Congratulations to the Wolverines, Fighting Irish, RedHawks and Broncos for their CCHA quarterfinal series wins! This marks the first time since the 2005-06 season that the top four seeds in the league advanced together to the championship tournament at Joe Louis Arena. It’s also the first time since 1994 that Western Michigan has a chance to compete for the Mason Cup and the first time since 2008-09 that Notre Dame is returning.
Miami and Michigan both made trips to Detroit in postseason in 2009-10, with the Wolverines beating the RedHawks, 5-2, in semifinal action. UM went on to capture the title with a 2-1 win over Northern Michigan.
Next weekend marks the Wolverines’ 22nd consecutive appearance in the CCHA championship tournament. Twenty-two years running, since the 1989-90 season. Thirteen current Wolverines weren’t even drawing breath yet. Two – Brandon Burlon and Adam Janecyk – were infants.
Here’s a brief look at each series from the second round of playoffs.
No. 8 Bowling Green vs. No. 1 Michigan
The Wolverines sailed past the Falcons with 5-1 and 4-1 wins. Seven different UM players accounted for the nine goals. Lindsay Sparks had goals in both contests, including Saturday’s game-winner, and Lee Moffie had two on Saturday.
Neither game was ever in question, as Michigan kept BG off the scoreboard until the third period in each contest. Shawn Hunwick had both wins in net for Michigan but shared the third period Saturday with Bryan Hogan and Adam Janecyk; it was the first game action of the season for Janecyk, a freshman.
Andrew Hammond made 36 saves in the first loss and 30 in the second before being replaced by Nick Eno, who stopped one shot for BG in the final nine minutes of play.
“I think more of the progress that we’ve made is in the foundation of our culture rather than our play,” said BG head coach Chris Bergeron after Saturday’s loss.
The series was a costly one for Michigan in one way: junior forward David Wohlberg broke his collarbone and suffered a concussion in an open-ice collision Friday. He is done for the season.
No. 7 Lake Superior State vs. No. 2 Notre Dame
This series went to three games, as the Irish won Friday’s contest, 3-2, in overtime and the Lakers took Saturday’s game, 4-3. In Sunday’s deciding game, the Irish led 3-0 at the end of the first and went on to win, 4-2.
Three freshmen did all the scoring for ND in the opening game: T.J. Tynan had a goal in the first; Anders Lee had the game-tying goal late in the second; Jeff Costello scored the winner at 4:52 in overtime.
Fred Cassini had two goals in the second game for Lake Superior, including the game-winner, the only goal scored in the third period by either team. Cassini had the first goal for the Lakers on Sunday, cutting Notre Dame’s lead to 3-1. Irish captain Joe Lavin’s sixth goal of the season – the third goal in ND’s first period – held up to be the game-winner Sunday.
“Tonight we scored that third goal,” said ND head coach Jeff Jackson after Sunday’s game. “Give Lake Superior credit. They battled hard all weekend. They played a great series and made it really tough on us, but I expected that.”
LSSU freshman goaltender Kevin Kapalka stopped 95-of-105 in the three games; ND sophomore Mike Johnson made 72 saves on 80 shots. The Irish limited the Lakers to just 15 shots in Sunday’s contest.
No. 6 Alaska vs. No. 3 Miami
The RedHawks beat the Nanooks in two 4-1 games, having to come from behind in each after allowing the first goal in the first period both nights. After being down, though, Miami scored in batches to dominate late in each contest.
In Friday’s contest, Alaska led 1-0 after one on Bryant Molle’s goal at 10:02. Chris Wideman tied it for the RedHawks at 5:06 in the second, but the RedHawks scored three unanswered in the third to take the game.
Saturday was a little different. The game was tied 1-1 after the first on Chad Gehon’s goal for the Nanooks and Cameron Schilling’s for Miami. The RedHawks netted three in the second period – including Andy Miele’s game-winner 16 seconds in – to run up the score.
Miele had a goal in each game and two assists in Saturday’s for four points on the weekend. Reilly Smith also scored in each game with a helper in each for four points. Cody Reichard and Connor Knapp split time in the Miami net, with Reichard winning Friday and Knapp Saturday. The RedHawks had 36 shots on goal each night while limiting the Nanooks to 18 Friday, 15 Saturday.
Alaska goaltender Scott Greenham stopped 64-of-72 on the weekend.
“Our guys came to play tonight,” Miami head coach, Enrico Blasi, said after the Saturday win. “They played with a purpose, obviously the purpose to get to Joe Louis and be in the semifinals.”
No. 5 Ferris State vs. No. 4 Western Michigan
The Broncos needed three games – and overtime – to beat the Bulldogs to advance to Joe Louis Arena. Ferris State took the first game, 3-1, before Western won 3-1 Saturday and 5-4 in OT Sunday night. In Sunday’s game, the Broncos had a 3-0 lead before the second period saw a whole lot of scoring.
While every Bronco on the ice contributed to the series win, the heroes of the weekend were seniors Max Campbell and Jerry Kuhn. Campbell had the fourth Bronco goal of the game at 5:48 in the second, answering Bulldog Aaron Schmidt’s power-play goal at 5:10, as well as the game-winner from Dane Walters at 2:23 in OT.
Kuhn played every minute in net for the Broncos, stopping 85-of-93 shots, including 29 saves in the deciding game – six in overtime.
“Jerry made huge saves for us at the end,” said WMU head coach Jeff Blashill. “He put himself in a position to be a hero like that.
“Max Campbell has done everything we’ve asked of him all season. He’s been a great leader, and he’s obviously the right guy to have in an overtime situation like that.”
Campbell had two goals and four assists in the series; Shane Berschbach had two goals for WMU; Walters had three assists.
For Ferris State, Travis Ouellette scored two goals in Friday’s game, including the game-winner, and another pair Sunday – consecutive goals to bring the Bulldogs to within one in the middle of the second. He also assisted on the only goal Ferris State scored Saturday, Mike Fillinger’s marker at 17:02 in the second.
How did I do?
Well, a certain goaltender for a certain team that shall remain nameless made it public that he didn’t like my picks and proved me wrong. Overall, though, not as bad as I thought I’d do:
Quarterfinal weekend: 7-2 (.777)
Season/postseason to date: 118-74-26 (.601)
Once again, events of the world remind us that there are much bigger things than playoff hockey. If you want to help the men, women and children of Japan following the recent devastating natural disasters, visit the home page of the American Red Cross to learn how you can donate.
…feel free to vent below. Also, you can email me (email@example.com) or tweet (@paulacweston).