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April 04, 2002 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-04-04

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I

10A -The Michigan Daily -Thursday, April 4, 2002

Golden Gophers have slight edge in semifinal

MATCHUPS
Continued from Page 8A
gave up 2.71 goals per game this
season.
Edge: Michigan.

MINNESOTA OFFENSE VS. MICHIGAN
DEFENSE: The Wolverines' bluelin-
ers have improved dramatically
since the teams met earlier this sea-
son, giving up less shots on goal
and more importantly, fewer grade-
A scoring chances. Mike Komisarek
and Jay Vancik give Michigan a
consistent force to match up with
the Golden Gophers' top line.
But Minnesota is the highest
scoring team in the WCHA for a
reason. Its lines are packed with all-
stars, including Jeff Taffe, who tal-
lied a hat trick in the teams' first
meeting. Taffe and John Pohl, an
assist machine, give Minnesota two
game-breaking players who may be
too much for Michigan to handle
for 60 minutes. With Leopold -
also the top offensive defenseman
in the country - joining the rush
when the time is right, the Golden
Gophers are too tough for the
Wolverines to stop.
Edge: Minnesota.

DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily'
Senior goalie Josh Blackburn has come on strong at the end of the season and
won't be intimiated by the atomosphere of the Frozen Four.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Michigan's penal-
ty kill has been a "source of pride"
for the team all season long, as it
killed off 65 straight powerplays in
a two-month stretch. But in the

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Wolverines' two games against
WCHA opponents in the West
Regional, its penalty kill gave up
four powerplay goals in 12 opportu-
nities.
It won't get any easier tonight
against Minnesota, as the Golden
Gophers convert on 26 percent of
their powerplays. With Taffe and
Pohl rotating around the net and
Leopold quarterbacking the unit at
the blueline, Michigan's only hope
to is to stay out of the box - some-
thing it was unable to do against St.
Cloud and Denver.
The Michigan powerplay unit has
been on a roller coaster over the
past couple of weeks. The Wolver-
ines will count on Cammalleri to do
Food for Thought
Did They Really
End the War?
Truong Nhu Tang, a founder
of the National Liberation
Front, wrote in A Viet cong
Memoir, "The Western anti-war
movements had contributed
much to our victory." Question:
Did the Protest Movement
save lives...or prolong the
war and cost lives?
Gary Lillie & Assoc., Realtors
www.garylillie.com

a better job than he did in the West
Regional of getting shots through
from the point to create rebound
opportunities. The key to Michi-
gan's success with the man-advan-
tage will be its ability to adjust to
whatever the Golden Gophers throw
at it.
Edge: Minnesota.
GOALTENDING: Michigan goal-
tender Josh Blackburn has always
been at his best when it counts, and
it's been more of the same this sea-
son for the senior. He made huge
stops in the third period against
Denver, including one breakaway
that would have put the Pioneers
ahead 4-2.
Between the pipes for Minnesota
is Adam Hauser, who will be play-
ing in his first Frozen Four. Hauser
has been off-and-on for the Golden
Gophers this season and has never
played in a game of this magnitude,
unlike Blackburn who manned the
nets for Michigan in last year's
Frozen Four loss to Boston College.
Advantage: Michigan.
INTANGIBLES: The Wolverines'
backs are against the wall again.
They're playing in a tough, road
environment against a team that -
on paper - is more talented. But
Michigan has not lost this season
when everything was on the line,
and it excels playing with the idea
that it's an underdog.
No one can deny the advantages
of playing in St. Paul for the Gold-
en Gophers. It's been seven years
since Minnesota has been in this
position, and the pressure will be
on it to make the home crowd
happy. The Golden Gophers are the
only team in the Frozen Four that
has no prior experience.
Edge: Even.
Michigan has exceeded all expec-
tations to get to this point, and as
Blackburn said, there's something
"special" about its trip to the
Frozen Four this time around. But
the Wolverines could have lost both
games in the West Regional by
committing suspect penalties, and
tonight, their mistakes will cost
them a chance at the national cham-
pionship.
Prediction: Minnesota 4, Michi-
gan 3 (OT)

Following its monumental upset of
then-No. 4 Notre Dame last week, some
people may have thought the Michigan
men's tennis team would have experi-
enced a letdown in its ensuing match.
But with Michigan State next in line for
the Wolverines, that was highly unlikely.
Taking advantage of aggressive dou-
bles play and strong singles matches,
Michigan (2-3 Big Ten, 11-5 overall)
rolled over the Spartans (1-4, 13-7) 5-2
last night at the Varsity Tennis Center.
"It's always good to beat Michigan
State, there's no doubt about that,"
Michigan coach Mark Mees said. "We
were pretty workman-like tonight. I
thought our focus was pretty good, and
we were able to grind it out."
After earning victories at No. 2 and
No. 3 doubles to claim the point, Michi-
gan wasted little time in capitalizing on
its momentum in singles.
Fresh off his victory against 1l1th-
ranked Javier Taborga of Notre Dame,
senior Henry Beam jumped all over
Michigan State's Chris Mitchell at the
No. 1 spot, cruising to a 6-1, 6-1 victo-
ry. Taking advantage of Mitchell's errat-
ic play, the senior from Kalamazoo
needed just one hour to secure his easi-
est win of the year.
"It was a joke out there," Beam said.
"He was by far the easiest guy I've
played all year, and he was horrible. I
was laughing half the time because it
was an embarrassment."
Sophomore Anthony Jackson needed

By Brian Steer,
Daily Sports Writer

TOM FELDKAMP/Daily
Matt Lockin and the rest of the Wolverines were simply too much for Michigan State as
Michigan cruised 5-2 last night for Its 11th straight over the Spartans.
'M
M' esustains momentum
ieasywi over State

a little more than an hour to emerge vic-
torious at Nb. 4 singles, but he
remained poised down the stretch and
dispatched Jimmy McGuire 6-3, 6-4.
"I had to have the right mental focus;
that was the biggest thing" Jackson said.
" I couldn't worry about what was hap-
pening on the other courts. I knew if I
stayed focus on my match, good things
would happen."
Despite moving down one spot in the
lineup due to his recent struggles, Jack-
son did not allow his demotion to affect
him.
"I can't look at that from a negative
standpoint," Jackson said. "That's pretty
much short term. I have to look long
term and think how am I going to get
better as a player. That's the attitude I'm
taking."
Senior Greg Novak cemented the vic-
tory over the Spartans at No. 5 singles
with an easy 6-4, 6-1 triumph over Eric
Simonton. Despite lacking the size to be
a quintessential force at the net, Novak
made a strong emphasis to come up
when he had the chance.
"He wasn't hitting the ball too deep
so I started taking advantage of his
short balls by coming to the net and fin-
ishing off the points," Novak said.
Freshman Matt Lockin tallied the
final point for the Wolverines with a
convincing 6-4, 6-4 victory over Goran
Tapalo at the No. 3 spot.
Michigan will have just two days of
rest before it heads back out on the road
this weekend for a showdown with Penn
State and current Big Ten leader Ohio
State.

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