Thursday, October 4, 1999 - The Michigan Daily - 11A
Hockey opens in Irish country tonight
By Uma Subramanian
Daily Sports Writer
Notre Dame hockey coach Dave Poulin
played in 724 NHL games and three Stanley
Cup Finals before he over the head coaching
position at his alma matter.
Michigan coach Red Berenson played 17
years in the NHL, scored six goals in a game
and left an indelible mark on the league en
*oute to taking over the reins of his alma
Both Poulin and Berenson returned to their
respective schools to rejuvenate programs that
had previously been floundering.
While Michigan went through its transfor-
mation in the mid-to-late 1980s, Notre Dame
has become a national contender and a force to
be dealt with in the CCHA in the last four sea-
The resurgence of the Fighting Irish has cre-
Sted a rivalry between the two schools that runs
When the puck drops at the Joyce Center,
tonight at 8 p.m. in the season opener for both
teams, the players will be ready.
"We've been waiting for this weekend for a
while," Michigan center Mike Comrie said.
"It's our first regular season game. Notre
Dame's a great team, Dave Poulin's a great
coach. We have to respect them, but we can't
But the eerie similarities between the two
teams don't end with the coaching staff. Last
year, the Irish lost several key defensernen early
in the season - including Mark Eaton, who is
currently playing for the Philadelphia Flyers.
This year, it was the Wolverines who lost
three defensemen in the off-season. Perhaps
more significant, the team also lost captain
Sean Peach for this weekend's trip to South
Peach pulled his groin in last Friday's Blue-
White game and should skate in practice today
but will not accompany the team when they
leave later that day.
Last season, the Irish had a veteran goalie in
net, whereas Michigan's Josh Blackburn was
untested. This year, Blackburn is the veteran
whereas Notre Dame sophomore Jeremiah
Kimento has a big question mark next to his
To add fuel to the fire, both teams even
played the same preseason Canadian opponent,
Wilfrid Laurier, in highly offensive contests.
After losing to both Notre Dame and
Michigan in consecutive nights, Wilfrid
Laurier coach Tony Martindale said that the
two teams had a lot in common. Poulin agreed.
"We recruit the same types of players,"
Poulin said. "We like to play hockey. As teams
we're both aggressive and can skate well. The
focus for both teams has been each other. (The
series) will be a good early test."
Undoubtedly the two teams are well-
matched, as evidenced by their 1-1-1 record
last season. But due to CCHA scheduling
changes this season, this will be the only time
the teams will face this season.
The teams should match up fairly well. Notre
Dame returns a strong defensive core featuring
five seniors. That defense will be a good chal-
lenge for the talented Michigan offense led by
Comrie - last year's leading point scorer.
"It'll be a tough game," Berenson said.
"They're a big, tough team, returning a physi-
cal defense. It's going to be physical, we must
play with a lot of focus and discipline and be
ready to pay the price.
"We've got to take checks, get hit, and yet
still stay in the game and not be intimidated.
This league is a tough league. Notre Dame is
ready for us; hopefully we'll be ready for
Between the pipes, Kimento will be eagerly
awaiting the Wolverines.
"He's very excited to play in this game,"
Poulin said. "It will be great for him to see a
Top 10 team this early."
The game may be great experience for
Kimento, but it will also be a challenge for the
Wolverines to face an untested goalie.
"The one thing about a new goalie, is
nobody knows much about him," Berenson
said. "Typically new goalies play really well.
They have a lot to prove and in this league there
have been some very good new goalies.
"The only way he will be a big factor is if we
get to him and we pour it on offensively."
The Michigan defensive could dictate the
pace of the game and will be continuously pres-
sured by the Irish, especially senior Ben Simon.
"We'll have to pay attention to him"
Berenson said. "We'll try to keep certain play-
ers like (Dave) Huntzicker or (Jeff) Jillson on
the ice with him. We'll try to put our best
defensemen on the ice"
Without Peach, each defenseman will see a
lot of ice time. The key for the Wolverines will
be to ensure that the defense isn't worn out
down the stretch. Berenson said from time to
time a forward may play some defense.
More than anything else, the weekend could
set the tone for the year.
In years past the difference between first
place and sixth place in the conference has only
been a few points. With a pair of victories
tonight and Friday, the Wolverines could be on
their way to the first place finish the CCHA
The Wolverines open their CCHA season early against conference foe Notre Dame. Both teams defeated
Wilfred Laurier last weekend, but one will see its win streak come to an end tonight.
A PLAYER TO RESTRAIN
BY DENA KRISCHER * DAILY SPORTS WRITER
ore's a reason why junior middle
blocker Joanna Fielder traveled
over 3,000 miles from her sunny
Costa Mesa, Calif. home to go to school
where the winter temperatures are sub-
It's because she's simply that good.
"It was between here and
Pepperdine," Fielder said. "I chose to go
here because I like the size of the school
and because of the huge athletic tradi-
Besides, a little snow never hurt any-
And her decision to come here is
only hurting the rest of the Big Ten.
Right now, Fielder is one of the main
reasons why Michigan's volleyball team
is having such a successful season.
She's one of the main reasons the
Wolverines can hope to make it to the
fina four of the NCAA tournament in
It's because she's simply that good.
"Joanna has definitely stepped up for
the team," Michigan coach Mark Rosen
said. "She's doing a great job, especially
with a big adjustment."
Michigan's award-winning volleyball
star has taken on a new role this season
to not only broaden her versitility as a
player, but to help the team become a
threat to the Big Ten.
Rather than dominating the net, as
she did last year, Fielder has moved to
the back row, focusing more on passing
and defense, something she hadn't done
With a little extra practice, she's
made the new responsibility work for
both herself and the team.
"I'm adjusting pretty well," said
Fielder, this year's Carolina Classic
MVP "I just had to refine my skills and
make them more consistent, and that's
my main goal."
Last season, Fielder lead the
Wolverines with 78 block assists and a
.300 hitting average, which ranks 12th in'
the Big Ten.
So far this season, her numbers have
not been as impressive, but that's not
because she's lost her step.
It's because she's simply that good.
Fielder's block assists and hitting
average opened the eyes of Big Ten
coaches, giving them a reason to worry
- a player to restrain.
"When the other schools scout us;'
Michigan coach Mark Rosen said.
"They look at her and they say, 'How are
we going to stop her?"'
They know she's out there - while
standing at six-foot, two-inches, it's hard
not to take notice -and they're going to
do whatever they can to stop her, includ-
ing double teams.
And it's frustrating for Fielder.
"I've been struggling with it," Fielder
said. "I've been having two blockers up
on me at once and my confidence hasn't
been as high in my attack."
Even though she is currently holding
an average of only .13 attacks per game
- while at this point last season, she
was averaging .33 per game - her other
numbers are remaining strong.
Through 13 matches, Fielder is aver-
aging 3.32 kills per game, second best
for Michigan behind sophomore outside
hitter Nicole Kacor.
Coming off a big win against Notre
Dame on Tuesday, which ended its three-
game losing streak and improving its
overall record to 9-4, Michigan is finally
getting back into winning, and preparing
for the upcoming weekend.
"We're really excited," Fielder said.
"Right before the fourth game (against
Notre Dame), Nicole Kacor said we
have to step up our game to give us a
good outlook for this weekend. We
stayed with them, and it wasn't easy, but
we finished the game. The win helped us.
Michigan hopes to turn things
around. The losing streak was a major
set-back, but it's over with.
"Before (Tuesday's) match, we talked
about a tu-rning point in the season,"
Fielder said. "It just happens, and we
don't know why. We talked about how
we need to have fun out there:If we did-
n't want to be doing this, we wouldn't.
We just pushed (the streak) aside, went
out there, and played as a team again.'
Middle blocker Joanna Fielder has taken on a new roll. Instead of dominating at
the net, she now intimidates the opponents in her new defensive roll.