Michigan’s hockey team has one last chance to build on a remarkable winning streak.
The Wolverines have qualified for the NCAA Division I tournament for 19 straight years but making it 20 straight is going to take some doing. Michigan is 21-17-1 overall and 14-13-1 in Central Collegiate Hockey Association play.
The Wolverines swept Lake Superior State last weekend in a CCHA opening-round playoff series, two games to none, but now faces the school’s No. 1 rival in the quarterfinals. Michigan travels to East Lansing to take on Michigan State in the best of three series which begins Friday at 7 p.m. and continues on Saturday, and if necessary, on Sunday.
The games will be broadcast throughout the state of Michigan on Comcast.
The Spartans are the No. 2 seed in the tournament and had a bye last weekend. The Wolverines are seeded No. 7.
“It’s going to be an uphill fight but we can do it,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson.
Michigan began the year as the league’s preseason favorite but has struggled. MSU has beaten Michigan three times in four games this season and the only win for the Wolverines was a thrilling 5-4 victory at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit in January.
Michigan comes into the game winning four of its last five but will have to play without its No. 1 goaltender, Bryan Hogan, who has missed the last four games with a groin injury. Shawn Hunwick, a walk-on, has replaced him and played well, including a shutout win over Lake Superior State. He has a 3-1 record and 1.85 goals against average. His brother plays for the Boston Bruins.
Michigan may also have to play without senior captain Chris Summers, who has a lower body injury. He would be replaced by freshman Lee Moffie.
Michigan has been led by top scorer Louie Caporusso, who had a three-goal hat trick last Saturday against Lake Superior State.
Even if Michigan somehow manages to get by the Spartans, they still have more work to do in order to make it the NCAA tournament. Two wins over MSU would get Michigan into the CCHA final four, which will be played in Detroit next weekend.
Only 16 teams qualify for the NCAA hockey tournament and usually only three from the CCHA are selected. Michigan would probably have to win the title outright in Detroit next week to go to the NCAAs.
In other CCHA quarterfinal series this weekend, No. 1 seeded Miami, ranked No. 2 in the nation, hosts Ohio State while Ferris State, seeded third, hosts Nebraska-Omaha and No. 4 Northern Michigan hosts Alaska-Fairbanks.
Surprisingly, the games have not yet been soldout at Munn Arena, as Michigan State students are on break.
“We have to get off to a good start Friday if we want to put some pressure on them,” Berenson told annarbor.com. “I think there’s always more pressure on the home team, but if we could go in there and take that first game, the pressure would multiply.”
For more info: mgoblue, ann arbor.com