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Michigan heads back indoors to face Notre Dame

by Michael Blinn
Michigan (14-8-4) vs. Notre Dame (13-8-3)
Friday, 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network


Michigan: The Wolverines have embodied the term streaky this season. They opened the season on a 4-0 non-conference run en route to a 6-1-1 October. Once the page turned to November, Michigan ran into a number of other hot teams from around the college hockey world. A split with Western Michigan and a tie at Miami accounted for the only non-losses while they ended the month on a four-game losing streak. December started off in a similar fashion, though a loss at Alaska turned into a split. Back on the winning track, the Wolverines haven't looked back, going 7-0-2 in their last nine, including topping rival Michigan State twice, a win over Boston College, and avenging a November weekend sweep at the hands of upstart Ohio State with two big wins of their own -- one outdoors in the confines of Cleveland's Progressive Field. Michigan certainly has its swagger back, and with league play left to finish out the schedule, the CCHA should be on notice.

NCAA Hockey on NBC Sports Network

  • Michigan @ Notre Dame, Jan. 20, 7:00 PM
  • Yale @ Harvard, Jan 27, 7:30 PM
  • Cornell @ RPI, Feb. 3, 7:00 PM
  • Boston College @ Vermont, Feb. 10, 7:00 PM
  • Minnesota @ Denver, Feb. 10, 7:30 PM
  • Dartmouth @ Yale, Feb. 17, 7:00 PM
  • Boston U @ Vermont, Feb. 24, 7:00 PM
  • North Dakota @ Denver, Feb. 24, 7:30 PM
  • Denver @ Neb-Omaha, Mar. 2, 7:30 PM
Notre Dame: Since their last nationally televised tilt -- a 5-2 manhandling of Boston University, the Irish have yet to get their game on track in the new year. Early-season wins over Minnesota-Duluth and Ohio State, as well as an 8-0-3 run that carried them through most of November lent legitimacy to their campaign. Big wins on the season include Boston College, Lake Superior State and Ferris State, while a four-game losing streak at the end of November into early December saw Notre Dame swept for the first time this season, two games at home to surprising Northeastern. The new year started off with a win at Minnesota, though sloppy play in the final 20 minutes continued through last weekend's home-and-home sweep at the hands of Western Michigan. With only CCHA play left on the docket, coach Jeff Jackson knows that beating Michigan is a jumping-off point for a strong finish.


Red Berenson lost four of his top-five scorers from last season -- a crew led by Rangers' wunderkind Carl Hagelin -- and the returning leader, sophomore defenseman Jon Merrill, is only four games removed from a suspension for violating team rules. And yet, it's impossible to count out any squad from Ann Arbor. Junior Chris Brown (9 goals, 25 points) has stepped into a big-time role and is on track from career-best numbers across the board. Freshman Alex Guptill (12 goals, 24 points) has come on of late, picking up 8 points in his last four games, while senior Dave Wohlberg (11 goals, 24 points) has come as advertised, second on the team in goals, assists and points. Lee Moffie (3 goals, 20 points) and Mac Bennett (3 goals, 15 points) have ably filled the void on the blue line, while Merrill hasn't missed a beat since his return with 4 assists in four games. Redshirt senior Shawn Hunwick (14-7-3, 2.23 goals-against average) leads the charge in the Michigan nets; the diminutive netminder is a sturdy backbone for a team with national championship hopes.

The biggest changes from the nation's last viewing of Notre Dame is the re-addition of leading scorer TJ Tynan and big defenseman Stephen Johns, both back from the World Junior Championship in Canada. Sophomore Tynan (9 goals, 31 points) has picked up right where he left off, racking up 4 points in the three games since, while Johns (2 goals, 6 points) has continued to provide a physical presence from the blue line in his second year. A growing concern shows in the form of sophomore Anders Lee (14 goals, 22 points); the big Minnesotan has just 2 goals in his last 13 games (both against BU) after tallying 12 in the first 11 games of the season. The Irish will be without junior Riley Sheahan (7 goals, 21 points) on Friday, following a one-game suspension. His consistent offense will be missed, as he picked up a season-high 3 points against Minnesota, but was locked out in last weekend's series at Western Michigan -- the first time all season he's gone more than one game without finding the score sheet. Sophomore Steven Summerhays (6-2-0, 2.73 GAA) continues to steal more playing time from junior Mike Johnson (7-6-3, 2.63 GAA), though a strong showing against Michigan could sway the ice in either's favor.

Michigan Wolverines Notre Dame Irish
Chris Brown - 24GP-9G-16A-25Pts TJ Tynan - 23GP-9G-22A-31Pts
Alex Guptill - 26GP-12G-12A-24Pts Anders Lee - 24GP-14G-8A-22Pts
David Wohlberg - 26GP-11G-13A-24Pts Riley Sheahan - 22GP-7G-14A-21Pts
Lee Moffie - 26GP-3G-17A-20Pts Mike Johnson - 7-6-3, 2.63 GAA, .887 SV%
Shawn Hunwick - 14-7-3, 2.23 GAA, .925 SV% Steven Summerhays - 6-2-0, 2.73 GAA, .893 SV%


Michigan Wolverines Notre Dame Irish
Coach: Red Berenson (742-347-77) Coach: Jeff Jackson (336-139-55)
Record: 14-8-4 (8-6-4 CCHA) Record: 13-8-3 (8-5-3 CCHA)
14% PP(45th in NCAA) / 81.3 % PK (36th) 20.66% PP (16th in NCAA) / 82.4 % PK (28th)
Drafted: Mac Bennett (MTL), Jon Merrill (NJD), Lee Moffie (SJS),Chris Brown (PHX), Alex Guptill (DAL), Zach Hyman (FLA), Kevin Lynch (CBJ), Luke Moffatt (COL), David Wohlberg (NJD) Drafted: Stephen Johns (CHI), Kevin Lind (ANA), Sean Lorenz (MIN), Robbie Russo (NYI), Jeff Costello (OTT), Nick Larson (CGY), Andres Lee (NYI), Bryan Rust (PIT), Riley Sheahan (DET), TJ Tynan (CBJ)
2012 NHL Draft Watch List: Phillip Di Giuseppe(A Skaters) 2012 NHL Draft Watch List: Austin Wuthrich (B Skaters)


"Di Giuseppe is a young left winger who's a good skater and good with the puck. He has a lot of upside. I think he'll be a nice fit at Michigan. He should grow into being a strong player. He has good size and his main strength will be his puck smarts and his skating." -- Michigan coach Red Berenson on freshman Phil Di Giuseppe

"He's definitely been much better this year in being able to finish, and I think a lot of it has to do with his intensity in and around the net. He's got the skating and the hands, he's got all the tools to be a good offensive player and he's just coming into his own right now as an offensive player. He's been a great player for us the last couple years, but now he's pulling his whole game together." -- Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson on junior forward and Red Wings prospect Riley Sheahan


NHL Connections: Michigan freshman Mike Chiasson is the son of former NHLer Steve Chiasson, while sophomore goalie Adam Janecyk's father Bob player for the Blackhawks and Kings. Senior goalie Shawn Hunwick is the younger brother of Matt Hunwick. ... Trophy Case: For three straight weeks, two Wolverines have taken home CCHA player of the Week honors, most recently Hunwick and Guptill. Michigan's Berenson is the fifth-winningest coach in NCAA history, and third among active coaches with 728 wins. He and Notre Dame's Jackson took home back-to-back Spencer T Penrose awards in 2006-07 and 2007-08 as NCAA Coach of the Year. They also combined for two national championships in the 1990s, Berenson the most recent in 1998. ... Prospecting for Gold: Michigan's 11 NHL draft picks on its roster is the third-most in the NCAA, while Notre Dame is fourth with 10. All together, they represent 18 teams. ... Tale of the Tape: At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Stephen Johns is among the biggest players, while teammate Austin Wuthrich and Michigan's Phillip Di Giuseppe are among the youngest in the college game this season. ... Someone goes home happy: The CCHA is the only league that uses shootouts to decide a tie, though those games are considered ties in overall NCAA standings.
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