If you were one of those who watched the Michigan/Notre Dame Frozen Four matchup then you did not go away unhappy as this was why college hockey can be so much fun to watch.
It was a thrilling game to watch even if the outcome was not what Ranger fans might have hoped for.
Ranger fans though should be very happy with the play of Carl Hagelin (2007 6th Round) as this national stage was just what had hoped it to be. Now Hagelin while he is not longer the secret he was at the start of the season; Hagelin is a player to get excited about if you are a Ranger fan.
Notre Dame upset the top seeded and top ranked Michigan Wolverines 4-3 in overtime to become the first ever 4th seed to advance to the National Championship Game on Saturday. Our congrats to Notre Dame for pulling off such a huge upset.
Michigan is going to look at this one and truly blame themselves as perhaps they saw how huge an underdog Notre Dame was and forgot to show up for the first period. Michigan's undoing starts with giving up 3 first period goals to fall behind 3-0 after the first period.
Coach Red Berenson then took perhaps the biggest gamble of the year when he pulled All-American Goalie Billy Sauer for seldom used freshman Bryan Hogan. Hogan had only a 3-1-1 record when he came in at the start of the second period.
It was a gamble though that paid off as the Wolverines started a comeback and Hagelin was a part of it. With the score 3-1, Hagelin's using what looked like an innocent looking chip pass to the side of the faceoff circle got the puck to fellow freshman Aaron Palushaj who took it and fed the third freshmen of this line Matt Rust for a bank shot off the Notre Dame goalie to bring the score to 3-2.
It was a strong goal coming from 3 freshmen but they were not done yet. In the third period with Michigan now trailing 4-3 with time running out, Hagelin took a dump in and appeared to just make a lucky shot but after reviewing the replays, it was more than that as Hagelin took the puck going away from the goalie onto his backhand and squeezed it between Notre Dame Goalie Jordan Pearce's pads and the post.
To put it into perspective, Pearce's reaction was similar to the look on Marty Brodeur's face when Callahan scored his goal in Game one. Pearce had no idea how the puck got past him but as the saying goes, "good things happen when you get the puck on the net".
Notre Dame would go on to win the game 4-3 in the overtime and they earned the win with their hard work. While it would have been very interesting to see how Hagelin played in the National Championship game, we have this feeling we will get that wish in the next year or so as we end our first year of watching Hagelin rather impressed with this talented forward from Sweden.
We have been singing his praises all year about how good Hagelin was on the defensive end. So of course Hagelin shows his offensive side in clutch situations which to us was a huge bonus out of a player who like most knew very little about at the start of this season.
When we reviewed the scoring numbers at the end of the CHL season, Hagelin was 8th overall among the Ranger prospects. That we now have to acknowledge in hindsight was unfair of us to do to Hagelin and Max Campbell who plays for Western Michigan.
The NCAA and CHL are 2 different worlds and it is unfair to use the numbers for one type of play to compare to another. Really when one compares 10-10-20 against those who play in the NCAA and are freshmen then his numbers actually are pretty good. Want an example? How about Kyle Turris who was the 3rd overall pick in the last NHL Entry Draft.
Now Turris did not have the kind of support that Hagelin had but Turris put up 6-13-19 as a freshman at Wisconsin and then jumped right to the NHL. We are not going to say Hagelin could do the same but instead if we look ahead towards Hagelin's now projected learning curve playing for one of the US's best hockey colleges then there is something to get excited about.
Those Ranger fans who saw Hagelin at the World Juniors thought for the most part that Hagelin was invisible. We ask that you ask those who saw Hagelin against Notre Dame on Thursday evening what they think about him now?
We also have to send some words of praise to the Ranger's European Scouting Staff. To get a player like Hagelin who already has shown to be a solid defensive specialist in the 6th round counts as a steal. That is where the scouts really earn their money.
Hagelin played a key role for Michigan as a freshman and it will be a good test to see how Hagelin is as a sophomore as now that the secret is out the bar will be raised much higher for Hagelin.
Of course the bad part about Carl Hagelin and his Michigan Wolverines being eliminated is that only one Ranger prospect remains active so all eyes are now on Ryan Hiller and his Halifax Mooseheads.
However before we go for today we really wish to express our thanks to Matt Trevor who handles media relations for the Michigan Wolverines. Matt made sure that we got pictures, information and even an interview with Carl this season.
Being a SID is a thankless task especially when you work for a huge big time school like Michigan, that Matt treated us with kindness and more help than we expected says a ton about a guy who goes GO BLUE a lot. From our Version of the Color Blue to yours; Thanks Matt and we look forward to 3 more years of working with you.
(picture credit Hagelin/Michigan Wolverines)
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