Hockey USCHO ratings
Michigan ranks sixth in the latest
hockey USCHO poll. Go online to see
how the rest of the top 10 shakes out.
MARCH 14, 2000
M R..0 1 0T.v . _
By Chris Du pry
Daily Sports Editor f.
There's nothing like the confines
of Yost; a trib down memwry lane
Four years ago I made my first visit to the old barn
on South State Street. I'll be honest with you, I did-
n't know much about Michigan hockey or college
hockey in general for that matter. Sure, I knew the
Wolverines had won the National Championship the pre-
vious year - I had seen Brendan Morrison's goal in
overtime against Colorado College in the championship,
and Mike Legg's amazing circus goal against Minnesota
in the Regional Final on TV.
But I had no idea what I would find under the archway
More than a few have felt witty
enough to have fun with the
acronym NIT. But members of the
Michigan basketball team are mak-
ing no such jokes.
To them, it's the National
Invitational Tournament, and noth-
"A lot of people are done with
their season but we have a chance to
freshman guard NIT
L a V e lII
Blanchard said First round
yesterday at a
post-practice press conference.
Blanchard, Peter Vignier and
Gavin Groninger assured the media
that the Wolverines are truly upbeat
about their first-round game at
Notre Dame tomorrow night in the
NIT - not the destination they had
hoped for back in January when
they were 12-3, but a postscason
"You always have a dream. In my
dream, we won the NCAA champi-
onship and I was cutting down the
nets," Blanchard reflected. "I guess
it didn't work out that way.
"Hopefully, we can win (the
There seem to be three types of
teams in the NIT field this season:
Small unheard-ofs like Siena and
Southern Illinois that failed to win
their conference tournaments and
earn automatic NCAA bids; middle-
of-the-road teams with decent
records, such as Xavier and
Marquette, teams that represent the
Wolverines' possible oppanents
should they win tomorrow; and
marquee programs that fell short of
and through the north doors of Yost
Ice Arena that first night.
I approached the brick structure
and wondered what I was doing.
Some guys in my hall had said that
hockey games at Yost were the best
thing going in Ann Arbor, and
almost on a whim I found myself
dropping $80 or so for season tick-
ets (about half of what you'd pay
It didn't take long though for
me to figure out what all the talk
Just minutes into my first game,
LaVell Blanchard gets to look forward to a first-round NIT matchup with Notre
Dame tomorrow. The Wolverines open on the road.
and 11-1. They won the Great Lakes Invitational and the
regular-season and tournament CCHA crowns, before
falling to Boston University in the national semifinals.
The next year, without the services of lobey Baker
winner Brendan Morrison, they would go on to win a
On the way, they played in what ranks among the great-
est single sporting events I've ever seen in person - a 4-
3 victory over defending national champion North Dakota
in the regional final. The atmosphere in Yost on that day
can never be given justice by a writer, but the deafening
sounds of the crowd after the Wolverines took the lead
late in the third period are still described by Michigan
coach Red Berenson as "the loudest I've ever heard Yost."
But of all the great teams, and through all of the great0
games, it is the experience of Yost itself that I will always
Where else does the smell of new ice mixed with the
stale and decaying aroma of food lost deep within the
annals of the bleachers smell so good?
Where else is the word sieve used so often by so many
Where else does your mom call with so many unpleas-
ant things to say?
Where else does a band play such an integral part in
the game? And for that matter, where else is it a pre-req-
uisite to be both a good dancer and a good conductor to
lead the band?
Yost is a special place and on Saturday night I entered
the old barn for my last game as a student here at
Michigan - no longer as a ran, but as a reporter. I no
longer cheer and go crazy when we score a goal (well,
maybe a little tapping of the feet once in a while...) - I
think Jaime Morris would probably throw me over the
side of the press box if I did. But, I do appreciate the
hockey on the ice, and college hockey in general.
And Yost has taught me that.
After the game on Saturday I stuck around Yost for
awhile. I stood over the balcony and looked across the
I remembered that game against North Dakota, that
announcement that Charles Woodson won the Heisman
Trophy, that record setting victory by Marty Turco and
those banners being raised. I remembered the first time I
stepped in the doors of Yost, and wished I could do it all
- Chris Grandstaff can be reached ot
the NCAA Tournament.
Like Michigan and Notre Dame.
Notre Dame was one of the few
teams to make the heartbreaking
"Bubble's Burst" list.
With an 8-8 Big East record and
an 18-14 overall mark that boasted
big-time victories against Ohio
State and Connecticut, the Fighting
Irish felt that they had already
played their last home game and
were instead en route to the belovcd
Plans change. Turn on the lights
and warm up the popcorn machines
in the Joyce Center - there's more
basketball to be played.
Notre Dame, after the allowed
NCAA-rcjection pouting period,
should be careful not to look a gift
horse in the mouth.
But at least the Fighting Irish are
opening at home.
Despite the larger sealing capaci-
ty of Crisler Arena relative to the
Joyce Center (13,562 vs. 1 1,418).
the Wolverines were not given the
privilege of hosting a first-round
Maybe the NIT committee was
impressed with Notre Dame's
Maybe the committee was less
than impressed with the attendance
at Crisler when Michigan hosted
two NIT games back in 1997, where
the lower bowl was barely filled -
although the Maize Rage had not
Vet been born.
"Realistically, we weren't opti-
mistic about getting one the first
night," Michigan coach Brian
"If we're fortunate enough to play
well enoughi to win, there's a possi-
bility we can get one in the second"
Trying to psychoanalyze the NIT
committee is useless.
Time and energy, from the
Wolverines' perspective, is much
better spent on beating Notre Dame
a task they are happy to have.
"We're still playing. There are a
lot of teams that are not," Ellerbe
visiting Ohio State was called for a penalty, and, as if
somehow telepathically linked, everyone around me stood
up and started waving their hands in unison at the ban-
ished Buckeye. I followed suit, and as he entered the
penalty box we all yelled, "SEE YA!" But the words that
tollowed took me completely by surprise.
"CHUMP, DICK, PUSS, DOOOOOUCHEBAG, ASS-
HOLE, PRICK, CHEATER!" (yes, I predate the now
commonly used "BEOTCH, WILDFONG; BASTARD,"
Huh!? Now thoroughly amused, and intently focused
on the game I watched as the Wolverines quickly scored
on the powerplay -- transforming the student section into
an absolute mob scene, followed by a rousing chorus
Yost had me -- hook, line and sinker.
The Wolverines went on to win that game, 7-2. Since
then I've seen many memorable Michigan hockey games.
That 1996-97 team (which I will claim until my grave
is still the best college hockey team I've ever seen) fin-
ished the season 35-4-4, with only two home blemishes
- ties to Cornell and Lake Superior. The Wolverines
would go on to demoralize opponents by scores.like 13-1
Michigan fans create the Intense fervor that turns Yost Ice Arena from an old fieldhouse into the most vocal building.on cam-
pus. The ambiance created at the Michigan hockey team's home cannot be replicated.
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