LANGFELD ON DECK
BY DAVID DEN HERDER - DAILY SPORTS WRITER
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Josh Langfeld was going to be
a baseball player. And why
not? He was an all-state catch-
er at the largest high school in
Minnesota. Sure, he played football
and hockey, too - all-conference -
but baseball was going to get him a
"Coming out of high' school, I
really didn't even pursue hockey,"
Langfeld said. "I just kind of
thought I'd play baseball - that's
what I always played."
But as one play can make or break
a game, it can do the same for a
Entering his senior year. Langfeld
tore half his ACL and 80 percent of
the cartilage in his right knee. He
missed five football games and suf-
fered with the injury throughout
By the time Langfeld had a diplo-
ma, he had injured his other knee as
"I realized I wasn't going to be a
catcher any more," Langfeld said.
"So I said, 'Hey, I'm gonna go play
hockey,' and went out for the
Frontier Hockey League after high
The American Frontier Hockey
Ever seen Slapshot?
Langfeld joined the Great Falls
(Mont.) Americans - a team fresh-
man goalie Josh Blackburn had
played for one year earlier.
Langfeld would travel from city to
city across the Northern United
States - up to 16 hours in either
direction -- in the team-ownedi77
Challenger, playing in front of
crowds that rarely topped 1,000.
"The road trips were ridiculous,"
"We saw everything - antelope,
deer, moose. Driving through the
passes, there's five feet of ice on the
road and you've got your coach dri-
ving the bus."
Things were just as outlandish on
the rink. Hard checking, fighting,
brawling - they were all nightly
occurrences. Langfeld recalls at
least four broken noses during that
"We only had one good line, so if
we were winning, they'd line-brawl
us, and the line would get kicked
out," he remembers. "Then they'd
come back and beat us. We only
won like eight games."
And half-way through the
season, the Americans
"Chapter I I," chuckles
Langfeld. "It was terrible. I
didn't know where my next
meal was coming from
playing out there."
Shortly after his team
went belly-up, it was pur-
chased by USA Hockey.
and was allowed to
play out that sea-
ished the sea-
son king of /
rookie of the year and first-team all-
league -- but told his coach he
would not be returning for another
fracas of a season.
His stats earned him a spot in the
United States Hockey League, where
he was drafted by the Lincoln Stars.
After re-injuring his knee, Langfeld
went on to score 35 goals and played
in the USHL All-Star Game.
Finally people knew who he was.
Colleges knew who he was. More
specifically, Red Berenson knew
who he was.
And Langfeld knew what he want-
"Everybody I talked to was like,
'You gotta go to Michigan, you gotta
go to Michigan," Langfeld said.
Berenson traveled to Lincoln to
watch Langfeld play, and offered
him a full-ride scholarship on the
A scholarship - for hockey!
"He was like, 'I can't
give you anything else,'
and I was like, 'I don't
Ju s t
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to go to
L a n g f e I d
committed on the spot
(never haling seen Ann
Arbor), unbeknownst to at
least 10 college scouts who
planned to talk to him the next
After committing to a school,
the NCAA mandates that athletes
have no more contact with other rep-
So the following morning,
Langfeld drove Berenson to the rink,
and proceeded to walk right past the
other coaches, directly into the lock-
Berenson informed the scouts that
Langfeld had already committed to
"They were kind of bitter - but
- it was one of the better days, I'd
say," Langfeld said.
Just like that, he was a Wolverine,
and an understudy of Berenson.
"Coach was pretty intimidating,"
Langfeld remembered. "I think I ate
dinner with him and I didn't eat a
thing. I sat there for about two hours
and had about two sips out of a glass
Langfeld made the trek to Ann
Arbor, and, aside from getting used
to the coach's persona, had no prob-
lem adjusting to the college game.
He saw action in every game last
year, and scored the most goals by a
Michigan freshman since Bill
Muckalt in 1994.
It had indeed been a long, strange
trip to the electric atmosphere of
"Two years before, when I was in
high school, I never would have
thought it," Langfeld said. "It's kind
of unique in a sense - being from
Minnesota and never thinking you're
going to be playing hockey. And in
the same sense, coming to Michigan
and winning the national champi-
Oh, yes. The national champi-
Langfeld has become something
of a hero in Ann Arbor, after the
the-NCAA-title' thing last spring.
It's a touch ironic, too. because
Langfeld has never really had the
best of luck in overtime situations.
His high school team lost in the
state semifinals three years in a row
to the same team, by one goal. in
His Lincoln Stars lost in the
National Junior semifinals by one
goal, in double-overtime. And until
that fateful day in Boston, he had not
scored a single goal for the
Wolverines in overtime.
Langfeld still has trouble keeping
total composure when he, or any-
body, talks about the goal.
"I'm not very talkative, and I'm
not verv - you know, I don't really
- I just kind of lost it when I scored
that goal. It was the best feeling of
That moment - one that seemed
so unlikely - must have been worth
It must have been worth the torn
cartilage, worth the broken noses,
worth the day-long bus rides to
It must have been worth the faded
boyhood dream of a baseball schol-
arship anywhere in the country.
"The game could have been over
10 minutes before all that I did if it
wasn't for the rest of the guys. I just
did what was right at the time."
In the long run, it certainly
appears that way.
Last year's overall record: 19-15-4
Last year's CCHA record: 15-12-3
Last year's results vs. Michigan
Nov. 7 Mich. 5, N. Mich. 3
Nov. 8 N. Mich. 1, Mich. 0
b. 14 Mich. 4, N. Mich. 2
1997 3 games against Michigan
Oct. 31 Ann Arbor
Dec. 11 Ann Arbor
Dec. 27 Detroit*
Mar. 6 Marquette
Players to watch Yr. Pos.
Buddy Smith Sr. C
Roger Trudeau Jr. W
Rick Comley, 23rd season
- Notable: Northern is currentiy con-
structing a $9.5 M events center
with an Olympic-size ice surface.
e nO advance in'(hgeGram L*ke
4 CCHA Rank - Media Poll
Northern Michigan rejoined the
CCHA last year to post their first win-
ning record since 1993, and this year's
strong deposit of returning talent should
have the Wildcats once again in the
Coach Rick (omlev loses only two
players from last year's roster, and will
have 88 percent of his offensive produc-
tiv ity back for another season.
if w're eoin to et better, it's cer-
tainly predicated by our returning play-
ers becoming better," Comlev said.
Senior captain Buddy Smith will lead
Northern's offense, which is completely
intact from last season.
Smith has led the team in scoring the
past two seasons.
Also returning will be junior Roger
Trudeau, who led the Wildcats in goals
last year with 16.
Sophomore defensemen Doug
Schmidt and Jeff White head up
Northern's blueline attack, while junior
Duane loey will return for his second
See WILDCATS, Page 16B
Irish on verge of breakthrough
Northern should post
strong record again
MICHIGAN PROPERTY DISPOSITION
HOURS Monday Noon-6pm
Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday Noon - 4pm
Friday Noon 7:30 - 11:30am
CCHA Rank - Media Poll
.tier grauduating hisla ring goal-
tender and losing a sophomore-to-be
to the NIHL. Notre IDame coach Dave
Poulin has but one option: start up the
'T'he Fighting Irish wil turn to
senior goaltender Forrest Karr to lead
them through the demanding CCHA
Karr replaces the departed Matt
Eisler. who ended his career with the
lowest goals against average in Notre
Last year's overall record: 18-19-4
Last year's CCHA record: 12-14-4
Last year's results vs. Michigan
Jan. 30 Mich. 7, N.D. 2
Jan. 31 Mich. 5, N.D. 4 (OT)
Mar. 7 Mich.1, N.D. 0
Mar. 13-15 Mich. wins series 2-1
1997-98 games against Michigan
Nov. 14 South Bend
Nov. 21 Ann Arbor
Jan. 30 South Bend
Players to watch Yr. Pos.
Ben Simon Jr. C
Benoit Cotnoir Sr. D
Dave Poulin, third season
Notable: The Irish leprachaun is a
really short guy.
HIGHEST QUA LIlY!
® FASTEST SER VICE!
® 1002 PONTIAC TR. U
But if there's anyone who can slide
ihIC siartin< t aO edi n t i a .
Kr h The scnioi xvon imnM r iVe road
aim s at Ohio State Wi cOnsin
last season, prov ing his capability.
"Forrest Karr has handled himself
very well when he's been in there."
Poulin said. "He's anxious to get a
Luckily for Karr, he'll have help.
Defenseman Benoit Cotnoir also
returns, having ranked third in scoring
among CCHA defensemen last sea-
Notre Dame suffered a big blow
when '97 CCHA Rookie of the Year
Mark Eaton left school to sign an offer
shy : ith the Philadelphia Flyers, and
wili have to rebuild with the help of a
five-member freshman class.
Notre Dame came close to estab-
lishing itself as a major conference
power in last year's CCHA playoffs.
Facing Michigan in game three of the
best-of-three first round at a hostile
Yost Ice Arena, the Irish jumped out to
a 2-0 lead before crumbling and los-
Poulin knows his team may be just
one step away from the big stage, and
this season will go a long way toward
determining whether or not Notre
Dame is finally for real.
"A THROBBING SUCCESS.
- DETROIT FREE PRESS
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