Three thoughts from the first round

1. They could have played all night

All four first-round series were done in two games. However, with two games going into triple overtime, it was almost as if Michigan Tech and Ferris State each had to win in three.

According to USCHO’s list of longest games Michigan Tech’s 1-0 Game 1 victory over Alabama Huntsville was the seventh-longest in NCAA history. Tyler Heinonen finally beat goalie Carmine Guerriero, who had stopped the first 76 shots he faced, with 1:11 remaining in extra time. Overlooked somewhat was the twin shutouts put up by Tech’s Jamie Phillips, who stopped all 50 shots he faced in the series. Guerriero finished the weekend with 118 saves.

Meanwhile, Ferris State closed out Bemidji State with a 3-2 triple-OT win on Saturday, the 13th-longest college game. Kyle Schempp’s power-play goal at 6:40 won it and made the Bulldogs the lone road team to advance to the Final Five.

2. Significant seniors

Watching a post-game salute to the Minnesota State six seniors on Saturday night, following the Mavericks’ sweep of Lake Superior State, I couldn’t help but think the Final Five will be featuring quite the collection of four-year players.

To name a few Mavericks, Matt Leitner is approaching the program’s Division I-era scoring record and has 162 points for his career. Jean-Paul LaFontaine ranks fifth on that list, and Zach Palmquist is second on MSU’s D-I scoring list for defensemen. Palmquist and Chase Grant have played in more games (157) than anyone who has worn an MSU uniform.

Ferris State got to the final on the back of its great senior goaltender C.J. Motte, who has a school-record 66 victories, while defenseman Jason Binkley has played 155 career games, and forward Justin Buzzeo has played in 121.

Michigan Tech has the WCHA player of the year in senior Tanner Kero, who, along with Blake Pietila, has more than 100 career points. The two have played in 150 and 151 games, respectively. Defenseman Riley Sweeney has played in 154 games.

Much has been made of Bowling Green’s freshman class, but its six seniors include a 100-point scorer in Dan DeSalvo. He’s played in 152 games, while Adam Berkle has played in 157 and defenseman Mike Sullivan has played in 150.

3. And the rest

Final shout-outs to the WCHA teams that had their seasons end this week (and last):

Bemidji State: It was a nice run to grab home ice for the WCHA tournament for the first time, going on a late-season seven-game unbeaten streak to get to that spot. The future seems bright for the Beavers with their collection of freshmen and sophomores. Also, heck of a career for defenseman Matt Prapavessis.

Northern Michigan: It was a streaky season with lots of ups and downs, including the season-ending injury to goalie Mathias Dahlstrom and the week of leave given to coach Walt Kyle. The Wildcats are another youthful team that should return some significant talent next season.

Alabama-Huntsville: Big improvement from a year ago, and it sure helps to have a goalie like Guerriero leading the way. All-rookie forward and leading scorer Max McHugh is also a part of the foundation coach Mike Corbett is laying there.

Lake Superior State: Like with Huntsville, making the postseason after a year out was not insignificant. Freshman goalie Gordon Defiel looks like the real deal but there’s a lot of work to do offensively, especially with the underrated Stephen Perfetto graduating.

Alaska Anchorage: A big step forward last year and two steps back this year as they missed out on the playoffs. The Seawolves won once in their last 12 games and never did get a victory outside of Alaska. Lots of work for coach Matt Thomas. Goalie Olivier Mantha was a bright spot.

Alaska: If not for the NCAA sanctions handed down in November, we might very well be talking about the Nanooks playing in St. Paul this weekend. Alaska took fourth in the standings, closing the season on an eight-game unbeaten streak. Losing Colton Parayko early hurts for next year.

14 COMMENTS

    • are you serious? mich goalie played on his damn head, i’ll give props to him, but the rest of the team dumped and chased the entire time, even the commentators were bashin them for it. The sioux outshot them 40-19, outplayed them the entire time, just didn’t out score them.
      The sioux put on a hell of a year, just couldn’t find the net tonight.

          • @Whc: Actually, it’s called implementing a strategy and playing as a team. Michigan knows it can’t play a wide open offensive game with UND and expect to win; they’re simply outmatched and outgunned. Instead, they decided to clamp down on defense after getting that first goal. They used their speed and quickness to take away passing lanes; they sacrificed their bodies to block at least 16 shots; they aggressively cleared away rebounds and were extremely physical in preventing UND from crowding the net or screening their goalie. Of course, one of the drawbacks of this high risk/reward strategy is that most of the action takes place in your own zone, which males it pretty hard to generate scoring chances aside from the occasional breakaway. Hence, the SOG disparity.
            Michigan was able to defeat a more talented group of players by effectively implementing the above strategy and working as a TEAM behind the outstanding play in goal of Hunwick. Luck? I think not.

          • ha a team who scores and then sits back almost always loses in the end if you really watch hockey. Michigan got lucky with an incredible performance from the tender. Don’t tell me Hunwick making 5-6 game changing saves was part of Michigan’s strategy. The Sioux were a stronger team but hey its hockey, that happens. Same thing happened to Michigan two years ago when they out shot Air Force like 50-14 or something and lost. I suppose this is karma coming back to repay them.

          • Good points, however, there is a lot of luck involved in a 1-0 game when the shots are so uneven. Hunwick pulled off a great game…the team did a great job bottling up the middle…he and the team deserved to win. Congrats to Michigan!!

          • it’s called frustration and desperation on ND towards the end of the game and just shooting and not getting off good shots. Even idiot Melrose who hates Michigan mentioned that.

      • The commentators can bash all they want… who won the game? by the way, I was there, so I don’t know, but I assume Melrose was commentating? He bashes everybody he doesn’t like, there is no “neutral” announcing with Barry.

        • Yes, the fool Melrose was commentating and he was horrible. He was so against Michigan it was ridiculous. He should be banned from commentating period!

          • Melrose was awful. I particularly liked his comment in the UMD/Notre Dame game that went something like this: “When you take a low angle shot like that it’s either gonna hit the goalie, go wide or go in.” Now that’s enlightening commentary!

  1. Definitely outplayed Michigan, I’m a hugeee Wolverine Fan, and even I can admit we got massively outplayed in that game. Our defense is the only reason we have come this far. Doing it without our top defensemen Burlon, is unbelievable. We are also without one of our top forwards, so i’m stunned we’ve made it this far. I hope we have one more in us! This win means nothing now, Saturday means everything

  2. when did national commentary on sporting events become one sided?. i can understand local broadcasters being biased they are home town cover people. listening to Barry Melrose , was like eating a bowl full of scotch bonnet peppers. both willturn your stomach. go college hockey!!!

  3. It sounds like a broken record “The Wildcats are another youthful team that should return some significant talent next season”. The problem with Walt Kyle he has proven over his tenure he is not capable of developing talent, especially with his brother as his assistant. Time to blow up the NMU staff.

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