' - - -
14B -.MichiganDaily -c '99 - Thursday, Octobe, 1A999
ursda y October 14,1999 - c1
BY STEPHANIE OFFEN * DAILY SPORTS WRITER
Irish near turnaround I
ophomore defensman Jeff Jillson
is considered a Renaissance man
on the ice.
"We just have to make sure he doesn't
do too much," Michigan hockey coach
Red Berenson said. "He can carry the
puck, he can shoot it, he can add to our
offense, he's a physical presence on the
ice, and he has to be one of our top
defensemen for us to survive."
That is not an exaggeration.
As a freshman, Jillson led the team in
plus/minus rating, making his very pres-
ence on the ice a threat to the opposition.
Jillson's strong presence on the ice
started at an early age.
Before he even began kindergarten,
Jillson was on skates. Using only a chair
to hold him up, he was quickly discour-
aged by the game.
"I started when I was four and I didn't
like it at all," Jillson said. "I used to cry
all the time."
But two years later, the tears went
away and he decided to try hockey once
again. And it was on his own two feet,
without the chair for support, that he
began his complete understanding of the
What's unusual about Jillson's hockey
experience prior to attending Michigan
is that unlike the majority of college
players, he didn't play for a junior league
Junior clubs weren't prevalent on the
East Coast, so Jillson played for his high
school squad in his hometown of North
The competition may not have been
as stiff for Jillson during his high school
career, but his team helped him prepare
for his years at Michigan. Instead of
playing a lot of games during the week,
,like they do in the junior leagues,
Jillson's school followed essentially the
same routine of college teams and had
standard Friday and Saturday matchups.
But once Jillson stepped on the ice at
Michigan, everything that may have sep-
arated him from the former junior
league players disappeared.
Berenson said Jillson improved when
he arrived at Michigan and in a short
time became a leader.
And that tremendous improvement is
what led Jillson to be selected for the
U.S. national team at the 1999 World
During winter break last season, he
had an opportunity to represent his
country along with other high school
and college players from around the.
nation. The only challenge was having to
adjust to a whole new group of guys in
just a few weeks.
"It was weird at first playing with
guys that you usually compete against,"
Jillson said of his experiences with Team
USA. "We would joke around about
who had the better team or record."
The selection by the national team
came as a surprise, as he was not even
considered for the squad at first. He
wasn't expected to make the team, but
his performance at Michigan in his first
few months was impressive enough to
claim a spot.
"He was a player that wasn't expected
Defenseman Jeff Jillson is both an offensive or defensive power on tee ice. With a freshman season that included a first round
draft pick and a spot on the U.S. Junior National Team, is theirP' g this sophomore can't accomplish?
Notre Dame's Joyce Center is a far cry
from a legitimate ice hockey rink. In fact
it could better be described as a conven-
tion center with an ice rink plopped right
down in the middle of it. Nevertheless
the team that plays there is on a slow but
steady climb to the top of the CCHA.
Notre Dame coach Dave Poulin played
in 724 NHL games and three Stanley
Cup finals before returning to take over
the reins at his alma matter in 1995. In
four years, Poulin has turned the program
around. In 1995-96, the Fighting Irish
went 9-23-4, but in the 1998-99 cam-
paign the team went 19-14-5.
Last season, the Irish lost eight key
players, three of whom accounted for 40
percent of the Irish offense. To counter-
balance that loss, Notre Dame had one
of the top recruiting classes in the coun-
try. As a result, this year much of the
weight will be shouldered by the fresh-
man class which features four players
who were in the USA Developmental
Besides filling crucial leadership
roles, the Irish will also have to answer
some questions in goal. Sophomore
Jeremiah Kimento will get the starting
nod, but freshman Tony Zasowski will
be waiting in the wings.
Notre Dame's biggest strength will be
senior captain Ben Simon who led last
year's team in scoring. Simon is also a
candidate for this year's Hobey Baker
"I think we're going to be a good
hockey team," Poulin said. "We have
more depth than we've ever had. We
have great leadership in this year's senior
- Uma Subramanian
to make the team," Berenson said. "Yet
his performance here convinced the peo-
ple at USA hockey that this kid is as
good or better than some of the players
that they had their eyes on."
But even the experience of USA
Hockey did not compare to Jillson's first
experiences at Yost.
"When you step on the ice for the first
time it's a feeling like no other," Jillson
said. "It just makes you play that much
Yost keeps the noise level in, enhanc-
ing the volume of the cheers, which are
appreciated by the players.
"When you have a bad shift, the
crowd can get you back into it," Jillson
said. "It makes it a lot easier for us and a
lot tougher for the opponents. If I were
wearing a different sweater, I think it
would be the toughest place to play in
It was those cheers that helped Jillson
to his 24 points last season, making him
the second-best scoring defenseman,
and the fifth leading scorer overall on
Jillson finished his freshman season
with a bang. If becoming a premier
defensman for the CCHA champs and
earning a spot on the USA junior nation-
al team wasn't enough excitement for
his first year with the team, Jillson
earned the honor of being the first col-
lege player selected in the NHL draft
this summer, when he was picked 14th
overall by the San Jose Sharks.
Even though he was too busy to think
Right School, Right Now
Highly ranked progressive education in the information sciences.
Outstanding research university. One of the best college towns.
World-renowned faculty. Practical experience in the community.
Students from all academic backgrounds. Graduates in demand.
Master of Science in Information
* Archives and Records Management
" Human-Computer Interaction
* Information Economics, Management and Policy
" Library and Information Services
School of Information
www.si.umich.edu/rightnow * firstname.lastname@example.org " 734 763-2285
about the draft during the season, his
teammates noticed that he was going to
be a hot prospect.
"We all knew he would be a first-
rounder because of how good a player he
was," sophomore forward Mike Comrie
said. "Being selected in the first round
was something that he wanted to do and
he showed that during the season."
But Jillson hasn't let the honor go to
"Some players get a big head and they
start slipping the other way," Berenson
said. "But Jeff is looking at it the right
way, trying to live up to it rather then on
And that could sum up Jillson's entire
Now, with the unexpected loss of
three defensmen, Jillson is expected to
contribute even more than before.
Comrie said the team will be looking
more toward Jillson on the power-play
and penalty-kill units.
But Jillson doesn't mind the extra
"With the losses that we have the
defensmen will just have to step up and,
play a bigger role," Jillson said. "But
you just have to expect it and whatever
role the coaches give you, you have to
go out and play and not worry about.
other distractions. And try not to let the
pressure of the losses that we have both-
They don't seem to bother Jillson.
They don't seem to bother Berenson.
All he has to worry about is his
Renaissance man doing too much.
"Don't let your
get ahead of
615 E. LIBERTY OFF STATE
SAT UNTIL 4:20
gquestions in goal
r Bowling Green
Masters as a leader with a good
CCHA Rank - Media Poll glove, and Lawson as a large goal-
tender that will fill the net well.
With an extremely difficult con-
ference this year, Bowling Green
season, Bowling Green was expects to be right in the middle of
st improved team in the the pack.
The Falcons are hoping for a home
alcons went from their last berth for the CCHA Tournament.
inish in the conference in With the right balance of familiar
o a seventh place finish in faces and new talent they could
ev finished 13-14-3 in the make a run at it.
With the return of 19 letterwinners
from last years squad, the Falcons
believe they have the perfect blend
of vets and youth to rise in the rank-
ings once again.
First-team All-CCHA member
AdansEdinger returns to lead the
Bowling Green coach Buddy
Powers said Edinger, along with key
returnees Ryan Murphy, Mike Jones
and Grady Moore will be the key to
the team's success this season.
The big question for-the Falcons
will be in goal.
The goaltender position was vacat-
ed last season by Mike Savard and
will have three players competing for
Junior Shawn Timm is the fron-
trunner for the position, but will be
challenged by two newcomers.
Tyler Masters and Tom Lawson
give the Falcons two different styles
of goaltending to choose from,
- Stephanie Offen