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October 09, 1987 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-10-09

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Six teams could win
CCHA league title

The Michigan Daily-Friday, October 9, 1987- Page 13


The 1987-88 season should be
another banner year for the Central
Collegiate Hockey Association.
Rapidly becoming one of the most
respected conferences in college
hockey, the CCHA sports five teams,
which won over 20 games last
Two of them, Bowling Green and
Michigan State, won 33 games
apiece. The Spartans made it to the
NCAA final game b e f o r e
succumbing to North Dakota.
With powerhouses Bowling
Green and Michigan State suffering
key personnel losses, the race this
year appears wide open. Any of six
teams are capable of taking the title.
"There's a lot of unknowns
within many of the teams this year,"
said Michigan State head coach Ron
Mason. "I think there's a chance for
anyone to finish in the upper
With that in mind, here are the
members of the CCHA:

Michigan State - Despite
his team ranking first in the CCHA
preseason coaches poll, Mason is
concerned about the upcoming
season. "I think that our reputation
probably is why people chose us
(first)," he said. "(The ranking) was
not based on an analysis of our
Mason has good reason to be
worried. The nation's best
goaltending tandem, Bob Essensa
and Norm Foster, has graduated.
Team captain Don McSween also
graduated, along with high-scoring
forwards Mitch Messier, and Bill
"Our offense is suspect, and we're
going to be breaking in two new
goaltenders," said Mason. "So
certainly, we're not going to be as
strong as last year at the beginning
of the season."
Bowling Green - The
Falcons are looking to defend their
regular-season conference
championship despite losing many
players such as All-American goalie
Gary Kruzich. Appropriately, the
coaching staff is concerned. "We lost
a lot of key people from last year so
we're sort of waiting for the first
couple of weeks of the season just to
see where our team is," said assistant
coach Terry Flanagan.
The frontline is Bowling Green's
strength. Senior Don Barber and
sophomore center Nelson Emerson,
the CCHA's Rookie-of-the-Year last
Oeason, lead the offense.
Western iehigan Uniersity
Western Michigan - Despite
a fifth-place finish last year, Western
Michigan should be vastly
With close to 20 sophomores and
newcomers, the Broncos are an up-
and-coming squad. "The key to our
team," said assistant coach Tom
Newton, "is that our strong
freshman class from last year
continue to play and improve. And
our freshman this year have to get
oriented and establish themselves as
Division I players."
The Broncos, however, were also
not without key losses. Two time
All-American defenseman Wayne
Gagne graduated. "We don't have
anyone game-in and game-out who
is going to do what Wayne Gagne
did. But we hope that someone in
our program will rise to the
occasion," said Newton.

sophomore Kord Cernich, the Lake
Superior expect to avoid high-
scoring affairs.
This might not be so easy,
however, with the loss of goalie
Randy Exelby to graduation.
Sophomore Mike Greenlay will start
between the pipes.
The Lakers have a strong rookie
class with defensemen Karl Johnston
and David DiVita, both of whom
could earn regular spots.
Michigan - Despite its 14-25-
1 record of a year ago, Michigan's 6-
2-1 streak late in the season gives
reason for optimism.
"Michigan's got an excellent
chance to make a solid move," said
Mason. "The last couple of years
they've been close, but this year
with their experience, they could
finish near the top."
"Michigan's going to be a real
strong opponent," added Flanagan.
"They were picked fifth in the polls,
but they're a team that could win the
Illinois-Chicago - The
Flames are the last of the six teams
with a realistic shot at the CCHA
title. Illinois-Chicago comes off a
21-17-1 season and returns 16
The Flames are well balanced be-
tween offense and defense. They
return two experienced CCHA
goaltenders in senior Brad Ryan and
sophomore Dave DePinto. Also
returning are their top six goal
scorers from last year.
Senior captain Darin Alexander
leads a defense that was second best
in the CCHA last season, allowing
just 3.69 goals per game.
The Flames also possess a good
penalty killing unit, allowing a goal
only 19 percent of the time they
skated shorthanded last season.
Ohio State - The Buckeyes
will have to get defensive to have
any kind of success in the conference
this year. Six of their top
defensemen and their top two goalies
return. The problems lie with Ohio
State's offense, which lost three
wingers and four centers.
But the Buckeyes remain
optimistic after a strong finish last
season, which saw them finish third
in the CCHA playoffs. Nevertheless,
the holes up front may be just too
large to fill.
The goaltending duo of juniors
Roger Beedon and Todd Fanning,
both NHL draft choices, is solid.
Ferris State - With an
experienced core of 15 returning
players to build around, the Bulldogs
are looking forward to the 1987-88
"I think we're going to be much

improved this season," said head
coach John Perpich. "We've got a
nucleus of experienced players that
we're hoping will be the real heart of
our team."
Among the returnees are eight
sophomores who figure prominently
in the Bulldog's plans. "That extra
year of experience for those players
is really going to help our team,"
said Perpich.

Defenseman Alex Roberts tries to clear the crease in last Thursday's intrasquad scrimmage. Michigan surrendered 220 goals last season,
but with five lettermen returning, the Wolverines defense should be stingier this year.
Defense has potential
COming of age:
to be Berenson s best


Although last season's captain and team
MVP, Jeff Norton, will skate not for the maize
and blue, but for the red, white, and blue this
season, the Wolverine defensive unit may be
the strongest in head coach Red Berenson's
four-year tenure at Michigan.
With six lettermen returning, the defense
will be more experienced and confident than last
season's squad, which featured four newcomers.
"There's no question that we have a talented
group of defensemen," said Berenson. "As a
unit we move the puck very well. Last season
we lost quite a few games due to inexperience
and defensive breakdowns.
"This year we should be more consistent
defensively and play with a stronger team effort,
simply because the guys have played with each
other now and feel more comfortable on the
WITH NORTON now playing with
Team USA, junior Myles O'Connor, an
honorable mention all-CCHA defenseman last
season, is poised to assume a leadership role
this season. After spending much of his first
two seasons as Norton's partner, the Calgary
native is prepared to stabilize the defensive unit.
"There's no question that Jeff is a great
player, leader, and individual. Our team will
miss him," said O'Connor, who tallied 15
goals and 30 assists last season. "But at times I
felt like I was playing in his shadow. The

opportunity is there now for the rest of us to
take charge.
"As a unit, we may even be more solid this
year than last, simply because five of us have
played at this level before, while last year we
had four freshman."
Paired with O'Connor is sophomore Alex
Roberts, who set a Michigan record for
penalties with 55 last season. The 6-2, 195-
pounder was targeted by other teams last season
as easy prey to draw a penalty. But Roberts has
solid defensive skills, and with a season of
experience, Roberts, who Berenson characterizes
as a "stay-at-home defenseman," should
complement O'Connor's aggressive offensive
ANOTHER key Wolverine defenseman is
Todd Copeland, a second-round draft choice of
the New Jersey Devils in 1986. Copeland was
expected to have more of an immediate impact
than his two goals and 11 assists of a year ago;
however, the sophomore improved considerably
over the second half of the '86-'87 season.
After just missing the final cut for the U.S.
Olympic squad this summer, Copeland is eager
for CCHA action. "I had a very competitive
summer of hockey, and I feel great," Copeland
said. "This season should be a big step for
Michigan hockey."
Sophomore Randy Kwong will pair with
Copeland. At 6-0, 181 pounds, Kwong will not
dish out checks like his 205-pound linemate.

"Kwong is not a big defenseman, but he is an
agile skater with good lateral movement and
good stick-handling ability," said Berenson.
"He won't knock many guys down, but he
will take people out of the play. That's often
just as effective. Size is important, but talent
and character are even more so."
ONE PLAYER who will knock people
down is Brad Turner, a third-round pick of
Minnesota in 1986. The sophomore from
Calgary finished last season with 3 goals and
13 points. The 6-2, 200-pounder was the only
Michigan defenseman to see action in all 40
regular-season games last year. Historically
Turner's strength has been at the offensive end
of the ice. But it is primarily his defensive
skills which he hopes to improve.
"Last season I learned a lot about the
defensive aspects of hockey," said Turner.
"Sure, I'd like to score more points, but- the
offense will come pretty much on its own. Our
team is skilled enough that we'll get our share
of goals.
"The real test will coime in stopping our
opponents from scoring, and based on the
practices and the attitudes of the guys on this
team, we should see significant improvement."
The lone newcomer on the blueline, Mark
Sorensen, will team with Turner. Sorensen
should ease into the lineup with more
experienced players surrounding him.
Senior Gary Lorden should see spot duty as
the seventh defenseman.

Pedrie dishes o ut youwig talent

A diamond in the rough. A
needle in a haystack. A good,
sincere, dedicated recruiter that plays
by the rules. To find one of those
recruiters is difficult, but Michigan
head coach Red Berenson did when
he hired Larry Pedrie.
Pedrie, the new Michigan
assistant hockey coach, is a
recruiting guru who does not resort
to illegal tactics like certain other
NCAA schools.
"You have to be a lawyer in
order to understand these rules," said
Berenson, while holding a copy of
the NCAA's 300 page rule book.
"It's admirable and a credit to Larry
that he has had such success
recruiting without accidentally
violating one of these rules."
IN HIS previous job with the
University of Illinois-Chicago,
Pedrie also drew rave reviews.
"It's Larry's enthusiasm and
dedication that make him such a
great recruiter," said Flames head
coach Val Belmonte. "It's a shame
that he left because the last class he

recruited was the best freshman
class, talent-wise and character-
wise, that I have ever had."
Enthusiasm and dedication are
inherent characteristics of Pedrie's
personality. A four-year
letterwinner at Ferris State (1977-
81), Pedrie was a diligent worker.
He was named the Bulldog's Most
Improved Player Award in his
senior season.
"I think that my dedication to
recruiting has allowed me to be
successful, but I don't believe in
over-recruiting at all," said Pedrie,
once a strong-armed defenseman.
"There are some guys who will
telephone a kid four or five times
and write two or three letters a
week. I pride myself on not making
a prospective player uncomfortable.
"I try to impress him from a
human standpoint. I want to get to
know the player and vice-versa. I do
not believe in recruiting players
with blinders on. When a player
agrees to attend a university
program, I want them to understand
what they should expect from the

university and what the university
expects in return."
AFTER - LEAVING college,
he stayed at his alma mater as an
assistant for three years. He spent
the past three years in Chicago. In
those six years as an assistant,
Pedrie was forced to fulfill many
obligations that normally would
not have been asked of a coach.
Administrative duties, for
example, went along with the
recruiting and coaching at his
previous CCHA stops. Pedrie,
however, was properly qualified for
those responsibilities because he
holds a B.S. degree in Business
Management from Ferris State.
"The Michigan athletic
environment is so much more than
I expected," explained Pedrie. "We
were not really given what was
truly needed at Ferris and UIC, but
that is not the situation at all here
in Ann Arbor. This system is
advanced and constructed in such a
matter that I can concentrate on
what I should be concentrating on
- recruiting and coaching."
Pedrie has proven that he is a
good coach and an even better
recruiter. "He has contacts all over
the North American continent," said

... recruiter extraordinaire

"You want to find a player that is
dedicated to the team more than the
individual. If you can develop this,
then that is what success is all
Success is something that
Pedrie has already accomplished in
his own mind, but further
dedication and his ambition have
not been stymied. A head coaching
job is inevitable for Pedrie, but
"Eventually, I would love to be
a head coach," said Pedrie. "I want a


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