The stats don’t lie — when senior forward Anthony Ciraulo plays, the Michigan hockey team wins. The Wolverines are 5-0 when Ciraulo laces up his skates.
It first started Nov. 21 in Toledo, when Michigan took on Bowling Green the night after the Wolverines lost to the Falcons at Yost. Ciraulo also got the nod a week later in one of Michigan’s most impressive home weekends of the season — defeating Wisconsin 3-2 and Minnesota 6-0.
And last Saturday morning, after Michigan’s pregame skate, Ciraulo was told that he would be playing that night against Northern Michigan. He may only have one assist on the season, but he wants his presence to be felt on the ice.
“He only played nine shifts the other night,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said after Friday’s game. “But nine shifts is nine times you could go out and embarrass yourself or you could go out and show why you should be playing. And I thought it was the latter.”
Berenson said that Ciraulo’s name has been coming up more and more when he discusses possible lineups with his coaches. And he further proved it at center Saturday where he was 6-0 on faceoffs. Berenson doesn’t expect Ciraulo’s lines to score a lot, but he does expect the senior to lead a plus line.
Thursday night’s game against Notre Dame at Yost will be Senior Night for the Wolverines. It will be a chance for the home crowd to recognize Ciraulo and the rest of the outgoing class for their contributions.
“It’s going to be a good night for our seniors,” Ciraulo said. “It’s been a great four years and it’s a great night for us. I’m excited.”
Louie’s picking up steam: Junior forward Louie Caporusso may have turned back into the potent scorer he was last year for Michigan. He had three assists in Saturday’s 5-4 win over Northern Michigan, after being just minus-one with no points in Friday’s 3-1 loss to the Wildcats.
Friday was the first in the past five games in which Caporusso hadn’t registered a single point. Michigan is just 2-3 in its past five games, but he has tallied four goals and three assists in that span.
Caporusso is third on the team with 11 goals and 28 points. But this time last year, he had 23 goals and 40 points entering the final weekend of the regular season.
“I think he forgot how hard he had to work last year,” Berenson said. “Some things came easy for him last year. This year, they’re not. … Now he’s had to learn to compete harder.”
Olympic-sized hockey: Monday marked the 30th anniversary of the colossal Olympic upset in 1980, when a young American squad beat the USSR in what was later billed as the “Miracle on Ice.”
Berenson was on the Canadian Olympic hockey team in 1972. That team faced a juggernaut Soviet Union squad that ended up winning gold. Eight years later, some of the same hockey players were still on the Soviet Union squad that Team U.S.A defeated in the 1980 game.
Berenson was coaching in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues at the time of the infamous game, but he still remembers it fondly.
“I was home watching the game. I was so proud, so excited, because I had been through some of that in ’72 when we played the Russians. … For the American college players to beat them was a miracle, a true miracle.”
And Sunday night, there was more United States Olympic hockey that caught Berenson’s eye. The U.S. defeated Canada 5-3 in the last round of the preliminary games at the Vancouver Games. The win on Canadian soil gave the Americans a bye to the quarterfinals — but it wasn’t on the same level as the United States’ 1980 win, Berenson said.
“It’s not a big upset,” Berenson said. “Everybody thinks, ‘Oh this is like the Miracle of 1980.’ This is nothing like that. I mean these are all NHL players playing against NHL players. They just happen to live across the border.”
Berenson called it a “good game for college hockey,” as a few of the CCHA’s own were on display in the Americans’ victory.
Michigan hockey alum Jack Johnson played a team-high 21:58 on the ice. He is plus-two with one assist in the team’s 3-0 start to the Olympics. And other CCHA alumni also had an impact on the game too. United States goalie Ryan Miller, a Hobey Baker award winner for Michigan State, made 42 saves, while Ohio State hockey alum Ryan Kesler scored an acrobatic empty-net goal to ice the game.
Sunday’s game may not be as impactful as the “Miracle” was 30 years ago, but Caporusso called it the best hockey game he’s ever seen. And yes, the Ontario native still wants Canada to win the gold.