Friday, March 23, 2007

Top 9 Tournament Games In Michigan Hockey: Part 3

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 3

Michigan 4 - 3 North Dakota (1998). In their first game of the 1998 regionals at Yost, Michigan's game-winning goal came on a fluky bounce where a Princeton defender's skate tipped a Michigan pass into his own net. That wouldn't be enough if Michigan was going to beat North Dakota. In the first period, Michigan looked like a team about to get hustled off its own ice. North Dakota raced out to a 2-0 lead. As the period wound down, Michigan made things worse by giving the Fighting Sioux a 5-3 power play and a 3-0 game seemed almost inevitable. Matt Herr was still in the box when the second period began, but when he jumped back onto the ice, his teammates got him the puck and he cut the deficit in half with a shorthanded goal. North Dakota scored a few minutes later, but again the Wolverines made it a one-goal game going into the third. They leveled the score with Greg Crozier's powerplay goal less than a minute into the period and Yost went NUTS. Not just any-other-arena crazy, but insane-for-even-Yost crazy. The rest of the period was a titanic struggle, but Michigan broke through again with 2:54 to go when Herr gave the puck to Bobby Hayes on a 2-on-1. He buried the game-winner and pandemonium broke out. Marty Turco sums it up as "Best game ever" and "the biggest game I have ever played in." This from a two-time NCAA champion. –Geoff

Michigan 5 - 3 Colorado College (2003). In an up and down regional final at Yost, Eric Nystrom gave Michigan an early lead when Dwight Helminen's rebound came to him, but Colorado College quickly surged ahead on the strength of their lethal power play and future Hobey Baker winner Peter Sejna. Sejna assisted on CC's first powerplay goal at 8:10 and scored his own at 10:42 of the first. Michigan was getting annihilated by the powerplay and had to find a way to either stay out of the box entirely or play better on special teams. As the former wasn't really an option, the Wolverines opted instead to apply more pressure all over the ice. CC went on the powerplay 6 more times without registering another goal and Michigan's offense kept plugging away. Milan Gajic tied the game again in the first by just getting to David Moss's pass and putting it past CC's drawn-off goaltender. Early in the second, Jeff Tambellini was in the box for a stupid, stupid crosschecking penalty (taken with :33 left in the first!) when Mark Mink jumped on a bad, lazy turnover by CC in front of their own net and sent it home for the 3-2 lead. CC wasn't about to go away though, and midway through the second they pounced on an Andy Burnes turnover at center ice to tie it up at 3-3. Even though CC was a dangerous, dangerous team, I started feeling like Michigan was going to make it through if only because it was a Yost crowd. I'd seen it happen just last year, and it felt right. Sure enough, about 4.5 minutes into the third, Jason Ryznar and Moss were digging for the puck behind the CC net. Ryznar came away with it, moved in front of the goal and put away the game-winner. –Geoff

Michigan 3 - 2 Colorado College (1996). It was on like at noon on a Saturday on ESPN as I was finishing up my senior year of high school. It was a Saturday and I knew Michigan was doing well because I had seen the loop of Mike Legg's goal played in perpetuity on SportsCenter during the previous week. I don't even have to say which Mike Legg goal, you know the one. Michigan was riding a hot netminder in sophomore Marty Turco, and the scoring of a pair of guys with the same initials, Brendan Morrison and Bill Muckalt. Michigan is in the Maize unis, and Colorado College, a school I had never heard of, is giving them fits. It's back and forth, up and down, a defensive struggle (only eight shots were taken in the first period between the two teams. I don't remember if this had anything to do with the less than stellar ice at the Coliseum, it's been a while.) But then it happens, in overtime, sort of out of nowhere, going top shelf on a falling CC goalie at the 3:35 mark of overtime to seal the deal. Michigan wins its eighth national title, and their first since 1964. I'm a fan for life and I know I want season tickets for Yost when I get there next year. I get my first Michigan jersey from M Den, and the rest is history. –Craig


Anonymous said...

That 1996 title game was awesome. I was there, and I am getting the chills again thinking about it.

Anonymous said...

The 96 CC game was definitely on bad ice. On the Friday before the game the ice taker-care-of-er guy managed to drill through the ice and into a pipe underneath the ice when he was drilling the hole for the net moorings. The ice was TERRIBLE on Friday; the Zambonis only scraped the water off the top of the ice and didn't put any down. The ice was a little better on Saturday but it was still watery. I don't think you ever see these details in accounts of the game, which is a shame. It made the whole thing absolutely epic. Also I think we played an OT or 2 the night before. (anyone verify this?) I was there, but I was 12. As I recall, in both 96 and 98 we played 2OTS in the semis and then won the tourney.

I saw all our tourney games in 96, 97, and 98 (among a couple other years) and the 98 NoDak game was absolutely AMAZING. This game also involved a 10 Minute Misconduct on a UM player (Herr?), as well as 2 (2!) goals that were called off by the ref. I think the light came on both times. That game was absolutely nuts, and the best part about that year is that they had been favored the year before and lost in the semis, but in 98 they were semi-underdogs, (with a Freshman goalie?) and went all the way. It was beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I was at both games in 1996 in Cincinnati. With the first game being delayed for 2 hours because someone drilled through one of the coils in the ice....the uneasiness waiting. And I just remember how the Michigan fans took over that stadium, how loud it was, and how great it was to finally win it all.