On a day when up was down and rain was preferable to sunshine, the inexplicable was commonplace. Hobey Finalist Jean-Philippe Lamoureux of North Dakota was lit up like a Christmas tree and Billy Sauer couldn't have stopped a beachball with pads made out of razorblades. Nothing made sense. Porter was the passer, Kolarik the goal scorer. Mitera was a disaster when he'd been the bedrock of our defense all season. Notre Dame was the aggressor and Michigan looked passive. Nothing made much sense. Especially the outcome. Weren't we supposed to win this one? What the Hell happened? Something it did, and it wasn't what we wanted. Notre Dame was the better team on a night where the outcomes of a hundred games didn't matter. This was the only one that counted, and they wanted it more.
And so Michigan's season ends two wins short of a National Championship, but light years ahead of where anyone thought they would finish when the year started. If you'd told me this would be a Frozen Four team earlier in the year I would've taken it without hesitation. This is Michigan, but there were a lot of holes to fill. That they made it this far is a testament to the team and the coaches, and I congratulate them on an outstanding season.
No, Mr. Berenson.
I expect you to die!
Oh yeah, and their coach looks like a Bond villain. Seriously. I sure as hell wouldn't want to lose with this guy glaring at me in the locker room. He looks like the type of guy that goes home, puts on a metalic grey jumpsuit and bleeds out of his eye while petting a giant white cat and staring at a map of the world, giggling quietly to himself. But it's not like Berenson's going to win any beauty pageants anytime soon, so I'll move on.
One of the positives to come out of Thursday's loss was the outstanding play of Michigan's freshmen. I thought chad Langlias was Michigan's best player all night. Bryan Hogan came into an impossible situation and delivered an excellent performance. Aaron Palushaj was all over the place and recorded 3 assists. Matt Rust was simply flying. All of these things will build momentum toward another excellent season next year.
But for now we're left pondering the "what ifs" and attempting to bargain with time to go back and correct those turnovers, soft goals, and alter those momentum swings. Anything to keep the season going! We do this even though we know nothing will change. Maybe tomorrow we'll accept it, but for now denial's cool waters are preferable to the white water rapids of reality.
Thanks to Kevin and Chad for four outstanding years. Billy, thanks for a great year. Some nights you just don't have it and that's nothing to be ashamed of. We never would've made it this far without you. And thanks Coach, this season was one hell of a ride.