Detroit opened the 2013 conference season with a reasonably close loss – on the road – to Marist. UDM earned revenge Friday afternoon by knocking off the Red Foxes to earn their berth into the MAAC Championship Game.
From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:
|Marist MAAC Tournament 2013|
|Faceoff Wins||11||Faceoff Wins||6|
|Offensive Efficiency||.206||Offensive Efficiency||.176|
The Titans had a great day facing off, which allowed them to neutralize some trouble clearing on route to an even day in possession. The offense continued to struggle to a degree, but the defense came to play…
Specifically, A.J. Levell came to play. The senior did not want to end his career in the red white and blue with another loss to Marist, and stood on his head throughout the day. He let in an easy goal or two (the Red Foxes’ fifth was on the soft side), but more than made up for that with acrobatic saves across the cage, saves from his rear end on what should have been empty-net rebound goals, and much more. He had as good a game as I’ve seen out of him in four years for the Titans, and was honestly responsible on his own for the win.
That’s not to say the defense in front of him was terrible, either. The Titans caused 13 turnovers on 34 possessions (.382 of Marist possessions ended in a caused turnover on the day), led by three from Jordan Houtby, and two apiece from Jamie Hebden and Jon Dwyer. This was the defense’s day, no doubt.
That’s not to say their weren’t some major positives on offense, despite a poor offensive output (that’s a strong Marist D, mind you). Mike Birney has stepped up in a huge way over the home stretch of the season – three goals on 12 shots in this one – and Alex Maini limited his turnovers (which had been a chink in the armor of his status as a highly efficient offensive performer) while making plays his team needed. The best one doesn’t even register in the scorebook, with an unreal possession job on a dodge right in front of the net that resulted in a second assist (or hockey assist, given UDM’s Canadian flair) in the fourth quarter. This is the type of offensive performance than can be built on going into next year. The other top offensive performer was Scott Drummond, with three assists.
Some love for the longpoles… in addition to his defensive work, Jordan Houtby also notched a goal on the day.
Turnovers are still a bit of a problem for this Detroit team, and if they can limit those in future years (work those sticks in the offseason, boys), my early-year complaints about the offense are going to prove incorrect – and that’s something I’ll gladly be wrong about. Still, for the 2013 edition of the Titans, it’s the biggest weakness on offense.
Last time these teams played, a poor performance in the possession game doomed Detroit. They still had a rough go clearing against a strong Marist ride, but Damien Hicks absolutely turned it up on faceoffs to even things out. The redshirt freshman had some struggles during the year, but will be a big asset going forward.
Although Detroit is known as the physical (sometimes interpreted as dirty, to be fair) team, it was UDM who had five man-up opportunities to Marist’s two. The Titans cashed in once – you’d like to see it be better, especially with the finishers that have developed late in the season – while holding Marist off the board.
For Marist, only Connor Rice (2A) and Joseph Radin (2G) had multi-point days. Four of six Red Fox goals were assisted. Thank A.J. Levell once more next time you see him walking down the street.
Speaking of Marist, this has to be the most disappointing end imaginable for what had bee a pretty good team all year. They tore through the MAAC until the final game of the regular season, at which point they lost convincingly (despite the score) to one of the worst teams in the nation in Manhattan, then they were unceremoniously bounced from the conference tournament that they were expected to dominate. The No. 21 team in the country per TempoFreeLax.com will stay home for the NCAA Tournament.
The official boxscore. Detroit official site recap. Highlights both free and for-pay. Good luck getting people to pay to watch a highlight video, MAAC Conference. #wisedecisions. You can re-watch the whole darn thing on ESPN3. Matt Holtz postgame interview. A.J. Levell postgame interview:
So, an upset to not end the season on a sour note was nice, right? There was no way the Titans would shock the world and make the NCAA Tournament by knocking off Siena in a come-from-(way)-behind victory, right?