- Salam Rida/Daily
BY CASANDRA PAGNI
Daily Sports Writer
Published February 16, 2011
Michigan hockey seniors Scooter Vaughan, Louie Caporusso, Chad Langlais and Matt Rust were in unanimous agreement on Wednesday.
The topic? Their most memorable moment playing at Yost Ice Arena.
Their answer? They all agreed that the one game they each would never forget came three years ago when Caporusso scored the game-winning goal with just 20.3 seconds left to propel then-No. 2 Michigan over then-No. 8 Notre Dame.
“(Notre Dame) played a great game that night,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said after practice on Wednesday. “We had a line of (Brandon) Naurato, (Travis) Turnbull, and Caporusso and they ended up scoring the goal on a faceoff. That was a huge goal, and for a freshman to score in that game, that was a big game. It was one of those games where it just took on a life of its own. They’d have to remember that.”
The 11th-ranked Wolverines’ entire senior class will be honored at Yost during their final regular season home game on Saturday against Western Michigan.
The seven senior class members — minus goaltender Shawn Hunwick who will not be honored this weekend, as he is projected to return for his last remaining year of eligibility — boast an impressive resume.
The 2011 Wolverine class has won three of four Great Lakes Invitational championships, one regular season CCHA title, two CCHA Tournament titles and includes four NHL draftees.
“(Senior night is) something that I never thought would come,” Caporusso said. “I thought it was such a far ways away thing, but it sneaks up on you real quick. Now we’re here and starting to cherish every moment I have left here.”
With a 107-45-9 total record in 161 games and a 55-12-4 record at home, the seniors have made their time at Michigan count. This class has reached the NCAA Tournament in each of the past three seasons — losing in the Frozen Four to Notre Dame in 2008, falling to Air Force in the regional in 2009 and dropping a heartbreaker to Miami (Ohio) in the regional final last season.
“Last year was the first year in 20 years that we fell out of the top-20 rankings, but we still made it,” Vaughan said. “We found a way to keep on keepin’ on. We have a good class. Every class that comes here is pretty good, though. But we’re just kind of a bigger one so there’s going to be more impact players your senior year."
Michigan is just one point away from securing home-ice in the second round of the CCHA Tournament and has already clinched a first-round bye.
Heading into this weekend’s series with Western Michigan, Michigan’s top three point-getters are seniors Carl Hagelin (38), Caporusso (24) and Rust (19). Complimenting the offense, Langlais has never missed a game as a Wolverine, making 161 total starts during his Michigan career and ranks third on the defense with 12 points this season.
Both Vaughan and senior Ben Winnett have been playing better hockey as each week progresses, with Vaughan reaching double digits in goals for the first time in his career this past weekend. And while senior goaltender Bryan Hogan has been plagued by a groin injury for the past few months, he still owns a 7-2-0 record to his name this season.
Headlined by a senior class deep with playoff experience, the upperclassmen are heading into the stretch run with a ton of confidence.
“That class has been through a lot,” Berenson said. “They are a real solid class. … They just go through (being seniors) once, but I go through it every year. But they’re a class your team will definitely miss. Putting guys like Rust and Carl on the ice in crunch-time situations and being able to trust them. Next year that’s going to be a challenge, looking down the bench and looking for those go-to players that we have the luxury of having this year.”