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March 25, 2013 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-03-25

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B +!!!B

-..U -~

They broke the streak but went down swinging

DETROIT -
Jeff Jackson woke up the
morning of March 10 and
exhaled.
The Notre Dame coach checked
the score of the previous night's
game between
Michigan State
and Alaska,
saw that the
Spartans had
survived, and
let out one
massive sigh of
relief. M 'ATT
Michigan SLOVIN
State's win,
stretching into
the wee hours
of Monday morning, meant that
his Fighting Irish would avoid
playing Michigan in the CCHA
quarterfinals.
Jackson was relived then. He's
relieved now. Nobody wanted
to play Michigan - not in the
quarterfinals, not in the finals,
not in the NCAA Tournament,
where the Wolverines would have
landed with a win in Sunday's
title game.
The Fighting Irish dodged a
bullet in Fairbanks. They dodged
a more dangerous one on Sunday.

Jacob Trouba stopped the puck,
tantalizingly close to crossing the
goal line for Miami (Ohio) fans,
gravely near it for Michigan fans,
calmly with his stick. That puck
would've crossed a few short
months ago.
And had Trouba arrived to the
puck a split-second later in the
first period of Saturday's CCHA
semifinal against the RedHawks,
Michigan might not have reached
Sunday's stage where the Wolver-
ines faced an all-or-nothing game
for the ages.
Win, or the 22-year NCAA
Tournament appearance streak -
the one that predates the birth of
all but two of Michigan's players
- would be over.
After one shaky, how-did-that-
not-go-in first period, the Wol-
verines came out in the second
period and took the pressures that
come with manning a program so
accustomed to postseason success
and shoved them down the Red-
Hawks' throats.
Somewhere along the way,
Michigan redeemed itself, Coach
Red Berenson said he began to see
a change in early February, when
the Wolverines played at Notre

Dame. The signs of improvement
were there, but the results weren't
- Michigan gave up 13 goals on
the weekend and was swept.
This weekend, the Wolverines
held two of the best offenses in
the CCHA to two goals apiece,
minus an empty-netter.
This hockey-loving university
didn't yet forgive them after that
February series for a season that
was, more often than not, misera-
ble. Perhaps for some, that forgive-
ness didn't come until Trouba's
play, an overwhelming display of
grit that signified just how far the
Wolverines have truly come.
Notre Dame was clearly the
better team Sunday. This time,
there was no way around it for the
Fighting Irish - they were playing
Michigan. And they couldn't have
made things harder on the Wol-
verines, controlling play for much
of the afternoon.
Inevitably, this team will be
known as the one that broke the
streak. When the pride and joy
of the program expired after
Sunday's 3-1 heartbreaker, that
became reality.
But because of the turnaround
that nobody saw coming, nobody
will blame them for that. After all,
Michigan won't be gone from the

NCAA Tournament for long. And
teams out there would give up
anything for 22 out of 23.
Lee Moffie broke off from the
line of his teammates. They had
been tortured far too long by then,
straddling the blue line at Joe
Louis Arena, watching as their
now-former conference rivals
accepted the Mason Cup.
Before the playoff trophy could
disappear, bound for Toronto, the
Hockey Hall of Fame and poster-
ity with a quick detour in South
Bend along the way, Michigan
dipped into the tunnel.
But not before Moffie said
goodbye to the Wolverine faithful,
who hoped to see ateam that was
once 10-18 punch its ticket to the
NCAA Tournament. That would
signal that the group Berenson
repeatedly called "vulnerable,"
and once, a "train wreck" mid-
way through the season was now
magical.
Moffie skated a quick circle,
waving his stick to the Michigan
fans who remained in Joe Louis
Arena, while the rest of the team
quickly stepped off the ice.
All of their last-ditch efforts,

like goalie Steve Racine turning
on a dime on his way to the bench
and diving back toward the crease
to stop the empty-net goal that
sealed the Wolverines' fate, had
fallen short.
Moffie's goodbye as he stepped
off the ice for the last time in
maize and blue might as well have
been a white flag, but he didn't
do it until after the game. Most
everyone else, besides the players
and coaches, had waved one in
surrender months ago.
Everybody except for the peo-
ple in the locker room gave up on
this team.
Don't feel bad for them. Beren-
son said all year that this team
was going to earn its fate. If the
Wolverines didn't make the NCAA
Tournament, they'd have nobody
to blame but themselves.
But how can we blame them?
Because for the last month and
a half of this season, when Michi-
gan's unbeaten streak that ended
at nine games began, the Wolver-
ines had everybody believing they
were going to catch lightning in a
bottle. Even Jeff Jackson.
It was just a little too late.
- Slovin can be reached
at mislovin@umich.edu

Dream run ends inches short of title

By MICHAEL LAURILA
Daily Sports Editor
DETROIT - When the Michigan
hockey team squared off against
NO. 9 Notre Dame in the CCHA
Championship on Sunday, 22 years
ofhistory were on the line.
The Wolverines would either
win and make a 23rd-consecutive
NCAA Tournament, or lose and go
home.
And the CCHA's final Champi-
onship game at Joe Louis Arena
didn't disappoint. It was either tied
or a one-goal game until the final
minute. But _
Michigan (11- MICHIGAN 1
15-3 CCHA, NOTRE DAME 3
18-18-3 over-
all) couldn't overcome the Fight-
ing Irish's constant pressure and
its own inability to get shots on net,
falling 3-1. For the first time since
1990, the Wolverines will not be
playing in the NCAA Tournament.
The Wolverines started out
Sunday's game like it ended a day
earlier, when it bombarded No. 3
2C I The Streak, March 25, 2013

Miami (Ohio), 6-2, by dominating
the play and controlling the puck in
Notre Dame territory. But after the
first shift was over, the Wolverines
rarely controlled the puck again.
The Fighting Irish (17-8-3, 24-12-3)
used a strong forecheck to keep the
play deep in Michigan's zone, and
dominated the first period with 18
shots compared to the Wolverines'
6 - a trend that would plague them
all game.
Freshman goaltender Steve
Racine bailed out the Michigan
defensemen on more than one occa-
sion, and just when it seemed like
Notre Dame might finally get on
the board during a late power play,
the game decided to take a different
path.
The Wolverines got a steal at
their own blue line, going on a 3-on-
2 rush. After freshman defense-
man Jacob Trouba, senior forward
Kevin Lynch and sophomore for-
ward Derek DeBlois bounced the
puck around the crease, DeBlois
knocked it home. This was the sec-
ond-straight game that Michigan

opened up the game's scoring with
a short-handed goal.
Despite being outplayed and out-
hustled for almost the entirety of
the first 20 minutes, the Wolverines
managed to take a 1-0 lead into the
first intermission.
"We knew we could play better
than we played in the first and we
escaped the first period and we just
had to play better in the second,"
said Michigan coach Red Berenson.
"I thought penalties really kept us
on our heels in the second period,
but we were fine."
The momentum wasn't enough,
though. The combination of Notre
Dame's constant'offensive pressure
and Michigan's inability to stay out
of the penalty box - it spent six of
the period's 20 minutes in the box -
allowed the Fighting Irish to even
up the score at one on an Anders
Lee goal, who has had a lot of suc-
cess against the Wolverines this
year.
When Michigan was swept by
Notre Dame on Feb. 8 and 9, Lee fin-
ished the weekend with three goals

and two assists. And the trio of Jeff
Costello, Lee, and Bryan Rust have
been one of the most prolific lines in
the entire CCHA, finishing the sea-
son with a combined 98 points.
After two periods, the Fighting
Irish had tallied an impressive 28
shots, compared to Michigan's 10.
Notre Dame led the CCHA in scor-
ing with 3.21 goals per game this
season, and the constant peppering
of Racine showed why. The Fight-
ing Irish finished the game with 33
shots on net, which is the highest
total the Wolverines have given up
throughout their tournament run.
"They had a good cycle going
against us (on offense)," said senior
defenseman Lee Moffie. "They're
a physical team and they're a big
team, and they really pushed us in
our zone and that was the big issue.
We were having a hardtime d'ingup
on them and stopping their cycle."
But 21 seconds into the third
period, the Wolverines luck ran out.
Racine let a rebound get away from
him, and Notre Dame's T.J. Tynan
buried it, giving the Fighting Irish a

one-goal advantage.
Though Michigan picked up
the intensity following the Notre
Dame's go-ahead goal, the Wolver-
ines couldn't find that last-minute
tally. With 1:07 left, Racine was
headed towards the bench for a six-
on-five, and Notre Dame turned
a turnover at mid-ice into an easy
empty-net goal to secure the vic-
tory.
"I thought our team would
bounce back in the third and they
tried," Berenson said. "Goals were
precious tonight and you knew
there wouldn't be many of them,
and giving up that early (third-peri-
od) goal was a tough one and we just
couldn't get that back."
The NCAA Tournament Selec-
tion Show is Sunday night, and
though Michigan finished the sea-
son with an impressive nine-game
unbeaten streak, the loss' to Notre
Dame all but eliminated it from one
of the few at-large bids.
Now, on Sunday, the Wolverines
Cinderella run through an impres-
sive CCHA has ended.

3C The Streak, March 25, 2013

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