So the scene was set, Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) and his Michigan Wolverines in the midst of a uncharacteristic slump where they had fallen from their usual spot among the NCAA Top 10.
Facing the top ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers in the College Hockey Showcase, the slumping Wolverines shocked the Golden Gophers thanks to Hagelin's 2 goals 6-3.
Hagelin who had been moved back to left wing for this game played his best game of the season as the Wolverines scored 4 unanswered goals to cruise to this win. Hagelin was the key to this win as the sophomore from Sweden came out storming and never let up.
Hagelin had been snake bit as he had several chances to score in recent weeks but either was robbed by great goaltending or shooting wide. The offense that we knew was there finally showed up for Hagelin and now hopefully it will stay there for a while.
Hagelin's first goal was a as his line was on the forecheck. teammate Travis Turnbull stripped the puck away from a Golden Gopher defender and fed Hagelin for a wrister that handcuffed Minnesota goalie Alex Kangas. The goal was Hagelin's 3rd of the season and it came at 9:05 of the first period to give Michigan a 2-0 lead.
In the second, Hagelin scored what turned out to be the game winning goal as he took another feed from Turnbull and one timed it past Kangas for what was a Michigan 4-0 lead. For Hagelin, it is clear his offense is best off the wing than it is from when he is playing center.
Michigan Coach Red Bernson on Hagelin's play on Friday evening:
"Hagelin is a good player. You saw that he's a terrific player, but the puck hasn't gone in for him. He got a couple tonight so good for him."
(Our thanks to Michigan SID Matt Trevor for that quote on Hagelin)
Next up for Hagelin and the Wolverines will be a game that we have been looking for all season as the Wolverines travel to Wisconsin to face Derek Stepan in the deciding game of the College Hockey Showcase.
Second Star Evgeny Grachev Brampton Battalion
One night after his Brampton Battalion saw their team record 16 game winning streak come to a heartbreaking end on overtime, Evgeny Grachev (2008 3rd) made sure that the Troop returned to their winning ways right away.
Grachev had his 14th goal of the season as well as his 12th assist as the game's first star led the Battalion to a 4-2 win over the Kingston Frontenacs in OHL action.
The Grachev goal came as a result of Grachev leaving his comfort zone of the left side and sliding over to the right as Grachev scored off a feed at the right faceoff circle. Grachev's shot is getting more and more accurate with each passing game, you are seeing a player who like Zherdev who has many tricks up his sleeve.
The difference we see in Grachev is that there is neither wasted movement nor extended motion, it is either going to shoot or not. The problem we can see for opposing goalies will be trying to guess what Grachev is going to be a finesse shot or a power shot.
-------------------------------------------------------We have not gotten to see much of Max Campbell (2007 5th) here this season because his Western Michigan Broncos have been struggling going 2-8-3. The Broncos are trying to rebuild on the run which is very hard to do when you are playing some of the best teams in the NCAA every weekend just as WMU did against Notre Dame on Friday evening.
The Broncos lost to Notre Dame 4-1 but Campbell's play was a positive as Campbell netted his 4th goal of the season. Campbell who had his struggles earlier this season was back as the Bronco's 2nd line center.
Michael Del Zotto (2008 1st) cost himself a star this evening by taking a double minor in the 3rd period which led to an Ottawa 67 goal. Del Zotto and his Oshawa Generals escaped with a 5-4 win over the 67's.
Del Zotto until 8:32 of the 3rd period had escaped the undisciplined that his teammates were suffering from. However Del Zotto took a slashing and elbowing penalty on the same play which almost cost the Generals. Del Zotto needs to learn from his game last night.
Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) was scoreless as his Wisconsin Badgers won their first game in the College Hockey Showcase over the Michigan State 3-1. The score was so misleading as the Badgers fired 53 shots on goal while limiting the Spartans to just 12.
Next up will be a matchup with Carl Hagelin and Michigan on Saturday evening.
Just when we thought Antoine Lafleur (2007 2nd) had shaken his inconsistency blues then they reared their ugly head. Lafleur gave up 4 goals on just 10 shots earning the yank in the second period as his Rouyn-Noranda Huskies held off the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 6-4.
Chris Doyle (2008 5th) and his Prince Edward Island Rocket also had problems as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Rimouski Oceanic. Doyle was scoreless and a bad -3 for the evening.
Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) and his UMass Minutemen continued their frustrating trend of playing poorly against bad teams after playing great against top teams. On Friday the Minutemen dropped a 4-3 decision to St Lawrence and the score is very misleading as the Minutemen scored 2 late goals to make the score what it was.
(Carl Hagelin- Michigan Wolverines, Evgeny Grachev- OHL/Brampton Battalion)