal of the season in the game’s opening period and has now scored a goal in seven of his team’s last eight contests. The Wolverines have not lost this season (14-0-2) when Tambellini scores a goal. Additionally, Michigan is 18-0-0 when T.J. Hensick scores a goal, as he did in Friday’s contest.
Streaking Forward — Part II
Michigan is making its record 15th consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament, dating back to 1991.
“He’s the type of coach that coaches for this time of year,” said Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves of his counterpart at Michigan, Red Berenson. “He builds lessons through the course of the year. That’s the way he coaches. That’s part of being the old-fox kind of coach.”
The Wolverines are 11-0-1 in 2005 when the team wears its maize-colored jerseys.
Sophomore Slump? No Way!
Wisconsin sophomores accounted for 147 points (53-94-147) this season, leading all of the Badger classes. Left winger Robbie Earl led the class of ’07 with 20-23–43 totals, good for second place on the team.
The Wolverines and Badgers have a combined 24 players on their rosters who are natives to the state in which the university is located. The Badgers have 13 players hailing from Wisconsin, while the Wolverines have 11 players from the Great Lakes State.