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March 27, 2000 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-03-27

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4B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 27, 2000

Fa ing

eense

Without key blueliner
Hunitzicker, 'M' tires out*-

By Uma Subramanian
Daily Sports Writer
ALBANY, N.Y. -They laid it all on the line, but
it simply wasn't enough.
And so yesterday, a very young Michigan hock-
ey team learned one of life's toughest lessons -
how to deal with coming up short.
Sure, the Wolverines had lost before, but yester-
day's season-ending defeat at the hands of Maine
will leave a long lasting mark.
But regardless of the outcome, no one can deny
that the Wolverines should be applauded for the
effort they put forth in their final weekend of the
year - especially on the defensive front.
They had to fight through a truck full of adversi-
ty. Maine was the top-seeded defending champion
and the team who had a first-round bye. The odds
were completely in the Black Bears' favor.
Even more importantly, on Sunday, Michigan
was relying on a very thin blue-line rotation that
had lost stalwart defenseman Dave Huntzicker to a
knee injury the previous day. Though against the
Red Raiders, the Wolverines came away with a 4-3
overtime win, they were forced to use an exhaust-
ing five-man defensive rotation.
In the final contest, Brad Fraser, a walk on this
season, stepped into the line to attempt to fill
Huntzicker's hole; however, in the end, nothing could
compensate for the fatigue of the previous day.
But luckily for the Wolverines, the beast of weari-
ness did take its time in rearing its ugly head. In fact,
led by goaltender Josh Blackburn, who stopped 27
shots in the first two periods, the Wolverines were
able to hang with their skilled foes and even carried
a 1-0 lead through the first 40 minutes.
Finally, in the third, Maine awoke just as the
Wolverines ran out of steam in their own zone - a
fact that became blatantly obvious as the Black
Bears scored five goals in the final stanza to close
out Michigan's year.
"Any time you lose a guy like Huntz, it really puts
a hole in your defensive core," said sophomore Jeff
Jillson who made several key stops. "In the third
period, we just ran out of gas. The guys just gave it
everything they had. That's all you can ask for.
The finality of the loss will probably set in "when
we realize that we're not going to practice. But we
gave it everything we had and that's how you want

to go out."
In the future, someone may look back on the
1999-2000 season and say that it came full circle.
His logic would probably include the fact that after
losing three blue-liners in the off-season - includ-
ing one of the nation's best in Mike Van Ryn - the
Wolverines were plagued by defensive problems
early on and it was those problems that finished
them off in the end.
Granted against Maine, the Wolverines did suffer
from a few defensive lapses that affected the out-
come of the game.
After the initial disappointment wears off, look-
ing back, what will stick out most about the
Michigan defense is how much it grew during the
course of the season.
It's a growth that spans all aspects of the blueline,
from the play of veterans Jillson, Huntzicker, cap-
tain Sean Peach, Jay Vancik and Bob Gassoff to the
emergence of Blackburn and last but not least to the
development of surprise freshman Mike
Roemensky.
Like any team during the course of a longseason,
Michigan went through growing pains and the
defense went with it. Eventually, however, through
trials and tribulations, all six players impacted their
team and made their influences known.
For instance, with 34 points, Jillson received the
CCHA's Offensive Defenseman of the Year Award
and Huntzicker was named to the CCHA's All-
Defensive team. As captain, Peach was the moral
leader of his team. For his part Vancik had a break-
out year and led the team in the plus-minus catego-
ry. Gassoff and Fraser stepped in and added key
sixth-man depth to the rotation.
Roemensky came in midway through the season
and catapulted himself right into the starting lineup.
His play culminated in the NCAA Tournament
when he scored Michigan's first goal on Friday.
Blackburn, Michigan's last line of defense, suffered
a season-threatening injury in October, only to
return in January and take his team on a winning,
streak. Against Maine, Blackburn was kept the
Wolverines in the contest until the third period. He
recorded a career high, 40 saves in the contest.
Looking to the future, three strong defensemen
will join the blueline ranks next season, with the
ability to build upon the great.steps the defensemen
took this season.

Michigan goaltender Josh Blackburn returned from a devastating
title. Blackburn had a career-high 40 saves against Maine.

DANA LINNANE/Daily
foot injury earlier in the season to spur the Wolverines to a CCHA regular season

The three Daily stars of
the NCAA Tournament

MIKE COMRIE

SOPHOMORE
CENTER

The Hobey Baker
candidate didn't
disappoint as he had a
spectacular weekend
Comrie tallied three
goals and the game-
winning assist against
Colgate on Friday
night.

JOSH BLACKBURN
SOPHOMORE
GOALTENDER
Facing an utter
onslaught of shots,
Blackburn responded
in playoff form. The
sophomore stopped 28
shots in the victory
over Colgate and held
off a career-high 40
shots against Maine.

Icers ought to
the itter end
GRANDSTAFF
Continued from Page 18
defense, and their season came to a close.
Maine sophomore Matt Yeats claimed after yesterday's
contest that the Black Bears were able to come out on
top because, "Will overcomes skill, and I think our will
to win was a lot stronger than theirs. All season long
we've talked about repeating as champions and continu-
ing the legacy, now we have a chance to do that."
Despite his obvious talents, Yeats has no clue what
he's talking about.
Time and again, Michigan has proven that if anything,
the one thing it does have is a will to win - that comes
from the character of this season's players, and from
their refusal to fail.
That is the legacy of Michigan hockey.
Maine may be building a mini-dynasty - a second
straight championship would be the third in a decade for
the Black Bears - but they cannot begin to understand
what it is to continue a legacy, at least not in the same
respect that the Wolverines do. Michigan may have
missed the Frozen Four for the second consecutive sea-
son, but don't expect that trend to continue.
Wipe your tears away Sean, you've lived and left a
legacy that will not soon be forgotten, and with the
strong corps of returning players on next season's team,
the Wolverines should continue that legacy, and may
find themselves returning to Albany - the site of the
2001 Frozen Four.
- Chris Grandstaff can be reached at
cgrandst@tuniich.edu.

GEOFF KOCH

AP PHOTO
Michigan freshman Mike Cammallerri has quietly performed on Michigan's second line all season despite the incredible atten-
tion placed on sophomore Mike Comrie.
Spectacular first-year class foresees future prowess

JUNIOR
FORWARD

The frosh chronicles

r''

For the second-straight season, the Michigan hockey team
has welcomed an excessive batch of youth. Here's how this

ichigan coach Red
erenson shifted Koch
to the top line before
Friday's game. Good
thing - because Koch
was in the right place
at the right time,
deflecting a Comrie
shot for the
game-winning tally.

year's crop resulted.
Player
Mike Cammalleri
Andy Hilbert
Mark Mink
Jed Ortemeyer
Mike Roemensky*
J.J. Swistak

Pos
F
F
F
F
D
F

GP
39
38
41
41.
19
36

13
17
7
8
3

A
13
16
12
16
'3
1

Pts
26
33
19
24
4
4

FRESHMEN
Continued from Page 11B
Cammalleri delivered the helper on Mike Comrie's power
play score later in the first while the freshmen line of Mink,
Cammalleri and Shouneyia teamed to tally Michigan's third.
That trend only continued yesterday as Ortmeyer added
assists on a pair of Comrie goals and Cammalleri grabbed
an assist on the second of Michigan's scores.
"The freshman played well for us," Berenson said after
Saturday's 4-3 overtime win. "Cammalleri's line played a
good game. They looked like veterans out there."
Last season it was Blackburn, Comrie and Jeff Jillson

headlining a heralded cast of returnees with the unfulfilled
promise of a bright future - now it seems Michigan's
future only grows brighter as it grows a year older.
Though yesterday's loss was a bitter pill for Blackburn to
swallow, he says he takes comfort in knowing that Michiga*
will be poised for a return next year - a return that will
hinge on the presence of Michigan's next sophomores.
And as a frustrated Blackburn scratched his "playoff
beard" before heading for the Michigan bus, he gave the
subtle sense that the Michigan team who "left it all on the
ice" is the Michigan team that plans to be back on that ice
in a year.
With slightly fuller beards.

* joined Mvichigan at start 4f stecond semtester

Michigan junior Geoff Koch scores the game-winning goal against Colgate in overtime
Phots y DANAUNNANE/Dalv

.

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