12 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 15, 1995
THE 1995 CCHA AMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
Wolverines get opportunity to
defend last year's first-ever title
By Tom Seeley
Daily Hockey Writer
There are not many new experiences for Michigan
hockey, but in the program's 73 seasons, no team has ever
embarked on the task of this year's Wolverine squad.
Michigan takes the ice for the semifinals of the CCHA
playoffs this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena and
carries the distinction of being the defending champions
- a claim that no other Michigan team has ever made.
Last season, the Wolverines won their first CCHA
postseason tournament, and after finishing the regular
season in first place this season, they are favored to repeat.
"Last year was a big year for us in that we had never
won (the championship) before," senior forward Mike
Knuble said. "We haven't put any pressure on ourselves,
feeling like we're going down there and everybody is
gunning for us, we just want to win it again for ourselves."
After sweeping a two-game set from Ohio State last
weekend in the first round, Michigan is waiting for the
result of tonight's Lake Superior-Miami (Ohio) matchup
in Sault Ste. Marie to find out who it is playing Satur-
Michigan won the season series with both teams,
sweeping three games from the Lakers, while taking two
of three from the Redskins.
Before last year, the Wolverines lost to Lake Superior
in the league playoffs three straight years, including twice
in the finals. Michigan broke the Lakers' playoff strangle-
hold last season with a 3-0 victory in the championship
"We proved last year that our team was capable of
making that jump," Michigan coach Red Berenson said.
"We'd been frustrated two years in a row for getting beat
by Lake Superior in the championship game. (Beating
them) was good for our team and got a monkey of our
The win proved that the Wolverines could beat the
Lakers' in the postseason, but given what's happened in
the past, would Michigan rather not face its postseason
nemesis at Joe Louis?
"You could say that just because they've beaten us in
crucial times in the past," Knuble said. "(But) we did beat
them down there last year, and we don't fear one team in
"We don't fear Lake State. We don't fear Bowling
Green or (Michigan) State. We'll take anybody in time."
If the Wolverines do come away with their second
consecutive playoff crown, they are assured a first-round
bye in next week's NCAA Tournament. Michigan would
be guaranteed a day off because of a rule that gives any
team that wins both their conference's regular season and
tournament a first or second seed in the NCAA Tourna-
"It doesn't matter to me if we get the bye or not,"
Berenson said. "We've had (a bye) three out of the last
four years, and I don't know how much it helped us. We're
just trying to play our best down the stretch."
The NCAA Tournament gets underway at regional
sites next Friday in Madison and Worcester, Mass.
1995 CCHA Championship
No.I Michigan (29-6-1)
Michigan defenseman Mark Sakala hoists the trophy that four teams will be chasing this weekend at Joe Louis
Arena. Last season the Wolverines claimed their first-ever CCHA playoff trophy.
League's big guns race
toward Sundays final
No. 4 Lake Superior St. (19-11-6)
At Norris Arena,
Sault Ste. Marie
No. 5 Miami (Ohio) (18-14-6)
At Joe Louis Arena,
No. 2 Bowling Green (25-10-2)
N No.3 Michigi
gan State (24-10-3)
By Darren Everson
Daily Hockey Writer
Not a single week of the season has gone by without
Bowling Green, Michigan or Michigan State sitting atop
the league standings. And in the second half of the year,
their performances have nearly been matched by Lake
Superior State and Miami (Ohio).
Now that the first-round playoff formalities are
over, these teams can get down to the business of
deciding the league champion. The CCHA Final Four
takes place this Saturday and Sunday at Joe Louis
Arena in Detroit.
Of course, you can't have a Final Four with five teams,
so the Redskins and Lakers must play an elimination game
Miami (13-8-6 CCHA - fourth place, 18-14-6 over-
all) shouldn't mind that arrangement too much. The
Redskins, who were under .500 as late as February,
recovered in time to earn home-ice advantage in the first
sound of the playoffs. They put it to good use, too,
sweeping sixth-place Ferris State in two games.
Eliminating the Bulldogs was expected; Miami's of-
fensive output, however, was a surprise. The Redskins
exploded for 14 goals against Ferris State, including 10 in
Game 1 Friday, despite averaging just 3.26 goals per
league game prior to last weekend.
The reason they have survived despite their lackluster
offense is goalie Chuck Thuss. The senior netminder has
posted a 2.81 goals-against-average and was recently
named to the all-CCHA First Team.
"They might have the best goalie in the league,"
Michigan coach Red Berenson said. "They need Chuck
Thuss to really play well. If their team defense is solid,
then they'll stay in a close game like they did (against)
Offense has been a concern all season long for
Miami - especially against Lake State. The Lakers
allowed the Redskins just five goals in three games.
However, Miami has managed a 1-1-1 record in the
Lake Superior (14-9-4 - fourth, 19-11-6) gets to
play the Redskins in Sault Ste. Marie, where the Lakers
trounced Miami, 7-1, Jan. 28. Lake State has trounced
most everybody lately - the Lakers have won 12 of their
past 14, including a pair of easy victories over Western
Michigan in the first round of the playoffs.
"(The Lakers) have the most momentum of anybody,"
Berenson said. "I said all along that (they) were going to
be a good team at the end."
Lake State is perhaps the only
team remaining without a legitimate
CCHA Player of the Year candidate;
however, the Lakers are quite solid
at all positions. They lack the
standout netminder they've had the
last couple years in Blaine Lacher
and DarrinMadeley, but goalies John
Grahame (2.60) and Sean Kulick
(2.96) have worked quite well in a
Felsner platoon system.
And while this team has never been
one to light up the scoreboard, Brian Felsner (21 goals, 27
assists -48 points), Sean Tallaire (20-25-45) and Wayne
Strachan (20-15-35) are among the league leaders in goals
In years past, the Lakers won, games and champion-
'(Te Lakers) have the
most momentum of
- Red Berenson
Michigan hockey coach
ships with their defense, though, and since Michigan beat
them twice back in January, they have returned to that
Led by league first-team selection Keith Aldridge (8-
26-34), the Laker defensive corps has allowed only 1.93
goals per game since then, and have stopped 83 per cent of
its opponents' power play chances.
Bowling Green (18-7-2 - second, 25-10-2), by con-
trast, has hardly been stifling on defense. The 101 goals the
Falcons allowed during the regular season is the worst total
of any team remaining by far.
They can get away with that,
though, because they have Brian
Holzinger on their side.
"If I had to vote for one guy
today-(for Player of the Year), it
would probably have to be
w . Holzinger," Michigan State coach
Ron Mason said. "He took that team
and led them to second place all by
Holzinger The senior center has indeed been
the driving force behind the Fal-
cons' impressive campaign. Holzinger (34-34 - 68)
led the league in scoring for much of the year before
Michigan's Brendan Morrison overtook him at the end
of the regular season.
However, he's not the only one to praise for Bowling
Green's strong showing.
"It's not just any one guy with them," said Notre Dame
coach Ric Schafer, whose Fighting Irish were swept out of
the firstround by the Falcons last weekend. "If you do that,
you forget about (Mike) Johnson and (Curtis) Fry, who
can hurt you."
Johnson (16-32--48) and Fry (13-32-45) rank eighth
and 15th, respectively, in the CCHA in overall scoring.
Michigan State (17-7-3 - third, 24-10-3) boasts an
offense with just as many weapons. Anson Carter (32-16
- 48) gets most of the press, but Rem Murray (19-34 -
53) and Steve Guolla (14-34 - 48) are just as big a part
of the Spartans' scoring prowess.
The Michigan State-Bowling Green semifinal
matchup promises to be a tight one -- the Spartans and
Falcons finished within a point of each other in the
standings and split their four meetings, with each team
scoring 19 goals.
"You couldn't get a more even matchup," Mason
Why sit in a stateside classroom dreaming about
Stonehenge or the Parthenon when you could
If there is a difference between these two, it's in
goal. The Spartans have the advantage there with CCHA
second-teamer Mike Buzak (3.07) minding the net.
Michigan State's personnel seems to match up with
Bowling Green's and anyone else's, statistically. And
while Berenson may feel Lake State has the most
momentum, the Spartans and Falcons have the best
streaks going - each team has won six straight.
see them for yourself?
Don't wait until after you
graduate to catch the travel bug. Instead, why
not spend a semester or a year making memories
w+ w w s ma. s Ak AM s as r_ _ _.