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March 18, 1999 - Image 17

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-03-18

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 18, 1999 - 17A

Pairwise

Rookie of the Year? CCHA to
give out annual awards tonight

shmairwise;
,~['deserves
tourney bid
This time of year is usually pretty
predictable for Michigan hock-
ey. The Wolverines, ranked
among the nation's top five, saunter
into Joe Louis
n, play a
game ,or two,
and' lok to
se mhere they
are headed for
NCAA
Regionals.
But this sea- T.J.
sort hasn't fol- BERKA
lowed that Teeing
s e'i script. Off
W 6verines are
c'it'ently ranked eighth in the nation
and 'spot in the regionals, which is
usually reserved in bold type, isn't
necessarily a guarantee.
Thefire are rumors circulating
through the world of college hockey
that-say if Michigan loses to Ohio
State"on Friday night in the CCHA
semifinals, the only place Michigan
w1 ,be going next week is to class.
s my duty to clarify this gossip.
The Michigan hockey team is not
going to class'- at least not in the
latter part of the week. Michigan is
going to the NCAA regionals,
regardless of what they do against
the Buckeyes. Or at least they should
be going.
V course, a win over Brutus and
hiscarlet-clad gang of nuts would
e this debate, and this whole col-
u , moot. The Wolverines would
have beaten every team in the CCHA
(they are 0-2-1 against the Buckeyes)
and would be making reservations
for Madison.
But'I'm going to play devil's advo-
cate here. Let's say that Ohio State
pulls the hat trick and beats
Michigan. Will that loss keep the
Wolverines from Madison or
Worcester, Mass.?
according to the Pairwise
Rankings - U.S. College Hockey
Online's formula to calculate who is
going to the NCAA Tournament and
who isn't - it just might. The
Wolverines are currently 12th in the
most recent rankings, two places
below Quinnipiac.
However; there is a disclaimer that
goes alongside Quinnipiac. Besides
n being responsible for the spelling
allocation of the school (it's in the
East, I think), the Pairwise Rankings
mentions that Quinnipiac isn't eligi-
ble for the NCAA Tournament due to
the fact that its schedule is inferior to
the schedules of the other teams that
are in contention for an NCAA
berth:
With that being said, how can
Quinnipiac (or how ever you spell it)
be ahead of the Wolverines in these
rankings? It's obvious that strength
o -hedule is not really being con-
sidered when these rankings are pub-
lished.
What is being considered, then?
National ranking perhaps? Not in the
Pairwise Rankings. No. 9 in the
nation Denver and No. 10 St.
Lawrence are ranked ahead of the
Wolverines. And Quinnipiac? They
aren't even ranked, as much of a

s Aker as that may be.
ow about strength of conference?
The Pairwise obviously doesn't think
this is too important either. The
CCHA has had six teams --
Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio
State, Notre Dame, Northern
Michigan, and Ferris State - ranked
among the nation's top 10 this sea-
son. No other conference has had
more than four.
Even seventh-place Bowling Green
a winning record going into the
.HA playoffs. Meanwhile, the
fourth-place team in the WCHA,
Minnesota, has a losing record.
For Michigan to finish second in a
sfacked conference such as the
CCH A had to take some sort of skill.
But the Pairwise Rankings could
care less. No. 8 Michigan - who
was as high as third in the nation, is
ranked 12th in the Pairwise. Even
*ond-ranked Michigan State -
who has lost only once since
Christmas - is ranked fourth in the
Pairwise.
The Pairwise doesn't care much
about how a team finishes a season
either. The Wolverines scored 34
o tl.in the nasct sx frmes. 0flif 5-

By Mark Francescutti
Daily Sports Writer
In past years, the CCHA awards week
often brought numerous accolades to the
Michigan hockey team.
But when several awards - Player of
the Year, Coach of the Year, Rookie of
the Year, Best Offensive Defenseman,
Best Defensive Forward, Best Defensive
Defenseman - are given out at the
CCHA banquet tonight in Detroit, most
Michigan players won't be ready to stand
up and walk to the podium.
Because none of the Wolverines
received CCHA first or second team
honors on Monday, the prospect of any
winning a bigger award seems bleak. w
"Only a player on the first or second
team gets best offensive defenseman and
that kind of stuff," captain Bubba
Berenzweig said. "It's kind of ridiculbus,
the second place team doesn't have a
player on the first or second team."
The choices, voted by the conference's
coaches, catered to players who had big-
ger numbers than most Wolverines.
Michigan had few players near the top
of almost any of the statistical categories,
which likely led to its absence 'in

Monday's announcement and will most
likely prevent the Wolverines from com-
ing home with anything more than a
good meal.
But Michigan does have one of the top
chances in one category not determined
by the first or second team - CCHA
Rookie of the Year. The conference
named three Wolverines - Josh
Blackburn, Mike Comrie and Jeff Jillson
to its All-Rookie team, and might also
give one of them an extra bonus as the
best freshman of the season.
"We definitely have a chance of get-
ting that," Berenzweig said. "We have
three guys so it's a pretty good chance."
Comrie looks to be the best prospect.
The freshman center finished the season
sixth in league scoring. His explosive
quickness on the ice gives him the edge
over other candidates.
Jillson and Blackburn have history
against them. Almost all Rookie of the
Year candidates in past years - except
for Marty Turco in 1996 - have been
primarily forwards.
While Berenzweig seems modest
about the idea of him winning an award,
he also has a crack at the Best Offensive

Going ,banqiueting
Tonight players take a break amidst
the CCHA playoff run to watch and
receive the conference's season awards.
Here is the lineup of awards and
Michigan candidates:
Payer of the Year
Rookie of the Year ime Comfe Jeff Jilison
Josh Blackburn
Coach of the Year -
Defensive Defenseman -
Offensive fenseman Bubba mi3en weig
Defensive Forward -
Michigan's CCHA AlHookie team award
recipiea ts - , osh Blacbumn Mike Comnie and
Jeff J1son witlreceive their awards tonight
Defenseman award.
The senior is third on the team in
points and the highest point getter over-
all in scoring with 29 points.
"I don't think I'm going to win,"
Berenzweig said. "I would have already
got a tuxedo by now."
Even with probable the lack of
awards, Berenzweig will choose to look
at the outcome a different way.
"Maybe we're not a team of super-
stars," Berenzweig said. "I don't have a
problem with that."

MARGARET MYERS/Daily
Freshman Mike Comrie is Michigan's best crack for an award at tonight's CCHA
banquet. The center is a candidate for Rookie of the Year.

ICers offense
surging in
postseason
GOALS
Continued from Page 14A
But that doesn't detract from the
impressive 5.67 goals per game
Michigan has compiled over it's last
six.
The scoring has not only been pro-
lific, it's also been balanced. Goals
have been spread across all four
Michigan lines, and a defensemen
have scored in each of the last six
games as well.
"A number of different players
have helped sparked our team with a
key goal to give everyone more con-
fidence," Berenson said. "Bobby
Hayes hasn't scored in a long time -
and he's on fire now."
Maize blaze: Michigan top line
center Bobby Hayes was named
offensive player of the week by the
CCHA after recording three goals
and an assist against Bowling Green.
In the opening series of the play-
offs, the assistant captain matched
his regular season goal total while
helping the Wolverines advance in
postseason play.
"You don't play hockey just to
play hockey," Hayes said after the
weekend series. "You play for the
rings."
IRON SHIELD: Former Michigan
standout and San Jose Sharks goal-
tender Steve Shields is the NHL's lat-
est player of the week. Shields had a
3-0-0 record, 1.33 goals-against
average, a shutout and a .948 save
percentage during the week ending
March 14.
Shields stopped 26 shots Friday
night for his second career shutout in
a 2-0 decision over the Detroit Red
Wings.
Goaling around
The Michi an hockey team, known
largely for its defenswe prowess this
season, has come on strong offen-
sively in the past weeks.
Here's the goals pergame rating of
the USCHO Top 10 since
Feb. 26.

Hockey 'U'
CCHA Tournament

With its future uncertain,
Blue controls own destiny

USAToday/American Hockey
Magazine Top 10
Rankings and records as of March 15

Team (first-place votes)
1. North Dakota (6)
2. New Hampshire (3)
3. Michigan State (1)
4. Maine
5. Colorado College
6. Clarkson
7. Boston College
8. Michigan
9. Denver
10. St. Lawrence

Record Pts.

31-4-2
28-5-3
2&4-7
27-5-4
27-10-1
23-10-1
23-11-4
22-10-6
24-12-2
22-11-3

96
92
82
66
61
46
40
31
17
12

Prev.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

Others receiving votes: Ohio State - 7
Pairwise Rankings

By Mark Francescutti
Daily SpQrts Writer
The Michigan hockey team's future this season
is still in significant doubt.
Even after a powerful 2-0 sweep of Bowling
Green this past weekend, the Wolverines are sta-
tistically no closer to the NCAA Tournament -
in fact,*they are in a worse position.
It comes down to the Wolverines controlling
their own destiny in the CCHA Tournament this
weekend. Michigan can't be sure it will travel to
an NCAA regional unless it earns the automatic
bid given to the tournament champion.
Usually the Wolverines ride into the tourna-
ment with an almost automatic chance at a
NCAA shot. But this season - through all it's
ups and downs - has led to an unfamiliar
moniker for Michigan: bubble team.
"I think we're bubble," captain Bubba
Berenzweig said. "We could go either way. You
can't tell. So in my mind, we have to beat Ohio
State."
The culprit of Michigan's present situation was
a rocky regular season path.
Early in the season the nation saw the sight of
a powerful Michigan team, during a. 10-game
undefeated streak from Nov. 13 to Dec. 27.
Suddenly, the preseason predictions of Michigan
standing as one of the top three teams in the
nation looked to be paining out.
And then 1999 rolled in.
The Wolverines didn't party as the Prince song
hints to. Instead, Michigan found itself in a des-

perate situation and a eight-game winless streak.
Rut Berenzweig says the regular season -
which he calls 'the preseason'- can't be looked
at to judge the team now.
"The beginning of the season is gone and for-
gotten. We ended up in second, that's great. It
doesn't mean anything now, because it didn't give
us an automatic bid. We are a bubble team, so
now we have something to fight for."
And for the past few weeks, Michigan has left
its inconsistent play behind and renewed its strive
for another national championship evidenced by
a 5-1 record.
Berenzweig thinks the team looks a lot better
emotionally than in February and just has to build
on its conquests as of late.
"This team is pretty confident and excited,"
Berenzweig said. "During the 35 days when we
didn't win, it's hard to look forward to the next
weekend. Now, you pretty much have to try and
remember everything you did last week and just
build on it."
And if a NCAA bid does fall into, the
Wolverines' laps this weekend, Michigan will be
an underdog.
"We're not going to come in as the best team in
the nation,' Berenzweig said. "We're going to
have to win on pure desire and emotion. It's been
a problem for this team in the past, but after see-
ing how we played, I'm excited to know we can.
And when we do, we're pretty darn good."
The NCAA Tournament bids will be
announced on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

Rank
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14

Team
North Dakota
New Hampshire
Maine
Michigan State
Colorado College
C larkson
Denver
Boston College
St. Lawrence
Qui nni piac
Ohio State
Michigan
Northern Michigan
Notre Dame.

RPI
.645
.640
.610
.596
.593
.589
.568
.592
.554
.538
.536
.544
.535
.537

PWR
21
20
19
18
17
15
15
14
13
13
11
8
8
7

The Pairwise Rankings, by www.uscollegehockey.com ,
mimic thetactual NCAA selection committee's process of
choosing the 12-team NCAA Tournament field.

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