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March 27, 2003 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-03-27

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March 27, 2003



Tigers roar

M' needs Montoya to
be 'money'for KCAAs



for regional
By Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Writer
For the Colorado College Tigers, the compar-
isons are oh so similar, and oh so daunting.
Last season, the Denver Pioneers had won both
the Western Collegiate Hockey Association regu-
lar season and tournament championships and
were the No. 2 team in the nation going the
NCAA Tournament.
Then they had to go to Yost Ice Arena for the
NCAA West Regional, where their Frozen Four
dreams were shattered as the home Wolverines
pulled off the upset in front of their wild fans.
If things stay true to form, this year's victim
could be Colorado College, a liberal arts school
in Colorado Springs with an enrollment of 1,921.
The Tigers have been atop the polls for most of
the season, compiling a 29-6-5 record and win-
ning the WCHA regular season title. Now they
face the prospects - if they defeat Wayne State
on Saturday, and Michigan beats Maine - of
playing Michigan on its home ice to avoid losing
in the NCAA quarterfinals for the fifth time in
six years.
But the Tigers aren't strangers to Ann Arbor.
They played in last season's West Regional at
Yost, defeating Michigan State before losing to
Minnesota, and skated at a rink the program had
not been to since 1994.
"We got a good feel for it," fourth-year Col-
orado College head coach Scott Owens said. "We
didn't play the Wolverines, obviously, so we did-
n't have to play in that real adverse situation. But
when it is a familiar trip and a familiar building
and lockerroom, you know how to operate."
Colorado College is synonymous with the his-
tory of college hockey. Its first rink, the Broad-
moor World Arena, hosted the first 10 NCAA
Championships, and the school helped found the
WCHA. The Tigers won two national titles in the
1950s, but then qualified for the NCAA Tourna-
ment just once between 1957 (their last national
title team) and 1995. Then current Minnesota
coach Don Lucia brought the program back to
national prominence with three straight WCHA
regular season championships. The Tigers made

The Daily Grind
A1 Montoya has had quite an
interesting season. At times,
the freshman netminder has
appeared brilliant. And at others, he's
looked human -like an 18-year old
kid in one of the most pressure-packed
positions in collegiate sports.
He's been a victim of cheap shots by
opposing teams - both physically and
verbally. He's been slashed. He's been
pummeled. He's been ripped by oppos-
ing players and called out by some of
the CCHA's elite.
Montoya "let his team down," CCHA
Player of the Year Chris Kunitz said
after his Bulldogs beat the Wolverines
on Feb. 1.
And now, Montoya will be called
upon to be the Wolverines' rock in their
NCAA Tournament run. It's a time
when a hot goalie can make all the dif-
ference for a Cinderella team, or a
struggling one can make the nation's
elite look vulnerable. So it's all the
more crucial now that Montoya fills the
shoes of former Michigan goaltending
greats Steve Shields (Boston Bruins),
Marty Turco (Dallas Stars) and Josh
And they are big shoes to fill. They
were all "money" goaltenders when the
season was on the line, and Turco won
two national titles. Montoya, the fifth
straight - and youngest - goalie to
start as a freshman at Michigan, will be
defined by how he performs in situa-
tions like this weekend.
And Michigan coach Red Berenson
feels he's ready.
"He has fit right into the mold
that was there for him," Berenson
said. "I think he'll be comfortable in

this situatiot."
Montoya caves that pressure. He
lives for it.
That's whyjat age 15, he moved
across the comntry - and away from
his family -o play hockey in Texas
against guys fve years older. That's
why he took miil correspondence
courses in addiion to a normal aca-
demic load in hIgischool in order to
arrive at Michigin a year early. That's
why he didn't mke any other college
visits, even whenplenty of schools
were interested - so he could be the
next great Michigan goaltender.
Montoya wante4 to have the eyes of
the 7,000-plus rabil Yost fans burning a
hole in his back. Tley expect national
championships -anything else is not
It's a little diffirent than when
Shields was betveen the pipes for a
rebuilding Michgan program.
"When I brole in as a freshman,
there was probbly a little less pressure
because the tean wasn't as well known
as it is now anc wasn't as consistently
good as it is naw," said Shields. "There
wasn't that prQsure like there has been
on the guys afer me (Turco and Black-
burn) that hay had to step in and per-
form right ofihe bat."
Montoya hs heard the comparisons
before. They'e inevitable. Michigan
volunteer goaie coach Stan Matwijiw
said the freshnan presents himself on
the ice like'Slields, and battles like
And assistnt coach Billy Powers
said that Moxoya's sparkling shutout
performanceigainst Ohio State in the
CCHA Toursment semifinals last
week had hin reminiscing of Thrco's
glory days.
"Al was plenomenal," Powers said.
"It got to theooint where we had a feel-
ing on the bach that they just weren't
going to scot -'similar to how we felt
when Turco Fashere."-
Turco won be there to bail out the
Wolverines tis weekend. Neither will
Shields nor Eackburn.
See SMITH, Page 10A



Colorado College defensemen Weston Tardy (left) and Jason Jozsa will be bringing the WCHA's top defense to
Yost Ice Arena for the Midwest Regional of the NCAA Tournament this weekend.

the 1996 national title game against Michigan.
But Brendan Morrison scored in overtime to give
the Wolverines their first national title since
Hockey is the only Men's Division I sport (all
other sports except for women's soccer are Divi-
sion III) at the school where students are under a
schedule called the block plan. They take just one

class at a time for three-and-a-half weeks. This
leaves four-day breaks at the end of each month,
when the team often schedules its road games to
minimize missing classes. Owens said that most
players are unfamiliar with the plan while they
are recruited, but prefer it when they arrive on
See TIGERS, Page 9A


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