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October 13, 1997 - Image 24

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

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8C - The ichigan - Faceef9'W-- Monda tober 13, 1997

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MondOOctober 13, 1997 -=Face

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Toeing the blue

line

The test

of the rest

Michigan's defensive unit filled
with young, inexpenenced players

40-1

ch. 7, Minn. 4
.2th season,

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By Sharat Raju
Daily Sports Writer
Bubba Berenzweig isn't used to being
a leader.
As a freshman, he followed the exam-
ple set by Michigan mainstay Steven
Halko. Then, his sophomore season, it
was Harold Schock and Blake Sloan.
But now the roles are reversed. After
seasons of being groomed by some of
the top defensemen in the CCHA,
Berenzweig is now the teacher, having to
help instruct a plethora of youth on the
blue line.
"I grew up on a team with four juniors
my freshman year and four seniors my
sophomore year helping me along,"
Berenzweig said. "Now, I'm the one
who's trying to help the new guys along."
It's a new experience for Berenzweig.
He's won a national championship, two
CCHA titles and is the leading defensive
point-scorer returning for the Wolverines.
But this season might present
Berenzweig's most formidable challenge.
"This is an opportunity for him to step
up and be one of our top defensemen,"
Michigan coach Red Berenson said.
Fortunately for Berenzweig, he does-
n't have to do it alone. Senior Chris Fox
got the opportunity last season to step on
the ice, playing in 32 games.

"Chris Fox is doing a real good job,"
Berenzweig said. "He's the oldest of all
of us in terms of rank and class. He
speaks up a lot and helps our freshman
along in terms of strategic play. "
After seeing action in a career-high 32
games last season, Fox will be counted
on for a leading role like Berenzweig,
not a supporting one.
"Fox is a much, much better player
than he was when he came here as a
freshman," Berenson said. "He's learned
a lot. He's kind of expected to be like a
coach in the sense that he can help the
younger players learn what our defense
does."
Perhaps one of the biggest keys to the
Michigan defensive unit this season is
sophomore Sean Peach. Peach played in
all but two games last season and will
most likely be expected to improve on
his breakthrough year. Kevin Magnuson,
only appeared in 10 games last season,
might also have the opportunity to see
increased ice time.
Peach's successful freshman season
might be an inspiration to the younger
defensemen hoping to play a significant
role this season for the Wolverines. Mike
Van Ryn, the London, Ontario native,
already has high expectations, Berenson
said.

The other newcomers on defense are
Scott Crawford, Bob Gassoff and Ann
Arbor native Dave Huntzicker.
The most questions about this year's
Wolverines are asked about the defense
because of the abundance of youth. The
offensive unit has proven scorers, people
who have been to championship country
and back like Bill Muckalt and Matt
Herr. On defense, however. uncertainty
abounds.
"I need to get used to all the new fresh-
men coming in, Berenzweig said. "All
four freshmen are split up with four vet-
erans. All of us are in the same situation,
getting used to our new partners. We're
not really sure what anyone can do."
It's certain that throughout the year
Berenson will continue to experiment
with different sets of defensemen, nor-
mally pairing up an upperclassman with
a newcomer.
So the pressure is on those who were
previously in the background to come to
the forefront of the hockey scene. But
the pressure to step up can be viewed as
opportunity, according to Berenson.
"It's quite a different role,"
Berenzweig said. "I realize that I need to
pick it up a little more and show these
new guys what's it's all about at the col-
lege level."

'' .. '
Yq ,? R:
:da <:'

WARREN ZINN/ Daily
Minnesota goalie Steve DeBus was a little rusty against Michigan last year, giving up seven goals in the West Regional final.
Minnesota loses two top players

Open 7pm - 2am 7 days " 19 & up e
Roundtree Plaza next to Wal-Ma

SARA STILLMAN/Daily
Chris Fox enters his senior season as one of Michigan's few tested defensemen.

Year
Junior
Freshman
Senior
Freshman

Player Height Weight Year
Dave Huntzicker 6-3 192 Freshman

;
ii
,3
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,#
i3
i
6

Kevin Magnuson
Sean Peach
Mike Van Ryn

6-1

5-10

193 Sophomore
186 Sophomore
191 Freshman

6-1

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weekends 10 am - midnight
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There is constant turnover in college
sports. Players graduate, and a few
depart early to enter the professional
ranks.
To fill the void left by marquee play-
ers, college coaches actively recruit
young talent. But not Doug Woog.
Unfortunately for Woog, Minnesota's
coach, he didn't have the opportunity to
plug up the Golden Gophers' vacancies.
His two best players left just before the
season to play pro hockey.
Mike Crowley, two-time All-
American and a Hobey Baker finalist
last season, left early to play IHL hock-
ey. The junior defenseman was named
the most valuable player of the WCHA
last season after recording 56 points.
Crowley was the first defenseman to
lead the WCHA in scoring since 1963.
"Crowley is such a huge loss, but what
are you going to do?" Woog said. "He's
such a marvelous player."
Erik Rasmussen, the second Gopher
to make a last-second departure, was
selected seventh in the 1996 NHL Draft.
The earliest American-born player cho-
sen by the NHL last year, Rasmussen
made every indication that he would
return for his junior season, but he went
to the Buffalo Sabres.
"Rasmussen's a big strong guy," Woog
said. "We'll miss him, too."
The Gophers were ranked fourth
nationally before the departure of the
two standouts. Now, with this new devel-
opment, it remains to be seen how the
team will respond. The returning
WCHA champions still have some top
performers who decided to stick around.
Minnesota's leading goal scorer,
senior forward Ryan Kraft, returns after
scoring 25 goals last season.
Offensively, the Gophers have the nec-
essary components to light up the score-

"Our goaltending should be sound,
but we should be a little bit suspect on
defense," Woog said.
Between the pipes is veteran Steve
DeBus. The senior goalie has already
etched his name in Minnesota record
books as one of the top-five of all time
with a career 3.05 goals-against average
and .891 save percentage.

- Sharat Raju

1~

Yost
Arena
Public Skating
7 Days a Week

With the loss of Crowley on the blue
line, the Minnesota defense is hurting.
Sophomore Ben Clymer is the only expe-
rienced defensemen. Clymer's seven
goals and 13 assists last season earned
him WCHA All-Rookie team honors.
"We'll be younger than I had expected
but I think we'll have a pretty speedy
team," Woog said.

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