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October 14, 1999 - Image 28

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-10-14

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*B - The Michigan Daily Faceoff '99 -Thursday, A ber 14, 1999

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The Class

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Michigan State tops
CCHA in preseason

Northern to challenge for title

THREE OF A KIND
BY CHRIS GRANDSTAFF * DAILY SPORTS WRITER

3

CCHA Rank - Media Poll
Noern- i

1

CCHA Rank - Media Poll

Ranked first in the CCHA media
preseason poll, the Spartans go into
this season looking for their third-
straight CCHA championship and
their seventh straight NCAA appear-
ance.
Nine players have departed from last
year's squad. The hardest to replace
will be CCHA player of the year Mike
York, who led the team in scoring each
of the last three years, and not only
will the Spartans miss him on the
offensive end, but on the blue line as
well.
This year, coach Ron Mason is look-
ing toward senior Shawn Horcoff for
the goal scoring. Horcoff was second
on the team in scoring last year behind
York.
On the blue line, the Spartans return
top defensman Mike Weaver. Weaver,
a second-team All-American and first-
team All-CCHA selection last season,
is known for his penalty kiiling and
powerful hitting.
Michigan State brings in three new

defensmen, two of which Mason looks
to bring some offense to the defensive
end. Freshmen Brad Fast and John-
Michael Liles bring speed and great
puck-handling abilities to the team.
But the leader of this defense will be
in goal. Last season Joe Blackburn set
team records with 1.55 goals-against
average and ±a .928 save percentage.
He is also the only All-American goal-
tender to return this season, and will
be backed by senior Mike Gresl who
had an impressive 1998-'99 season as
well.
Gresl, who finished at 8-1 on the
season, earned Great Lakes
Invitational MVP honors while help-
ing to lead the team to a second GLI
title.
Like many teams in the conference,
the Spattans are faced with many new-
comers to introduce to CCHA play.
But, the Spat-tans feel that they can live
up to -their No. I ranking especially
with their tremendous strength at the
net.
- Stephanie Offen
Last year's overall record: 29-6-7
Last year's CCHA record: 23-7
Last year's results vs. Michigan
Nov. 20 Mich. 2, MSU 1
Dec. 27 MSU 3, Mich. 1
Jan. 29 Mich. 3, MSU 3
March20 MSU 3, Mich. 1
1999-2000 games against Michigan
JIan. 7 East Lansing
Feb. 25 Ann Arbor
Feb. 26 Detroit

Northern Michigan returns the
core of a team that last season
reached the CCHA Tournament
Championship game against
Michigan and madeitsmfirst NCAA
Tournament appearance since 1993.
The Wildcats are talented and should
challenge for the CCHA crown.
In fact the biggest question facing
the Wildcats may be how will they
perform on the "Big Ice." Northern
moves into their brand new home this
season the Berry Events Center -
where they will compete on Olympic
sized ice. The ice will be 15 feet
wider than the dimensions of
Lakeview Arena, the home of the
Wildcats last season, and has Coach

Rick Comley wondering how his
team will react to the larger playing
surface.
"We return a pretty good hockey
club," Comely said. "And I think
we'll be competitive. The big adjust-
ment for us is that we open a new
building. It's something that we've
tried to get open for about 20 years
and it's finally a reality. It has
Olympic sized ice, it'll be the second
sheet in the conference, and it's big.
If you know anything about my
team over the years we're a team that
has worked hard and played physical
and it's really going to make a differ-
ence for us playing half of our games
on the big ice. How we play on the
big surface is as much a question for
me as the returning talent we have"
- C'hris Grandstaff

1998-99 games against Michigan
Feb. 18 Marquette
Feb. 19 Marquette
Players to watch Yr. Pos.
Dan Ragusett Jr. G
Roger Trudeau Sr. LW
J.P. Vigier Sr. RW
Head coach
Rick Comley, 24th season
Notable: Coach Rick Comley is also
the athletic director at Northern
Michigan

Defense dominates for Buckeyes
Ohio State's goaltending questionable with goalie Aho

4

Compuware threesome joins 'M'

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Two years ago, Ohio State shocked
the college hockey world when it
made an appearence in the Frozen
Four. Last season, the Buckeyes
proved that their success wasn't a
fluke as they made their second con-
secutive appearence in the NCAA
tournament.
But last year, Ohio State was led by
a dominant duo of All-Americans,
Hugo Boisvert and goalie Jeff
Maund. Boisvert, a Hobey Baker
finalist wasn't about to see his colle-
giate career end on a sour note.
For the 1999-2000 season,the
Buckeyes have a new look - espe-
cially on offense. Returning wingers,
senior Eric Meloche and junior Jean-
Francois Dufour should be the team's
primary offensive threats. But in
order to get their scoring chances, the

fowards must get help from centers
Mike McCormick and Vinnie Grant.
In years past, Grant and
McCormick were overshadowed by
Boisvert and Chris Richards. This is
their time to shine.
Ohio State's defensive unit on the
other hand, is almost guaranteed to
shine. The Buckeyes return all six
Blueliners from last year's squad.
The biggest questionmark for the
Buckeyes will lie in goal. Last year,
Maund left the program after only
two years to play in the NHL. His
replacement will be senior Ray Aho
who held the starting job at Ohio
State his freshman year.
"It's going to be an exciting year
for us," Ohio State head coach John
Markell said. "I think what's making
it so exciting is trying to answer the
questions about how we're going to
replace Boivert and Maund. We're
rebuilding with in house and the
strength of our team will be defense."

- Umna Subramanian

Holding onto a 2-0 lead in the Gold
Cup Championship, the
Compuware Ambassadors, a
Junior A hockey club out of Detroit,
could sense a victory. As the clock con-
tinued its slow countdown to zero, an
entire season of hard work and determi-
nation was about to culminate in the ulti-
mate goal - a championship. The
bench, the fans, all eyes stared straight
ahead - fixated on the clock as if held
in concrete - all of them hardly able to
control the jubilation that was rising
inside of them. And then, as if released
by some unseen floodgate, all that work
spilled out onto the ice in absolute cele-
bration.
The Compuware Ambassadors had
defeated the Des Moines Buccaneers
for the Gold Cup, the championship of
the North American Hockey League,
and celebrated for one final time
together. For many of the Ambassadors
this game marked the final contest of
their Junior A careers. It marked the last
time that they would play with their
teammates. But for three members of
last season's championship team the
game marked a beginning as well as an
end. For John Shouneyia, Mark Mink
and J. J. Swistak it marked the end of
junior A hockey, and the beginning of a
very promising career at Michigan.
"We were all pretty excited when it
happened last season," Compuware
coach Mike Vellucci said. "You never
know in those one-game elimination
series what's going to happen, but we
did it. It was a total a total team effort,
we had a lot of talented guys, John,
Mark and Swistak are all goal scorers,
all possess a good all-around game, and
played a big part in our championship."
The three former Ambassadors are
part of yet another stellar Michigan
recruiting class that also includes Jed

Ortmeyer, Andy Hilbert and Mike
Cammallari. Like any class, this group,
of freshman will share a four-year expe-
rience that will give them a common
bond for the rest of their lives. But for
Shouneyia, Mink and Swistak that bond
has been growing since before they
were ten.
"I've known J. since I was like eight,"
Shouneyia said. "And I've known Mark
for what seems like forever."
Mink and Shouneyia were team-
mates growing up in midget hockey
leagues, while Swistak has been play-
ing against them almost since they
started playing hockey. But despite their
long history with one another, that they
all started skating around the age of
four, and that all three of them live
within 15 minutes of one another - the
three new Wolverines are very different
both on and off the ice.
Shouneyia is a natural leader and
extremely talented. Less than one
month into his Michigan career he has
already shown signs that he could be
one of the team's top playmakers by
season's end. Yet his shy smile and cool
demeanor suggest someone who hasn't
been consumed by his natural talent,
but who has harnessed his gift, and is
confident in his ability to use it.
"John is a very special player,"
Vellucci said. "I can't say enough about
him. He was our captain and a leader on
and off the ice. He has the best hands
I've ever seen in a Junior player. He's

just a super kid."
Mink is quieter than the other two,
but no less potent on the ice. He has
already recorded one goal and an assist
in his first two games as a Wolverine.
Perhaps even more important though is
his understanding of what it takes for
his team to win.
"Mark has always been a great play-
er and a lot of fun to watch," Robert
Mink, his father, said. "He gets along
with just about everyone he's ever met.
People are really going to enjoy seeing
him play because he's such a team play-
er."
But for much of his career Mink's
obvious talents and winning savvy have
been overlooked by the things that he
supposedly could not do.
"People try to knock Mark and say
that he can't skate and he can't do this
and he can't do that,"Vellucci said. "All
Mark Mink does is come out and prove
them wrong every time he's on the ice."
Mink has consistently shown that he
can overcome adversity even in the face
of his doubters. Something he will need
to continue at Michigan, where there
will no doubt be times when he will fall
under media scrutiny and be forced to
fight off the doubters once again.
Something freshman teammate J. J.
Swistak can sympathize with. Swistak,
who's world (according to his father,
Larry) has revolved around hockey since
See TRIO, Page 19

This season Mark Mink along with fellow fre
Shouneyla hope to repeat the successes the
played for the Compuware Ambassadors lasi

Players to watch
Shawn Horcoff
Mike Weaver
Joe Blackburn

Yr.
Sr.
Sr.
Jr.

Pos.
F
G

Head coach
Ron Mason
Notable: Blackburn is not related to
the Michigan goalie

Hockey scores aren't
only ones that matter.

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