DENVER – Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik showed up to the postgame press conferences still fully dressed. They didn’t want to take off their Michigan jerseys for that last time.
Even back in the locker room, Michigan’s two seniors kept their sweaters on as long as they could. Finally, they had to let go.
“This is it,” Kolarik said. “I took my jersey off for the last time. Wore that ‘A’ for the last time. It’s a horrible feeling, I’ve been crying for a long time right now since after the game.”
While Porter and Kolarik sat quietly, the rest of the team, those that still have time left, watched on, clearly sad to see the backbone of the team on its way out the door.
Even Michigan coach Red Berenson seemed to have time on his mind.
“It’s disappointing to them,” Berenson said. “Porter and Kolarik have run out of time and I’m running out of time, obviously.”
Berenson trailed off, clearly not ready to face the realities quite yet.
But the facts are clear. Michigan’s two top scorers, its captain and assistant captain, the duo that brought the team together for what turned into a surprisingly successful season, are leaving.
“We owe our whole season to them, whether it was scoring goals or just bringing the team together – they were incredible,” sophomore Chris Summers said. “They will be missed.”
There’s not enough power: With the score tied at four and less than three minutes to play in the game, Notre Dame’s Kevin Deeth got called for hooking in front of his own net.
After putting in a power-play goal early in the period, the Wolverines were confident they could get another to put the game away.
But the nation’s second best penalty-killing unit stood strong. It could have been the difference for Michigan. Instead the momentum swung back to Notre Dame.
“That was the season for sure,” Kolarik said. “We bury it there, and the game’s over. We had a chance with our best players on the ice to do the job and we couldn’t get it done.”
Michigan finished 1-for-5 on the power play for the night. Not a bad showing against a team that kills penalties successfully almost 90 percent of the time.
Put on your happy face: Porter will have to face the media one more time in his college career when the Hobey Baker Award is presented today at the Pepsi Center.
Porter is one of three finalists, along with Miami’s Ryan Jones and Boston College’s Nathan Gerbe.
While he has deflected questions about the award for months now, Porter is considered by many a lock to win the honor.
The only other Michigan player to win the Hobey Baker was Brendan Morrison in 1997. He also had to force a smile when he won. The Wolverines had lost in the semifinals to Boston University the night before.
Will the Pope be there?: Notre Dame goes on to meet Boston College in the National Championship game.
Though the two Catholic schools are long-time rivals on the football field, they don’t meet regularly on the ice.
The Eagles lead the Fighting Irish 14-10-2 in the all time series, but Notre Dame dominated in Boston College last season, winning 7-1.
The matchup is the first all-private school meeting in the final since 1985, when Providence College and Rensselaer Polytechnic squared off at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
Notes: The last time a Frozen Four semifinal game went to overtime was in 2003. The losing team: Michigan, 3-2 to Minnesota. … With his two goals last night, Kolarik reached the 30-goal plateau for the season. Porter finished with 33 goals, making the seniors the first pair of Michigan players with 30 goals since 1996-97 when Jason Botterill and Brendan Morrison had 37 and 31, respectively. … Michigan gave up five goals just three times this season. It didn’t win any of those games. The Wolverines lost 5-2 at Michigan State Feb. 22 and tied Miami 5-5 in Oxford on Feb. 9.