College Hockey:
Special teams keys Wolverines back to Frozen Four

— The last time Michigan faced Colorado College, the vaunted Tigers power play scored four goals in a run-and-gun, 6-5 loss to the Wolverines in the Great Lakes Invitational. After watching the Tigers use their special teams to dismantle Boston College on Friday night in St. Louis en route to an 8-4 win and a rematch with the Wolverines, Michigan coach Red Berenson and the Wolverines knew they would need a special effort defensively to return to the Frozen Four.

The Wolverines got that effort, killing off six of seven penalties Saturday in a dominating 2-1 win over CC to advance to the Frozen Four and a date with the winner of Denver-North Dakota.

“For this team, Colorado College, to score like they did last night against arguably the best team in the country, it put the fear of God in our team,” said Berenson. “We might have played better defensively just in respect to their team. We knew that this team was a prolific team, particularly their power play. We were playing against one of the best power plays in the country. To have to kill as many penalties, we didn’t try to take penalties, it just seemed that penalties were being called and we had to kill them. I thought that was the difference in the game, our penalty killing and our goalkeeping.”

Michigan got the first goal, an early singular effort from senior forward/defenseman Scooter Vaughan, but after that, the Tigers settled down and generated good chances. The pressure drew the first three penalties of the game, including a five-on-three chance for approximately a minute. The Tigers buzzed the Wolverines net, but Hunwick held strong, and the Tigers got frustrated. All of a sudden, they took two quick penalties, and Michigan was on a four-on-three power play, which quickly turned into a five-on-three when Carl Hagelin got out of the box, and on which they converted to grab the two-goal lead.

“We had that five-on-three power play in the first period, which was a small turning point because it all of a sudden became a four-on-three power play for Michigan,” said Tigers coach Scott Owens. “We were just off. Michigan has to be given credit. I think they had us pretty well scouted. There wasn’t a lot of flow tonight because of all the calls.”

Berenson credited assistant coach Billy Powers for helping prepare the Michigan special teams unit.

“I talked to coach Powers and he looked at video and did a good job preparing our penalty killers,” said Berenson. “I think we were prepared tonight. When they did get shots, Shawn was there. As much as we survived it, I thought we did a much better job on the PK than we did last time we played them over Christmas break.”

Though Owens felt his team might have been more tired Saturday, Tigers junior defenseman Gabe Guentzel felt Michigan’s penalty kill was at a different level of aggressiveness, and forced CC out of their game.

“Their penalty play was aggressive; it was tough to snap the puck around and get them out of postion because they were so aggressive,” Guentzel said. “Their power play was good; they spread us out. We tried to be aggressive and they had some good passes. Their special teams just did a better job than ours did.”

Michigan finished the game with a huge shots advantage, 43-22, but both teams felt that didn’t tell the whole story, and that even though CC didn’t get a lot of good looks on their power play, they were getting chances.

“They didn’t really get anything going too much until they got into the power play; once they got into the power play, I really had to be sharp,” said Michigan goalie Shawn Hunwick, who finished with 21 saves and had five shutout periods in a row this weekend, only giving up goals in the first period of the first game and late in the third period of tonight’s game.

“We had trouble penetrating and getting through them,” said Owens. “We actually had some good puck movement on a few power play chances that didn’t result in any shots. They were sound and able to get the line matchups they wanted being the home team.”

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  • Bklein09

    Go Blue!!!

    What a great effort tonight!

    For Michigan to win it all they will have to beat at least 3 and possibly 4 WCHA teams! If they pull it off, I don’t want to hear any bs from WCHA fans.

    2 down and 2 to go!

    I love this team and I love being a Wolverine!

    There is still a long way to go, and the next test begins a week from Thursday!!!

    • Cthompson1983

      I agree with you 100 percent Bklein09

      • collegehockeyfan

        this didn’t surprise me, I picked michigan to win, I am a WCHA fan and YES i did pick Michigan haha. They are a good team, but I do not believe they have what it takes to win it all in St. Paul. They will have to face a very tough UMD team in the first round, should be fun to watch either way!

        • Michaelleepeterson

          UMD is on the other side of the bracket. They’ll have to face a very tough Denver or North Dakota. Did you mean UND?

        • bluetell

          finally a WCHA who isn’t upset about everything. Yes, UND will be a very tought test for Michigan. We’ll have to play them like we did CC and maybe have some luck mixed in too: great special teams play, reduce offensive chances. Frankly though, it’s the NCAA tournament, it wouldn’t surprise me if we won 7-0 or NoDak won 7-0

  • bluetell

    Clearly this is some sort of conspiracy. WCHA teams don’t lose. They are invincible. If they lose, it is because the other team cheated.

    But seriously, WCHA fans can shut their traps. That’s 2 WCHA teams down, 1 or 2 more to go. No amount of whining will change how badly Michigan dominated CC tonight.

    • Cthompson1983

      I agree with you 100 percent bluetell

    • collegehockeyfan

      michigan played well! But CC is just a tip of the iceberg!

    • WCHa

      funny you say that the WCHA teams suck umm Michgan won on a terrible call there was not inconclusive envidence of that ovetime goal and I’m prettty sure last time I checked the WCHA will be sending 2 teams to the frozen four this year

      • guy above me is a dumbass

        so ignorant man…I’m even a wcha homer, just sayin your logic is absurd. Any team that throws up 8 on BC is legit and Michigan skated circles around us. (the refs were complete shit I might add, although it was boths ways) . And as for UMD, that bracket was the easiest I’ve seen in a few years. one more thing….good chance CCHA gets 2 in st. paul as well

      • bluetell

        watch the video from the opposite end camera. the puck is in the net. WCHA homers have decided they don’t want it to be in the net, so therefore, it wasn’t in the net

    • WCHA

      Not a chance Michigan will beat DU or UND….and if the committee would have went by what they were suppose to where 1/16,8/9,4/13,5/12,3/14,6/11,2/15,7/10 michigan would have been in the same region with Miami and u would have been crying like no other

      • fluidguy

        Maybe you should run the committee then so that seeding can be done soooo much better. I have never seen bigger bunch of whiners as you f”n WCHA homers.

    • Ridingtimes

      What game did you watch…You mean the officals domminated CC…They love Michigan and that sure was the way it is. Wow and they dominated a mostly Freshmen team that was projected to be 7th in the WCHA…Wasnt Michigan the CCHA champion?? CC finished 6th in the wcha…Some power that is they won two games against CC by a whole total of 2 goals…Now that is dominating..LOL…

  • bothsides

    Congratulations Candace! You are the only USCHO reporter who believes it is important to be fair to both teams in covering these regionals.

  • Mfurta15

    It is is time to put these regionals on college campuses , St Loius was a joke and a disgrace. All of these games are dead and lack emotion , I agree with what Dave Hakstoll said last year after he lost to Yale, he would have rather have lost to Yale on their home ice, ” we got on a plane to have 500 people watch his team in 10k seat arena. ND, BC , Miami and UMD should have hosted this year.

    • Griff

      Being a hockey player and college fan, I enjoyed having the Frozen Four here in DC several years ago. There is a new awareness for hockey in the National Capital region that was not here 20 years ago when I came here, andthe Frozen Four helped feed it. Unfortunately, for all the colleges and universities in this area, there is not a D-I hockey program. The only one that could come close is Navy and they are still not ready yet.

  • 24Frozen Fours

    Maybe just Maybe Michigan is a Very Tough team too??

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