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October 04, 2001 - Image 19

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-10-04

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10B - The Michigan Daily - FACEOFF 2001 - Thursday, October 4, 2001

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The Michigan Daily - FACEOFF 2001

Mike Cammalleri
has always been... 9
The Wolverines' Mr. Everything discusses
the upcoming season and what it will ..
take for Michigan tobecome champions.A
By J. Brady McCollough Daily Sports Writer

Komisarek: Blue's big man on c
At 6-foot-4, 242 pounds, he was born to knock his on-ice opponen

By Steve Jackson Daily Sports Writer

Some people were simply born to deliver
bone-crushing hits. Michigan defenseman
Mike Komisarek is one of those special peo-
ple.
"I was always a rough-natured kid," Komisarek
said with a bright boyish grin that stands in stark
contrast to his on-ice persona.

But the "rough-natured" Komisarek was not the
typical "Give me your lunch money or face the
music"~ bully in school.
His main problem was that he didn't realize his
own strength.
"Lots of times, I'd give a friend a pat on the
back, then he'd say 'ouch, man,' and flop for-

At 5-foot-9, Mike Cammalleri has
been labeled a small player. Call
him undersized all you want, but
here's a guarantee - it goes in one ear
and right out the other.
"As far as I'm concerned I'm not a
small player when I get on the ice,"
Cammalleri said. "I don't consider
myself 5-foot-9. I consider myself bigger
than whoever I'm playing against."
In order to be successful at this level
and in the future, Cammalleri knows he
must forget about size and focus on play-
ing the game he loves.
"There comes a point in your career
where you totally dismiss that thought,"
the junior forward said. "To be success-
ful at this level you cannot think of your-
self as a small player any longer. You just
play the game. I just work on being a
strong player and try to play as big as I
can. "
Cammalleri's size has not hindered
him in earning the respect of his team-
mates. Not only is he one of the most tal-
ented players in the CCHA, but his team-
mates are also counting on him for lead-
ership.
"A lot of people look at his size and
they hold it against him, but there's no
one stronger out there than this kid,"
senior forward Craig Murray said. "We'll
look to him for a lot of leadership this
year and expect a lot of things from him."
This season, the offense will depend
on Cammalleri more than ever. Seven
forwards from last year's team have
departed, including sophomore Andy
Hilbert, Cammalleri's right hand man
last year. During the early part of the sea-
son, the
Wolverines willM
count on "
Cammalleri for
their offensive Height-5'9"
punch because of Weight -182 lbs..
their lack of Grade - Junior
proven experience Pos. - Forward
at the forward
position. From the coach:
"Mike isya "He's a personable
proven player," kid, he gets along
Michigan associ- well with everyone. He
ate head coach Everybody likes Mikec
Mel Pearson said. friend, and you admire
"If you go through because of his talent,
our lineup and see everything to help this
who our proven
scorers are you - head
won't find many.
He's the offensive
leader of our team. He can change a
game by himself, so we need him in the
lineup."
"He's one of our most talented play-
ers," Michigan coach Red Berenson said..
"He brings that dimension. He can do
things with the puck in the offensive
zone that most players can't do. He can
either provide offense or create offense."
Canmmalleri, who led Michigan last

season with 29 goals, thrives on the extra
responsibility.
"I don't think it puts much pressure on
me at all," Cammalleri said. "I still enjoy
the role as someone who's expected to
produce offensively, and I intend to do
that."
Hilbert and Cammalleri combined last
season to torment defenses across the
nation. This year, with Hilbert wearing
the black and gold of the Boston Bruins,
Cammalleri will look to form a new
dynamic duo with another Wolverine.
Who that will be is yet to be determined
- chemistry doesn't form overnight.
"A line has to build chemistry,"
Cammalleri said. "Andy was a great
hockey player. I made plays for him, and
then he made plays for me. I'm excited to
play with new guys and create new
chemistry.
"I've played with a lot of different
guys my entire life, and I've always been
able to produce."
While Hilbert is lacing up his skates in
the NHL this season, Cammalleri -
drafted in the second round by the Los
Angeles Kings this past summer - will
still wear the Maize and Blue on Friday
and Saturday nights. Cammalleri never
considered leaving school early during
the summer.
"I felt like this is where I wanted to be
this year," Cammalleri said. "The deci-
sion was easy. I just wanted to be back
here and be part of this again."
Cammalleri was a first team All-
CCHA selection last season, and was
named the NCAA West Regional MVP
for his phenomenal performances
a g a i n s t
Mercyhurst and
St. Cloud. While
<<these accolades
are impressive,
Cammalleri still
has a major goal
that he and his
teammates
haven't accom-
plished in his
two years at
s a team person. Michigan -
ammalleri He's your winning "the big
im and respect him one."
nd he's going to do Michigan was
eam." two wins away
from winning its
oach Red Berenson 10th national
championship
last season. With
the help of Cammalleri, the Wolverines
were playing their best hockey, and after
their victory over St. Cloud sent them to
the Frozen Four, Cammalleri had the,
championship in his sights.
"It was like 'wow, now we're going to
the final four;" Cammalleri said. "Two
games and you win the national champi-
onship. You just get really excited, and
you want to play right there and then. It's

ward," the 6-foot-4 242-pounder said with a
laugh.
It was clear that Komisarek needed to find an
activity that would utilize his size more effective-
ly.
As the son of Polish immigrants, Komisarek
grew up playing a variety of sports in the Long
Island, N.Y. community of Islip Terrace.
Then, at age 10, he found his true calling.
"Ever since I started to play hockey I have
enjoyed the physical nature of it," Komisarek
said. "I played soccer, baseball and basketball,
but there just wasn't enough physical contact
there."
Despite his relatively late introduction to the
sport, Komisarek was hooked after his first big
hit.
"It's a great feeling," he said. "Being a big guy
- that.is something I have to do. Sometimes in
practice the coaches have to tell me to tone it
down - you don't want to hurt anybody. But that
is just my game - I have to use my size.
"A lot of times you need to work to not think
about the big hit. You need to maintain contain-
ment. Then when the opportunity presents itself
you have to finish the guy off."

Team. B
"I don
thing yei
to go, I r
Right nc
His fi
national
ever.
"I got
Komisar
more thi
nity to d
Komis
son with
In latf
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ly on the
The N
with the
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collegiat
Only
Red Wii
been self
"The s
he said.

In addition to the physi-
cality inherent in the sport,
Komisarek also enjoyed
the finesse and speed with
which the game is played.
"The game involves so
much skill - shooting,
skating, passing - then
you add the contact," he
said. "It was a great deal
for me, and it still is."
As Komisarek learned to
handle his size, he quickly
made the transition from
big kid to top prospect.
"The kid has just been
tremendous from day one,"
Michigan coach Red
Berenson said. "He's been
better than I thought he'd
be at this level. For his
size, his lateral movement
and agility is excellent, he
plays one-on-ones as well
as anyone.

From the Coach:
"The kid has just

been tremendous from day one,
better than I thought he'd be at
level. For his size, his lateral m
and agility is excellent, he play
one's as well as anyone. He pa
puck like a pro and shoots like
mean the kid has really got it t
He just gets better and better."
-head coach Re

ie's
CE
,e h
ar
1s t,
dC

Mike Cammalleri led the Wolverines with 29 goals last season. Now he must rise up and lead his team to the next level.

definitely something I'm really excited
to get back to this year."
Michigan's opening game of the
Frozen Four against eventual champion
Boston College was a disappointment
and a shock to say the least. The
Wolverines were caught flat-footed and
weren't ready for the initial push of the
Eagles.
Cammalleri, recently named one of
the team's three alternate captains, took a
lot from the loss to Boston College, and
plans to use what he learned with this
year's team.
"They came out in the first period
with an attitude that they were not going
to lose," Cammalleri said. "They con-
trolled everything in the first period. We
were taken back by that. That's some-

thing that we have to be prepared for. We
need to be the team that comes out with
that attitude - win at all costs, wanting
it more than the other team. We need to
come out as the team with the chip on
our shoulder this time around."
. Michigan's 2000-2001 performance
was like a roller coaster ride. One night
the Wolverines would dominate their
opponent, and then the next they'd come
out with a total lack of intensity. This.
inconsistency is another issue that
Cammalleri must try and address if the
Wolverines plan to contend for the
national title.
Can Michigan come out night in and
night out with the attitude theylacked in
the Boston College game?
"It takes mental toughness, but we

preach that here at Muichigan,"
Cammalleri said. "Playing two games a
week, you've got all week to prepare and
there aren't many excuses for not playing
to the best of your'ability. It's something
we definitely lacked last year, and we'll
work hard to improve that this season."
With 10 freshmen joining the return-
ing Wolverines this season, Cammalleri's
role will be even more important than in
most years.
"They're very impressionable,"
Cammalleri said. "I remember when I
was a freshman, whatever the upper-
classmen say is like The Bible to you.
You do everything they say to you. As
leaders we have to be very careful with
our team talk and just keep everything
positive."

"He passes the puck like a pro and shoots like
a pro, I mean the kid has really got it together.
He just gets better and better."
After five seasons of playing for his high
school and in a local minor league, Komisarek
traveled to Connecticut to join the Eastern
Junior Hockey League before being recruited by
USA Hockey.
The Plymouth Whalers of the OHL drafted
the baby-faced giant in 1999.
But despite his rise to No. 39 overall in the
NHL Central Scouting rankings, Komisarek
decided to accept a full scholarship from
Michigan.
After a season traveling with the U.S.
National Team Development Program Under-18
Team, the Long Island native arrived in Ann
Arbor.
During his first season, Komisarek was an
immediate impact player for the Wolverines. He
finished second among the team's defensemen
in scoring, posting 16 points on four goals and
twelve assists.
His 77 penalty minutes were also second on
the team, behind senior Scott Matzka's 100.
He was named to the CCHA All-Rookie

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DAVID KATZ/Daily
Michigan defenseman Mike Komisarek has thrown more than his share of opposing forwards over the
wall at Yost Ice Arena.

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