It's not often that Michigan goes into a series as the underdog, but the Wolverines shed that moniker last weekend by sweeping Michigan State in East Lansing in a CCHA quarter-final series to advance to the semi-finals this Friday at Joe Louis Arena.
The Wolverines will play top-seeded Miami for a chance to play the Ferris State-Northern Michigan winner in the CCHA title game Saturday night.
"It's something we don't get very often, a sweep here at Munn," said Michigan defenseman Chad Langlais. "This is a big weekend for us and we're going to carry this momentum into next weekend."
Friday night, Louie Caporusso had two goals and an assist in the Wolverines' 5-1 win in the opening game of the series.
Carl Hagelin, David Wohlberg and Steven Kampfer added goals for Michigan, while Shawn Hunwick made 15 saves for the win.
Michigan head coach Red Berenson praised Caporusso after the game.
"He's got a hot stick right now," said Berenson. "He's confident. He wants the puck and he's patient with it. Even the last shift of the game, that tells you something about Louie Caporusso. He had a 2-on-1 and he had two goals in the game, and could have shot or maybe should have shot, but he passed it. That's why our team is winning because you have players like that that are playing for the team."
Derek Grant scored the lone goal for MSU and Drew Palmisano made 20 saves through two periods before giving way to Bobby Jarosz for the third period. Jarosz finished with seven stops.
In the series-clinching win Saturday night, Chris Brown broke a 3-3 tie early in the third period and Michigan went on to win the game, 5-3.
"It was a great dump by Steve Kampfer," said Brown in describing his game-winner. "At the same time, me and (Brian Lebler) were just hacking away. A.J. Treais had a great play behind the net to make sure the puck stayed in. Lebler and I were using our strength and whacking away. Luckily, it went in and I had a pretty hard celebration going after."
Andrew Rowe scored twice, Jeff Petry assisted on both, and MSU co-captain Nick Sucharski added another goal at the horn to end the first period as the Spartans held a 3-2 lead. Matt Rust and Treais had given Michigan a 2-0 lead 8:46 into the game, forcing MSU head coach Rick Comley to yank Palmisano for Jarosz.
Ben Winnett tallied early in the second period to tie the game, setting the stage for Brown's winner in the third. Wohlberg added an empty-netter to seal the game and the series.
"We came out hard and strong," Brown said. "We got that 2-0 lead, but they came back. We took some poor penalties and at the end of the first period and they were up 3-2. Going out of the locker room (for the second period), we had to make sure we were coming out hard and match their intensity to grab momentum in the game."
Palmisano finished with six saves on eight shots, while Jarosz made 33 saves in 50:45 of work.
Hunwick took the win with an 18-save outing.
Michigan State's season is probably done, as the Spartans (19-16-6) are out of a NCAA tournament spot per the Pairwise Rankings. The Spartans finished in second place in the CCHA standings after a 10th-place finish one year ago.