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December 11, 1998 - Image 12

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-12-11

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12 -The Michigan Daily - Friday, December 11, 1998

a
Michigan
goaltender Josh
Blackbum made
this stop, and in
recent games,
he's stopped
most of he shots
that have come
*is way. The last
#eam to beat the
Wolverines was
Northern
1Mchigan, which
visits Yost Ice
Arena tonight.
WARREN ZINN/Daily

'M' hockey looks to pay
back Wildcats tonight

t
3 _ ,
k
4

4

I

Wolverines will miss holiday to prepare for GLI

W

By David Den Herder
Daily Sports Writer
Finding the last time the Michigan
hockey team lost a game would
require a little digging.
Dig past a weekend in Ohio, past a
Thanksgiving Showcase, past a
homestand with Notre Dame and
Michigan State. Dig even further past
a Saturday in South Bend and past a
drubbing of Alaska-Fairbanks.
Dig, if still interested, all the way
back to a Halloween night at Yost Ice
Arena, a night when the top team in
the CCHA rode a bus into Ann Arbor,
and then drove away after manhan-
dling the Wolverines in a 6-1 shooting
circus.
That team? Northern Michigan.
And it's safe to say Michigan is still
interested. The Wolverines will have
their shot at redemption tonight at
Yost.
"I have something to prove," said
Michigan goaltender Josh Blackburn,
who gave up four goals on 10 shots
before being relieved Halloween
night.
"My big motivation factor is that I
played bad against these guys - and
I've got to play better."
Kevin O'Malley, who came in in
relief of Blackburn, had little more
luck with the Wildcats, taking on 14
shots and letting two in the net -
including a puck that seemed to defy
the laws of physics by taking a
strange bounce off the boards and into
the net. That goal seemed to sum up a

night in which nothing went the
Wolverines' way.
On Halloween night - which
constituted the only meeting between
the two teams so far this season -
Northern outshot Michigan 24-14.
The Wildcats converted two of seven
power plays while Michigan was
mute on I I chances.
Despite the unusual embarrass-
ment at home, Michigan coach Red
Berenson said the team did not circle
tonight's rematch on the calendar, but
now that time has arrived the team is
eager to face Northern again.
"It's not just who you want to get
even with or who you're mad at,"
Berenson said. "It's a matter of where
you're going, and what your obstacles
and challenges are."
Nevertheless, Berenson recog-
nizes the Wildcats as an important
hurdle along that road to success.
"Northern, obviously, is going to
present an obstacle and a challenge
for us. They are a team that beat us -
at home - so they'll come in here
with a little more confidence than
maybe we'd like them to."
In addition to having its hands full
with Northern, The Wolverines are
also juggling illnesses and final
exams as the semester draws to a
close.
Senior forward Dale Rominski has
been recovering from strep throat, and
forward Justin Clark is also recover-
ing from symptoms that kept him off
the ice on Wednesday. Both practiced

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yesterday, and are probable fo
tonight's CCHA matchup.
As for finals, the players share the
same frustration as the rest of the stu-
dent body, but hockey seems to offer
some release.
"I'm sick of studying," Blackburn
said. "But it's nice to get out here on
the ice and just forget about it for a
couple of hours"
H.O.M.E.S.: Everyone remem-
bers the mnemonic device for the
Great Lakes, but it is the Great Lakes
Invitational that will keep the
Wolverines from their homes over the
holidays.
Because of the timing of this
year's tournament, which begins or
Dec. 26, Michigan players will have
to spend Christmas day with each
other, preparing for a first-round
matchup with Michigan Tech at Joe
Louis Arena.
Some of the Wolverines with later
exam schedules will not even have the,
opportunity to go home before they
are due back at Yost, two days before
Christmas.
Berenson said it is sometimes a
challenge for the team to be in sync
on the ice after being away from each
other for so many days, making te
GLI a unique competition.
"The timing of the tournament
comes at the end of a break - we
really won't have any team activities
or practice,' he said. "After (tonight's
game), they're on their own until the
night of the 23rd."
RECORD
Continued from Page 11
lowing an uplifting win over Michiga
State a week ago.
If Saturday's opponent has been
inconsistent, the Wolverines this season
have been anything but. In tallying wins
in every game since their season-open-
ing loss to Vanderbilt, the Wolverines
have staked a claim as force to be reck-
oned with as the Big Ten season nears.
Entering Wednesday's game, Michigan
found itself leading the Big Ten in some
six statistical areas while claiminga
first-place position in the conferet
standings.
Despite the strong start, the tea,
according to assistant coach Yvette
Harris, has begun to feel the effects of a
punishing travel schedule that currently
finds the Wolverines in the midst ofa
four game road tour.
"We know it's tough to be on the road,
and to go into Illinois State is going to
be a challenge" Harris said. "But we
know it's something we've got to do ar
we feel we can get the job done."
Junior guard Stacey Thomas, who
netted her 800th career point on
Wednesday, said she feels the'grueling
road schedule shouldn't have any impact
on the team's performance.
"Being on the road and traveling isino
excuse for us to play poorly. We know
what we've got to do," Thomas said fo-
lowing Wednesday's game.
Yet despite the inconveniences O
travel, the Wolverines have yet to see t
effects keep the team from winning, and
the wins have come quite handily at
times, as evidenced by a 55-point win
over Coppin State on the road late last
month.
Nevertheless, as the team sets Is
sights on Illinois State, it will most cer-
tainly be focusing on senior guard Jenny
Schmidt, whose 18 points per game tis
season have paced Illinois State in sco*
ing. She's become only the fou.
Redbird to ever manage 400 career
assists to go along with 200 steals.
"Illinois State has a great 3-point

scorer in Schmidt." Harris said. "She
can do a lot of things and we worked on
some different ways to try to shut her
down. We tried some combinations of
zones and man defenses that we can use
against her, but she's tough."
Whatever the outcome of Saturday's
contest, the team will travel t
Bloomington to face Indiana and ope
the Big Ten season on Dec. 28. The trip
will mark Michigan's fourth straight
road game, and will mean a trip to their
third different state in as many games.
"We love Crisler Arena because we
just love being at home and having the
support of the fans. Going to Indiana to
open the Big Ten is going to be big,'
Harris said. "But I think the bigges
thing to remember is that we've gp
finals and Christmas between now an
then, which will give the kids a full week
off before the game. So the important
thing to do is have our players go home,
but come back ready to play."
Following their matchup with

aw..
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