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December 03, 1998 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-12-03

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12A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, December 3, 1998

Big Ten hockey? Weekend pair
offers glance at the possibility

By David Den Herder
Daily Sports Writer
After a little tango with the WCHA, the Michigan hockey
team is back to same-old, same-old this weekend.
Two more CCHA opponents are lined up for the
Wolverines - and these games will be much more important
to Michigan's season than were Wisconsin and Minnesota.
And for some reason, it seems like there is something wrong
with that.
After attending a game at the College Hockey Showcase in
Madison last weekend, you get the sense that there is poten-
tial for more than just a weekend "hi-how-are-ya" between
these teams.
Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Minnesota are
four of the most established and prestigious programs in the
nation. And the schools have something else in common: the
Big Ten. ___- .__---
Depending on who you talk to, theH
Showcase was first conceived with the Hockey
Big Ten in mind. Commentary
Originally, all four programs were ---..-__---
members of the WCHA, but the modern era of college hock-
ey swept Michigan and Michigan State into the CCHA.
Fearing the rivalries between the big four Midwestern pro-
grams would wither, the schools cooked up a weekend batch
of games around Thanksgiving, pitting the nonconference
teams against each other.
In 1993 when the series began, all games were played at the
Palace of Auburn Hills. But as the Showcase matured, it
moved onto the college campuses of Big Ten country.
The fact that all four Showcase teams are also Big Ten
schools is no coincidence, according to Michigan State coach
Ron Mason. He maintains that the Showcase was created
"mainly to regenerate Big Ten rivalries" that had once existed
in the WCHA.
On Showcase weekend, "You're playing the program more
than the team," Mason said.
Michigan coach Red Berenson agrees with the latter, but
doesn't think the Big Ten connection is all that much of a fac-
tor, citing tradition as the cornerstone of the event.
"These programs are so steep in tradition. Michigan and
Minesota have played more than any other team," Berenson
said. "And Wisconsin has had more than their fair share of
national championships. There's a mystique behind their pro-
gram."
But whether the Big Ten constant is a key part of the
Showcase or not, its existence is thought-provoking.

Is it an altogether silly notion to ponder the possibility of a
Big Ten hockey league?
Again, it depends on who you ask.
Five Big Ten schools sponsor varsity-level, Division I hock-
ey programs. Take the four Showcase teams from either
leagues, and also add Ohio State, from the CCHA.
In order to even consider a new Big Ten hockey conference,
almost everyone important agrees that there would be a need
for at least six programs. So why even think about it? One
team short, right?
That could change sooner rather than later. Penn State has
a very successful club program that many CCHA coaches feel
could make the jump to Division I with relative ease. And
then there is the Notre Dame wild card. Should the powers
that be decree - for better or worse - Notre Dame part of
the Big Ten, that could also raise the hockey school total to
six.
"You hear all the time about Notre Dame possibly joining
the Big Ten," Mason said. "If that ever happened, I think we
would have to look long and hard at the possibility of estab-
lishing a Big Ten league."
Six teams means five opponents, times four games per
opponent equals a 20-game season Perfect?
Not so fast.
Although Mason agrees that a Big Ten league is not out of
the realm of rational thought, he and most other coaches agree
that any future dialogue should be undertaken with caution.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said the Big Ten will not
take a proactive role in founding a league or championship.
Delany said he understands that the team configurations in
the current college hockey conferences are balanced "on a
pin, and will only take action if the schools come to him.
Some coaches fear that removing the Big Ten teams from
the current structure could have devastating effects.
"College hockey is a very close fraternity," Miami coach
Mark Mazzoleni said. "It has survived and elevated itself in
status because it has not taken an elitist attitude."
College hockey has indeed elevated itself in status - even
in the past few years - without the existence of any tradi-
tional conferences. Although the future may present the
opportunity for reorganization, don't expect a Big Ten hock-
ey league any time soon.
"it would kill college hockey,' said Mazzoleni, just at the
thought.
That could be a problem. Perhaps we should continue look-
ing at the Big Ten through the Showcase glass - for now,
anyway. It may be safer in there.

Shannon Shakespeare and the rest of the Michigan women's swimming and diving team are without their usual pr,
facility - Canham Natatorium is still under construction.
ang'.e is 'M'1wa

Comrie, Van Ryn make Canadian National Junior camp

By Mark Francescuffi
Daily Sports Writer
The Canadian
National Junior team
announced its 29-
player training camp
roster yesterday, and
on it are Michigan Van Ryn
sophomore defense-
man Mike Van Ryn and freshman cen-
ter Mike Comrie.
"It's such a team sport but when you
get recognition like this it's great,"

Comrie said.
Both players
attended a summer
camp for the team, in
which coaches got
their first looks at an
idea of the Decemberr
training camp roster. Comde
Comrie and Van
Ryn were two of the 19 players from the
summer camp that coaches asked back.
"I just went in there and tried to play
as hard as possible; Comrie said.

The two Wolverines still have one
more cut to make at the six-day selec-
tion camp, which will take place in
Winnipeg from December 13-18. The
final roster of 22 players, which will be
chosen by the 18th, will then play in the
10-country World Championships Dec
26-Jan 5.
If any of the Wolverines make the
final roster, announced December 18th,
they will miss Michigan's appearance in
the GLI tournament and a Jan. 2 game
at Ohio State.

By Uma Subramanian
Daily Sports Writer
Sleighbells, skiing, Christmas pre-
sents ...
Women's swimming?
With the arrival of December - and
what would in any other year be winter
- folks around the world prepare for a
period of holiday rest. But, for the
Michigan women's swimming and div-
ing team, winter and in particular
December is a time of intense activity.
It's a time when the fall season draws
to a close and hopes for the winter and
Big Ten seasons are created.
This winter will be unique - after
all, it's the last full winter of the millen-
nium. But, more importantly, this win-
ter is the last winter of a decade that saw
the Michigan swimming and diving
program rise to the top of the Big Ten.
The past I I years, Michigan has been
the dominant team in the conference,
winning the championship by sizable
margins.
But this team has been affected by
the spirit of change. A couple of weeks
ago at the North Carolina Invitational,
the Wolverines lost to Minnesota - a
team that in past years challenged, but

never beat, the Wolverines at the Big
Ten meet - by nearly 100 points.
Michigan coach Jim Richardson
acknowledges that the team will face a
tough challenge in returning to confer-
ence glory. Plagued by injuries, the
team has been reduced to just 15 swim-
mers.
Sophomore Stephanie Armstrong,
who had a strong season in 1997-98,
was involved in a car accident last sum-
mer from which she hasn't fully recov-
ered. Senior Jenny Kurth and junior
Amy Fritsch both had shoulder surgery.
"Minnesota has a very deep class,"
Richardson said. "When you look at
what it takes to win Big Tens, you need
18 people who can score individually.
With only 15 people, it would mean
every person would have to finish in the
top eight and score in three events. But,
we're going to try to do it."
Though the Big Ten and NCAA
Championships are a couple of months
away, this weekend at the Notre Dame
Invitational the Wolverines will have a
chance to race in the competitive for-
mat used at the NCAA Championships.
But like the other meets of the fall
season, this meet is just an extended

training session.
"We're just swimming through and
not resting (for this meet),' Richardson
said. "I have no expectations and no
preconceived ideas. We already know
where we stand.
"It'll let them get used to operating il
this kind of environment. That's what's
important."
This fall season has also been char
lenging for Michigan because the team
does not have a place to call hoe.
Canham Natatorium has been closed al-
semester for renovations and will not
open until early January.
As a result, the team has not beei
able to address issues such as individual
swimming styles and conditioning. >
This weekend's meet is the las
before the Wolverines head to Hawaa i
for a New Year's meet.
With the winter season fast
approaching a warmer wind is blowing
over the team. It's a time of change, but
some things will remain the same.
"We're just going to try and get
faster," Richardson said. "I'll be glld
when we get back in our own facility
and we can get back to focusing on
specifics."

.

Men's swimming heads for a
showdown in Lone Star State

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By Raphael Goodstein
Daily Sports Writer
Today the Michigan men's swim-
ming and diving team will compete in
the Texas Invitational in Austin, Texas.
The Wolverines will need their stars,
senior co-captains Tom Malchow and
Andy Potts, and sophomore Chris
Thompson to provide strong perfor-
mances if they plan to win the event.
Malchow was a silver medalist in
the 1996 Olympics. He was the NCAA
champion, and is a five-time All-
American.
"We don't expect anything more
than what we usually expect from
him," Michigan assistant coach Eric
Namesnik said. "We just want him to
go down there and lead in and out of
the pool. Same thing for Thompson
and Potts."
Potts won the Big Ten title in the
400-yard individual medley last sea-
son.
"He's been through this before so he

should be able to provide some senior
leadership," Namesnik said.
Thompson was the Big Ten fresh-
man of the year last year, and the Big
Ten champ in the 500 and 1,650
freestyle. In the NCAA
Championships he placed second and
third, respectively, in those events.
"We're just looking for everyone to
get better since the last time we were
in the pool," Namesnik said. "We real-
ly just want to see Chris race tough and
better than his last time."
As important as the stars are, the
Wolverines' freshmen will need to turn
in solid performances, too. The
Wolverines brought in one of the best
recruiting classes in the country last
year, and at the head of the class was
the top recruit in the country - Tim
Siciliano.
"This will be an excellent experi-
ence for the freshmen," Namesnik
said. "It is the first time that we have
had a three-day format and it should

help out down the road. This will be'
our last time racing before the end
the semester."
"The *Big Ten tournament and
NCAA Championships are also three
days of races."
Fellow freshman Jeff Hopwood also
will be looked at to help the team.
Hopwood competed earlier this season.
on the Big Ten all-star team. He was.
accompanied by sophomores
Thompson and Scott Werner, junior
Mike McWha, and seniors Potts a
Malchow.
In the sprint events, one area in
which Michigan likely improved this
year, the Wolverines will be led by
freshmen Jordan Watland and Jon
Arndt, along with junior Scott Myers.
"The expectations are not that high:
We are just expecting a steady
improvement," Namesnik said. "We
are not expecting anything amazing,
we just want to continue to get bett
throughout the year."

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