CCHA Championship Preview: #1 U-M vs. #2 MU

It's No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 2 Miami. The prize? The CCHA Tournament title and the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. How do the teams match up in this important battle to decide who will be raising a conference championship banner at the beginning of next season. Can the Wolverines improve to 2-0-1 against Miami on the season?

The CCHA Championship Game is here. It's No. 1 Michigan. It's No. 2 Miami. The winner will get the No. 1 overall seed in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. The loser… well they'll still get the No. 2 seed. Tonight's match up is to raise the banner, though. Meeting as No. 1 vs. No. 2 for the second time of the season, much is at stake for both teams as they look to see their team's banner get raised inside Joe Louis Arena.

Series Notes
Records: Michigan (30-5-4, 20-4-4 CCHA), Miami (32-6-1, 21-6-1 CCHA)
Series vs. Miami: Michigan leads 65-18-3
Season Series: 1-0-1 Michigan
Last Meeting: 5-5 Michigan (02/09/2008)
In the CCHA Tournament: 3-0-0 Michigan

U-M Offense vs. Miami Defense
F – Kevin Porter (28-28-56, +29)
F – Chad Kolarik (27-19-46, +23)
F – Aaron Palushaj (8-29-37, +8)
F – Travis Turnbull (13-12-25, +19)
F – Max Pacioretty (14-20-34, +26)

U-M Goals/Game: 4.0
U-M Shots/Game: 31.9

Miami Goals Allowed/Game: 1.8
Miami Shots Allowed/Game: 25.4

Outlook: The Michigan offense has been getting goals in bunches. Miami has one of the top two defenses in the nation. Something has to give. In Oxford, Ohio, earlier in the season, the Wolverines lit up the Miami goalies for nine markers in two games, and despite the RedHawks stingy defense, I expect the Wolverines to light the lamp again tonight.
Advantage: Michigan

Miami Offense vs. U-M Defense
F – Ryan Jones (30-16-46, +19)
F – Nate Davis (8-9-17, +3)
F – Justin Mercier (24-15-39, +25)
F – Carter Camper (14-22-36, +22)
F – Tommy Wingels (13-15-28, +13)

Miami Goals/Game: 4.2
Miami Shots/Game: 30.2

U-M Goals Allowed/Game: 2.1
U-M Shots Allowed/Game: 26.7

Outlook: Miami's offense gave Michigan all it could handle in the two meetings earlier in the year. Now they have Carter Camper back from injury, plus Nate Davis has shaken off the rust after sitting through 20 games with a pair of injuries. Miami will find the goal on more then one occasion, the real question is which team will find it more.
Advantage: Miami

Goalies
Michigan
Billy Sauer
Record: 26-4-3
GAA: 1.94
Save Percentage: .926

Miami
Jeff Zatkoff
Record: 25-5-1
GAA: 1.68
Save Percentage: .934

Outlook: Zatkoff looked like his typical self in Miami's 2-1 overtime win over Notre Dame yesterday afternoon. Billy Sauer looked a little unsettled in the Wolverines 6-4 win. Sauer needs to play better, and the team will have to make fewer mistakes to protect the Maize and Blue goalie in order to secure the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament.
Advantage: Miami

U-M Power Play vs. Miami Penalty Kill
U-M Power Play: 20.9% (42-of-201)
U-M Shorthanded Goals Allowed: 2

Miami PK: 89.6% (189-of-211)
Miami Shorthanded Goals: 7
Miami PIM/Game: 17.8

Miami Power Play vs. U-M Penalty Kill
Miami Power Play: 20.8% (48-of-231)
Miami Shorthanded Goals Allowed: 4

U-M PK: 85.7% (180-of-210)
U-M Shorthanded Goals: 8
U-M PIM/Game: 17.9

Outlook: It all very well could come down to special teams. In Oxford earlier in the year, the Wolverines were successful with their special teams against the RedHawks. If the top-ranked Wolverines can duplicate that feat, it will provide Michigan a significant leg up in the race for the title.
Advantage: Michigan

Prediction
Michigan will have to have another near perfect game to send the RedHawks home with the runner up trophy. Max Pacioretty should return to the lineup, and Miami didn't have an answer for the Wolverines rookie. Will he be the difference maker? I think so.
4-3 Michigan

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