The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - December 10, 2001- 7B
After bumpy start, 'M' freshmen have met their expectations 4
By J. Brady McCollough Daily Sports Writer
After the Michigan hockey team
was swept by Northern Michi-
gan at Yost Ice Arena on Oct.
27, -dropping its record to 1-3-1 in the
CCHA, many people were blaming
youth and inexperience for the
Wolverines' poor start to the year.
Six weeks later, after their second
straight weekend sweep, the Wolver-
ines don't have much higher to climb,
and the 12-member freshman class
has been instrumental in that resur-
Michigan has vaulted from the
depths of the CCHA to sole posses-
sion of second place - just three
points behind Michigan State.
"After the Northern series, there
were some issues with the team obvi-
ously," associate head coach Mel
Pearson said. "Part of it was we were
playing on the road, but we weren't
winning our home games. There were
some concerns, so to be in second
place at this time is a compliment to
The Wolverines have had no choice
but to throw their freshmen into the
fire this season after nine seniors
graduated and two underclassmen
(Andy Hilbert and Jeff Jillson)
jumped to the pros. But now the
freshmen have become an integral
part of the Maize and Blue.
It took some time for most of the
freshmen to adjust to the fast pace of
college hockey, but Berenson expect-
ed these growing pains to occur.
"Every young player that comes to
Michigan goes through some type of
transitional period," Berenson said.
"Some players really don't get it
together until the second half, and
some don't get it together until the
The freshman class has met the
challenges that have arisen thus far,
and will have a tremendous impact on
how far the Wolverines go in the post-
Michigan knew that its three prize
recruits from the U.S. Under-18
National Team - Dwight Helminen
(6 goals, 3 assists and 9 points), Eric
Nystrom (7-6-13) and Jason Ryznar
(6-4-10) - would be the most pre-
pared to contribute this season. So far,
they haven't disappointed.
"It's more of a college environment
over there with Team USA," Pearson
said. "They're on the ice five days a
week like we are, they've got a
tremendous strength and conditioning
program, so it's almost like a college
program. That gives them a big
advantage coming to a place like
Michigan to come in and play."
Nystrom, whom Berenson tabbed
as the hardest worker of the class, has
been paired primarily with Mike
Cammalleri and Jed Ortmeyer on the
first line. His work as a "grinder" has
also been crucial to the powerplay's
rejuvenation over the past three
weeks. His biggest goal of the season
was his overtime game-winner in the
finale of the Nebraska-Omaha series.
Nystrom caught fire again Saturday at
Miami, as he led the Wolverines to a
5-2 victory with two goals and two
assists on the evening.
Helminen, who was just named to
the 2002 U.S. National Junior Team,
has manned the third-line center spot
since the first minute of the year's
first practice. His tireless skating,
speed and physical style have been
major parts of the Wolverines' recent
success on the penalty kill.
Ryznar made a splash quickly with
one goal and one assist in the "Cold
War" against Michigan State, his first
collegiate game. He now works on the
second line with John Shouneyia and
fellow freshman Milan Gajic. Ryznar,
much like Nystrom, is strong and
physical along the boards and has
contributed on the second powerplay
WHERE'S THE NET?
Michael Woodford and David Moss
join Helminen on the third line, form-
ing the Wolverines' lone all-freshman
combination of forwards. While '
Helminen has established himself as a
legitimate threat, Moss and Woodford
haven't found their scoring touch thus
But it's not because they haven't
had the chances.
"They've had their scoring chances,
they've had good chances to score,"
Berenson said. "Ironically, they had
more chances up in Alaska than they
did in all the other games. They just
showed they weren't ready to put the
puck in the net."
Moss (1-3-4) and Woodford (0-5-5)
have not had the luxury of playing
with Cammalleri, Ortmeyer, or
Shouneyia, which could be a factor in
their lack of production.
"They haven't had that upperclass-
man stability to help them night in
and night out," Pearson said.
But the coaches certainly have not
lost faith in their young third-liners,
and expect that more opportunities
will open up for them during the sec-
ond half of the season.
"Woodford is making a lot of nice
subtle plays," Pearson said. "He's giv-
ing us some speed. I think he'll have a
big second half. He's just getting used
to the college game. I see the
strengths of David as his smarts and
his hands. I think he's learned a lot
about the game, and I expect him to
be better, too."
MOST IMPROVED WOLVERINE
A dominant performer in his
British Columbian junior league last
season, Milan Gajic was not meeting
the coaches' expectations in the
Just as many other U.S.-Under 18 National Development Program alumni, Michigan freshman Eric Nystrom has made a quick
and successful transition to the college ranks. Nystrom joins Mike Cammalleri and captain Jed Ortmeyer on the first line.
Pulling their weight
Many comparisons have been made between the 1997-98 National Champi-
onship tean, and this year's Wolverines. The main object of comparison is the
size and talent of each year's freshman class. Here is a run-down of how the
2001-02 group compares through games of Dec. 8.
beginning of the season. Berenson
then moved Gajic from the fourth line
to the second line with Ryznar and
Shouneyia because Gajic admitted
that he was feeling a lot of pressure to
Gajic's success in last Saturday's 6-
1 victory over Ferris State was more
than enough to restore Berenson's
confidence in the natural scorer, as he
tallied two goals - one on the power-
play -- and assisted on another.
"Milan Gajic really struggled in the
early going, and now he looks like
he's finding his confidence, and find-
ing the net - doing the things he did
in juniors," Berenson said.
Freshman blueliners traditionally
have the toughest transition from jun-
ior league to college hockey.
"There's a lot of pressure on you,
you're sort of the last line of defense,
and if you make a mistake, everybody
sees it," Pearson said.
But you wouldn't know it was a
tough transition by watching Eric
Werner, whom Pearson tabbed as one
of his most improved freshman.
Werner's ability to jump into the
play and add some offense have been
illustrated best by his performance on
the first powerplay unit. Controlling
the point with Cammalleri, Werner
has recorded one goal and seven
assists on tle season overall.
"Werner has really played well,"
Pearson said. "He's only playing at
155 pounds against 200-pound guys. I
think he's made some significant
Brandon Rogers began the season
in the top defensive pairing with Mike
Komisarek, but was pulled from the
lineup after the Northern Michigan
series because he was committing too
many turnovers. Rogers has recovered
well, and found his way back into the
lineup in last Saturday's game against'
Nick Martens received his first
minutes in the Wolverines' 5-3 win
over Wisconsin. Martens played well
throughout Michigan's sweep of Fer-
ris State last weekend and impressed
Berenson with his smooth transition
into the lineup.
"For the most part, I think he's in-
sync with the rest of the team,"
Berenson said. "For a guy that hasn't
played at all and the rest of us have
played all these games, for him to
step in and not be out of sync is really
HITTING A BRICK WALL
Three of the Wolverines' freshmen
have yet to sport the maize and blue
sweater this season.
Reilly Olson, a highly-touted
recruit out of Alberta, Canada, has not
adjusted as quickly as Berenson
expected. The last time he saw time
on the ice was in the exhibition game
against the U.S. National Under-18
team when he scored on a shot from
the point that was deflected by a Team
"He's really run into a wall;' Beren-
son said. "It's been a bigger jump for
him than it was for Eric Werner."
Charlie Henderson, a walk-on who
made the team this fall in open try-
outs, will most likely get his chance
in the Great Lakes Invitational on
Dec. 28-29 with the departure of
Cammalleri and Helminen for the
World Junior Championships.
"His strengths are his skating and
his puck-handling- ability," Pearson
said. "We've talked a lot about Char-
lie and he's almost been in the lineup
here and there, but because of the way
we started off we chose the experi-
With seniors Josh Blackburn and
Kevin O'Malley returning between
the pipes, Michigan's third-string
goaltender Justin Spurlock has not
seen any ice time this season. The
walk-on was the only goalie who tried
out for the spot, and came in with a
lot of work to do.
"Spurlock has looked better and
better every week," Pearson said.
"He's battled and learned to make
himself a better player."
1997-98 FRESHMAN CLASS
2001-02 FRESHMAN CLASS
Mike Van Ryn
PLAYER G A PTS
Eric Nystrom 7 6 13
Jason R yznar 6 4 10'
DwightH elminen 6 3 9
Eric'Werner 1 7 8
Milan Gajic 3 4 7
Michael Woodford 0 5 5
David Moss 1 3 4
Nick Martens 0 1 1
Brandon Rogers 0 0 0
Reilly Olson Has not played
Charlie Henderson Has not played
Justin Spurlock Has not played
Continued from Page 1B
The tilt was the third straight Michi-
gan had to play without senior captain
Raina Goodlow. Goodlow did not make
the trip to Seattle because of an infec-
tion in her hip. Her status remains day-
to-day. The team also was without
senior forward Heather Oesterle.
In the challenge opener against
Washington State, the Cougars took
advantage of a lethargic Michigan
squad in the first half they went on a 16-
7 run late in the first to take a 38-29
lead over the Wolverines at the break.
Michigan responded with a full court
press, helping the Wolverines go on a
17-0 run to take the lead for good as
Michigan outscored the Cougars 57-21
in the second half.
"I wanted us to start faster," Guevara
said. "(But) we were able to get quick
steals and get layups (because of the
# Michigan's press turned the Cougars
upside down. After shooting well over
50 percent in the first, Washington State
would miss their first 14 shots of the
second period and shot only 11-percent
for the entire half.
"We wanted to pick up the pace,"
Tabitha Pool's career-high 13
rebounds and six assists and LeeAnn
Bies' 18 points and eight rebounds led
Michigan heads straight back on the
road to play Toledo on Wednesday
Michigan (7 F
FG FT R EB
MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F PTS
Pool 29 3-13 0-0 1-6 3 0 7
Bies 36 9-15 9-10 6-11 2 4 27
Smith 37 5-8 4-5 3-9 2 2 14
Jara 33 3-3 0-2 1-5 3 1 6
Ingram 40 5-13 0-1 0-7 2 0 13
Gandy 19 1-6 2-4 2-5 2 1 4
Mason 6 0-5 0-0 3-0 0 3 0
Totals 200 26-6315-2219-501411 71
FG%: .413. FT%: .682. 3-point FG: 4-6, .667
(Ingram 3-4, Pool 1-2). Blocks: 3 (Bies,
Smith, Ingram). Steals: 7 (Jara 4, Smith 3).
Turnovers: 13 (Pool 4, Smith 4,-Ingram 2,
Gandy, Mason, Bies). Technical fouls: none.
Washington (70) REB
MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F PTS
Autrey 21 3-7 0-0 1-2 3 2 7
O'Neill, Kr. 29 1-5 0-0 0-4 1 2 3
Bertin provides boost for Blue
By Eric Chan
Daily Sports Writer
This past weekend, the Michigan
wrestling team drew from the skills of
an exciting new talent and a seasoned
Michigan capped off a dominant per-
formance in its first two dual meets with
last night's 28-8 win over Central Michi-
gan at Cliff Keen Arena. On Friday
night, No. 4 Michigan traveled to East
Lansing to compete in front of a packed
crowd. Despite the hostile atmosphere,
Michigan annihilated No. 18 Michigan
"I thought we wrestled aggressive,"
said Michigan coach Joe McFarland.
"It's the exciting kind of wrestling, and
it's the kind of wrestling I like."
The Wolverines were led by 157-
pound redshirt freshman Ryan Bertin
and junior 125-pounder A.J. Grant, who
each wrestled and defeated two nation-
ally ranked opponents this weekend.
In his first year at the varsity level for
Michigan, Ryan Bertin is showing
everyone what he's made of. Bertin has
jumped to a No. 6 ranking at 157-
pounds on Amateur Wrestling News'
poll and has already defeated many of
the nation's top wrestlers. Saturday
night, Bertin made No. 13 David Bol-
yard of Central Michigan, look like a
junior varsity high school wrestler from
Poughkeepsie, N. Y. Bertin controlled
the entire match en route to a 15-5
major decision victory.
"He's been wrestling great so far, and
he just gets better by the match,"
Against Central Michigan's Jason
Borelli, ranked No. 18 in the nation,
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Grant was completely dominant
throughout the match. The All-Ameri-
can scored on a reversal and a takedown
in the second period and then with
another takedown in the third period to
win the match, 7-2.
At Michigan State on Friday night,
Bertin's weight class was called out
first, and he gave the Wolverines a 3-0
lead with a hard-fought 4-2 win over
No. 7 Gray Maynard.
"Ryan was a great way to start out
the match for us. He gave us the
momentum we wanted," McFarland
Grant, ranked seventh in the nation,
took on No. 11 Chris Williams of
Michigan State. Williams, an All-Amer-
ican and fan favorite, hyped up the
crowd by sprinting onto the mat and
snapping his singlet on and off. Every-
one in the stands knew the importance
of the match in the rankings, and in the
match. The Wolverines were up 15-6 at
that point and Williams could have put
the Spartans back into contention with a
Both wrestlers came out with a lot
of energy, but neither scored in the
first period. At the beginning of the
second, Grant drew first blood, scor-
ing one point on an escape. Williams
countered with his own escape at the
beginning of the third period to tie
the score at 1-1. Immediately after
the score by Williams, Grant shot a
deep double leg to take Williams
down. The exhausted Williams
couldn't do much as the time ticked
off the clock. Grant finished with a
6-2 win over his in-state rival.
"We're definitely showing every
team that we're in shape and we're
ready to go," Grant said.
Michigan State's Chris Williams hyped up the crowd, but Michigan Junior A.J. Grant
burned him with a deep double leg takedown en route to a 6-2 decision.
Small town success
Lakewood, Ohio is home to St. Edwards high school, one of the top wrestling
schools in the country. Three of the 10 wrestlers in Michigan's lineup are from
MikedKulcyzcki (149 pounds) - Currently ranked No. 7 in the nation, Kulcyzcki
earned All-America status last season after finishing seventh at NCAA Championships.
Ryan Bertin (157 pounds) - The redshirt freshman is currently ranked No. 6 in the
nation and is a 2000 Asics First Team High School All-American.
Andy Hrovat (184 pounds) - The senior is currently ranked No. 3 in the nation. He
was an All-American last year after taking fourth at the NCAA Championships.
A look at the
underside of U of M
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