Thursday, December 24, 2009

Great Lakes Invitational Preview

By John Zaccardelli

9 and 9!? 10th in the CCHA?? Toto, were not in Kansas anymore. The Michigan hockey team has struggled this season which has put their NCAA appearance in jeopardy. An appearance streak running for 19 straight years. First, they need to win the Great Lakes Invitational for a 3rd consecutive season. Taking place December 29th and 30th, the Great Lakes Invitational will feature Michigan versus Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Michigan State versus Michigan Tech in the opening games.

Michigan’s first opponent R.P.I. is 9-9-1 and has lost 4 of the last 5 games coming into the tournament. The engineers score 2.89 per game, but give up about the same amount at 2.79 GAA. They are led by junior Chase Polacek their top scorer in goals (12) and points (26) along with Freshmen Brandon Pirri and Jerry D’Amigo chipping in 18 and 14 points respectively. Sophomore Goaltender Allen York has played majority of the games and will have to play magnificent to win the tournament. Rensselaer has played in the G.L.I. once before in 1985 finishing 2nd to Michigan State, so they have some hope but they’ll have to do it without D’Amigo because he’ll be at the World Juniors.

Surprisingly and luckily in some sense, Chris Brown was the last cut from U.S.A.’s World Junior team. Red Berenson will not have to make too many adjustments with the top line intact. The second line will have to play more consistent and get David Wohlberg, also cut from team U.S.A., to break his 4 game pointless streak. Brain Lebler, Ben Winnett and Luke Glendening will be counted on to make hits, forecheck hard and pop in that timely goal. Freshmen forwards A.J. Treais and Kevin Lynch will play their first games at the Joe Louis Arena where they could gain some magic like Tim Miller did in his career. Michigan’s defense with captain Chris Summers and improving Lee Moffie need to keep the puck out of the net and lead the offensive charge. They need to make the smart play and crisp pass to create a smooth transition game. Bryan Hogan will have to play like he did in the College Hockey Showcase. He has improved his game in the past couple weeks but rebound control is still a must. Michigan’s objective is to score at least 3 goals. They have only lost one game when scoring at least that amount this season. They can take advantage of R.P.I.’s weak penalty kill at 79% with their power play unit that has much improved since the start of the season. Look for Michigan to play comfortably at Joe Louis Arena and defeat Rensselaer to play MSU/MTU in the championship game (most likely State). Michigan can get their revenge for two tough losses to the Spartans earlier this season.


Anonymous said...

Go Tech

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