So Christian comes to me the other day and says, “aren’t you going to be at the GLI with the Michigan Alumni Band? Why don’t you write an article for the Wheelhouse?” To which I replied, “dude, it’s 4 o’clock in the morning. How did you get into my house? And why are you wearing a Teletubbies costume?” (Editor’s Note: There are now more Riley Sheahan Teletubby jokes on this site than Riley Sheahan has goals this season.)
So, here I am, after a few terrible days for Michigan football and hockey fans, talking about a (mostly) bad final GLI at the Joe. The defending champions didn’t look anything like champions and, at times, completely forgot how to defend. The only saving grace is that, despite our best efforts, the raging dumpster fire that is Michigan State Hockey is still the worst team in the Big Ten.
Game 1 – Michigan vs Michigan Tech
Let me preface by saying, if you’re expecting an expert-level analysis a la GBWTF, you’re going to be disappointed. Christian may be
a self-important, deluded, insipid wannabe douchebag asshole THE BEST AND COOLEST FRIEND AND MOST ATHLETIC HOCKY PLAYER WITH A SIX-PACK, OH AND ALSO THE BEST EDITOR EVAR, but he knows hockey. And writing. And writing about hockey. And curse words. And spelling errors. I’m just a transplant from Oklahoma who, until about 3 years ago, thought “hockey” was something you did to clear your throat. You’re just not going to get as deep of an understanding from that. You’ve been warned.
Going into Thursday afternoon, I don’t think anybody was expecting much. Tech came in as one of the hottest teams in college hockey, due in no small part to freshman net minder Angus Redmond, lovingly referred to as “Beef.” (I, however, will be calling him “The Meats,” because you’re not the boss of me and I do what I want.) Since winning the starting job in October, he’s gone 11-2-1. A shutout was the result of his first start. Arby’s (sorry, Tech’s) manager (head coach, dammit!) Mel Pearson apparently knew he had something special in The Meats at the start of the season, but felt his more senior goalies had earned a chance to show what they could do. That apparently didn’t last too long.
As for Michigan, well… godDAMN I miss CCM. I assume Red decided not to retire last year because he thought Connor, Compher, and Motte would come back for another season, which of course they didn’t. I don’t know if he thinks about such things, but it would really get me down if this ended up being his last team. It’s not good. We’re second-to-last in the conference with a 1-3-0 record (8-9-1 overall), only ahead of the aforementioned oversized inflamed garbage receptacle. Also I miss Zach Werenski. And am jealous of his time with the number one cop on the force.
All of that being said, I was actually pleasantly surprised with what I saw. Well, most of it anyway. Like, the 1st period and various things about the 3rd. Fuck the 2nd period, that was absolutely terrible and I want to rip it from my memory and burn it with fire. I’m sure State has some to spare. Seriously, though, there were some really good offensive plays at the start of the game. We made some good pushes, got some cycles going, and were playing really physical hockey near the crease and along the boards. There were a couple of near-breakaways by Tech that were cut off by some hustle from the defense. For the most part, I really liked what I saw in our net. The goal let up in the second period by Lavigne should have been stopped, sure, but the deflection in the first was near-impossible. The other 36 shots were turned away for a .947. I only hope I can come near to that some day. When I play goalie. It’s totally going to happen, guys. Why are you laughing?
That 2nd period that I mentioned before saw only 3 shots from Michigan sticks and 19 on the Tech side which is TERRIBLE AND I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT ANY MORE STOP BRINGING IT UP!
While the team started to show a bit of spark during the 3rd period, it was far too little far too late, and that beef was allowing no penetration. You heard me. Still, a 2-0 loss to a far-superior team that lit up our goalie feels not-terrible. Mostly because I expected it to be a lot worse. Really, we’re all winners if we just believe in ourselves, because we are all special in our own way and can be whatever we want to be when we grow up. Here’s your blue ribbon. On to game 2.
Game 2 – Michigan vs. Michigan State
I am 100% positive this gif has never been used on this site, ever.
This one was cool because we won a game that we had completely in hand and then let them come back and score three unanswered goals and force overtime which had some really scary moments in our defensive zone and I write huge run-on sentences when I’m trying not to cry.
Also, before getting to actual hockey stuff, can I just say: wtf is with all the dabbing? Seriously, every time someone was on the big screen under the age of 30 they were doing the dab. It was the Game of the Dab. Also of penalties. I seriously think more than half of the second period saw someone in the box. And as Christian knows, you can’t spend all your time in the box. And you have to get to the dirty areas. That really stings.
It was probably a portent of things to come when our first goal was scored right after State had just had a great 3 on 1.5 opportunity during OUR OWN POWERPLAY. Our defense really showed up (after not showing up in the first place) to keep that chance from turning into anything, but it set a bad precedent for the rest of the period. State kept getting behind our defense, and only clutch individual efforts kept them from scoring. Except the one time they scored. On a breakaway. Seriously, you can only stop something like that so many times. See, the trick is to NOT LET THEM GET BEHIND YOU. But I digress.
Lockwood, man. Just, damn. Lockwood picks up a puck that a State defender had poked away in the neutral zone. He brings it in, and then make the most fluid, buttery moves to slip by not one, not two, but THREE (also maybe four, it was hard to tell for sure from my seat) defenders to score a beautiful, unassisted goal. He nearly did the exact same thing again the next period. And he didn’t stop there. Whenever he was on the ice he was giving 100% (not 110%, that’s not possible, read a math textbook, jeez). During one line change when he was the only Wolverine still on the ice, he poked the puck right off of a State players stick three separate times. On opposite sides of the ice. He went non-stop. He was a machine. Even when the story gets sad it’s still impressive. At the end of the second period he ends up with one glove off, ending up on the ice next to his stick. I didn’t see what happened, but he was cradling his still-gloved arm, and he was obviously in a lot of pain. But we were in the defensive zone, and there were only a few seconds left, so he stayed out. He even blocked a damn shot! That’s dedication. I hope he’s not gone for long, we need him on the ice.
So here’s where things go so, so wrong. Michigan was enjoying a 4-1 lead at the beginning of the 3rd. State won the face off and drove right down the ice. Their score came after only 7 seconds had been burned off the clock. Ruh Roh. It was a total defensive collapse, but Nagelvoort really should still have been able to make the save. It looked like maybe they caught him in the middle of a Mannequin Challenge. Could happen to any of us, really. It’s just weird, because I didn’t hear the music. He was apparently still doing it when a State wrist shot appeared to sail right over Nagelvoort’s shoulder. I can’t put it all on him, though. We spent WAY too much time in the defensive zone that period, and mistakes were bound to happen. At that point, though, we had gone from a cushy 3-point lead to the smallest lead you can have. We kept spending all of our time on defense, though, so even that didn’t last. Finally a shot went in that Nagelvoort just couldn’t get to (it was a valiant effort, though). At this point I honestly thought it was over. They had us on our heels and we were going to give State their first victory over a Big Ten opponent.
Thankfully I was wrong. That was one of the scariest overtimes I’ve ever seen where the team I was cheering for actually won. The puck spent SO MUCH TIME in front of our net, but somehow the defense and goalie were able to finish the game out. The goal that finally ended the game in our favor ended up being fairly anti-climactic, as a review for goalie interference sort of slowed things down. But hey, we walked out of there with the win, and are STILL not the worst team in the conference, or, for that matter, the GLI.
WE’RE NUMBER THREE! WE’RE NUMBER THREE! WE’RE NUMBER THREE!
Congrats to Western on their GLI victory. I know nothing about your team except that you finally broke The Meat’s shutout minute streak that they kept harping about on TV. Good on ya!