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March 23, 2013
Wolverines bury RedHawks 6-2 in CCHA semifinals
It's almost too good to be true.
What was once considered to be a mathematical impossibility is now one victory from flesh-and-blood reality.
Just like last weekend, the Michigan hockey team scored four consecutive goals in the middle frame, busting open a game that had been scoreless after one period of play. Miami never recovered, and the Wolverines scored two more in the third to secure a 6-2 victory and a spot in tomorrow afternoon's CCHA Championship Game against Notre Dame.
Shots were even at eight at the end of the first, but the scoreless game did little to comfort senior captain A.J. Treais.
"Our first period wasn't our greatest," he said. "It's been good to get the first goal lately. In the first half of the season that wasn't happening. You have to keep that going. Keep pushing."
The Wolverines did get that all-important first goal, lighting the lamp at the 3:26 mark of the second. With Miami enjoying a power play, senior Kevin Lynch tipped a pass to himself at the Michigan blue line. He skated up the right side of the ice, started a 2-on-1, and fed a streaking Andrew Copp up the middle. The freshman forward took the pass, went to his backhand, and tucked the puck underneath Miami goaltender Ryan McKay.
But Copp wasn't finished. Mere minutes later, Copp bagged his second of the game and 11th of the season at 9:22. Freshman defenseman Jacob Trouba impacted the game in a huge way. He made a pinpoint, cross-ice pass to Copp. Stationed at the right faceoff circle, Copp fired a wrister off the back of McKay.
"Both of my goals were off of really good passes," Copp pointed out. "It's just burying our chances. Whether it's desperation or what, it's been a nice turnaround."
The floodgates were open for Michigan. Junior Luke Moffatt blasted his eighth at 10:50 to tilt the ledger to 3-0 in favor of the Wolverines. Treais skated along the boards near the right circle, deked around a falling Miami defender, and found a wide-open Moffatt.
It didn't take long for Michigan to widen the chasm to 4-0. Only seconds later, Treais netted his 12th thanks to more picture-perfect passing. Sophomore forward Alex Guptill found the puck in the neutral zone, walked around a Miami defender, and passed to Treais who had just enough room to slam it home. His goal ended a 14-game drought.
In a span of 2:11, Michigan scored four unanswered in the second to seize control.
After freshman goalie Steve Racine had made some key saves to preserve a shutout, Miami finally broke the bid at 17:14. Of the second Sean Kuraly took a diving pass from Austin Czarnik and stuffed the puck past Racine as all three players fell in a heap.
The third period was Guptill's show. He extended his point streak to nine games with his 15th goal of the season on the power play only 55 seconds in. The sophomore parked himself in front of the Miami net, squared up, got himself open in the slot, and took a pass right on the tape from Lynch. He snapped an accurate shot that went right over the glove of MU backup, Jay Williams.
After a defensive lull allowed the Redhawks to crawl back to with three, Guptill notched his second on the night, and 16th of the campaign, to conclude the scoring. The hard-nosed forward dove towards the net and found the puck on his stick. Lynch had the assist.
The second season has breathed new life into Guptill, and he's nothing but happy that the Wolverines have righted the ship.
"It's kind of turned around this season after a big slump there personally," he explained. I got a few chances but all the credit goes to my teammates. Kevin Lynch made a really nice play. The second one I just drove to the net and got lucky. We've kind of turned it around."
Michigan now has a chance to turn their dreams into reality by defeating Notre Dame tomorrow afternoon.