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January 31, 2002 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-01-31

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 9A

Anzalone restores Laker work ethic
Former Lake Superior coach returns after 11 years to bring program back to 'respectability'

By J. Brady McCollough
Daily Sports Writer

to Sault Ste. Marie. "The Lake Supe-
rior attitude" is also back with the
Lakers - whether it shows up in the
team's record (4-15-1 CCHA, 7-18-1
overall) or not. Anzalone and Craw-

The Lake Superior hockey pro-


gram was at a crossroads
last-place finish in the
CCHA last season.
The program that won
three national champi-
onships in a seven-year
span (concluding in
1994) had lost its luster,
its direction, and more
importantly, its work
Athletic Director
William Crawford knew
that if there was one

following a

Who: Michigan (11-5-4
CCHA,14-85 overall) at
Lake Superior (4-15-1, 7-
When: 7:05 p.m.
Latest: Junior center John
Shouneyia has moved to
the first line with Jed Ort-
meyer and Eric Nystrom.

ford know that their team
is not talented, but skill
isn't what they are look-
in& for at this point in
the rebuilding process.
"Our one rule with our
team is to work hard,"
Anzalone said. "As long
as we rebuild the work
ethic. That's the first
thing. I don't like losing
every game like we are.
The bottom line is that is
our program is right now. Our

man who could bring the program
back to prominence it would be the
man who built it into that NCAA
champion originally - former coach
Frank Anzalone.
"We went for a proven product,"
Crawford said. "If any guy can turn
this around, it's him. He can handle
Anzalone isn't alone in his return


work ethic dropped, and we have to
rebuild that first."
Said Crawford: "His intensity rubs
off on these guys. I have noticed that
this year. We're not a good team, but
there's not a kid on this team who
doesn't bust it every time out there."
Coming into tonight's game
against Michigan, this year's Lakers

are currently last in the CCHA in
goals per game (1.5), goals allowed
per game (3.85) and powerplay per-
centage (.087). They have already
been shut out seven times on the sea-
Anzalone and Crawford both fully
admit that the talent is not at the
level it needs to be to win games in
the CCHA. But in five years, they
hope that they will have recruited the
type of people that can handle their
old-school "attitude."
"People are more important than
players at Lake State," Anzalone
said. "That willingness to go a little
further than some other players at
other schools is what we need. More
so now than in five years. Those are
the players who are going to get it
going. They have got to be willing to
be the bricklayers."
Finding these bricklayers for the
program's future will be easier said
than done. Located in the northern-
most part of Michigan, Lake Superi-
or has the lowest student enrollment
in the CCHA (3,200 students) and is
the smallest public institution play-
ing division I hockey. Being able to
convince players with talent and
work ethic to settle in Sault Ste.
Marie will be crucial to Anzalone's
"I think we can jump to that fifth-
or sixth-place level, but I don't know
if we can jump to that next pinna-
cle," Anzalone said.
"I don't know that Lake Superior
can ever get back to where it was.
We don't always get the highest tal-
ented players. We offset that with a
lot of hard-working, high-character
guys who don't mind being in a
small town or a small school."
Crawford, who has been athletic
director for seven years, has seen the
program plummet to its current level
and knows what it will take for the
Lakers to get back to the glory years.
"One of the things that Frank was
able to do was maintain an attitude,"
Crawford reminisced. "We got it into
a situation where our seniors would
pass down this work ethic and this
Laker aura and mystique to the'
Even though this aura or Lake
Superior attitude hasn't returned, and
may not find its way back for a few
years, Anzalone has no complaints
with his current situation.
"It's been great to work with stu-
dent athletes who want to learn
about the game and about life,"

Anzalone said. "I love helping them
through their academic crises, help-
ing them become better people."
Anzalone took over the job at
Lake Superior in 1982 and coached
the Lakers to a last-place finish in
the CCHA. Just five years later, he
was hoisting up a national champi-
onship trophy in Lake Placid, N.Y.
after a 4-3 win over St. Lawrence.
"The whole thing has been a little
disappointing - to see where the
program has gone," Anzalone said.
"I put so much into it - blood,
sweat and tears - and to see how
south it has gone is tough. But it
opens up a window of opportunity
for my return and to get back to
Two years after the national cham-
pionship season, Anzalone had prob-
lems working with the school's
athletic director. His straight-shoot-
ing style and honest approach had
become too difficult for his superi-
ors to handle.
Accusations surrounded his
behavior as coach, and he was forced
to leave the program.
"(Athletic Director Jim Fallis) did-
n't feel that I belonged here," Anza-
lone said. "It grew and festered and
that's basically what happened. It
wasn't due to something I did wrong
- violated rules, or beat up players.
I lived with that for 11 years.
"I never though I would come
back to Lake Superior. I always
thought it would be a different pro-
gram. With the way the cards fell, it
looked like I'd never coach again."
During the 11 years that Anzalone
spent away from his life-long pas-
sion, he coached various semi-pro
teams and even took the reins of a
New Jersey high school team at one
point. Throughout his absence, he
continued to keep up with what =was
going on in college hockey by talk-
ing to coaches on the phone, includ-
ing Michigan coach Red Berenson.
"We would just shoot the breeze
and talk about me not being able to
get back into college hockey," Anza-
lone said. "Red was good about it.
He understood the dilemma I was in.
For me it was impossible to get any
college job, because of the mystery
of me leaving."
Said Berenson: "Frank built that
program when it was a powerhouse
in our league. When I came to
Michigan we rarely found a way to
beat Lake Superior in any situation. I
know he's got the energy and passion

Craig Murray celebrates after scoring one of his two goals against Lake Superior
State in last year's game.

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The since-departed Geoff Koch eludes a check in last year's matchup at Yost
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