Sunday, March 28, 2010

Michigan hockey showed promise in demolishing the Spartans

Michigan won again - and moved on to the Joe to face Miami, OH, who already had a seed locked for the tourney. Michigan has played Miami tough previously, but fallen short. This was most certainly not a traditional Michigan vs. Miami matchup in which both teams are evenly matched - this was going to be brutal. Every time a puck was dumped into the zone was a chance Hunwick's status as "guy happy to be on the team" would catch up with us. Slowly, however, this team was changing. They were spending huge amounts of time in the opponent's zone. The offense, which had seemed lackadaisical all year, started playing with urgency. And Shawn Hunwick was changing from Pee Wee to Ryan Miller.

They had finished seventh in the final conference standings, and after their first-round sweep of Lake Superior State last weekend, the Michigan had a date with its intrastate rival for a tough best-of-three series, not only against one of the conference's best teams, but also at Munn Ice Arena.

Michigan beat Miami. Then they beat Northern Michigan to win the CCHA and gain a berth in the NCAA tournament that seemed just 2 weeks ago to be not only an improbability, but an impossibility. Shawn Hunwick, a legend of Rudy proportions, earned tournament MVP - he's a Rudy that actually did something.

This particular story is not something that Michigan fans are accustomed to seeing played out - not in hockey, not in football, not in basketball, softball, field hockey, you name it. The story we're most accustomed to - and the root of the fanbase's angst over the past few years - is the story of a dominating team with a huge athletic advantage cleaving their way through inferior teams to play another team from another conference who had similarly cleaved their way through the conference to reach the bowl game/tournament game. We're used to clashes of the titans; not scrappy underdog come-from-behind wins. That's the exact story being written here - a team that wasn't supposed to from a program that perennially does, well, they did it. And in a period of time during which Michigan fans have had very little, they've given us something to believe in.

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