Michigan played with a purpose on Friday night and absolutely let Miami (Ohio) have it in the second CCHA semifinal. With their NCAA tournament hopes on the line, the Wolverines played an excellent game from start to finish and won 5-2 thanks to an onslaught in the third period. Taking a 2-1 lead into the final 20 minutes, the game was far from determined. That was no longer the case about seven minutes into the final period, however. The Wolverines scored 3 times in the first half of the period to take a 5-1 lead and chase goalie Cody Reichard, who is actually one of ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. Miami added a late goal to cut the lead down to 3 goals, but that was about the only thing that went right for the RedHawks in the third period, as Michigan went on to win 5-2.
Michigan got the scoring started 8:50 into the first period when a Tristin Llewellyn shot found its way to the back of the net after appearing to be deflected at least once. This was only Llewellyn’s second goal of the season and the third of his career, and it came right after Miami killed off a penalty. The score after one period was 1-0 in favor of Michigan thanks to some great saves by Shawn Hunwick and some bounces that went in the Wolverines’ favor as well.
In the second period, Michigan increased its lead to 2 goals when Lee Moffie scored on an absolutely beautiful play. Thanks to an awful change by Miami, Michigan ended up with a 4 on 1 and took advantage of the RedHawks’ mistake with some perfect passing. Cody Reichard could do very little to stop Moffie from scoring right on the doorstep, because Michigan was able to pass the puck three times to set up the goal.
Miami did get on the board towards the end of the second period when Tommy Wingels made a great fake and sniped a shot past Shawn Hunwick, but Michigan kept it together and headed into the second intermission with a 2-1 lead.
The third period opened with Michigan going on a power play and capitalizing on the advantage. Kevin Lynch scored after Carl Hagelin threw the puck in front of the net on a wraparound and had it deflect off of Matt Rust and right to Lynch for another goal right on the doorstep, giving Michigan a 3-1 lead. Three or so minutes later Rust set up Brian Lebler for a goal on a nice redirection, making it a 4-1 game. The nail in the coffin came less than two minutes later when Lynch added his second goal of the period to give Michigan a 5-1 lead. Reichard was pulled after this goal, and although Michigan didn’t score on the backup, it had a comfortable lead and was able to finish the game in rather relaxing fashion. As mentioned, Miami did score a late goal, but all it did was make the score look a little more respectable, because Michigan still won 5-2.
I don’t know how Michigan has been able to play so well without Chris Summers (he was out again on Friday) and Bryan Hogan, but this team seems to have gotten hot at the right time. Hopefully the Wolverines have enough left to keep this streak going for at least one more game, because Michigan’s NCAA tournament hopes will rest on Saturday night’s CCHA championship game against Northern Michigan. NMU beat Ferris State 5-4 in overtime on Friday afternoon, meaning Michigan will have to go through the Wildcats to keep its NCAA tournament streak alive. These two teams have met twice before this season, splitting a two-game series at Yost last month.
Saturday night’s CCHA championship game is set to start at 7:35 p.m. on FS Detroit. If you are unable to watch the game on TV, you can instead view a stream of the game on FS Detroit’s website.