As the clock ticked down on the Michigan hockey team’s weekend, all the Wolverines needed to do was hang on. No. 15 Wisconsin, down 3-2, pulled its goalie to gain a six-on-four advantage in the final seconds.
Junior goalie Bryan Hogan kept a firm grip on the lead. He made two stops in the waning seconds, and as the Yost crowd showed their appreciation, they knew it was for more than just the end of the game.
It was the end to Hogan’s arduous start of the season, in which he posted a .887 save percentage through 12 games.
During that time, he had a tendency to allow soft goals at inopportune times. A puckhandling mistake by Hogan cost the Wolverines against Boston University, and a couple of weak shots beat him on the five-hole against Miami (Ohio). But after three solid games — including Michigan’s sweep of this weekend of the College Hockey Showcase — it seems Hogan has turned a corner.
“Now he’s starting to look like the Bryan Hogan we know he can be, and he showed that last year,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “I think what you’ve seen early, that’s the end of that.”
Hogan made 63 stops in this weekend’s two games, which helped him earn CCHA Goaltender of the Week honors. Against Minnesota, he recorded his fourth career shutout and first of the season. After needing just routine saves against the Golden Gophers, Hogan was forced to step up and outplay Wisconsin goalie Scott Gudmandson for the win the next night.
Despite all the shots faced, which included a 41-shot Badger onslaught, Hogan attributed some of his success to his defensive unit, who limited second-chance opportunities.
“We’re not making as many mistakes coming out of the zone,” Hogan said. “It’s the ones we had when we were losing five games in a row, where it would be breakaways and crazy stuff in front of the net that was tough to handle.”
Looking for Shorties: The Wolverines, who struggled to score before this weekend, came away with two shorthanded goals in the Showcase.
Against Minnesota, junior Carl Hagelin jumped up into a rush created by junior Matt Rust, received a pass and split the defensemen to score with the man down to nail down a Michigan victory. Sophomore Luke Glendening followed suit a day later with a shorthanded goal off a faceoff.
“Obviously you’re not supposed to score on the PK, but I think ever since I came here, we’ve been priding ourselves on doing a good job offensively,” Hagelin said. “I think if you’re a threat on the PK, their PP might be almost scared to make plays.”
These are the first two shorthanded goals for the Wolverines this season, but they shouldn’t come as a surprise. Michigan finished with six last season.
“I like to see shorthanded goals because they are backbreaker goals,” Berenson said. “When you can score a shorty in a big game like these, it just keeps the other team on their heels.”
Showcase shutdown: Those who made it to Yost Ice Arena for the College Hockey Showcase witnessed the last of its kind. The Wolverines will be on the road next season for the final year of the Showcase.
Originally created to keep old WCHA rivals playing on an annual basis, the Showcase proved to be an imperfect fit for the teams involved. The games are always scheduled over the long Thanksgiving weekend, when many students are at home.
The stale atmosphere was evident last weekend as the Yost ushers forced the small contingent of students that usually make up the entire west side of the arena to sit down. Even with the mellowed-out arena, Berenson said the team cannot drop from the schedule.
“Do I think we should continue it? Absolutely,” Berenson said. “I was in on the initial planning of this tournament because I thought we should play Wisconsin and Minnesota every year. If I had my way, we would play them each home-and-home.”