The Wolverine

May 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MAY 2022 THE WOLVERINE 65 A re curses real? It is a question as old as time. Throughout history, many types of curses have been mythologized and hypothesized by various cultures. The ancient Romans suggested that breaking a mirror would bring seven years bad luck. The ancient Egyptians cautioned that walking under a lean- ing ladder would bring misfortune. The brightest of us all, Lloyd Christmas, warned Harry Dunne that spilling the salt is bad luck. A new one has emerged: Michigan ice hockey going to overtime tied 2-2 in the NCAA Tournament. Yes, it is true. The Wolverines did not lose to Denver 3-2 in overtime in the 2022 national semifinals because Denver out- shot them 33-21. Nor did the Wolverines lose because Denver played tremendous defense that neutralized their attempts to skate through the middle of the zone. The Wolverines lost because they are cursed by that score in the NCAA Tour- nament. OK, Michigan (probably) is not cursed, but this is a freakish phenomenon. Since 1998, Michigan has played in 17 NCAA Tournaments. The Wolverines have been eliminated from six of them by a score of 3-2 in overtime. Six times! Michigan lost by that score to Minnesota in the semifinals in 2003, Boston Col- lege in the quarterfinals in 2004, Miami (Ohio) in the quarterfinals in 2010, Min- nesota-Duluth in the finals in 2011, Cor- nell in the first round in 2012 and now to Denver in the semifinals in 2022. Of the 11 other times U-M lost in the NCAA Tournament during this span, the most common scores (i.e., 5-2 and 4-3) hap- pened just twice. What is even more bizarre is that it has happened more frequently recently. Michigan has exited four of its last seven NCAA Tournaments with a 3-2 defeat in overtime (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2022). It has happened so frequently that Michigan fans now have a sense of dread when the Wolverines end regulation in a 2-2 contest in the NCAA Tournament. And it is justified, particularly given what led to those overtimes or how they ensued. In 2010, Michigan had what should have been the game-winning goal in overtime to send the Wolverines to the Frozen Four waved off due to a premature whistle. In both 2011 and 2012, Michigan had first-period goals disallowed before both games went to overtime tied at 2-2. And this year, two Wolverines skated past the puck in their own zone with a chance to lead an odd-man rush, and Denver capitalized on the mistake with the game-winner seconds later and then took the trophy in the final round. It feels like this score is haunting the program, and the result will only end in horror for U-M. It has not always been that way, though. In fact, it twice brought Michi- gan euphoria. From 1948 through 1995, Michigan participated in 39 games in 18 NCAA Tournament appearances, winning seven national championships. Not one of those games ended 3-2 in overtime. However, Michigan's first two NCAA Tournament games to go to overtime tied 2-2 were in 1996 and 1998. Both were in the national finals. And Michigan won them both to capture the championship. The one in 1996 gave Michigan its first national title since 1964. The second in 1998 gave Michigan its ninth national championship overall, the most in the history of the sport. The 3-2 (OT) score line originally represented Michigan's reemergence as one of college hockey's most dominant and consistent programs. A reminder of what Michigan used to be when it won seven national titles from 1948 though 1964, and a signal it was about to return to form. Yet, it is as if Michigan cashed all of its good luck or karma to emerge from those two NCAA Tournaments in 1996 and 1998 as the victors. The Wolver- ines have not won a national title in 17 NCAA Tournament appearances since 1998 after claiming nine in their first 20 appearances. Four other programs have participated in at least 15 NCAA Tourna- ments since 1998 (North Dakota, Boston College, Denver and Minnesota). All four have won at least two national cham- pionships during this span, and Denver and Boston College lead that pack with four national titles apiece. Now, the 3-2 (OT) score line mostly represents the poor luck, misfortune, and bad bounces that have repeatedly ended Michigan's season in the NCAAs. (There are two exceptions in that span — U-M did win 3-2 overtime games in the NCAA first round against Nebraska- Omaha in 2011 and Notre Dame in 2016.) Even when the Wolverines are stacked with NHL talent, like this 2022 edition, the chaos of single-elimination hockey continues to consume them. Maybe former head coach Red Beren- son or current head coach Mel Pearson need to walk backwards under a leaning ladder, touch a broken mirror piece to a tombstone or throw some salt over their left shoulder. And then maybe the next time Michigan heads to overtime tied 2-2 in the NCAA Tournament, U-M will finally be able to end this "curse" and celebrate its 10th title. ❏ INSIDE THE NUMBERS   DREW HALLETT The Curse of Michigan Ice Hockey Staff writer Drew Hallett has covered Michigan athletics since 2013. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @DrewCHallett. Michigan has made the NCAA Tournament 17 times since last winning it all in 1998 and has been sent home on the wrong end of a 3-2 (OT) score line six times during that span, including the 2011 finals (above) and this year's semifinal loss to Denver. PHOTO BY JULES AMEEL

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