Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Top 9 Tournament Games In Michigan Hockey: Part 1

We're attempting to put together a list of the top 9 – one for each Michigan national championship – NCAA Men's Hockey Tournament games we've witnessed, either on TV or in person. This list is presented in no particular order. Without further adieu, Part 1

Michigan 3 - 2 Boston College (1998). Here's what I remember about this game. Hurrying back with the rest of the Michigan quiz bowl team to watch the game in one of our Nashville hotel rooms. I remember the breathless anticipation of every shot and how Boston College was just taking it to us on every shift late in the third and into overtime, but Marty was a rock. I remembered the disappointment of the previous year and wondered if it would be yet another let down, same city, different school. I remember one of my friend criticizing Michigan for having the puck in deep behind BC's net, wondering "What are you going to do with it there?", only to have the puck come out to Josh Langfeld who scored, and another friend saying "THAT!" It was a great moment and great fun, and it's been far too long since we had that happen. –Craig

Michigan 2 - 3 Boston College (2004). Best game I've ever seen Michigan play and lose. Al Montoya made 42 (!) saves and kept the team alive, while Michigan could only muster 17 shots on goal. BC was the better team all day, especially in the second period, but Michigan made the most of its opportunities and carried a 2-1 lead into the third period. In the third, there was an insane 9:39 stretch without a stoppage of play, with both teams getting opportunities. Finally, Michigan took an icing call. BC capitalized on it immediately, turning a rebound off Montoya into a goal. BC almost ended it with 37.5 seconds left in regulation, but Montoya made a great save to keep it even. In overtime, a freshman TJ Hensick was so, so close to scoring the biggest goal of his career, first firing one shot blocked by BC's goalie and then having his follow-up just kicked out of the way by the goalie's toe. Halfway through the extra frame BC's Ben Eaves got the game-winner, playing through dehydration and cramping. Montoya made two saves on Eaves's teammates, but couldn't stop him from batting the rebound out of the air and into the net. –Geoff

Michigan 2 - 1 Maine (2003). Michigan wins at Yost 2-1 in a great goalie duel where no one could score. Tightest game I've ever seen in college hockey. Neither team had scored after two, but it wasn't through lack of effort. Anyone would have been forgiven for thinking this one was going to end 1-0 somehow, but when Eric Nystrom scored 6:47 into the third it just cranked up the tension. Maine threw everything they had against the Wolverines and it finally paid off with under 4:00 to go. Martin Kariya (Paul's little brother) found Colin Shields and Shields poked a goal past Montoya. A desperate struggle ensued, and it looked like overtime was imminent, but Maine took a holding call with only 2:00 left on the board. Michigan managed to put a loose puck in traffic in front of Maine's net, where Jed Ortmeyer found it and buried it for the game-winner. The Wolverines withstood the Maine attack for the remaining 1:34 to claim victory. This is another one of the games the Legend of Al Montoya is founded on, as he made 34 saves and a huge number of them were on good scoring opportunities. Michigan went on to win the regional final against Colorado College in a game Craig reminds me had Yost "as intense as I have ever felt it in the arena, which I think speaks volumes..." In the Frozen Four, the Wolverines took the eventual champion Gophers to double overtime before falling. –Geoff

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

At the 2003 Frozen Four, Vanek's goal was with about 8 minutes left in the first OT. We essentially left their best player uncovered behind the net and he buried it five-hole on Montoya. A dagger in my heart.

I believe it was also the second year in a row we blew a 2-0 lead to Minnesota.