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Monday, March 29, 2010

Michigan and Miami play instant classic

By Matt Mackinder/Michigan Beat Writer

It was one of those games where it was a shame someone had to lose.

After regulation time, Michigan and Miami were deadlocked at two goals apiece in their Midwest Regional final Sunday night in Fort Wayne.

After 20 minutes of sudden death overtime, same story.

But just 1:54 into the second overtime, Alden Hirschfeld's snap shot eluded Michigan goaltender Shawn Hunwick just before midnight on the East Coast.

"I didn't really know it went in until everyone started skating out," said Hirschfeld. "We fought hard all night. Coach kept telling us every chance we got to get the puck on net. The puck just kind of popped out, and I picked it up around the top of the circle and I just shot it through on net and it went in. I know it went under his arm. I think it went through the legs of the guy who tried to block the shot first."

The RedHawks, who went into the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, will now play Boston College in the Frozen Four semifinals on Thursday, April 8. It's the second straight trip to the Frozen Four for Miami, who lost in overtime in last year's championship game to Boston University.

Michigan, meanwhile, ends their run on a sour note.

Kevin Lynch had a goal waved off early in the third period when he parked himself at the top of the crease in front of MU goalie Connor Knapp and banged in a rebound of a Carl Hagelin shot. The ref had blown the whistle, presumably because he lost sight of the puck, but then a penalty was called on Miami.

Michigan coach Red Berenson was none too thrilled after the game.

"That's a tough one to swallow," said Berenson. "The referee blew the whistle because he was calling a penalty on them, but we had control and Lynch put it in the net a split second after he blew the whistle. You can't win on those calls. Even if he didn't blow the whistle, he could have said he meant to blow the whistle. He was so intent on calling the penalty that they couldn't see that the puck was loose, and we were putting it in the net."

Even so, both teams had chances in the third period and overtime sessions, with Matt Rust coming close with a shot off the post in overtime.

"You're so close," added Berenson. "If we would have gotten (to the Frozen Four), this team was really making believers out of everyone that wouldn't have given us a hope in heck of making that Frozen Four appearance. It was great, but it's not as good."

Michigan captain Chris Summers, after playing his last NCAA game, was emotional.

"The last four years, every year is different obviously with different guys," said Summers. "It's a new team every year. I can honestly say this is the most proud I've ever been of Michigan hockey team. It's tough with two injuries. Timely goal scoring couldn't have come at a better time. It's kind of sad to say the season's over, but I'm so proud of the guys sitting in the locker room right now."

Pat Cannone scored Miami's first two goals, while David Wohlberg (pictured) and Chad Langlais replied for the Wolverines.

Knapp finished with 55 saves and at the other end, Hunwick, nicknamed "Rudy" by Berenson, made 32 stops.

"Like I said yesterday, we have two No. 1 goalies (CCHA Player of the Year Cody Reichard is the other)," Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. "Tonight was Connor's night, and we knew he would go in there and do exactly what he did. We reminded him that Michigan shoots from everywhere and to be ready. He was great all night long."

Playing Boston College, winners of the Northeast Regional with a 9-7 win over Yale earlier Sunday, will be a good test for Miami, but according to Blasi, his squad will be ready.

"It feels like 10 years ago, but it's hard to believe that a year has gone by," Blasi said. "We're excited. I think if you walk by our locker room you can tell. We'll get a couple days rest and then start preparing for Boston College. I keep saying everything happens for a reason."

The Wolverines finish the season 26-18-1.

Photo courtesy UM Photo Services

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