Notebook: Seniors back in Frozen Four after three-year absence

Jake Fromm/Daily
Forward Carl Hagelin (12) plays against Colorado College in the NCAA Western Conference Championship at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO on Saturday, March 26. Michigan won the game 2-1. Buy this photo

By Michael Florek, Daily Sports Editor
Published March 27, 2011

ST. LOUIS — For the seniors on the Michigan hockey team, three years of disappointment didn't turn into four. It turned into a Frozen Four.

The second-seeded Wolverines tore through St. Louis beating Colorado College 2-1 to reach the Frozen Four in St. Paul. It is Michigan’s first appearance since 2008, when the current seniors were freshman.

The Wolverines carry seven seniors and the leadership showed throughout the regional. The seniors combined for five points on the weekend.

But after the regional final win, senior forward Louie Caporusso, donning his “West Regional Champions” hat along with the team, spoke of all the little things the seniors did.

Things like senior Chad Langlais, making up for his own mistake Friday night against Nebraska-Omaha. Langlais's shot was blocked, leading to a near breakaway the other direction. He didn’t give up though, lifting the Maverick’s stick and diving to swat the puck away to negate the scoring chance.

“To get to the Frozen Four as a senior, I think it’s a much different experience,” Caporusso said. “You’re the leaders of the team and you feel like it’s more your team.”

Michigan lost to Notre Dame 5-4 in overtime when the class of 2011 was freshmen. This season, S-T (or S-A-I-N-T) spells business for the seniors.

“I think we’re coming to do a job now,” Langlais said.

THE MOFFIE MAN: Lee Moffie loves the limelight.

After the No. 2 seed Michigan’s victory over No. 4 seed Colorado College on Saturday, Michigan coach Red Berenson made a comment about Shawn Hunwick being a leader. Moffie sheepishly shook his head — to the delight of the press corps.

But Moffie has been earning the limelight all season. Late in the first period, with the Wolverines on the power play, Moffie let go of a slap shot that found its way through everybody and beat Tiger goalie Joe Howe on the stick side.

“I had a pretty good scoring chance, but there was a guy in front of me,” Moffie said. “It went off his shin pads, the puck was sort of scrambling around. I think I got sort of lucky. I wasn’t even sure at first that it went in.”

It was Moffie’s eighth goal of the season, and it put him ahead of freshman defenseman Jon Merrill to lead the team. A year removed from struggling to find a spot in the lineup because of his defensive play, Moffie has found a spot on the blue line. And his offense has kept him there.

“We’re all working (on defense),” senior defenseman Chad Langlais said. “You have to be able to play defense on this team to be trusted and be in the lineup every night. I think that’s his biggest thing he’s working on.

“The goals are going to come. He’s got one of the best shots I’ve ever seen.”

KILL ZONE: With a man disadvantage, Michigan didn’t just kill penalties. It mutilated them.

The unit faced it all: a kill while being down 2-0, where a goal turns the momentum for good, a penalty in overtime, a five-on-three. It didn’t flinch en route to killing 12-of-13 opportunities on the weekend. The only goal came against Colorado College, the eighth best power play in the country, on the last opportunity of the weekend.

Michigan’s biggest kill came with five minutes remaining in the first period. Hanging on to a two-goal lead, the unit faced a five-on-three against the Tigers, who converted on four of the five power plays back in December against Michigan and three of four against Boston College a day earlier. It was killed. The Wolverine penalty kill averaged under two shots against for the whole regional.

“I talked to coach (Billy) Powers and he looked at video and did a good job preparing our penalty killers,” Berenson said. “When they did get shots, (senior goalie) Shawn (Hunwick) was there. As much as we survived it, I thought we did a much better job on the PK.”

NOTE: Sophomore forward Kevin Lynch, Moffie, junior defenseman Greg Pateryn and Hunwick were named to the All-Regional Team, with Hunwick garnering Most Outstanding Player honors.