160 - Th~~chigan Daily - Faceoff~- Monday, October 13, 199T~ Monday, October 1~1997 - Faceoff '9
16C -- Th - chigan Daily - Faceoff jL- Monday; October 13, 1CAA-
Monday, October 1997 - Faceoff 97
Northern Michigan returns to
CCHA after 13-year absence
Chemistry of Michigan's lines remains in q
CCHA Rank - Coaches Poll
Sept. 23, 1997, was a homecoming
of sorts for Northern Michigan coach
Rick Comley. It was CCHA Media Day
at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, where
coaches from every team in the CCHA
came to preview their upcoming sea-
And without fail, every coach began
his statements with roughly the same
"Welcome back, Rick."
It has been 13 years since Comley
took his program from the CCHA out
west to face the likes of WCHA foes
Minnesota, North Dakota and
Wisconsin. But whatever the reason
was for leaving, Comley made it clear
he was delighted to be where he was.
"We're very pleased to be accepted
back in the CCHA for the upcoming
season," Comley said. "We just hope
we can add another good program to an
"I appreciate very much what the
WCHA has done for us over the last 13
years; and we will take many fond
memories with us."
Included in those fond memories
will be Northern Michigan's 1990-91
campaign, in which the Wildcats cap-
tured not only the WCHA regular-sea-
son and playoff titles but the national
championship as well. The Wildcats
finished that season riding a 26-game
unbeaten streak all the way to the
Prior to their WCHA years, the
Wildcats began play in the CCHA dur-
ing the 1977-78 season, one year after
beginning their hockey program under
They tasted success from the get-go
in the CCHA, reaching the national
semifinals in their third and fourth
The 1979-80 Wildcats became the
first CCHA program to ever reach a
national championship game.
After sputtering in its final two sea-
sons in the CCHA, Northern Michigan
bolted for the WCHA.
Nevertheless, the Wildcats are now
back. CCHA commissioner Bill
Beagan and the rest of the league elite
are welcoming them with open arms.
And for this reason, Comley is excit-
ed about rejoining the powerful confer-
"The timing of this move is excel-
lent," he said. "The people in
Marquette are excited about the teams
we are going to be playing again."
Excited they should be, considering
the number of intrastate rivalries that
can be rekindled with the likes of Ferris
State, Michigan State and Michigan.
But despite the initial honeymoon
that Northern Michigan is experienc-
ing, Comley is well aware of the situa-
tion of his squad, and the consequences
that could follow.
. "Northern Michigan is rebuilding,"
Comley said. "We know we'll take our
bumps and bruises."
Leading the Wildcats this season
will be a number of talented sopho-
mores, including WCHA All-Rookie
team member Buddy Smith, who led
Northern Michigan in every offensive
Joining Smith on the first line will
be fellow sophomores Roger Trudeau
and J.P. Vigier, who both tallied double-
digit goal-scoring efforts last season.
While Northern Michigan may be
set offensively, its defense is in limbo.
Comley's point man on defense will be
senior Curtis Sheptak - a converted
"Curtis provides us with a big,
strong defenseman who can shoot the
puck," Comley said. "We've been look-
ing for someone with offensive quali-
ties on the blue line for the last couple
of years, because it's an area we've
been deficient in the last two years."
In goal, the loss of Dieter Kochan to
graduation leaves the door open for
sophomore Duane Hoey. who posted a
.873 save percentage in 15 games last
- Pranay Reddy
Continued from Page 4C
some kind of a niche and get going.
"They don't know each other so
well, so there is not as much confi-
dence between the linemates."
Thus, by placing left wing Herr on
another line with center Bobby
Hayes and right wing Sean Ritchlin;
Berenson obtains his goal of two
potentially powerful lines.
With the expected lack of chem-
istry, it will up to players like
Crozier. Hayes and Ritchlin to
ensure the cohesiveness of each of
the first two lines.
All three have put up solid num-
bers in the past, but that was with the
presence of Morrison and Botterill
to take off the heat.
Nevertheless, Berenson is confi-
dent that it is only a matter of time
before he sees a strong offensive
unit. Until then, Berenson is just
asking for the little things to be
taken care of.
"It's a matter of when they do
well," he said. "Are they going to
step up and play well (early on) or is
it going to take until Christmas to
really start playing their best?
"I think you'll see a little of both."
Also looking for some ice time
this season will be freshman Josh
Langfeld. The 6-foot-3 forward has
impressed coaches already, scoring
two goals in the annual Blue-White
"Langfeld could be a great scorer
in this league," Berenson said.
Mark Kosic k
MICHIGAN SPORTS INFORMATION
in a return to the good old days, Northern Michigan has returned to Its hockey
roots by rejoining its original conference - the CCHA.
With an inexperienced defensive unit behind it, the Michigan offense may face
more pressure to score consistently.
Rick Comley, 22nd season
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Continued from Page 7C
not going to pout, I'm going to do
what's best for the team.
"We (freshmen) want to add to the
dynasty that they have here. That's
why were here -- they wouldn't have
brought us here if we wouldn't have
been able to do that."
And so the freshmen begin the sea-
son with mixed feelings - feelings
of antieipation and undoubtedly some
nervousness, but at the same time
feelings of explosive potential. ready
to be unleashed.
Berenson said it would be tough to
live up to the standards of last year's
senior class. But he also sees the
potential for the freshman class to set
its own impressive standard of suc-
cess for other classes to follow in the
"We didn't bring (the freshmen)
here to sit them in the stands,"
Berenson said. "There's no question
they're going to hear a lot about the
seniors that left and it was a great
class -maybe the best class we've
"All they can do is their best and
not worry about what someone else
did. And they may do as good, they
may do better. I think they're going to
be a real good class in their own
right. We won't have to worry about
comparing them to someone, we'll
just judge them based on what they're
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