Michigan, a team lead by senior's, is one of the hottest squads in the nation. With Friday's win over the Badgers, the Wolverines win streak is extended to a season high 11 games and their unbeaten streak being extended to 14 games.
T.J. Hensick and Jeff Tambellini key the Wolverine offense, as they try to make it to the Frozen Four in Columbus, Ohio. After the Wisconsin victory, Tambellini leads the team in points (23-33-56) with Hensick nipping at his heels (23-32-55). They are joined with Brandon Kaleniecki, a grind it out type player who likes to throw his weight around.
Andrew Ebbett, Eric Nystrom, and Mike Brown are hard-working hard-hitting line for the Wolverines and will play extremely physical. Ebbett earns his jersey on the penalty kill where he is one of the best on the team.
The freshmen, Chad Kolarik and Kevin Porter, are being paired with David Moss on a line that can also find the back of the net. Kolarik leads the team in power-play goals with 11, and Porter has also found the back of the net multiple times on the year.
Milan Gajic will line with Michael Woodford Jr. and Jason Ryznar on a line where Gajic is relied on to do most of the scoring. Gajic's two goal performance versus Notre Dame made him the third Wolverine on the roster to net 20 this season.
Michigan averaged 4.28 goals per game during the season to lead the nation in scoring.
On the blue line, the Wolverines are led by senior alternate captain Brandon Rogers and sophomore Matt Hunwick. Hunwick, the recipient of second team All-CCHA honors, likes to hit and is dependable in the defensive zone and has good speed. Rogers is one of the teams senior's and is very consistent.
Jason Dest and Eric Werner make up the Wolverines second defensive line. They have been improving by leaps and bounds as the season has wound on. Dest is very effective in one-on-one situations and is the best on the team at playing the body. Werner is the smallest defender but is the best offensively and can throw his weight around if necessary.
Goalie Al Montoya came into the season as possibly the highest regarded player in college hockey. His play over the year had been inconsistent. But as of late, the goalie has returned to first round draft pick form. Montoya does have the reputation of being a big game goalie and he displayed why on Friday night, holding the Badgers to one goal in a 4-1 victory.
Michigan allowed 2.45 goals per game, ranking 15th in the NCAA.
Colorado College is a team that likes to take advantage of their special teams opportunities. On offense, the Tigers boast the nations top two scorers in Brett Sterling and Marty Sertich. Both players netted 61 points through 40 games and are capable of either scoring or creating opportunities for teammates. They will line together and combine for almost half of the Tiger offense.
Beyond those two, Colorado College gets most of their scoring from Joey Crabb and Aaron Slattengren. Crabb and Slattenren scored 15 and 12 goals respectively.
Colorado College also uses their defenders in the offense more than many of the teams Michigan has faced. Defenders Brian Salcido and Lee Sweatt are both in the top 5 in team scoring. Both like to get involved in the offense.
The Tigers averaged 3.70 goals per game, good for fourth in the nation.
On defense, the Tigers are led by Salcido and Sweatt, along with Mark Stuart. Stuart was awarded with the top defensive player award for the WCHA and is a force on the blue line.
Curtis McElhinney will be in net for the Tigers and is going to be making an attempt to rebound from his regional semifinal performance, where he allowed five goals in under 20 shots. During the season McElhinney posted a 1.93 goal against average, good enough for seventh in the NCAA. If he's on, the Wolverines could be in trouble. Against Colgate he struggled on shots that were up in the net.
Colorado College allowed 2.17 goals per game, ranking sixth in the NCAA.
This is a game that Michigan should win right now. The Wolverines are playing their best hockey of the year. The only thing I can see getting in the way is penalties. The Wolverines were one of the most penalized teams in the CCHA during the regular season, but went the entire Wisconsin game with only three. Colorado College does a lot of their damage with a very successful power play. If Michigan can stay out of those situations they should be in good shape.
While skating five-on-five, the Wolverines have to be able to shut down Sertich and Sterling. That Tiger line is responsible for almost 50% of the Tiger offense and slowing that line down will increase the Wolverines odds dramatically. Look for Michigan to continue playing a physical style of defense to try and slow down the Tigers.
The final factor will be the crowd. At Friday's semifinal match ups, upwards of 80% of the crowd were sporting Maize and Blue paraphernalia. If Michigan gets in trouble, the crowd should be able to breathe some life into the Wolverines.
Talk about it here.