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February 17, 1999 - Image 9

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-02-17

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AMEN'S NCAA
BASKETBALL
(2) CONNECTICUT 77,
Rutgers 64
(4) MICHIGAN ST. 82,
(18) Purdue 69
(16) MIAMI FLA. 103,
Villanova 82
ArkDansas at
(24) FLORIDA, inc.

WOMEN'S NCAA
BASKETBALL
(1) TENNESSEE 113,
Memphis 39
(6) OLD DOMINION 90,
William & Mary 57
(8) Rutgers 72,
ST. JOHN'S 55
(17) Iowa State 55,
(20) KANSAS 52

(22) AUBURN 89,
South Alabama 50
(24) LSU 91,
SE Louisiana 45
NBA BASKETBALL
NEW JERSEY 97,
Detroit 82
Milwaukee 93,
PHILADELPHIA 92

fbe ick tjigilat

Tracking 'M' coaches
Following the departure of Vance Bedford to the
Chicago Bears, Michigan has hired Teryl Austin as its
secondary coach. Before coming to Michigan, Austin
spent three seasons as an assistant at Syracuse.

Wednesday
February 17, 1999

9

HAVE FUN,

WILL

TRAVEL

BY MARK FRANCESCUTI a DAILY SPORTS WRITER

sk Mike Comrie about his hobbies and he'll give you a
one-word answer: hockey. Most competitors love their
ame, but Comrie takes his love to a next level.
The freshman, who finds himself leading the Michigan
eckey team in almost every offensive category, likes plenty
of other things a normal Michigan student would enjoy. But
hockey is the item on his daily schedule that he doesn't tire of
no matter what.
After the Wolverines finish their drills and workouts at
daily practice, Comrie is usually the last one to leave, always
playing games - whether its horsing around or pretending to
play goaltender - his bright, wide eyes always open and a
gleaming smile on his face.
"It's free ice," his usual parnter in fun, defenseman Mike
an Ryn said. "It gives you a chance to be creative and try-
Wings you can't do in practice. He loves it."
Even when "Terrible Tuesday" workouts leave the team
withered in fatigue, Comrie still musters a mood of happiness
as he walks off the ice.
Not that Comrie works any harder than any of his other
teammates, but he truly has an ability to squeeze so much
enjoyment and fun out of each day of hockey.
His enjoyment of the game began as early as two years old,
when his father Bill and older brother Paul - a senior on
Denver University's hockey team - strapped skates on him

before he could barely walk.
And for the freshman, hockey wasn't the clarinet that
everyone quits after finding out practice consumes two hours
a day.
Endless hours of grueling hockey practice?
That was fun.
Comrie was a kid who flooded the area around his house so
he could build a temporary ice rink. That way he could get in
a couple more hours of practice and one or two more victory
skates around the ice with an invisible Stanley Cup.
He even played on his older brother's hockey team to build
experience, facing an onslaught of players three years older
and three years stronger than him - an amusing challenge
rather than something to be feared.
Because for Comrie, shooting pucks excites him more than
Little Caesars' Wacky Wednesdays, more than "buy one get
five free" at Steve and Barry's and even more than parents try-
ing to get ahold of a Furby.
And with hockey such an integral part of his life, his focus
and his determination, it's not ironic that one of the most
important decisions of his life had to deal with the pastime he
obsesses over.
The Edmonton native lived in a world where one can liter-
ally find an ice rink, indoor or outdoor, on every corner.
Comrie was from a place that breathes colder and snowier
than anything Ann Arborites have to deal with.
In this winter hockey wonderland, thousands of miles away,
when a young teenager shows some skill that separates him
from the others on the ice, one path always lays ahead: juniors.
Comrie showed unbelieveable hockey skill, swooping by
defenders effortlessly with the puck while piling up 138
points in 68 games. This production helped Comrie earn the
Alberta Junior Hockey League player-of-the-year award and
the St. Albert Saints to a league championship.
The decision for a Canadian player to skip major juniors,
which is the fastest path to the NHL, and attend college, is one
that Comrie struggled with. At just 16 years of age, the young
man had to decide his future with a toilsome choice - to be
a freshman or a junior.
Luckily, his family was there to support him in his time of
need. Comrie's dad and brother gave him the most support but
also had to fill in the gap of a caring mother, who died of can-
cer when he was just 11.
"It wasn't an easy decision, especially at 16 years old,"
Comrie said. "I had a lot of different people tell me a lot of
different things. My dad had played juniors and my brother
played college, so it made my decision easier. They were there
for me."
The decision wasn't made any easier for Comrie when his
rights for major juniors were traded to his hometown, tugging
at him to stay. Juniors would have also allowed him the chance
to play almost every night, unlike the two-game-a-week
schedule at Michigan.
But when it came down to plain old fun, college offered a
life and a plan that juniors just couldn't stand up to. In college
hockey, an 18-year old can develop his skills with daily prac-
tices for an extensive four-year period, something that Comrie
felt was important to have.
"You only play so many games (in college), but you can
look at college hockey as professional because you're practic-

ing every day;' Comrie said. "At this stage in a player's life
you have to practice more and develop yourself as a player.
You also gain more experience by playing against older play-
ers."
Juniors also meant a life of long bus rides, lonely hotel
rooms and the lack of a structured life that a teenager still
needs, whether he'll admit it or not. Junior hockey would've
meant the absence of the fun atmosphere that Comrie enjoys
at Michigan.
"I felt I needed time to grow," Comrie said. "I love it here.
We skate every day and work out twice a week. I just try to
have the most fun I can, because if you're not having fun, I
wouldn't go out there. It's not hard work."
No, daily practices are nowhere near work for Comrie.
After a quick lunch, he's usually the first person to scurry
down to Yost for practice and the last person to leave.
"I just love to be" at Yost, Comrie said. "It's my favorite
place to be."
No doubt Comrie would have enjoyed hockey anywhere he
played, but in the end, he found a place where he can play the
game he loves, meet people and have experiences that would
have been near impossible as a junior hockey player.
Oh, and more fun, too.

PHOTOS BY DANA INNANE AND DAVID ROCHKIND/Daily
Freshman center Mike Comre sweeps by one of many
defenseman this season (above). Comrle enjoying himself
nseif at 'Terrible Tuesday' practice (far right).

Hockey getting physical in response to slide

By TJ. Berka
Daily Sports Editor
Tuesdays are not the happiest days
if you are a Michigan hockey player.
You spend two hours hitting, skating
and scrimmaging at high intensity,
,tusing you to leave the ice with very
tie energy.
The intensity and exhaustion of
Tuesdays has given birth to the nick-
name "Terrible Tuesdays."
Yesterday's practice was far from ter-
rible for the Michigan hockey team. In
fact; it was regarded as one of the better
workout sessions of the year.
"We really picked up the tempo
today," Michigan forward Bob Gassoff
dod. "We came out more physical today,
and I thought it was one of our best
practices this year."
While one may say that the increased
hitting is a way to relieve the frustration
USCHO Top 10
Rakings and records are updated as of
No. 1 North Dakota (24-2-2)
No. 2 Maine (22-2-4)
'No. 3 MidNan State (22-3-6)
No. 4.New Hampshire (22-5-2)
No. 5 Colorado College (20-9-1)
No. 6 Boston College (18-10-2)
No. 7 Michigan (17-8-5)
No. 8 Notre Dame (16-9-4)
No.9 Ohio State (18-11.4)
No. 10 Clarkson (16-9-1)
Summer jobs!
Camp Bgichigania

of the Wolverines' six-game winless
streak, Gassoff said the physical nature
of practice was a calculated ploy to
regain the edge that has been lost during
the slide.
"Bubba (Berenzweig) and I came out
with the mentality that we wanted to
hit,' Gassoff said. "Maybe we haven't
been hitting as much lately, so I wanted
to help set the tempo."
Although yesterday's practice was
considered to be a particularly intense
one, Michigan coach Red Berenson said
that the drills that they run were no dif-
ferent than a typical Tuesday.
"We did a lot of the same drills today
that we normally do," Berenson said.
"But the intensity was different. We are
trying to forecheck harder. We aren't
necessarily trying to be more physical,
but if you play hard, you are going to
play physical."

A lot of the focus on effort has been
directed toward the defense as of late.
The Wolverines have given up 32 goals
in their previous 10 games.
In the 10 games before the slide
began, where Michigan ascended to
No. 2 in the nation, the Wolverines gave
up just 13 goals. This discrepancy is not
lost on Berenson or the Michigan
defensemen.
"We really have to bear down now'
Michigan defenseman Mike Van Ryn
said. "We were watching a game seg-
ment and we realized that we are giving
up way too many shots. We've been
relying on (goaltender Josh) Blackburn
way too much.
"Any time you eliminate shots, you
eliminate goals."
MUSICAL CHAIS: Yesterday's prac-
tice also saw forwards Andrew Merrick
and Bill Trainor practicing with the third

line. Merrick and Trainor, who haven't
dressed in the past eight games, are get-
ting a long look in practice this week by
Berenson.
"One of the problems in the last 10
games has been penalty killing,"
Berenson said. "I think Trainor can help
us in that area. As for Merrick, he's a
junior who can skate, has good speed
and plenty of experience."
Line juggling has been a common
thing for the Wolverines this season,
and Berenson suggested that it will
continue.
"Every player on this team is in con-
tention for playing time," Berenson said.

.R .,,
'
}Y ._,
'
" rww

The Michigan
hockey team has
given up 32 goals
in the last 10
games, so
defense was
made the focus
of "Terrible
Tuesday."
DAVID ROCHKIND/Daily

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