12 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 6, 2001
FROZEN F JUR
up big despite l
wins sweet e
By Joe Smith
Daily Sports Editor
ALBANY, N.Y. - It looked like a
With the season, and eight seniors'
careers on the line, the Wolverines
desperately battled back from a 3-0
deficit to within a goal halfway
through the third period of last night's
semifinal loss to Boston College. But
every heart on the Michigan bench
stopped for a split second with just
over nine minutes to go.
Three-time All-American and
Hobey Baker Award finalist Brian
Gionta was in on a clean breakaway
for Boston College. Nothing separated
the prolific scorer and Boston Col-
lege's best player from ending Michi-
gan's season except goalie Josh
Even Blackburn didn't like the pos-
"I knew it was Gionta coming
down, so I was just wondering what he
was going to pull out on me," Black-
burn said with a chuckle. "I didn't
know if he was going to do a back flip
and choke me or something."
But just like he's done time and
time again - and all season long -
Blackburn kept the Wolverines in the
game with a big save. He stood his
ground when Gionta deked, and
steered aside his biggest save of the
game with ease.
"Gionta had his chances, but Black-
ie stoned him tonight, Michigan asso-
ciate coach Mel Pearson said. "It kept
us in the game - it's one of those big
saves you need to keep you in the
game to give us at least a chance to
win the game."
And this performance wasn't a one-
time thing, as Blackburn has contin-
ued to come up big when it counts the
"Josh, in his three-year career here,
has been nothing less but a money
goalie," said Michigan volunteer
goalie coach Stan Matwijiw, who
joined the program last season. "He's
always given us a chance, and that's all
you can ask for."
Matwijiw spends vast amounts of
time helping to develop the three
Michigan goalies in practice. He uses
his previous experience as a NHL
goaltender to work on specific aspects
of goalkeeping, both mental and phys-
ical, in practice on a daily basis. But
Matwijiw has tried a different
approach at the end of the season in an
attempt to implore his philosophy on
Blackburn for his performance in
important games: "You never make
one game any bigger than another."
"We stopped coaching with two
weeks left in the season and just let
him play," Matwijiw said. "We weren't
going to teach him anymore, we just
let him play in his comfort zone."
Blackburn's "comfort zone" was
challenged viciously, early and often,
last night. Boston College had five
glorious scoring chances on the
doorstep of the goal, but Blackburn
steered them all aside and gave the
rest of the Wolverines confidence at
the same time.
"He's been our rock all season
long,' Michigan coach Red Berenson
said. "When our team was faltering,
Josh Blackburn was there to make the
"He gives our defense confidence.
He gives our whole team confidence."
Especially when goalies are often
put in the pressure-cooker because
they're the last line of defense. When
a team wins, they're praised. While
Michigan goalie Josh Blackburn, here stopp ing a wrap around attempt by Boston College Hobey Baker candidate Brian
Gionta, made big save after big save to kee p the Wolverines' hopes alive until the end in yesterday's 4-2 loss.
after a loss, the netminders are easily
made a scapegoat. But it's what is
inside Blackburn that keeps him confi-
dent about himself in tight situations.
"I don't like being nervous when I
play, so I try to trick myself and pre-
tend it's just like any other game,"
I Blackburn said. "I just take a couple
deep breaths and tell myself it's anoth-
er hockey game. Hockey is just a
game, after all - and I have to
remember to have fun."
With the question still remaining
whether Blackburn, a 1999 draft
choice of the NHUs Phoenix C
will return to Michigan for his
year, there's one thing that B
knows for certain.
"I'll put Blackburn up agai
goalie," he added. "And you s5
in tonight's game."
Honored 10icers may be NHL-bour
By Jon Schwartz-
Daily Sports Editor tDela
ALBANY, N.Y. - Scott
Clemmensen didn't have too
much to say about it. But it
was pretty clear that it was on his
After all, it was on everyone
Midway through the second peri-
od, with the Wolverines down 2-0
and Boston College dominating the
game in every way possible, Michi-
gan senior Josh Langfeld got the
puck about five feet from the net
and fired an
" . absolute bullet
toward the net.
fi Somehow, and
replay didn't pro-
vide any means of
the hell it hap- JON
pened, Clemmensen SCHWARTZ
kept the puck out
and kept his The Schrt
He'd later lose the shutout, but
he'd gain something far more
AP PHOTO Redemption.
Clemmensen downplayed it -
anyone with a mind for sportsman-
oyotes, ship would have - but it's not
s senior remotely possible that the goalie
erenson will ever see a tape from this game
and not think 1998 at that moment.
nst any In many ways, the entire game
aw why was a throwback to the champi-
onship matchup in '98 between
Michigan and Boston College. What
would have made the two line up
perfectly would have been Mark
Kosick and Langfeld leading the
way for the Wolverines, and Scott
Clemmensen playing a great game,
but just not good enough in the
Kosick and Langfeld did their
best, but couldn't get the Eagles'
goalie to join in on the fun.
They attacked him. Together, they
accounted for nine of Michigan's 33
shots on the night. They'd been per-
forming brilliantly so far in the
playoffs, and all signs were indicat-
ing that they were going to be
a Iy involved again last night.
But Clemmensen kept the door
n w7 closed.
"I want to make every save,"
Clemmensen said after the game. "I
on said. don't care who shot the puck."
bility of Apparently, he no longer thinks
about the fact that Kosick's two
and that goals and Langfeld's overtime win-
team a ner brought the Wolverines to the
top of the mountain and left him
me to a fighting back through the years -
ial win. with three more Frozen Four berths
Marty and two more championship game
oke the appearances.
n Brant Scott, I applaud your humility.
NCAA But I don't believe you.
I don't believe that when you
emifinal stopped a Kosick breakaway with
von 4-3. 1:30 left in the game you didn't
onents. think about the ghosts that you were
ms have exorcising.
6, when I don't believe that when your
team scored two early goals you
weren't thanking god and every-
thing holy that the post stayed out
of the way this time. After all, you
guys really were only a few inches
, away from winning that game on
ALBANY, N.Y. - While Michigan:
appointingly last night, there is still pra
ing for sophomore Andy Hilbert. Hilbei
Hobey Baker Award, given to college hi
The award will be presented today a
Four weekend in Albany.
Along with Hilbert stands Brian Gi<
lege, North Dakota's Jeff Panzer and MY
Miller as finalists who conikpeted this wf
Miller is wifely regarded as the favi >
1997, Brendan Morrison Oecame the a n
win the award.
Should Hilbert's name not get engrx v
can still boast that the American-
Hockey Coaches Associd4on select-
ed him as an All-Americ. While he
is the only Michigan reesentative
on the first team, defei$eman Jeff
Jillson and center Mike Cimmalleri ata
GOING AvwAY: Michigan coach Red E
hoping that Hilbert's achevements 9 hi
his last as a Wolverine. , 2000 dra ft
Bruins of the NHL, Hilert could b e1
the next few weeks to join the Bruins .
Jillson is also a candidate to leave ea
to leave for San Jose before this :jea
return for another year. And during ! his
he threw around both possibilities al th
Goalie Josh Blackburn's name ha
around as someone possibly heading to
"Josh Blackburn's as fine a goal e a
hockey" Berenson said.
Also, Michigan is saying good% ye
senior class that led the Wolverines tot
3 season ended dis-
nise for a silver lin-
-t is a finalist for the
)ckey's best player.
s part of the Frozen
onta of Boston Col-
Eichigan State's Ryan
rite for the award. In
ly Wolverine to ever
ved on the Hobey, he
de the second team.
Berenson is probably
s season will not be
pick by the Boston
leaving Michigan in
rly. He was expected
son but he chose to
S season, he said that
s also been thrown
as there is in college
to an eight-member
the national champi-
"It'll be a big turnover year for our team," Berens
"We had eight seniors and there's always the possil
losing one of your top underclassmen or two.
"But we've got a big freshman class coming in,a
will be fun for the coaches. And it will change the
lot, but we've got some solid players coming back."
RANDOM NOTES: Boston College connected its na
few NCAA Tournament records with the semifin
Scott Clemmensen tied former Michigan goalie
Turco with nine career tournament wins. He also br
record for saves. Now with 322, he has one more tha
Blair's old record of 321 with one game left in his
Also interesting is the fact that in last year's se
games North Dakota won 2-0 and Boston College w
This year - the same scores, just with different opp
This will be the first time that the same two tear
played each other in the finals since 1975 and '7(
Michigan Tech faced Minnesota both years..
Michigan defenseman Jeff Jillson may forgo his senior season with the Wolverines
to play professional hockey for the San Jose Sharks next season.
Spartans beat iy Soux at own
By Joe Smith was tot > little, too late for the Spartans, ending
ALBANY, N.Y. - The mighty Michigan
State hockey team got a little taste Of its oWn
medicine last night.
North Dakota, the defendin.a nation al
champions, jumped to an early 2-0 lead 6n
the Spartans before locking down defensively
and relying on stellar goalkeeping to shut cut
Michigan State, 2-0, subsequently ending its
season in the Frozen Four semifinal game.
This formula has been the recipe for suc-
cess for the Spartans (33-5-4) who held e
No. 1 ranking for the past 19 weeks. Sportig
the nation's best team defense, a Hobey Baer
Award finalist between the pipes and an h n-
est, balanced scoring attack, Michigan State
consistently took advantage of opponents'
mistakes throughout the season to buid a lead
and then ride it to the end.
But the Spartans played terrible in the first
period, admittedly their "worst period of'the
their z .tempt to abolish their 15-year champi-
onship drought. Michigan State is 2-5 in its
last se 'in tournament games.
Mea nwhile, the usually explosive and high-
scoria g Fighting Sioux then got defensive,
refusi ng to let risky odd-man rushes cost
them the game, much like it has the whole
Tei te last month-and-a-half we thought we
to ) tighten up our defensive scheme a little
an d try not to give up anything offensive-
Ii >rward Ryan Bayda said. "We were get-
I hree guys caught and just giving games
y . We didn't want to give our opponent
1 mumber situations. It's playoff time, let's
A ;n up."
u id when the Spartans did create some
rj ous scoring opportunities, goalie Karl
di wering closed the door. Goehering steered
J - 30 shots and recorded his 15th career
4 out - marking the first shutout loss in 62
i es for the Spartans.
f4orth Dakota did a good job of covering
But hey, a save is a save, right?
Maybe so. Maybe it doesn't mat-
ter who shoots, from where or' in
But I won't buy that the final
result wasn't redemption.
"That was a long time ago,"
Clemmensen said. "This is a whole
Did Bill Buckner take the field in
1987 and say that the grounder
through his legs in the '86 World
Series was out of his mind? Has
Greg Norman gotten over choking
at The Masters in 1996?'
I doubt it.
It might not hound them every
minute of every day, but they cer-
tainly think about it.
And they certainly dream of a
chance to redeem themselves.
They dream of another Mookie
Wilson dribbler to field cleanly or