College hockey is a passion of mine here in Ann Arbor because, like football, Michigan has what's historically the best program in the history of the sport. It's also the case that attending hockey games in person at Yost Arena is WAY more fun than Wolverine football games because our hockey fans are just better at being louder and into the game. It doesn't hurt that our student section, pep band and gameday traditions are unparalleled.
|The old barn: Yost lit up after Saturday night's game|
Game 1 on Friday night looked like it would be a laugher when Michigan scored just over a minute in. It actually proved to be a nail-biter thanks to both goalies standing on their heads, especially Michigan's former walk-on, inspiring mighty-mite, Shawn Hunwick.
Michigan dominated much of the action, though the Irish had their own good chances, but the score refused to change. Meanwhile, most of the arena's occupants were glued to their phones following the Wolverines' progress in the Big Ten basketball tournament and their nail-biter of a matchup against Minnesota. A miraculous comeback led to overtime, during which Michigan finally pulled away and earned an exciting win. When the score was posted on Yost's brand new scoreboard, the whole arena lost it.
Although Michigan had plenty of golden opportunities, the lead remained 1-0 going into the third. Hunwick made some ridiculous saves, but Notre Dame finally capitalized around halfway through the period, bringing on overtime...and ANOTHER overtime when an extra 20 minutes just wasn't enough to settle things. Fortunately, just three minutes into the second extra period,Flower Mound, Texas' Chris Brown found the upper right corner of the Irish net, the roof of the building blew off and everyone FINALLY got to go home, but not until the student section proudly raised the Texas flag (told you our fans are the best!), something they're known for, such as celebrating fan favorite Carl "Bork" Hagelin with the flag of his motherland, Sweeden. All in all it was an exciting, tiring night of heart-attack hockey (and basketball), and everyone went home dreaming of sweeping away leprechauns with brooms. I got a little ahead of myself, though, since I was sitting over by the banner, and decided to get a better shot of all of our hockey titles:
Saturday night's game two was a little bit different (fortunately). Michigan fans had bittersweet hopes that it would be the final game for seniors Luke Glendenning, Greg Pateryn, David Wohlberg and most of all, hockey Jesus Shawn Hunwick.This time it took until one minute was LEFT in the period for the Maize and Blue to open up the scoring, but that's exactly what senior David Wohlberg did, sending Michigan into the locker room with tons of momentum. The second period featured two more Michigan tallies, including a second from Wohlberg, before the Irish finally responded with a goal of their own. Then it was time to
daaaaaaaaaaaaance! It's still the best student tradition in college hockey, and it's only gotten better since, once the band plays the final verse, the students kick off one final encore a capella. The whole building gets into it and it really gets you ready for the final period, which actually ended up being a bit more exciting than I thought it would. Down 3-1 late, Notre Dame opted to pull their goalie, then Michigan was randomly penalized with under two to go, meaning it faced a 6-on-4 essentially the rest of the game. The Wolverines were up to the task, though and never did allow a special teams goal this weekend. So it was time to celebrate!First with each other, then,
saluting the crowd before making plans for Joe Louis Arena and the semi-finals next Friday.
I've been going to the Yost-hosted rounds of the CCHA tourney for years and I've only seen Michigan go to a third game once; no surprise there since Michigan has now made 24 straight trips to the Joe, another one of our hockey team's incredible streaks. After the bitter disappointment of last year's NCAA finals loss, there's hope for yet another title run, and hopefully one of the most deserving players ever, Shawn Hunwick, gets to go out a winner. GO BLUE!