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What Happened in the Michigan/Miami Series?

This started out as a weekend recap-type thing, but a lot of stuff went on, and this became long enough for its own post.

Michigan and Miami squared off this weekend in a pretty important CCHA series, in which Michigan came out with six points, and, as is becoming a regular case in series officiated by Keith Sergott and Brian Hill, nobody came away happy.

On Friday, Michigan head coach Red Berenson wasn't thrilled with his goal, Shawn Hunwick, getting run over by Miami multiple times. Whether it was because he was provoked into an outburst earlier this year at Northern Michigan, or because he seemed to suffer a concussion a month ago against Lake Superior, Hunwick has seemed clearly targeted in series against Notre Dame and Miami. Berenson said he has sent tape to the league on the incidents, but hasn't received a satisfactory response.

Meanwhile, Miami head coach Enrico Blasi completely lost it on Friday night, screaming from the bench, grabbing one of his players by the facemask, reportedly throwing multiple chairs in the locker room after the game, and forcing me to self-edit some tasteless tweets about him being so upset because Shannon Hogan wouldn't sleep with him, possibly due to his substandard height.

Controversy came the following night midway through the third period, with Michigan up 2-0. Miami's Matt Tommassoni picked up a breakaway, and squeezed a puck through Shawn Hunwick, but the puck was cleared off the line by Michigan defender Lee Moffie. The officials reviewed the play to see if Moffie cleared the puck off the line before it crossed, and determined that he did. Then, after a long argument with Blasi, the officials went back to the review booth, and determined again that it was inconclusive. A few minutes later, Michigan's Chris Brown scored a beauty of a goal(I recommend you watch the video, and also recommend you do so with the sound off) that pretty much sealed the win.

With the result all but assured, an already physical game turned ugly. The series had been physical all weekend, and Saturday's game had already had three boarding penalties and two roughing after the whistle penalties each way. With about 3 minutes left, each team took a five-minute major contact to the head penalty about 20 seconds apart. Miami followed that up with a charging penalty a minute later, and finally, all hell broke loose when Miami took exception to Michigan's Alex Guptill taking a late poke at their goalie, and a fight broke out, resulting in suspensions for Miami's Will Weber and Michigan's Chris Brown.

After the game, Berenson placed the blame on how the officials handled the games, and on Miami being a little more willing to risk a suspension, considering their next games will be meaningless non-conference tilts against Alabama-Huntsville, while Brown will have to miss Michigan's next game against Michigan State.

The whole thing was just a mess that almost everyone involved seemed to blame it on officiating that couldn't handle the emotion and physicality of the series. Keith Sergott was the same official involved in the Riley Sheahan/Western Michigan incident, and was pulled out of that series after one game. Why he was assigned to another important series so soon after is a mystery, and hopefully it is a mistake that won't be made again.

As to the overall impact of the series, Michigan passed Miami in the CCHA standings, taking a two-point lead with two games in hand. The Wolverines sit in 3rd place and are in striking distance at three points back of first place Ferris State. Miami drops back down to the middle of the CCHA's huge mid-standings cluster. They're in a tie for fourth place, but Michigan State and Lake Superior are only one point behind them, with two games in hand. In the always tenuous Pairwise Rankings, Michigan temporarily moved into 2nd overall with the two wins, while Miami dropped outside the bubble, down to 18th.