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March 21, 2003 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-03-21

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Friday
March 21, 2003
michigandaily.com
sportsdesk@umich.edu

ReTiStiqan ailg

10

Icers eye repeat in
battle at oe Louis

Cantalamessa feeling
comfortable at plate

By Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Writer
When visitors entered the Michigan
hockey office over the past year and
glanced to their left, they used to see the
Mason Cup displayed proudly.
But 12 months have passed, and the
Mason Cup is gone. This
weekend, the Wolverines
have the chance to THIS I
reclaim it.
Michigan will begin its Michi1
defense of the trophy CCHA
named after the legendary Tune: 7:
former Northern Michi- (vs.Oh
gan and Michigan State Saturd
coach Ron Mason tonight Joe Lou
when it takes on Ohio FOX Sp
State in the CCHA Super
Six Semifinals at Joe
Louis Arena.
"When you hold a trophy, you defi-
nitely want to defend it," Ortmeyer said.
"It's a letdown if you're not able to.
We've faced a lot of adversity at the
beginning of the season, and I think
that's going to help us have a chance to
go down there and defend it."
The Wolverines started the season
ranked as high as second in the national
polls, but injures and third-period col-
lapses left Michigan fighting for sec-
ond, as Ferris State won its first-ever
regular season championship.

"We haven't accomplished a thing,"
Ortmeyer said. "We came up short in
the league. This is our opportunity to
try and win a championship, and hope-
fully that will lead us right into
NCAAs."
By virtue of finishing as the top two
teams in the league, Michigan and Fer-

VEEKEND
gan at the
Tournament
:35 tonight
io State),
day TBD
is Arena.
)orts Detroit

ris State received byes into
tonight's semifinals while
Ohio State and Northern
Michigan had to defeat
Notre Dame and Michi-
gan State, respectively,
last night to advance.
Tonight's winners will
play at 7:35 p.m. on Satur-
day for the Mason Cup
and an NCAA Tourna-
ment automatic bid. The
losers will play in a newly

By Jake Rosenwasser
Daily Sports Writer
Jordan Cantalamessa's year-long
nightmare is finally over.
Last year as a junior, Cantalamessa
could not do much of anything at the
plate. He batted .196 and failed to reach
base in nearly three out of every four at
bats. The second baseman began the
season as the team's leadoff hitter, but
was dropped down to the bottom of the
order due to a lack of production. His
season was not one to remember.
Fast forward one season and Canta-
lamessa is playing like last year never
happened. The No. 2 hitter has been a
sparkplug for the offense and has taken
advantage of scoring opportunities when
they have been presented. He is current-
ly batting .333 and is second on the team
with 19 RBIs. This is quite the turn-
around from last year, when he managed
just 12 RBIs over the entire season.
So what caused this extreme transfor-
mation? A new coaching staff and a
more aggressive approach at the plate.
"We let all of the kids start with a
clean slate," coach Rich Maloney said.
"The past meant nothing, each player
had to prove to me that they could play."
Cantalamessa took advantage of the
new beginning. He played in the Cali-
fornia Central League over the summer
and built up some confidence that has
carried over into the season.

"They let me do my thing when I'm
up," Cantalamessa said. "If I see a good
pitch, I'm not going to let it by me. Last
year, I was more passive."
Cantalamessa also credits the new
coaching staff for a new attitude that
had been lacking on past teams.
"There is a totally different manner
this season," Cantalamessa said. "There
is a greater sense of team now then
there ever was before."
His best performance of the year
came on March 7th at Oklahoma. After
a fifth inning three-run homerun to tie
the game, he knocked in two runs in the
seventh inning to help Michigan come
back from an eight-run deficit. In the
eighth inning, he tacked on an infield
single and knocked in his seventh run
of the game. The single was his fourth
hit on the day. Michigan came out vic-
torious with a wild 16-12 win.
"Jordan has been so clutch," Mal-
oney said. "He has really come through
when the team has needed a big hit."
This weekend, the Wolverines will
travel to Indianapolis to play in the But-
ler Classic. They will compete against
Butler, Western Michigan and Central
Michigan. At 6-7, the Wolverines would
love to get their record above .500.
"These kids have never been over
.500, so it would be such a confidence
boost," Maloney said. Once we hit
.500, there is no telling where we
could go from there."

TOM FELDKAMP/Daily
Former alternate captain Jay Vancik hoists the Mason Trophy after last year's
CCHA Playoff Championship. Michigan hopes to defend its title this weekend.

formed third-place game at 4:05 p.m.
The Buckeyes, led by Hobey Baker
candidate R.J. Umberger, played the
Wolverines to two fierce ties on the
final weekend of the regular season.
The Vancouver Canucks' first-round
draft pick finished second in the league
in scoring and caused havoc inside
Michigan's blueline.
To be successful, the Wolverines'
young defense and the nation's best
penalty kill will have to be at their peak.
"This time of year you have to play
good defense," Michigan associate head

coach Mel Pearson said. "It's a lot easi-
er to win a game 2-0 than it is to win 7-
6. We put a lot of emphasis this time of
year on our defense, and it's not just our
defensemen, it's total team defense."
This is the time of year, historically,
when Michigan starts to shine. The
Wolverines have advanced to the
Mason Cup finals six of the last seven
seasons and to six of the last eight
NCAA Frozen Fours.
One ex-Michigan star, 1997 Hobey
Baker Award winner and Vancouver
Canuck Brendan Morrison, called Red

Berenson this week and said about this
weekend's action: "Well, this is the time
when Michigan plays its best."
The Wolverines have built their
recent national reputation over the past
decade on winning on weekends such
as this one, and the players realize that.
"I think they understand this tradition
when they decide to come to Michi-
gan," Ortmeyer said. "I think it's the
reason why I chose to come to Michi-
gan, and I think a lot of these kids when
they made their decision, I think it
weighs a big part."

01

No. I Ferris State
2002-03 record:
22-5-1 CCHA, 27-8-1 overall (1st place)

y,'~
,,

No. 5 Northern Michigan
2002-03 record:
14-13-1 CC HA, 18-16-2 overall (5th place)

Crew ready to get on
water, redeem itself

USCHO poll: 4

Pairwiss Ranking: 5

USCHO poll: NR

Pairwise Ranking: 17

Watch out for: All three of the Bulldogs
first liners finished in the top seven in the
CCHA in scoring.vs.
Why the Bulldogs can win:
Picked to finish ninth in the CCHA preseason poll,
Ferris State won its first seven conference games
and never looked back. Bulldogs forward Chris
Kunitz was recognized on Wednesday with the
CCHA Player of the Year award and is the most
potent threat the conference has to offer with 30-
40-70 totals on the year. Ferris State goalie Mike
Brown is no slouch either, as he was second in the
conference with a 2.21 goals-against average. Kunitz1

Watch out for: Senior Chris Gobert is listed
at just 5-foot-9, but he plays much bigger
than that, leading his team with 44 points.

By Nick Arnold
For the Daily

Why the Wildcats can win:
They may be the lowest-seeded team left in the field,
but the Wildcats have had their share of wins against
those above them this year. Northern Michigan sports
a 5-4 record against the other teams in the semis. The
Wildcats do a lot of their damage on the powerplay,
where they rank second in the conference. Senior
Mike Stutzel leads that attack with 13 powerplay
goals on the year. Junior goalie Craig Kowalski is tied
or fourth in the conference with three shutouts.

Gobert

No. 2 Michigan

N6. C Ohio State
20O2-O3 reeird:
16-8-4 CCHA, 22-10-5 overall (3rd place)

2002-03 record:
19-7-3 CCHA, 26-9-3 overall

(2nd place)

USCHO poll: 8

Pairwise Ranking: 9

SHQ pol: 13

., 'w e akg:11

Watch out for: Michigan always seems to
step up in the playoffs. Look for a big
weekend from the unsung heroes.
Why the Wolverines can win:
History. Michigan always takes it up a notch come
March and April. The Wolverines won the tournament
last year. They've won it five times in the last nine
years. Plus, they're healthy. After battling injuries all
season, Michigan heads to the Joe relatively healthy for
the first time this year. Jeff Tambellini led the Wolver-
ines in scoring this year, becoming the first freshman to
do so since the 1988-89 season. He also took home
CCHA Freshman of the Year honors on Wednesday. Tambellini

VS.

V /W . Watch 'it fr: 2001 NHL first-round draft
pick R.J. Umberger wasthe conference's
third-leading scorer with 25-27-52 totals.
As Dickie V would say, they can flat-out defend. On the
season, Ohio State allowed just 2.18 goals per game -
tops in the conference. Buckeyes goalie Mike Betz is
sixth in the nation with a 2.21 goals-against average.
They're deep too. Aside from Umberger, Ohio State has
12 players with 10 or more goals. The Buckeyes go into
toni ht's game with Michigan with some confidence,
too.The Wolverines needed a miracle last-second goal
to tie Ohio State two weeks ago. Umberger

After a disappointing eighth-place
showing at the NCAA Championships
last June, the Michigan women's crew
team looks to reclaim its position as a
top team when it starts the spring sea-
son tomorrow in South Bend against
Notre Dame.
Originally, the dual regatta was
scheduled to take place at Michigan's
facility at Belleville Lake, but, due
to unfavorable weather, the home
waters were left unacceptable for
tomorrow's meet.
"We are very pleased that this
week's match was moved (to South
Bend) so we can focus on our row-
ing, and not worry about the condi-
tions of the water," sophomore Brett
Sickler said.
This week's regatta will be staged in
three, separate 1,000-meter pieces
rather than the usual 2,000-meter race,
due to the shorter length of the water.
But these last-minute changes will not
affect the Wolverines, as they look
forward to being involved in competi-
tion for the first time since October.
"Notre Dame is a fairly strong
opponent since they have already been
on the water, and they beat two up-
and-coming teams in Clemson and
Tennessee," senior coxswain Helen
Dalis said. "They actually got invited
to the NCAAs for the first time last

year. They will certainly be challeng-
ing since we haven't been on the water
yet, and the entire team is anxious and
excited to get back to racing after such
a long break."
Junior Heather Mandoli, who has
earned two varsity letters, agrees that
winter training has gone very well, as
it is such an integral part of keeping a
team at the top of its game.
"Rowing is such a growing sport,"
Mandoli said. "Each year, the com-
petition is getting stronger and
stronger, and it is important to keep
up with that."
After Notre Dame, the Wolverines
have an even tougher challenge as
they travel to New Jersey next
weekend, when they will take on
national powerhouses Princeton and
Brown, who won the 2002 NCAA
Championship.
"We have a big race at Princeton
coming up, and it is quite determin-
ing," Mandoli said. "It is a measuring
stick for us, to see how far we have
come and if we have performed to our
expectations."
Stickler added: "We're really excit-
ed about the Princeton race. We want
to put in a good showing and show
that we're a force nationally."
Expectations are high for Michi-
gan this season and the upcoming
competitions will go a long way
toward determining whether or not
they are met.

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Presented By
GALYAN'S
CCHA Championship Weekend

Thurs., March 20 Quarter-Finals
ID vs. 4:00 pm
S vs. S 7:30 pm
"tcn"

Fri, March 21
.'s
VS.

*Semi-Finals

Seed #4
. Seed #3

4:00 pm
7:30 pm

Afte
A world premiere wrtten and directed by
Holly Hughes
A fun-filled play about how clothes and
hairstyles define who we are.

,-7

*Teams will be reseeded
after Thursday's games

Sat., March 22

Finals

I

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