SportsMonda - March 20, 2000 - The Michigan Dail - 5B
.Fans not su ortive
n 'M'tlras ig at Joe
ETROIT - Section 276 sat
deserted. There was not one
fan sitting in the upper-level
&ction beneath the Cuervo Gold
On the other side of Joe Louis
Arena, up against the glass, fans
clanged cowbells, rattled milk jugs
-and raised clever
This time I'm
talking about fanss
at traveled over
our states to STEPHANIE
Detroit to see OFFEN
their 15-17-7 Off the
team play in its Record
first CCHA tour-
nament semifinal game - the
Friday evening, while the league's
rookie team was embarrassing the
Wolverines en route a 7-4 victory.
Se Michigan hockey fans were
nowhere to be seen.
Maybe you were drinking Cuervo
Gold instead of sitting below its
sign, dancing the Irish jig and wear-
ing funny-looking green top hats.
Maybe you were watching the
NCAA basketball tournament dili-
gently, praying that Florida would
pull out that game against Butler, so
you wouldn't fall behind in your
CAA tournament pool.
Maybe you were just planning on
supporting your Wolverines on
Saturday when the time and the
opponent were more agreeable.
What was the CCHA committee
thinking planning the first game at
5 p.m. when the entire alumni base
is still at work?
Wherever you were, I know
where you weren't. You weren't sup-
*orting your Michigan hockey team
at Joe Louis Arena.
You weren't on hand to witness
the game that may have lost the
Wolverines a chance at a national
title. You didn't have a chance to
witness the Wolverines fall from a
top seed to a fifth seed in only two
and a half hours.
There was plenty of time to cele-
brate St. Patrick's Day after the
early game. And I learned that
*lorida did pull out that win, thanks
to highlights on SportsCenter which
airs every evening.
in other words, you could have
gotten the best of all three worlds
and helped motivate probably the
least motivated Michigan team that
I have seen all season
Nebraska-Omaha had fire beneath
its skates. The Mavericks were the
t team going into Friday night's
lame after pulling the unthinkable
as a seventh seed - being the first
team to ever make it to the CCHA
semifinals in their first year in the
They had the drive and the moti-
vation to pull one of the biggest
upsets of the season and knock the
Wolverines out of the race for the
CCHA tournament trophy.
They also had a small, but ani-
mated section of fans.
This small group of fans only
learned Tuesday that their team
would make the 12-hour trek to
Detroit, a city that most of the
Mavericks have never even visited
But they packed up their stuff,
boarded a plane or a bus and
hollered and yelled their team right
past the Wolverines.
Michigan fans on the other hand,
could barely be heard. The handful
that were in attendance were scat-
tered around the arena, trying their
hardest to help the pep band in
bringing the Yost cheers to the Joe.
But only a handful of fans can't
turn a 19,275 seat pro arena into the
I've seen the Joe turn into a larg-
er-scale Yost during last season's
run to the CCHA tournament cham-
Those crowds, just like Nebraska-
Omaha's crowd on Friday, motivated
the Wolverines to capture last sea-
son's title and the automatic NCAA
This season, the Wolverines
already have that NCAA berth. This
season, the Wolverines weren't fac-
ing Ohio State or Northern
Michigan, two of last season's
biggest hockey rivals. This season
gave the Wolverines no motivation
to defeat a hot Nebraska-Omaha
team, one that the Wolverines clob-
bered 6-2 and 6-1 in early
On Friday, the Wolverines needed
you. The Wolverines needed that
home-crowd feel to bring them back
when they were down 3-1, then 4-1,
and so on.
The Mavericks had all the moti-
vation in the world, and Michigan
But I can't lay all of the blame on
If I could have foreseen how the
Wolverines played against the
Mavericks, I probably would have
skipped the game too. Who wants to
see their team get embarrassed?
But just remember the Michigan
team that played with motivation.
Remember how the Wolverines left
you, with a 6-2 victory over
Western Michigan to continue to the
semifinal game. That's the team that
And the season's not over. The
Wolverines travel to Albany next
weekend for the NCAA tournament.
While it may. not be as convenient
as Yost or Joe Louis, it is for all the
marbles. One loss and the season's
If that can't act as a motivator for
the fans - or the team - I don't
know what will.
- Stephanie Offen can be reached
via e-mail at email@example.com.
Nebraska-Omaha goalie Kendall Sidoruk had a stellar game against Michigan recording 32 saves. The Wolverines were unable to generate any offense in the contest and
fell to the Mavericks, 7-4.
Ice dancing: Hockey's madness set to begi
NCAA Tournament field announced; Wolverines receive No. 5 seed
By Chris Grandstaff
Daily Sports Editor
Yesterday, hockey's version of March Madness
got underway with the announcement of the 12-
team NCAA tournament field.
Though this tournament is a lot smaller, and the
potential for major upsets in the first round does
not exist because the top two seeds in each region
receive a bye, the year 2000 version of college
hockey's Big Dance promises to be just as excit-
ing. It's time to sharpen up those pencils again
bracket junkies, and get ready for the road to
EAST REGIONAL: PEPSI CENTER, ALBANY
Defending national champi Maine occupies the
top spot in the East. The BlackBears are coming
off a dramatic 2-1 victory over Boston College in
the Hockey East championship game.
Maine tallied both its goals in the final 39.6 sec-
onds of the contest, highlighted by Massachusetts
native Niko Dimitrakos game-winning goal poked
in with just 2.5 seconds left to play in regulation.
The Black Bears finished the season on a hot
streak, winning i11 of their last 12 contests. Their
only blemish in the last two months? A 6-6 tie to
Providence, home of this season's Frozen Four.
Second seeded St. Lawrence won its conference
tournament at the site of hockey's most dramatic
moment - Lake "Do-you-believe-in-miracles?!"
The Saints 2-0 victory over RPI this weekend
was not nearly as dramatic as the Americans win
over the Soviets or Maine's victory at the Fleet
Center, but the win was cause for celebration as St.
Lawrence completed the coveted regular/confer-
ence tournament sweep of the Eastern College
Hockey East regular season champion Boston
University occupies the three seed in the east with
ECAC regular season runner-up Colgate right
behind them in the four spot.
Michigan represents the five seed after losing to
CCHA upstart Nebraska-Omaha in the conference
semifinals. The stock of the CCHA's regular sea-
son champs has fallen dramatically in the past few
The Wolverines dropped a seemingly meaning-
less game against Bowling Green in the regular
season finale and struggled against Western
Michigan in the first round of the conference tour-
nament before losing to Nebraska-Omaha. Despite
their recent struggles thought the Wolverines
appear ready to refocus and get ready for another
"We need to think about our best game or best
shift we have played this season and build off
that," Michigan left winger Scott Matzka. "We are
going up against the best teams in the nation, we're
just fortunate to be there. We need to get our pri-
orities set for this weekend."
St. Cloud State, whose tournament chances were
up in the air until Sunday, floats in as the sixth and
final seed of the region.
WEST REGIONAL: MARIECCI ARENA,
Wisconsin leads the pack in the West despite
losing to North Dakota in the Western Collegiate
Hockey Association Championship game, 5-3. The
Badgers have owned the top spot in the polls for
virtually the entire season - just ahead of the
The Badgers are led by the nation's most prolif-
ic scorer in center Steve Reinprecht - one of the
finalists for this season's Hobey Baker Award.
Second seeded North Dakota enters the tourna-
ment on a high note. The Fighting Sioux avenged
two overtime losses to Wisconsin earlier the sea-
son by winning the WCHA tournament crown over
North Dakota will face the winner of two tour-
nament-tested teams - No. 4 seed Boston College
and No. 5 seed Michigan State. The Spartans, the
newly crowned CCHA Tournament Champions,
are looking to duplicate last season's Frozen Four
appearance and then some, while Hockey East
runner-up Boston College is making an NCAA
record 20th appearance in the tournament field.
Despite the Eagles prominence in the tourna-
ment, Boston College has only one national cham-
pionship to hang its hat on - and that came 51
years ago. If the Eagles plan on adding to that total
they'll have to topple some of the nation's top
team's in arguably the most difficult section of the
In one of the more interesting matchups of the
tournament No. 3 seed New Hampshire will take
on tournament Cinderella Niagara. The Wildcats
have already proven themselves against the year's
tournament field with wins over Boston College,
North Dakota, St. Lawrence, Maine and a tie to
Niagara, out of College Hockey America, are
setting precedent on two fronts. The Purple Eagles
will be making the school's and the conference's
first ever tournament appearance after compiling a
record of 29-7-4 this season.
2000 NCAA Ice Hockey Championship
2. St. Lawrence
4. Colgate March 26
3. New Hampshire
Pe si Arena
3. Boston University
Center Providence, RI
6. St. Cloud State
4. Boston College
Z. North Dakota
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