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March 22, 2002 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-22

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 22, 2002

FRIDAY Focus 4


By Naweed Sikora m Daily Sports Writer

No. 6 Colorado College

No. 3 Michigan State


March 28, 1998: Those who were in
attendance call it the greatest day of
hockey ever at Yost Ice Arena.
Michigan coach Red Berenson called it a mag-
ical time, something that could never be "cre-
ated, scripted or bought."
The underdog Wolverines defeated nation-
al powerhouse North Dakota, 4-3, in the sec-
ond round of the NCAA West Regional to
advance to the Frozen Four. Michigan went
on to win its ninth national championship
and complete what has come to be known as
one of the most improbable title runs in col-
lege hockey history.
Four years later, the West Regional has
returned to Ann Arbor, and the
2001-02 Wolverines are once
again poised to begin a push 4
for a championship in their
own barn.
The striking similarities
between this season and
what transpired four sea-
sons ago at Yost have not
gone unnoticed by any-
one. In fact, the parallels
have been some of the hottest
topics of discussion all year. a
This weekend, the Wolverines
will make an attempt to extend the
parallels even further by capturing
two wins at Yost. If they win tonight
against St. Cloud, they will have to
match up against arguably the
strongest all-around team in the
nation this season, Denver.
Much like when they played
North Dakota four years
ago, the Wolverines will
be young and inexperi-
enced underdogs
going up against a
heavy favorite.
But if they
somehow man- Mike Camr
age to come TOM FELDKA
out on top with
the crowd in their corner, this might go down
as another historical night of Yost enchant-
The 1996-1997 Wolverines, considered one
of the best college hockey teams of all-time,
were heavily favored to win a national cham-
pionship. But a loss to Boston College in the
Frozen Four semifinal round ended those
hopes. Several talented seniors such as Bren-
dan Morrison and Mike Legg graduated.
Without the services of those seniors, and with
the addition of 10 freshmen, the '97-'98

Michigan team was not supposed to make
much noise.
"We had a much stronger team in '97,"
Berenson said. "That was the year we were
supposed to win, but we didn't."
With the West Regional being held at Yost,
Michigan knew that if it could make it to the
tournament, it would have a significant home-
ice advantage to lean upon.
The Wolverines struggled through an up-
and-down season, which included four losses
to Michigan State, but eventually found them-
selves in the regional with a first-round
matchup against Princeton.
The Wolverines disposed of Princeton 2-1,
with North Dakota in attendance. Ohio State
also defeated Yale 4-0 earlier
that evening to set the next
day'ssecond-round games in
stone: Ohio State vs. Michi-
gan State, followed by North
Dakota vs. Michigan.
"Those were two great
games," Berenson said.
"When Ohio State
took the ice against
Michigan State, this
place was full. We
were watching in the
lockerroom, but the
game just went on and
The game went into
overtime before Ohio
State put away the
higher-seeded Spar-
tans, 4-3. The Yost
crowd, which was
pulling for a Michi-
gan State loss,
"The atmosphere
was incredible,"
said Matt Herr,
allerl m wcaptain of the
/Daily '98 team, and
current member
of the AHL's Hershey Bears. "It was the loud-
est I had ever seen it in four years. Michigan
State had just lost to Ohio State, so our fans
were screaming and booing the Michigan
State fans and players as we took the ice.
"I got chills in pregame warm-ups."
Excitement quickly turned into despair, as
North Dakota jumped out to a 2-0 first period
lead. The Fighting Sioux offense had thor-
oughly dominated the Wolverines till that
point, and Michigan needed a jolt to get back
in the game.
"We knew North Dakota was going to try
and open up the game," said Bubba Beren-
zweig, a junior defenseman on the '98 team.

Today, 4:30 p.m.

No. 3 vs.

No. 6 winner


2 Minnesota
Tomorrow, 4 p.m.

Iwa. , e


Tomorrow, 7:30 p.m.


No.1 Denver

No. 4 vs. No. 5 winner

Today, 8 p.m.

No. 4 Michigan
No. 5 St. Cloud

Only two teams will earn the right to advance to the Frozen
Four. If Michigan wants to advance, it will have its hands
full, as the Wolverins will be facing some of the top offen-
sive teams in the nation. The two teams that advance
from this bracket will join the two teams that advance
from the East at the Frozen Four in Minneapolis April 4-6.

"They had a mature offense, and we knew we
had to stop them from opening up the game."
"We were down, and the fans were kind of
shocked," Herr said. "They were probably
thinking how were we going to get back in this
But Herr had an answer for the Yost faithful,
as he converted a shorthanded breakaway
chance just 47 seconds into the second period
to cut North Dakota's lead in half.
Each team scored another goal, and Michi-
gan headed into the second intermission trail-
ing 3-2.
The Wolverines knew they were in a desper-
ate situation. A comeback against the best
team in the nation at this point seemed out of
reach, but they refused to lose hope.
"We knew we had nothing to lose in the
third period," Berenzweig said. "Nobody gave
us a chance, but we knew we could play when
the time came. The most important thing for
us was believing in ourselves."
Fifty-six seconds into the period, that belief
paid off, as Michigan's Greg Crozier scored a
powerplay goal that tied the game at three.
"When they got that powerplay goal, they
had all the momentum," North Dakota coach
Dean Blais said. "It was really disappointing.
We took a bad penalty in our zone at the end
of the second. It was a stupid play, and it cost
us the national tournament."
With that goal, the Yost crowd came alive. It
didn't need much to get going, but the goal lit
a fire under them that lasted throughout the
final stanza.
"That weekend came down to the wire,"

said '98 senior goalie Marty Turco, who cur-
rently plays with the Dallas Stars. "We
couldn't have won the championship if it
wasn't at Yost."
Said Berenson: "The environment was the
best I have ever seen."
Inspired by the enthusiasm of its home
crowd, the Wolverines battled through the
third period, staying alive as the minutes slow-
ly ticked away. And finally, with 2:54 left,
they struck. Herr, who had a goal and
three assists on the night, broke out
on a 2-on-1 breakaway with
Bobby Hayes. Herr fed Hayes,
who wristed one by North
Dakota goalie Adam ~
Schweitzer for the game win-a
ner. The Fighting Sioux
fought furiously in the final
minutes, but the Wolverines hel
them off to come away with a mirac-
ulous win.
"North Dakota was stunned,"
Berenson said. "They couldn't
believe what happened."
"It was my last game at Yost, and
it's the biggest game I have ever
played in," Turco said. "Hear-
ing that crowd roar created a
good feeling in our stomachs
and in our hearts."
All of those Wolverines have since depart-
ed, and just a few current players were at

Yost for that incredible evening. Junior Mike
Cammalleri attended that game with his
father on a recruiting trip to Michigan.
"It was a big crowd and there was a lot of
excitement," Cammalleri said. "I was excit-
ed to hear (the Regionals) were going to be
here this year, and I hope we can recreate
that. I tell my teammates that if we can be
part of something like that, it would be real-
ly special."
Although that day will be difficult, if
not impossible, to ever recreate, the stage
has been set for this year's cast. In fact,
this time around, Michigan might
even be facing a tougher first-round
opponent in St. Cloud.
Like the '98 Wolverines, this
team wasn't supposed to turn any
heads or win any championships,
but they have already walked away
- N with the regular season title and the
CCHA Tournament championship.
"I know that I've caught myself saying
dejA vu about this team," Berenzweig
said. "But they're one step ahead of
us because they won the CCHA
Matt Herr Tournament."
FILE PHOTO Berenson often
shows the tape of
the '98 Regional to
young players he is trying to recruit. But he
says that he is going to stop using the video
because too much time has passed since
Maybe after this weekend, he will have a
new tape to use.


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