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January 23, 2002 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-01-23

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 23, 2002 - 10

Roemensky still searching for consistency

By Chris Burke
Daily Sports Writer

As stockpiled as last season's Michigan hock-
ey team was offensively, the Wolverines were
just as loaded defensively.
Standouts Jeff Jillson and Dave Huntzicker,
along with stellar freshmen Mike Komisarek and
Andy Burnes, combined with
steadfast junior Jay Vancik to HOCKEY
form one of the CCHA's
toughest defensive corps. Notebook
But shadowed beneath the
big names the Wolverines put out on the ice,
Mike Roemensky silently played one of the most
consistent roles on the entire team. Roemensky
was one of just five Michigan players that start-
ed all 45 games last year. The sophomore also
led all Michigan defensemen with a plus-minus
rating of plus-23, third-best on the team.
This year has been a different story. With Jill-
son and Huntzicker leaving the team, Roemen-
sky was expected to play a large role on the blue
line. But after Michigan's first 25 games, Roe-
mensky has suited up in just 14 contests, tally-
ing zero points and a minus-7 rating while
splitting time with freshman Nick Martens.
"It's very frustrating," said Roemensky about
his reduced role this year. "But all you can do is
come to the rink ready to practice hard - the
way you practice definitely has a lot to do with
whether you're playing or not.
"Michigan has a tradition of bringing in really
good guys to play hockey, and you're always
going to have that - you're always going to be
competing for a spot. Coach tells us that you're
never guaranteed a spot."
Roemensky's struggle of a season continued
this past weekend against Michigan State, as his
turnover in the Michigan zone led directly to

Michigan State's lone goal.
Meanwhile, Martens has been working his
way into the lineup more often, with he and
Roemensky often playing a game each during
two-game weekends.
Instead of developing inconsistency in the
defensive unit, Michigan coach Red Berenson is
hoping the split of ice time will help his team.
"I'd like to see them both playing so we have,
that depth on defense," Berenson said. "They've
both shown that they can play - Roemensky
has more experience and maybe hasn't been as
consistent this year, especially defensively.
"Then Nick Martens comes in with no expec-
tations, and he's played a pretty consistent role.
What we see in practice every day and in the
games is going to determine who's in the line-
The battle for playing time also has increased
the intensity in Michigan's practices, with the
players well aware that a solid week of practice
could lead to a spot on the ice come the week-
"It makes for good competition in practice,"
Martens said. "There's nothing beyond the ice,
though - off the ice everything is great. You
may not play as much as you want in' games, but
that's the nature of the game and you've got to
deal with it."
DRAINING THE POWER: Michigan State's inabili-
ty to score on its four powerplay opportunities
last Saturday should have come as no surprise.
With those four stops, Michigan has now suc-
cessfully killed off 29 consecutive powerplays.
"Well, from my perspective, I think our coach-
es have done a good job preparing our team,"
Berenson said. "But more than that, I think it
helps that we have identified some penalty
killers that we think are better penalty killers -
I think it's a combination of preparation and

The Wolverines last allowed a powerplay goal
on Dec. 28 against North Dakota in the Great
Lakes Invitational. After that goal, Michigan
killed off three more powerplay chances in that
game to begin the streak.
LICENSE TO ILL: With forward Mike Cammal-
leri already out of action with mono, Michigan
found itself even more shorthanded at practice
yesterday as freshmen Milan Gajic and Eric
Nystrom sat out as well.
Nystrom is still battling an ankle injury that
occurred when he was hit with a shot during
Michigan's game against Alaska-Fairbanks game
on Jan. 11.
"He tried skating on it, and it was really both-
ering him," said Berenson after practice.
Gajic, meanwhile, was fighting off an illness
of his own. Berenson described the sickness as a
stomach flu, and said that it was not anything
Gajic had contracted from Cammalleri.
TURCO STILL TOPS: When Michigan goalie Josh
Blackburn recorded his 11th career shutout, 7-0
over Alaska-Fairbanks on Jan. 11, it was
believed that the senior had tied former Michi-
gan netminder Marty Turco's career shutout
But Turco, who was in attendance for the
Michigan win, believed he had actually recorded
15 career shutouts. Turns out he was right.
A mistake by the Michigan Sports Information
Department led to the belief that Blackburn had
tied the record, but Turco tallied four shutouts in
his senior season to raise his total to 15 to go
along with an NCAA-record 127 total wins.
His final shutout, a 4-0 win over New Happ-
shire, came in the Frozen Four and prope led
Michigan to the national title game, in which it
defeated Boston College, 3-2 in overtime for the
team's second championship in three years.

After enjoying an extremely successful sophomore season, Michigan junior Mike
Roemensky has been struggling. He currently holds a minus-7 plus-minus rating.

Freshmen lead 'M' with different styles

By Melanie Kebler
Daily Sports Writer

For Michigan swimmers Brendan Neligan and
Andrew Hurd, life so far this year has been good.
Not only have the two freshmen consistently fin-
ished 1-2 in most of their races, but they have
also developed a friendship out of the pool that
has helped them adjust to life at Michigan.
Although they compete in the same races and
often finish a fraction of a second apart, the two
swimmers' personalities could not be more dif-
ferent. Hurd's quiet, s9ft spoken mannerisms
were even more visible as he stood next to his
energetic and talkative roommate, Neligan.
"It's kind of a love/hate relationship between
me and Andrew," Neligan said.
The two standout distance swimmers didn't
end up living together by chance. Michigan
coach Jon Urbanchek had a lot in mind when he
assigned Neligan and Hurd to live in the same
room this year.
"One is a New York City guy and the other is
from Toronto," Urbanchek said. "We've got an
extrovert and introvert, so I was hoping they'd
balance and help each other out."
Even though they had never met before com-
ing to Michigan, the two freshmen struck up a
friendship quickly and learned to help each other
adjust to University life.
"(Living together) helped him out a lot the
first two months of the year because he could

never wake up on time," Neligan said of his
roommate. "Andrew's the messier one and I'm
the cleaner one."
Hurd conceded this fact, but said: "We still
have the cleanest room."
The two teammates have not only woken each
other up and, picked up after one another this
year, but they also have pushed each other in
competition and established themselves as the
leaders of the Michigan distance swimmers. As
part of one of the most talented incoming classes
in the nation, Neligan and Hurd have taken
advantage of their strong relationship in and out
of the pool to raise their level of competition.
"I always can depend on Andrew and I think
Andrew can depend on me," Neligan said. "The
other day, we were swimming against Penn State
and I told him, 'Andrew, I don't really feel that
great, I might need your help here,' and he was
there for me."
Both swimmers have international experience:
Hurd swam for Canada in the Olympics and
Neligan medalled in the World University Games
last summer. But despite the fact that they are
already accomplished swimmers, Neligan and
Hurd are still freshman and still feel the pressure
that comes with entering a whole new environ-
ment with many different and higher expecta-
"There's a lot of pressure on them, a lot of
expectation," Urbanchek said. "But that's the
choice you make when you come to Michigan.

You've got to step forward, and you've got to do
the job we brought you here for."
For the two distance swimmers, that job is fill-
ing the shoes of Chris Thompson, last year's
NCAA champion in the 1,650-yard freestyle and
bronze medallist at the 2000 Olympics in Syd-
Thompson's graduation opened the door for
Neligan and Hurd to step up, and Urbanchek
agreed the task would not be easy.
"They're doing real well," Urbanchek said.
"Being a freshman, it's not easy to be in a lead-
ership role. I expect them to lead in the pool.
They don't have to lead out of the pool yet. They
can let their swimming do the talking."
"I think we're fitting into the puzzle real tight-
ly, It's only going to bring about better things in
February and March," Neligan said.
The entire team is looking forward to the end
of the season and the chance to claim a Big Ten
title. Neligan and Hurd agreed that the team title
is most important, but weren't afraid to admit
that there will be a little rivalry between them at
the end of the season.
"Come Big Tens and NCAAs, we want to win
the team title, but it's going to be on between me
and him," Neligan said.
Hurd just smiled, his silence not an indication
of weakness but rather a quiet intensity that bal-
ances his teammate and roommate's outgoing

Iowa's Pierre Pierce is fouled by Michigan State's Kelvin Tolbert while driving
to the basket during the final seconds of their game. Iowa won 75-71.
Spartans Wolfe
joins injured ranks

Minnesota rebuilds, contends for Big Ten

By Charles Paradis
Daily Sports Writer
The Minnesota women's basket-
ball team is ranked in the Associat-
ed Press Top 25 for the first time in
nearly two decades. No one expect-
ed much from Minnesota this year,
but the Golden Gophers are causing
a stir in the Big Ten, and not just
because of their play on the court. -
Last week, the Gophers upset two
nationally-ranked teams in Michi-
gan and No. 8 Wisconsin. The
Wolverines fell at Minnesota 84-75
in a game that the Gophers domi-
nated the second half.
Then Minnesota traveled to
Madison and pulled an upset
against the Badgers in front of the
largest crowd in Big Ten women's
basketball history.
Playing at a sold out Kohl Center
in Madison, the Gophers dazzled
fans as they downed the ninth-
ranked Badgers 92-85. The huge
crowd in Madison was largely due

to the "Cram the Kohl" campaign
launched earlier by Wisconsin
coach Jane Albright. The 17,142
fans that responded broke the previ-
ous attendance record o ' 6,329, set
by Wisconsin against Northwestern
in 1998.
"I think just going in there every-
one was very excited," Minnesota
guard Lindsay Whalen said. "It is a
dream to play in front of a sold out
crowd, 17,000 people."
Whalen has been a dream for
Minnesota's coaching staff this
year. She and Penn State's Kelly
Mazzante have followed up last
year's successful freshman cam-
paign to lead the Big Ten in scoring
this year. A 5-foot-8 guard, Whalen
is versatile, which has allowed Min-
nesota coach Brenda Oldfield to
feature the sophomore sensation in
the offense.
Whalen and Oldfield have guided
No. 23 Minnesota to its first
appearance in the Top 25 since Dec.
12, 1982.

"It is an exciting time to be part
of Gopher women's basketball here
and to be making our own history,"
Oldfield said.
Minnesota was not predicted to
finish in the top tier of the Big Ten
this year, but it surpassed all expec-
tations by knocking off conference
leader Wisconsin.
Minnesota's 4-2 record in Big Ten
play is good enough for fourth
place in a conference that ranks
third in the nation according to the
Rating Percentage Index. But it was
the success of the Gophers in non-
conference play that caught the eyes
of all those watching, as Minnesota
lost just one game outside the Big
"I don't think anyone could have
anticipated in their wildest dreams
that we would be sitting here 14-3,"
Oldfield said. "We knew from day
one that everyone was going to dis-
count this team."
But all of Minnesota's success
this year could be marred by an

NCAA investigation that is current-
ly going on. Former Minnesota
coachi Cheryl Littlejohn, who was
replaced this year by Oldfield,
allegedly gave money to a former
player and interfered with investiga-
tions into NCAA infractions.
The NCAA will meet in April to
decide the fate of the Minnesota
women's basketball program.
Because Minnesota has previously
had rules violations, it could fall
under the "repeat violator" rule.
Possible penalties the team could
suffer include loss of scholarships,
recruiting activities and, in the
worst case, the banning of women's
basketball games at Minnesota for
two seasons.
Conference Overall
Team W L W L
Wisconsin 7 1 16 2
Purdue 5 2 14 3
Illinois 5 2 12 5
Iowa 5 2- 12 5
Minnesota 4 2 14 3
Ohio State 4 4 9 10
Penn State 3 3 11 8
Michigan State 2 5 12 6
Indiana 2 5 8 10
Michigan 2 6 12 7
Northwestern 0 7 4 14

Continued from Page 9
"There's a big, physical presence
to him. He's a workhorse," Alford
said. "And he's really aggressive on
offense. But we need to carry that
toughness to the other end."
Alford also felt that his team as a
whole got soft over the winter
break, losing four of its last five
games before classes resumed this
"Christmas hit, and everybody
got to go home and get a bucket-
load of Christmas presents," Alford
said. "We've been spoiled ever
One example of this pampered
behavior came before the team's
63-50 loss to Northwestern. Instead
of concentrating on the upcoming
game, the Hawkeyes spent their
energy complaining about their lav-
ishly catered pregame meal.
Alford has even threatened to
bench his star players, Evans and
Luke Recker, to send a message to
his team.
"We're battling with toughness
issues," Alford said. "I'm still try-
ing to figure out how we're a
ranked basketball team." -
tans' already shorthanded bench is
getting shorter by the day. Reserve
forward Adam Wolfe suffered a
hamstring injury against Penn State
on Saturday. He may miss up to a
month of action. Wolfe is the Spar-
tans' best 3-point shooter (46.2 per-
cent). Freshman Alan Anderson is
also battling a knee injury, leaving
Izzo with just six healthy scholar-
ship players. Several Michigan
State football players, including 6-
foot-4 wide receiver Robert Stick-

Conference Overall

Ohio State
Michigan State
Penn State





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Yesterday's game:
Iowa 75, Michigan State 71
Today's games:
Northwestern at Purdue, 6 p.m.
Wisconsin at No. 9 Illinois, 8 p.m.
Indiana at Penn State, 8 p.m.
Tomorrow's game:
Michigan at No. 20 Ohio State, 7
Saturday's games:
Vermont at Michigan, 2 p.m.
Penn State at Wisconsin, 12:15
No. 9 Illinois at Indiana, 2 p.m.
Iowa at Purdue, 2:30 p.m.
No. 20 Ohio State at Minnesota, 4:30
land and 6-foot-5 quarterback
Aaron Alexander, are rumored to
be joining the depleted Spartans
basketball team.
OUTSIDERS: In ESPN.com's latest
projection of the.NCAA Tourna-
ment field, just four Big Ten teams
made the cut. Ohio State holds the
top spot in the conference with a
No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region.
Illinois, Indiana and Iowa are also
expected to participate at the No. 3,
7 and 10 seeds, respectively.

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