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March 22, 1999 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-03-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Michigan wins CCHA
playoffs, heads east to play
Denver in NCAA first round

By Mark Francescutti
Daily Sports Writer
DETROIT - One month ago, the Michigan
hockey team was suffering its worst winless
streak in 10 years.
Things certainly change in 30 days.
Michigan's 3-2 victory over Ohio State, fol-
lowed by a 5-1 thrashing of Northern Michigan
this past weekend, gave Michigan its fourth
CCHA championship victory in five years and
an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Wolverines turned their season around
and now ride a five-game winning streak into
their ninth straight
NCAA Tournament MICHIGAN 5
appearance.
The Wolverines t. N. MICHIGAN I
move on as a No. 5
seed in the East Regional, and play No. 4
Denver in Worcester, Mass., on Friday.
"This ,tournament is more important to us
now," Michigan coach Red Berenson said. "If
you make the NCAAs, play one game, and get
knocked out, what have you done?"
Michigan was the one who knocked the
Wildcats out on Saturday. Playing without
injured defensemen Sean Connolly and Sean
Owens, Northern Michigan had trouble keep-
ing up with the Wolverines' fast-paced tempo.
Combined with Michigan's timely goals, and
thanks to a few good bounces, the Wolverines
squirted out their five goals in 20 minutes over
the first two periods.
Sophomore Scott Matzka started the scoring
snowball when he took a long pass from
defenseman Mike Van Ryn.
Matzka shook off the menacing Roger
Trudeau and slammed it past Northern
Michigan goalie Dan Ragusett to give the
Wolverines the early advantage.
Van Ryn continued his assist-filled perfor-
mance by feeding a net-crashing Dale
Rominski less than three minutes later.
Rominski, hounded by two defenders, found
the puck in the fast-paced mess for a 2-0
Michigan lead.

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Van Ryn then assisted on another goal, but it
wasn't a Michigan one.
From the corner, Northern Michigan's J.P.
Vigier slapped the puck towards the goal. It
bounced off of Van Ryn's skate and into the-net
early in the second.
"Things like that are going to happen," Van
Ryn said. "I wasn't even paying attention."
Down just a goal, Northern Michigan coach
Rick Comley felt good about his team's
chances - for all of 96 seconds - until Dave
Huntzicker bounced a shot past Ragusett from
beyond the blue line, re-establishing the two-
goal Michigan lead. Northern Michigan
wouldn't threaten again.
"We got the lucky goal to make it 2-1, we
were outshooting them and I felt pretty good,"
Comley said. "We took away their outright
speed, but I thought the third goal really got
them going."
With the Michigan defense wreaking havoc,
the Wolverines broke out and piled on two
more goals - by tournament MVP Mark
Kosick and Greg Crozier -in the next seven
minutes.
"To be honest, I thought four out of the five
goals were bad goals," Comley said. "But when
Michigan's playing, they're as good as any-
thing."
Freshman goaltender Josh Blackburn, con-
tinued his excellent playoff performance, stop-
ping 29 of 30 shots.
But Blackburn needed a little more help in
See CHAMPS, Page 4B

Assistant captain
Bobby Hayes
carries
Michigan's CCHA
Tournament
championship
*aphy off the Joe
Louis Arena ice
after Michigan's
5-1 victory ovet
Northern
Michigan on
Saturday.
WARREN ZINN/ Daily

No matter Michigan's ups and downs, tournament victory not a suprise

ETROIT - As the Michigan hockey
eam circled around goaltender Josh
Blackburn on Saturday night following
its 5-1 CCHA Tournament
championship victory over
Northern Michigan, the
mood was one of reserved
happiness.
There was no throwing
of gloves or sticks. There
asn't a slap-happy dog-
e or even a drawn-out U
ceremony with the trophy. BERKA
The Wolverines skated Teeing
over, took their awards, Off
watched the banner-rais-
ing and then went home.
The reaction from the 8,000 or so Michigan
fans left in Joe Louis Arena was radically dif-
ferent, though. The fans let loose the primal

screams - most likely built up in Lodge
Freeway traffic on the way to the game.
The Michigan faithful were showing their
usual vigor, but in a different context than
usual. Instead of the usual "Yeah, we won, but
we're Michigan, so we're supposed to win"
cheer, it was a cheer of surprised and relieved
jubilation.
With an NCAA Tournament bid a 50/50
proposition going into Friday's semifinal
against Ohio State, the bellowing from the
bowels of the Joe was more like "Oh, my God.
I can't believe we won and we're in the tourna-
ment."
I guess that one can't fault the fans for their
surprised glee. The Wolverines had struggled
since Christmas, enduring an eight-game win-
less streak and a loss of the aura of invincibility
that they carry proudly on their shoulders.
Because of this, the CCHA Tournament was

seen as a last-ditch attempt to get into the
NCAAs, not a warmup.
But while the vigor of the cheer was appreci-
ated, the reasoning behind it could be ques-
tioned. As Michigan hockey fans, they should
have known better.
Everybody should have known better. From
the youngest fan to the most crotchety member
of the media, none of them should have been
surprised by the events of this weekend.
Michigan wins a tournament. It's happened
before. In fact, last season the Wolverines
pulled out their second national championship
in three years.
Things like that are easily forgotten. When
you are viewed as an NCAA bubble team
going into your conference tournament, last
year's memories might as well have been mem-
ories of 10 years ago.
But though this season's Michigan team is

not the same as last year's, it does share a simi-
lar trait - the heart of a champion.
How else do you explain the events of this
weekend? A month earlier on the same sheet
of ice, the Wolverines had lost to Michigan
State, fallen to third place in the CCHA, and
were on the verge of collapse.
But even then, we should have known that
the Michigan hockey team would be in this
position come March. The Wolverines have
made March a magical month in Ann Arbor
this decade, making their ninth straight appear-
ance in the NCAA Tournament.
The madness which Michigan has caused for
other schools in March has been great.
When you win two national championships
- in overtime - good fortune is a must.
But good fortune doesn't cover it all. Like
the groundhog in February, it seems as if the
Wolverines come out of a hole into the world in

March.
Last season, the Wolverines lost to Ferris
State at home in the last week of February and
it seemed as if their NCAA hopes were dead.
But March came, Josh Langfeld scored, and
Ann Arbor was partying.
This season, the Wolverines were frozen in
February, only winning two games. But March
has seen them win five out of six games.
Does this mean that Michigan will be the
home of a'third national title in four years? Not
necessarily.
As a No. 5 seed in the East Regional, the
Wolverines have a tough row to hoe to get out
of Worcester, Mass., much less win it all.
But can it happen? It has before. And if the
Wolverines win the national championship, it
shouldn't be a surprise. After all, it is March.
-- J. Berka can be reached via e-mail at
berkat@umich.edu.

Ulson comes close at
NCAA Championships

Seventh-place finish a
victory for depleted 'M'

By Michael Shafrir
Daily Sports Writer
STATE COLLEGE You didn't
Iave to look at the scoreboard to know
o won the match between
'Michigan's Otto Olson and Penn State's
Glenn Pritzlaff. The outcome was writ-
ten all over Olson's face.
Tears streamed down Olson's cheeks
as he walked off the mat a 10-4 loser in
the biggest match of his career - the
championship match of the 174-pound
weight class at this past weekend's
NCAA Wrestling Championships.
There were no words for Olson to
*scribe how he felt. His expression
showed the frustration he felt after a
red-shirting last year, after going unde-
feated through all his Big Ten dual
meets, and after advancing this far and
coming ever so close.
"I'm not really sure what happened,"

through a talented group of contenders
including two other seeded wrestlers.
He was helped by the second-round
loss of top-seed Mark Smith of
Oklahoma State. Smith had beaten him
this season in Las Vegas. After that
match, Olson told Smith that he would
see him again. Smith responded, "I
doubt it."
"I took that personally and I wrote it
down on my wall," Olson said. "I guess
I doubt it, I won't see him again."
On the eve of his final match, Olson
seemed confident about his chances
against Pritzlaff - whom he had beat-
en 9-4 in the Penn State-Michigan dual
meet earlier this season.
"There's a lot of Penn State people
here" Olson said. "But as long as I
don't get too far behind, I should be
OK."
Olson's fears came true as he fell

By Michael Kern
Daily Sports Writer
ATHENS, Ga. - After a regular sea-
son filled with injuries and illnesses that
often left it with serious depth problems,
the Michigan women's swimming team
headed into this weekend's NCAA
Championships with the goals of a top
ten finish overall and first place among
Big Ten teams.
With just seven swimmers in their
lineup, the Wolverines accomplished
both. They finished seventh, with 163
points, behind champion and host
Georgia (504.5 points), Stanford (441
points) and a host of other sun belt
schools, but ahead of Northwestern (145
points for ninth place), the next best Big
Ten team.
Most importantly, the Wolverines
showed that they are still a force to be
reckoned with in NCAA competition

and behind Northwestern. Despite a
third-place finish in the 200-yard
freestyle relay, Michigan only scored
points in two of the other six events -
the 200 IM and the 50 free. The strong
finish in the relay showed that Michigan
was not going allow its lack of depth to
stand in its way.
"With that relay, anything can happen
because it is so quick," sophomore Jen
Crisman said.
In the second day of competition,
Crisman and Shannon Shakespeare
turned in their best performances of the
meet. Crisman earned All-America hon-
ors for her seventh-place finish in the
fastest 100 backstroke of all time. Senior
Marylyn Chiang of California shocked
the crowd by defeating Stanford's
Catherine Fox, defending champion and
NCAA record holder, breaking the
NCAA and U.S. Open records.

w.''

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