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Friday, December 28, 2007

Michigan 6, Men's Hockey 0

Sauer taste for Friar offense

50-shot effort falls through in loss to Michigan

DETROIT- The Providence College Friars turned their backs for split seconds at a time –six times, specifically- and the ever-potent Michigan Wolverines pulled the match away.

Despite owning each frame in the area of shots –ultimately treating Michigan junior Billy Sauer to a game total 50, the bulkiest sweat of his career- PC swallowed a fatal load of brusque meltdowns in its own end and dropped a 6-0 decision in the Great Lakes Invitational semi-final.

The Maize and Blue –second in the latest USCHO poll and at the top of the USA Today rankings- distributed an uncharacteristic twenty-one whacks of their own, but weaved that into a team-high six-goal output for the fourth time this season. Meanwhile, every Providence skater, save for Ben Farrer, broke their personal SOG column –Nick Mazzolini leading the way with seven- but never applied the lamplighting seal.

“They’ve got some opportunistic players,” acknowledged Friars coach Tim Army. “We made some mistakes, and they cashed in.

“I thought we played really well, did a lot of good things, over the whole sixty minutes. We had a lot of opportunities, but we got caught back on our heels, turned the puck over, and that’s how they scored the first goal.”

It only took the radiant Wolverine offense 62 ticks to toss out a morsel of its salsa-based rubber. On his first swift end-to-end rush, forward Tim Miller moved in on starting defender Joe Lavin in the far corner and forwarded a lateral pass to Louis Caporusso in the slot. Caporusso’s ice-bound bid looped around Tyler Sims’ right skate and dripped home.

On one hand, that perked up the Friars as though no other vibrant element around Joe Louis Arena had since their arrival here. They proceeded to sprinkle 13 unanswered shots (period total of 16) over the next fourteen minutes.

On the other hand, none of those stabs came in first-shot-rebound pairs or groups and the Wolverines (3 first period shots) subsisted on nimble clearances before they crashed Sims’ territory again thirty seconds prior to intermission.

Forward Aaron Palushaj jumped a loose puck on his own blue line and quickly forwarded it to Brian Lebler for a two-on-one. Palushaj scurried down the center alley and waited to one-time Lebler’s return feed off of a sprawling Sims’ skate and in.

“That’s why they’re in college,” mused Army in reference to his own students. “They’re young players. We did a lot of good things, but at times we tried to take matters into our own hands. We tried to do too much in situations where we didn’t need to, and I think that’s the general inclination of young players.”

A smattering of key elements took little time to thaw out in the middle period. The Wolverines, while Sauer resisted yet another 16-shot serving, thawed out well enough to test Sims eleven times.

Additionally, the unblemished discipline on both sides came out of hiding at 5:45 when Michigan’s Anthony Ciraulo went off for interference.

But the Friars could not spark on either of their first two power plays, and melted down further when the likes of Kevin Porter –the nation’s leading gunslinger- woke up. Shortly after the halfway mark, Porter broke out with Ciraulo for a shorthanded two-on-one, offering a quick saucer for Ciraulo to put in the roof for the 3-0 lead.

On the subsequent play, Marc Fayne smeared PC’s clean slate when he went off for tripping to set up a thirty-second 4-on-4 sequence. Once Michigan regained full strength, a fresh-out-the-box Palushaj clamped the puck behind the Friar net and zipped it to far point patroller Chad Langlais. Langlais in turn fed Porter, who drilled a low rider from the circle-top to the right of Sims with 6:41 remaining.

Freshman Ben Winnett gave Michigan a quick 5-0 stranglehold with 2:22 left in the frame, collecting a wild-running puck right in front of the cage and tossing in another roofer.

The overcooked Sims (game total 11 saves) took a seat for the third period, giving Chris Mannix his first go-around since November 1. Mannix –who eventually turned away six of seven shots faced while his mates dumped another 18 on Sauer- would have but 4:10 and two far-between shots to acclimate before letting the sixth Wolverine strike through.

After a comparatively lengthy, feisty Friar attack, Michigan’s Travis Turnbull accepted a quick breakout tap from Brandon Naurato and singlehandedly zipped down the near alley to snap the disc through Mannix’s legs.

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