The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 19, 1999 - 11
upset at the Joe
By David Don Herder
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan and Ohio State will have more than just CCHA
fans watching with interest tonight as the two teams meet in
e CCHA semifinals for the second-straight year.
The winner of the other semifinal rematch tonight -
Michigan State vs. Northern Michigan - will surely be curi-
ous as to their final round opponent. Three hours before the
Wolverines hit the ice at the Joe, the top-seeded Spartans will
deal with surging Northern, attempting to secure a berth in the
CCHA title game for the third consecutive season. But unlike
last year, when Mike York and the green machine brushed off
Northern, 5-1, this season's edition could prove to be a game.
The Wildcats are at Joe Louis Arena tonight because they
earned it. After losing to Michigan and Notre Dame in the final
series of the regular season, Northern put on its playoff face,
,gaveling hundreds of miles to defeat the Irish in three games.
l ie first-round road victory was the first in school history.
But Northern has been in good position for a playoff run all
season. The Wildcats won six straight out of the gates, and
went on to compile their first 20-win season since 1993.
Perhaps the most memorable show of talent for Michigan fans
was Northern's 6-1 drubbing of the Wolverines at Yost Ice
Arena last Halloween night.
Northern forward J.P. Vigier is in the top three of nearly
every offensive chart in the CCHA - including goals, power
play goals and game-winning goals. Junior Tyson Holly and
Wshman Sean Connolly also netted two goals each in the first
round to help the Wildcats outmuscle the Fighting Irish.
With all that said, there is a reason the Spartans are the No.
I seed. Michigan State has a suffocating defense that led to its
school-record 23-game unbeaten streak this season. At'93.1
percent, the team's penalty kill unit is the best in the nation.
Bryan Adams and Hobey Baker Award finalist Mike York
give the Spartans a lethal offensive threat as well, but the
Spartans have rarely needed more than three goals to secure a
victory. In fact, since Feb. 26, Michigan State has averaged
only 2.83 goals per game (going 5-1 in the process).
Michigan coach Red Berenson said he was impressed but
t surprised by Northern's play so far this season - most
notably the first round series with Notre Dame. As for the
"Lake Superior took Michigan State into overtime in their
building, and Lake Superior is an eighth-place team in our
league. Bowling Green played us in a tough, tough game (last)
Friday and they're supposed to be a seventh place team,"
Berenson said. "I don't think there's a big difference between
teams in our league."
Hobey finalists include two from
Yesterday, the finalists were announced for the Hobey Baker
Memorial Award, presented annually to college hockey's most out-
standing player Two CCHA players are among the candidates.
M' hopes for last
laugh over Bucks
Photos by MARGARET MYERS/Daily
Most teams are fortunate to discover one impact freshman on their roster - the Michigan hockey team
found three. From left and continuing clockwise; newly-named CCHA Rookie of the Year Mike Comrie
and All-Rookie Team teammates Jeff Jilison and Josh Blackburn.
Corie, freshman cass haXvCe
soared beyond epectatios
By Mark Francescutti
Daily Sports Writer
Life as a first-year student on
any school's campus isn't the
favorite time of most students.
For student-athletes the job
isn't any easier. Freshmen deal
with the ever-present practical
jokes. And when the game is on,
freshmen are looked upon to
contribute like seniors.
son, the HOCKEY
needed its ---------------~~
freshmen to perform three years
older. With the loss of a huge
core of seniors, including the
offensive power of players like
Bill Muckalt, the Wolverines
needed their freshmen more
And in a season when goals
were sometimes hard to come
by, Mike Comrie answered
Michigan's call. The 18-year-old
smashed through the freshman
barriers and swatted through the
butterflies from the very begin-
In just his second game of the
season, Comrie tallied four
Not bad for game number
In 38 games thus far, the cen-
ter has netted 43 points while
leading the team in plus-minus
with a +19. Former Michigan
superstar Brendan Morrison had
48 points in his freshman season.
Comparisons to past greats
like Morrison and Muckalt are
common place for Comrie,
whether they come from his
teammates, coaches or the press.
What makes him the special
player that Michigan coach Red
Berenson calls him? It's because
every time he touches the puck,
people get excited.
He swoops around defenders
like a roadrunner, using both his
skill and speed to make his
opponents look like pee-wees.
Great players come to mind
when watching Comrie, because
when great players touch -the
puck, everyone stops what they
were doing and watches in awe.
But Comrie isn't the only star
freshman that has gotten
Michigan fans excited.
Goaltender Josh Blackburn and
defenseman Jeff Jillson have
also shown the signs to be the
next Michigan greats.
It's bad enough to be a goalie,
but a freshman goalie is ten
Yet at a time when some
teams redshirt their young goal-
tenders, Michigan needed
Blackburn behind the net.
Few goalies in history have
reached a consistency in the net
this early in their careers. But no
matter what team the
Wolverines faced, Michigan
could count on their goalie.
Mistakes may have haunted
the freshman in some games,
but shutouts and strong perfor-
mances diluted those errors.
And with backup Kevin
O'Malley at Blackburn's side,
the Wolverines should have no
worries about the fate of their
goaltending for years to come.
,The Michigan defense
received a big boost when
Jillson came to Ann Arbor. The
defenseman not only has shown
his strength on the defensive
end, but on the offensive side as
well. Jillson is fifth on the team
in points with 23. The big fresh-
man has definite potential to be
one of the best defensemen to
wear a Michigan jersey.
Not bad for just freshmen.
By Chris Duprey
Daily Sports Editor
As the only conference team
Michigan has not beaten, tonight's
CCHA playoff semifinal game
against Ohio State looks to be the
most formidable of tasks.
But confidence is running high for
the Wolverines, who have won five of
their last six. Their offense has
sparked with the resurgence of
Bobby Hayes and other scoring-capa-
ble seniors, and goaltender Josh
Blackburn is keeping Michigan in
contention almost every night.
"We knew we had goal-scorers all
along," Michigan forward Sean
Ritchlin said. "There's a lot of guys
on this team that have a lot of ability
to score goals.
Besides the championship at stake
tomorrow night, the Wolverines need
a victory over Ohio State so they can
sleep well, knowing an NCAA at-
large bid is likely coming their way.
"We're really not talking about
NCAAs," Michigan coach Red
Berenson said. "We're talking about
this game, Ohio State, the playoffs,
If there's been one series this sea-
son where the game results haven't
told the entire story, it's this one. In
Michigan's three regular-season
meetings with Ohio State, victory
and execution have just barely eluded
the Wolverines' grasp:
Jan. 2 in Columbus: The pre-
miere of the Value City Arena was
available only to those who were able
to tunnel through blizzard conditions.
Michigan played Ohio State tight
the entire way, but a late power-play
goal by Chris Richards, with just
6:09 remaining in the game, cost the
Wolverines a tight 1-0 decision.
* Jan. 23 in Columbus: A goal in
the second period by Michigan's
Mike Comrie looked like it would
hold up as the margin of victory.
But the Wolverines were unable to
clear the zone and get a line change
at a crucial juncture late in the third
period, and Ohio State's Ryan Jestadt
made them pay with 1:10 left. The
contest ended in a I-1 tie.
® Feb. 6 in Ann Arbor: Michigan
seemed to bury itself early, falling
behind 2-0 in the first 4:05 of the
The Wolverines would rally to
within a goal and were pressing hard
to tie the game when Hayes slipped
and fell as he carried the puck out of
his own zone. Ohio State's Hugo
'Ohio State vs. Michigan
Joe Louis Arena, Detroit
When: 8:30 p.m.
TV: MediaOne local channel
19) will broadcast a live feed
from Fox Sports Detroit.
Radio: WCBN 88.3 FM and
WTKA 1050 AM will both
broadcast the game live.
Notables: Michigan has not
beaten the Buckeyes all season,
posting an 0-2-1 record ... Ohio
State advanced to the CCHA
semifinals with a sweep over
Ferms State in Columbus ..
Michigan is 1-2 at Joe Louis
Arena this season.
Boisvert - a dangerous scorer in
traffic, much less on a breakaway -
flipped the puck past Blackburn for
what turned out to be the game-win-
"I think we've got to go out and
establish ourselves right from the
start," Ritchlin said. "The first five
minutes and the last five minutes of
periods can be heartbreakers."
Despite the previous outcomes,
Michigan doesn't plan on changing
its strategy for tonight.
As a matter of fact, given their
recent offensive explosion, the
Wolverines hope for the same type of
game the two teams have played all
"Hopefully they don't really do
anything to stop it (Michigan's
offense)," sophomore Scott Matzka
said. "If we get going, I don't know if
anyone can stop it."
Michigan will have to test Ohio
State goaltender Jeff Maund fre-
quently if it wants to have a realistic
chance of moving on to tomorrow's
Maund's selection to the all-CCHA
First Team on Monday won't be able
to help him on the ice, but it shows
his ability to keep the Buckeyes in
the game - even when they make
costly defensive errors.
"It seems like we kind of play a lit-
tle bit timid, and sit back on our heels
when we play them," Matzka said. "If
we go after them, I think we can take
advantage of their weakness - their
The recipient of the Hobey Baker award will 'be announced on
Friday, April 2 in Anaheim, Calif.
1999 CCHA Tournament
1 Michigan State
8 Lake Superior
4 Notre Dame
5 N. Michigan
1 Michigan State
Joe Louis -
5 N. Michigan
7 Bowling Green
3 Ohio State
Tomorrow, 7:30 p.m.
Joe Louis Arena
3 Ohio State
6 Ferris State
Continued from Page 9
dominated by Michigan State, simi-
lar to the way the Spartans dominat-
ed the CCHA on the way to a 20-3-7
Mike York led the Michigan State
arge, as he won both the Player of
the Year and Best Defensive Forward
awards. York also was a first-team
selection on the all-CCHA team.
Michigan State defenseman Mike
Weaver also graced the stage at the
Second City comedy club a few
times, garnering first-team honors
and winning the Best Defensive
t Goaltender Joe Blackburn also got
a little hardware to take home with
him, as he was named Goaltender of
Finally, Michigan State coach Ron
Mason rounded out the green inva-
sion when he received his seventh
Coach of the Year award.
or call 764-0554 to have your
SENIOR WISH published April 15th
deadline March 31
Thank you for finally graduating. You were the worst
tenant. Please never call here again. And no, we will
not shovel the driveway. -Your Landlord
Charles F. yocum
Alfred S. Sussman
Collegiate Professor of Biology
and Professor of Chemistry
-' U ~tI..: