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October 13, 1997 - Image 23

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-10-13

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Senior forwards lead Badgers

TRIAL BY ICE
osh Langfeld and Mike Van Ryn prepare to lead Michigan's freshman class into a su(
BY CHRIS FARAH - DAILY SPORTS WRITER

It's been two years since Wisconsin
has participated in NCAA post-sea-
son play, and the Badgers are pre-
pared to make a return.
Leading the Wisconsin resurgence
will be its offensive stars, as the
Badgers return nine of their top 10
scorers form last season.
A group of five seniors will spear-
head Wisconsin's offensive efforts,

considering they accounted for more
than 40 percent of Wisconsin's scor-
ing last year.
Included in this group are centers
Brad Englehart and Joe Bianchi, who
ranked No. 1 and 2 respectively in
scoring in 1996-97.
In addition to its vaunted senior
class, Wisconsin also boasts a strong
group of sophomores that had solid

freshman years.
Most impressive of that group is
forward Dustin Kuk, who finished
fifth among WCHA rookies with 22
points.
From the blue line, Wisconsin is
counting on the full recovery of red-
shirt freshmen Alex Brooks and Jeff
Dessner, who both missed last season
See BADGERS, Page 20C

I

.1

LEADERSHIP & FLIGHT
TRAINING for STUDENTS

I

FILE PHOTO
Michigan Tech will have to beat Michigan State in the first round of the Great
Lakes Invitational if it wants a shot at the tournament title.
Wolverines look for
th straight GLI title

f a picture means a thousand
words, then the cover of the 1997-
98 Michigan hockey media guide
says it all.
The most dominating shot on the
page isn't of Michigan's freshmen or
of Michigan's seniors. It isn't even of
the 1997-98 Michigan hockey team.
No, centered on the cover, taking up
the most space, is a glorious color
photo of the 1996-97 Michigan hockey
team, celebrating after winning its
ninth-straight Great Lakes Invitational
title.
The focal picture doesn't represent
the present or even the future of the
Michigan hockey program. It repre-
sents its past. A past of formidable
success - a past that Michigan's
future, embodied by this year's 10-
man freshman class, will have to
strive to eclipse.
Two freshmen who will feel a hefty
share of this challenging burden are
Josh Langfeld and Mike Van Ryn. The
pair of Wolverines represent
Michigan's future on both ends of the
ice - Langfeld on the offensive end
and Van Ryn on the defensive.
Do they feel pressure? Considering
they're coming on the heels of one of
the most successful eras and classes
in Michigan hockey history, the ques-
tion isn't one of pressure, but how
much pressure.
"Of course, there's going to be a lot
of pressure, with the winning pro-
gram they've had" Van Ryn said. "A
lot of big names have come out of the
program. We're going to try hard this
year to keep the tradition of such a
winning program in the past.
"It's going to be tough, they had so
many stars -- every senior that grad-
uated was so skilled. But there's 10 of

"1 thinky they're
going to be a
real good class
in their own
right."
- Red Berenson
Michigan hockey coach,
on the freshman class
us freshmen, so we'll all help each
other along the way."
Of the 10, there's a good chance
that Langfeld and Van Ryn will do
more of the helping and less of the
getting helped.
Langfeld, who can play left or right
wing, probably has more experience
than any of his classmates. Langfeld
graduated in 1995 from Coon Rapids
High School in Minnesota.
After graduating, he spent two
years playing on junior hockey teams
- most recently for the Lincoln
Stars of the U.S. Hockey League, for
whom he racked up an impressive 35
goals and 52 points in 38 games last
year.
But what stands out about Langfeld
is not his stats, but Langfeld himself.
Put simply, at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds,
Langfeld is a big man. And he takes
advantage of his size as much as pos-
sible.
Langfeld starred in two other sports
aside from hockey in high school -
baseball and football. The reason he
chose to concentrate on hockey?
Football and baseball aren't physical
enough.

Saying the Wolverines have been
successful in the Great Lakes
Invitational would be a minor under-
statement. Michigan has dominated the
GLI, winning the title the past nine
years.
If the Wolverines are to win a 10th
consecutive title, they'll have to get past
St. Lawrence in the first round and the
winner of the Michigan Tech-Michigan
State game in the final.
Against St. Lawrence, Michigan will
have to contain Saints captain Paul
DiFrancesco, a senior center who is
being touted as a Hobey Baker candi-
date. Last season, DiFrancesco led the
Saints in scoring with 49 points and
garnered second-team All-ECAC hon-
ors.
Joining DiFrancesco up front will be
senior wingers Derek McLaughlin and
Mark McGrath, each of whom scored
25 points last year.
On defense, St. Lawrence returns
four experienced players, including
junior JohnsPoapst, who led the team in
defensive scoring last year with 18
points.
In goal, the Saints' will rely primari-
ly on senior netminder Clint Owen,

who finished last year with a 3.73
goals-against average and a .893 save
percentage.
In the second round, the Wolverines
will face either Michigan State or
Michigan Tech.
Michigan Tech is hoping to improve
on last year's disappointing 8-27-4
record.
Up front, the Huskies feature senior
forward Andre Savage, who led team
with 18 goals and 38 points last season.
Senior center Riley Nelson will also be
looked to for offense.
In the net, Michigan Tech will need
improved play from David Weninger,
who was only 1-13 last year with a 4.14
goals-against average.
On defense, the Huskies will be
looking for major contributions from
freshmen Mat Snesrud and Clint Way.
Michigan and Michigan State have
met in the GLI final in three of the past
four years.
Should the Spartans and Wolverines
face each other in the second round
again this season, it will be the second
of four meetings between the two teams
this season.
--Fred Link

"I'm a different person (on the
ice)," Langfeld said. "The game just
pumps me up - being able to hit peo-
ple and not get penalized.
"That's a big part of my game -
just being big, strong, sitting in front
of the net and scoring goals. I can
score a lot of goals, I did the past two
years, and I'm hoping that'll contin-
ue."
Michigan coach Red Berenson said
that Langfeld's size and scoring abili-
ty will eventually make him a stand-
out, not only at Michigan, but in all
college hockey.
"I think he's going to be an impact
freshman," Berenson said. "Maybe
not the first week or the first month,
but I think he's a player that is going
to show us he can score. He's big and
he's strong, and I think he'll be a suc-
cessful player in this program and this
league.'
Berenson was equally happy to get
Van Ryn to Ann Arbor - although
landing the star recruit wasn't stress-
free for the Michigan coaching staff.
"Mike's been a highly touted player
the past couple of years," Berenson
said. "He's received a lot of pressure
and really made a strong commitment
to come to college when everyone
was telling him he should play major-
junior.
"I'm so glad he's finally here.
We've been watching him and waiting
for him - he made a commitment
nearly two years ago."
A quick scan of Van Ryn's accom-
plishments makes it obvious why he
faced so much extra-collegiate temp-
tation.
Van Ryn, a native of London,
Ontario, played with the London
Nationals of the Western Junior B
League last year, where he earned the
league's Defensive Most Valuable
Player, leading the league in points by
a defenseman with 15-30-45. He was
also a member of Team Canada's
1996 gold medal-winning Under-18
Team, on which he served as team
captain.
Although he has a lot of adjusting
to do at the collegiate level - includ-
ing focusing less on the offensive
aspect of his game and playing with-
out the red line featured in his old
league - Van Ryn said his experi-
ences with the Canadian national
team would help him adapt more
quickly.
"It was a good experience, not
only because the players are so
skilled, but also the mental prepara-
tion," Van Ryn said. "Like focusing
for the game, looking over what the
other team does - they go over a lot
of game tapes. That'll help me out
with the natural preparation that
comes in and all the ups and downs
you go through.
"Being a young team, everything's
not going to be on the high side,
you're going to run into some low
times too, so that should also help."
Although the college game may test
Van Ryn, Berenson said his skills put

Van Ryn at a level above his natural
youth.
"His skating and puck-carrying is
very strong," Berenson said. "He
makes good plays and shoots
the puck really well, and
he's a pretty strong kid for a
freshman. He's strong on
his feet and plays a strong
game, even though he's
still young.
As freshmen,
Langfeld and Van Ryn
have to adjust, not
only to a new style of
hockey, but to a whole
new lifestyle.
The two are taking
full loads in the
Division of Kinesiology,
although both plan to
transfer to LSA.
Langfeld, appropriately
enough, wants to
have a
career in
I a w
e n fore e -
ment -
but not just
because he
likes to
push people
around.
lived with a host
family while
playing juniors
last year, allowing
him to get some
first-hand experience with law
enforcement - on the right side, not
the wrong side.
"The guy I lived with last year was
an FBI agent, and that's pretty cool
stuff; I liked it," Langfeld said. "He
did everything. He made the biggest
drug bust in Nebraska history, plus he
did stakeouts. He's got a lot of con-
nections, so he could hook me up
pretty good."
Langfeld is finding that hockey and
school leave time to do little else.
"You get up, and you're kind of
dragging in the morning," Langfeld
said. "And then you go to class and
eat and go to practice for four hours,
come home and you have to go to
study table.
"I really feel that people that don't
have any extracurricular activities
have a lot of time on their hands."
After living with host families away
from home the past two years,
Langfeld is used to being indepen-
dent, even though his family is much
further away now than it was before.
Van Ryn, on the other hand, is find-
ing that he doesn't always have the
discipline to follow Mom's advice.
"It's different, that's for sure," Van
Ryn said. "I'm on my own now, no
one to look after you and cook meals
for you. You gotta take care of your-
self, make sure you eat the right stuff
at the right times. I'm getting to bed a
little late, I should be getting to bed a
little earlier."

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MALLORY S.E. FLOYD/Daily
Josh Langfeld (top right photo) and Mike Van Ryn (white jersey, above) will be two
of the major contributing freshmen for the-Wolverines this year.

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