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October 14, 1996 - Image 19

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-10-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Monday, Octr 14, 1996 - F

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Meet the Michigan hockey team..




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NHL rights:

Turco learned last season that titles
are not won without a struggle






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By Andy Knudsen
Daily Sports Writer
The maize and blue fans stood, raised their
arms, and bowed in praise of their gold-
en-jerseyed idol.
This mock-worship was aimed at Marty
Turco, who had just made another spectacular
save between the pipes - a common scene last
year as Michigan rallied to its first national
title in 32 years.
But while Michigan's junior goaltender may
have been the savior of the team in the play-
offs, he did not feel worthy of such praise for
much of the regular season.
With a high-powered offense in front of him
that dominated opponents most of the year,
Turco stood alone in his own zone.
Alone with his thoughts.
"Last year I lost all the confidence,"
Turco said. "I had a mental problem ,
and I was thinking that maybe I
wasn't as important as I should be
on the ice. (I said), 'I really
can't make a difference in the
game - we're going to
win. If I play bad, 7-3. If
not - ifI play good, 7-0.
"A lot of games I felt'
like that."
So when
Turco let in
one or two6
soft goals,
and his team-
mates scored
half a dozen,
it often went
overlooked. MART
And no won-
der. He still ended
up leading the CCHA in goals-against average,
at 2.16, and had a .896 save percentage.
"No one was ever criticizing me when they
should have," the soft-spoken netminder said.
Michigan coach Red Berenson took notice of
his goalie's struggles and discussed the matter
with Turco when necessary.
While many coaches around the country
would not be very sympathetic to Berenson's
situation, he knew his goalie's play would have
to be more consistent in the postseason.
"Marty's very coachable that way," Berenson
said. "He knows when a goal goes in that
shouldn't have gone in.
"My question to Marty is, 'Should you have
stopped that shot? Could you have normally
stopped that shot? OK, then why didn't you?"'
One of the most important aspects of goal-
tending, however, is having your head screwed
on tight.
While his confidence kept waning, Turco
knew he had to fight through any mental barri-
ers by playoff time.
The toughest rounds of the fight came dur-
ing a late-season trip to Lake Superior. With
conference title implications in the mix,
Michigan dropped both games of the weekend
Turco was pulled in the second game, and
Michigan lost, 7-3.
"I think that's when I hit pretty-well rock
bottom," Turco said. "I came back in a miser-

able mood.
"Coach was upset with me and had a right to
be. I understood why, and I knew there was
only one way to redeem myself."
Maybe that's why Turco played like he was
on a mission in the postseason.
The Wolverines would not lose again after
that road trip. Jn their nine-game winning
streak to the national title, Turco averaged only
1.78 goals against, and he had three shutouts.
Turco wanted to prove his worth to his team,
his coaches and his family. But most of all he
needed to prove it to himself.
"And thank God I did," he said.
So what is it about the playoffs that makes
Turco nearly unbeatable? He says he does-
n't even know for sure.
But he does know that the long sea-
son serves as a continuing learning
experience for him.
"Come playoff time, I learn
through my actions earlier in
the year how to deal with cer-
tain situations," Turco said.
"I don't thinkI learned a lot
physically last year, but
mentally I was 100
percent (better)
come playoff time."
Despite his strug-
gles, Marty Turco is a
national champion and
one of the best
Division I
goalies in the
II nation.
A few years
RIEDMAN/ Daily ago he wouldn't
have expected any
of this.
A goalie since he was 10, Turco was always
solid in net, but never a standout. He just
enjoyed going out on the ice and stopping
As he got bigger and better, people took
notice, and Turco started taking goaltending
more seriously.
Considering he grew up on the Canadian
side of Sault Ste. Marie - just across the river
from Lake Superior State - it's ironic that he
ended up at Michigan.
But the Lakers never recruited him heavily,
which didn't bother Turco since he didn't know
much about college hockey.
"I watched a whole lot of major-junior
games in my childhood, and I never thought
about college until I got a little older," he said.
"I was at the draft age for the major-junior, and
I could have played the year after. But instead I
decided to go for the scholarship."
Berenson had heard Turco was good and
wasn't let down when he watched him play.
He was particularly impressed by how Turco
wasn't phased by anything and kept an even
"I saw him play three or four times, and there
was one instance in the middle of the game
where his team, literally, may as well have
vacated the ice," Berenson said. "The other
team had about eight great scoring chances,
and they couldn't score on him.

"And he just showed me right then that he
can make the difference in a game."
And Turco has already done that several
times in his two-year career.
Convincing Turco to be a Wolverine was not
very hard.
Turco remembers: "The first game I saw
here at Yost, I said to myself, 'This is where I
want to play.' For one, I don't want to play
against these home fans, because I felt sorry
for the other goalie that game."
As Berenson remembers, the Turco era was
not .smooth sailing from the outset. The maize
and blue bombers shelled him in his first Blue-
White game.
"People walked out of the rink and said,
'This is going to be our goalie?"' Berenson
said. "But then two or three games later, he
started to look like the goalie that we recruit-
Turco went 27-7-1 in his freshman cam-
paign, with a 2.76 goals-against-average and
an .894 save percentage. The Wolverines were
the regular-season CCHA champions and
advanced to the now-infamous NCAA semifi-
nal game against Maine.
With the deciding goal not being scored until
the third overtime, it was hailed as one of the
best college hockey games ever. Despite allow-
ing the flukish winning goal off a faceoff in the
Michigan zone, Turco shined throughout the
100 minutes of play in front of a national tele-
vision audience.
"Looking back, it was a great, great game -
great for college hockey," Turco said. "The
fans say it was the best game they've ever seen,
and I was just happy to be a part of it."
Turco describes himself as a reaction goal-
tender who doesn't get caught up in pregame
Some people have compared him to Felix
Potvin of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, but

"I di
not up
and I
not al
"It '
play, d
the (p
has m.


%(4ee-04 1 4

549 E. University


Marty Turco overcame regular season inconsistency to play
NCAA tournament.last season. As a result, he has a ring to

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