For the 20th straight season, the Michigan Wolverines have advanced to the CCHA semifinals.
The latest milestone came at the hands of the Western Michigan Broncos, who the third-ranked Wolverines swept in two straight games Friday and Saturday night at Yost Ice Arena by scores of 5-2 and 6-1.
Michigan will now play at Joe Louis Arena next weekend as one of the final four CCHA teams left standing. Regardless if the Wolverines win or lose at the Joe, it's basically a foregone conclusion that UM will get a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Friday night, the sophomore class led the offensive attack in registering all five goals.
Carl Hagelin tallied two markers and an assist, while Chad Langlais and Matt Rust each chipped in a goal and helper of their own. Aaron Palushaj, Rust and Hagelin's linemate, contributed three assists in the winning effort.
"I thought we had a lot of good chemistry when we played together last year and in the Frozen Four," Palushaj said of his line. "I don't think it's changed much."
Ben Winnett scored UM's other goal and Bryan Hogan made 16 saves, only allowing second-period goals to J.J. Crew and Kyle O'Kane.
Riley Gill turned aside 43 shots in net for the Broncos (14-20-7).
Last night, Palushaj scored twice and Brian Lebler, David Wohlberg, Rust and Tim Miller one apiece.
Hagelin and Louie Caporusso had two assists apiece, while Hogan started and made 16 saves in 49:05 of work. Billy Sauer came in for the last 10:55 for his last action on home ice and made a half-dozen stops.
"Billy didn't ask to go in tonight," Michigan head coach Red Berenson said. "I just thought it was the right thing to do. Billy Sauer has been a terrific goalie here for the past four years and he has had to accept a backup role right now, but I just wanted to see him in the game and good for him for playing well."
Patrick Galivan scored WMU's only goal and Gill finished with 49 saves.
UM (28-10-0) has swept its first-/quarterfinal-round opponent in each of the last five years and 17 times during the 20-year run.
MiCHO staffers will be out in full force this weekend in Motown. Check back here for real-time blogs and game recaps.