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January 10, 2000 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-10

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4B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - January 10, 2000

Puck talk
"1 took a shot from the back and got
emotional so I just tuned around and
hit him. I didn't expect it to turn out
like that, but it was kind of fun."
- Michigan freshman J.1 Swistak on
the full-scale altercation after the game.

Michigan 2

Key Play
2:34 into the third period.
Michigan goalie Josh Blackburn
kick-saves the puck to Mike Comrie who
drops it off to Andy Hilbert (right) on the
breakHilbert" slap-shot goal put the
Wolverines up 2-0 and solidified the win.

Michigan State

0

Back from Team USA, Hilbert and Jillson lead Blue

- JOSH BLACKBURN -
GOALTENDER
In his first game since October,
Blackburn tumed in a stellar perfor-
mance stopping all 23 of Michigan
State's shots.
- ScoTT MATZKA -
LEFT WING
Matzka kicked off Michigan's scoring
by deflecting a Sean Peach shot past
Michigan State goalie, Ryan Miller in
the 2nd period,
- ANDY HILBERT -
RIGHT WING
Not displaying any signs of fatigue,
Hilbert blasted a third-period goal
past Miller on a perfect pass from _
Mike Comrie.

By Stephanie Offen
Daily Sports Writer
EAST LANSING - In one day,
Michigan's Jeff Jillson and Andy Hilbert
went from teammates to arch enemies
with Michigan State's Adam Hall.
The Wolverines returned to Ann
Arbor Thursday morning after a month
overseas with Team USA at the World
Junior Championship in Sweden.
Fans in East Lansing were eager to see
Hall, the Spartans' leading goal scorer
back in the lineup against the Wolverines
considering his success in the past
against Michigan. Hall has scored three
goals in the three games he has played
against the Wolverines.
But it is Hilbert and Jillson who now
hold bragging rights against their former
teammate after shutting-out Hall and the
rest of the Spartans on Friday.
"Adam Hall was on my line during the
entire world championships," Hilbert
said. "It was fun to see him on the ice
and it was definitely a good feeling to
beat him."
The three players did not compete in
the teams' first meeting - Michigan's 3-

I loss to the Spartans in the champi-
onship game of the Great Lakes
Invitational. Instead the trio was busy
capturing a fourth-place finish at the
championship for Team USA - Hall
scored two goals and Hilbert netted one.
With only one day to get back into
their old routine, the returning
Wolverines were in rare form against the
Spartans. Everything seemed to fit
together for Michigan as Hilbert and
Jillson led the team to its first win at
Munn Ice Arena in five years.
"I've been tired, but the adrenaline
always takes over," Hilbert said.
Even though both were visibly
exhausted after the game, Hilbert and
Jillson didn't seem to miss a beat, start-
ing once again on Michigan's top line.
"On the bench (the return of Hilbert
and Jillson) gives us a lot more confi-
dence," Michigan coach Red Berenson
said. "We look at our defense with Jeff
Jillson and it makes a huge difference. I
look up front and we have a top line
again with Hilbert back with Comrie."
While nursing a knee injury sustained
during the championships, Jillson led the

defense in shutting out the Spartans on
the power play. He complained of sore-
ness before the game but there were no
signs of any problems during his play -
he helped stop all five of Michigan
State's power plays.
"They did a great job on the penalty
killing," Berenson said. "There were
times when they were kept out there for
the whole penalty and if you were watch-
ing what was going on, the defensemen
have to work hard.
"They're not just standing around,
they're going from corner to the front of
the net to the other corner. I thought we
held up really well."
Hilbert led the offensive surge with
the Wolverines' second goal of the game.
Hilbert took a pass from Comrie, flip-
ping the puck over Michigan State goalie
Ryan Miller's shoulder.
With the return of Josh Blackburn in
net, Michigan is almost 100 percent. The
only missing link is Geoff Koch who sat
out with a groin injury. Koch was sched-
uled to play against the Spartans, but said
his legs felt stiff during the Friday morn-
ing skate.

JESSiCA JOHNSON/Daily
Jeff Jilson had a long flight back from Sweden, but led a stellar Michigan defense
against the Spartans on Friday anyway. The Spartans went 0-5 on the power play.

higan State 0 0 0 -0
st eriod -to o scoring. Penalties -- UM, Corore
ghstlcking), 6:43; UM, Comrie (roughing after
whistle), 10:13; UM, Mink (roughing after the
iste), 10:13; MSU, Maoney (roujghing after the
Iste), 10:13; MSU, Hiodgins (roughing after the
iste), 10:13; MSU, Hodgins (cross-checlding),
'13; MSU, Hall (hooking) 18:55Second period
L. UM, Matzka 5 (Peach), 14:43. Penalties -
iU, Lies (roughing), 5:24; MSU, Maloney (trip
g), 12:23; UM, iluntzicker (holding), 20:00.
rdpeWo-2. UM, Hubert 9 (Conrie), 2:34.
alties -- UM.Comrietripping). 5:42; UM,
cik (tripping), 16:02; UM, Gassoff (slashing),
22; MSb, Patchell (roughing), 20:00; UM,
istak (roughing), 20:00; MSU, Hodgins (rough
20:00; MSU, Hodgins (fighting), 20:00; MSU,
Iias (10 minute misconduct, game dq), 20:00;
i, Whitten (fighting), 20:00; MSU, Whitten (10-
ute misconduct, game dQ). 20:00; UM, Gassoff
,hng), 20:00; UM, Gassoff (10-minute miscon-
t. game dq), 20:00.
ts on goal - UM5-76-18; MSU 7-511 -
wer Plays - UM 0 of 4; MSU 0 of 5.
es - UM, Blackburn 7-5-11.-23; MSU, Miller
Free - Matt shegos.
asmen - John Pearson, Kevin Langseth.
Munn ice Arena.
ndance: 7,117.

The Fight File

Rejuvenated team snaps Munn curse

NEXT WEEKEND
Friday: Miami, 7:35 p.m.
~ Saturday: Miami, 7:05 P.M.
Last tme the two teams
Et, the Wolverines barely escaped
with a pair of victories. This weekend,
the Red Hawks will seek retribution at
Yost Ice Arena.

By Uma Subramanian
Daily Sports Writer
EAST LANSING - Michigan hadn't
won at Munn Ice Arena in five years.
Sparty and company had also just
knocked off the Wolverines eight days
earlier at Joe Louis Arena in the GLI
Championship game.
You could almost see the swagger in
the Michigan State players' steps as they
took the ice for Friday's matchup with
the Wolverines.
But by the time it was all over, the
Spartans were
hanging their heads HOCKEY
and swinging their Commenta
fists.
Not even the fans -----------------
seated in Munn's brand new luxury
boxes - which are ridiculous in and of
themselves - could do anything about
it. Those fans combined with the
absence of students who weren't in
school vet, may have factored into the
Spartans' downfall. After all Munn was
about as loud as the Law Library during
exams.
But Michigan earned its 2-0 shutout
on its own in a hard fought, closely con-
tested battle that thrust the Wolverines
into a first-place CCHA tie with the
Spartans.
The win represents more than two
points though. It strongly suggests that
an arduous turnaround is complete and
Michigan will be a force to contend with
when March rolls around.
On Friday night, the Wolverines pro-
jected an aura of energy and complete-
ness.
They have finally arrived.
It was the first truly complete game
that the Wolverines played all season.
Anyone who suffered through the tumul-
tuous first 21 games knows that this win

over the most hated yet most respected
opponent is by far Michigan's biggest
victory of the season.
The game lived up to the hype. The
intensity never lapsed and neither team
gave the other an edge.
But Michigan had an utishakable
determination.
It started at the top and filtered through
the ranks. Goalie Josh Blackburn, who
saw his first game action since an
October injury, exuded perfection.
Not to take anything away from L.J.
Scarpace and Kevin O'Malley who did
fantastic jobs upon being thrust into the
starting goalie's role, but it was
Blackburn who sparked the fire on
Friday that ended when junior Scott
Matzka and freshman Andy Hilbert who
scored on the nation's No. I goalie, Ryan
Miller.
"I was anxious to give Blackburn a
shot," Michigan coach Red Berenson
said after the win. "He was our MVP last
year as a freshman. He's a top-notch
goalkeeper.
"I can't tell you how pleased I am. He
could have bombed and I was ready for
that. I'm pleased for him because he's
worked his tail off to get back"
Blackburn's teammates couldn't say
enough about him, either. They all under-
stood what it must have taken for him to
return and stop all 23 Michigan State
shots.
"Blackburn was unreal," Matzka said.
"It was like he didn't even miss a game.
We gave him some support, but he's an
incredible goalie."
Blackburn and the defense got it done
on Michigan's end of the ice. Offensively
a crew of veterans dominated the game.
All season long Berenson has toyed
with lines to find winning combinations
that would finally click. Sometime in

early December, he found one.
Quietly and unassumingly, juniors
Josh Langfeld, Mark Kosick and Matzka
have become one of the team's top lines
they have scored 46 points this season.
Kosick tops the charts with 13 goals and
Matzka and Langfeld also rank among
Michigan's top six point scorers.
The story does not lie in the points
though - it lies in the chemistry which
exists among the three.
"Kosick has been the firing pin on that
line and Matzka has been doing a lot of
things for this team," Berenson said
"The line is an experienced line and
they're getting the chances."
If you were to dissect famous hockey,
trios through history, you'd find that
more than anything else, the players have
loved playing together. That's what has
made them tick.
"We're all good friends and we know
each other pretty well," Matzka said. "I
like playing with Kosick and Langer.
We're working well together. It was a
huge win for us."
The veterans have come on strong, but
there also comes a point in every season
when the freshmen are no longer fresh-
men. For Michigan, when the calendar
turned over, so too did the labels for the
six first-year players.
"The freshmen have had an opportuni-
ty to play important roles on the team,"
Berenson said. "They're gaining confi-
dence. I'm getting confidence in them"
The Wolverines are finally firing o
all cylinders - everyone is healthy and
the team is riding a wave of confidence.
Things have come full circle for
Michigan, although it is definitely a dif-
ferent Michigan team -- wiser and per-
haps more skilled.
They know it, the fans know it, and on
Friday night Michigan State knew it too.

I

No. 1 New Hampshire(154-3)0lost to
Maine 9-4; def.ainsie 5-4.
No. 2 North Dakota (15-3-2) tied Colorado
College 1-1; def. Colorado College 40.
No. 3 Maine (W43-2) def. New Hampshire
94; lowt to New Hampshire 5-4. p
No. 4 W issin (16-5-01 def.St. Lawrence 4-
1; tied St. Lawoerece 6-6.
No. 5 Michigan State (15-6-C) lost to
Michigan 2-0.
No. 6 MIchigan (16-6-0) def. Michigan State,
2-0.
No. 7 Renssaiaer (12-5-1) lost to Dartmouth
2-0; tied Vermont 4-4.
No. 8 Northern Michigan (15-6-1) def.
FeNis State 2-1; lost to Ferris State 5-1.
No. 9 Cogate (11-60) lost to Ohio State 3-
1.

SPARTANS
Continued from Page 1B
the shoulder of Miller.
"We got the goals we needed, we got
the goaltending we needed, and the
penalty killing that we needed,"
Berenson said. "It was a great victory for
us, I'm glad we got a chance to play this
team again"
The Wolverines now stand tied atop
the CCHA leaderboard with Michigan
State after playing perhaps their most
complete game of the season. And
although no one knows exactly what the
standings will be when the two teams
meet again Feb. 25, there's no doubting
that the intensity level will be at its peak
- especially after Friday night's finish.

The fight, which lasted for several min-
utes, resulted in nine separate penalties
and the game disqualification of
Michigan's Gassoff, Michigan State's
Hodgins and Damon Whitten.
After the melee the two teams were
not allowed to shake hands.
But before the Spartans could make it
to the lockerroom Michigan's entire
team celebrated on the large green 'S' at
center ice - an act which was met with
a chorus of boos from the Michigan
State faithful.
"The rivalry just took over at the end,"
Michigan winger Andy Hilbert said.
"There was a lot of adrenaline going
through everybody, and I think they were
pretty upset that we beat them in their
own barn"

Storybook comeback highlights 'M' victory over Spartans.

2 Friday's win over Michigan State at Munn Ice
Arena was a first for all of the Michigan players.
Michigan has not beaten the Spartans in East
Lansing since Feb. 4,1995.
P After Friday's victory, Michigan is 115-0-4 when
leading after two periods. The last time the
Wolverines fell when they led after two was on
Feb. 11, 1995,.
M Michigan's two goal victory was the first win
this season in which the Wolverines scored less
than three goals.
2 The CCHA chose to suspend the two-referee'
two-linesmen system for the last half of this sea-
son. The system was used in 20 games so far this
season.

By Geoff Gagnon
Daily Sports Writer
EAST LANSING - It was a storyline
that seems too improbable to believe.
And as things unfolded Friday night in
East Lansing, one couldn't help but think
that it was the same fairy-tale drama that
flashed a thousand times through an injured
Josh Blackburn's mind three months ago.
Maybe the soft-spoken sophomore enter-
tained visions of a storybook comeback as
he sat in a hospital bed in October. Maybe
it was quiet thoughts of a dramatic return
that offered solace to the frustrated netmin-
der.
As his. team carried on without him four
time zones away in Alaska, maybe thoughts
of rejoining theii helped drown the desper-
ation the hobbled young goalie must have
felt.
Three months is a long time.
By his own admission, Josh Blackburn
said that he thought about his comeback a
lot.
And there were times when thinking was
all that he could to as we waited for his sur-
gically repaired foot to mend.

Whatever Blackburn may have thought,
however he may have drawn the evening in
his mind or played it out in his head, it
could not have compared to the way history
will remember Blackburn's return.
With a record crowd of 7,117 on hand to
open a renovated Munn Ice Arena,
Blackburn, for the first time in his career,
led his Wolverines past their most hated
rival stopping 23 shots against one of the
nation's most potent offenses.
What's more, he held the league-leading
Spartans scoreless, picking up the fourth
shutout of his career and did it all in East
Lansing where the Wolverines haven't won
since 1995.
"It was a very emotional game for me,"
Blackburn said. "I've been waiting for it for
three months and I could have wanted it to
go any better."
In knocking off the fifth-ranked
Spartans, Blackburn did more than win his
first game back with the Wolverines, he
capped off a remarkable recovery and pro-
ceeded to stun critics who questioned his
preparedness.
"This kid is a real top-notch goal keeper

and I can't tell you how thrilled I am that he
had a good game," Michigan coach Red
Berenson said. "He could have bombed and I
was ready for that. I'm pleased for him because
he's worked his tail off to get back."
And he seemed to answer, his own ques-
tions as well as he let his play erase his
doubt.
"It was tough doubting myselfB'
Blackburn.
"I wasn't thinking 'I'm going to be bad
tonight', but I wasn't sure what was going
to happen. When you haven't played in
three months you wonder 'what if?'
And if that was the question that
Blackburn was grappling with heading into
Friday's game, his performance can put his
mind at ease.
"He played an amazing game," J.J.
Swistak said. "First game back in months and
he does that and stands on his head. That's th
kind of kid he is.
"You didn't expect it, but if there was any-
body that could play like that, it's Josh
Blackburn."
But nobody, not even Blackburn, could've
scripted Friday night any better.

JESSICA JOHNSON/Daly,
Josh Blackburn, playing in his first game since October,
returns to record a shutout against nemesis Michigan State.

igan State senior Shawn Horcoff and Michigan sophomore Mike Comde are fast becoming candidates for college nockey s

CCHA
W LT PtsGP

Team
Michigan
Michigan State
Northern Michigan
P~ari tae

GF GA

11
11
10

4 0
4 0
3 1

22
22
21
16

15
14
1A

60
48
47

34
19
33

OVERALL
W L T
16 6 0
15 6 0
15 6 1
15 9 0

Shawn Horcoff

Mike Comrie

21

8

21 33.
Assists Points

k

,<

46 43

I

(;amM DPlavpd (Gnats AlAds PAHink'_ __ ,LI

IVQ'S

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