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March 27, 2003 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-03-27

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 9A

CHA behind Warriors in first run

By Kyle O'Neill
Daily Sports Editor

The Wayne State hockey team
will be traveling the least out of the
three visiting teams going to Yost
Ice Arena this weekend. But its
journey means so much more.
For the first time ever, College
Hockey America will be represented
in the NCAA Tournament, and the
. 5

Warriors are now carrying the bur-
den of proving that the CHA
belongs. With the expansion of the
tournament to 16 teams this year,
the CHA Tournament winner is now
given an automatic bid. In the past,
CHA teams have not been ranked
high enough in the Pairwise Rank-
ings to ever be considered for a
NCAA bid.
"This is the first time their con-

ference has been represented in the
tournament -- there's a lot of pride
on the line," Michigan coach Red
Berenson said.
And though the fight for that lone
bid was very competitive, now that
the tournament spot has been given
to Wayne State, other CHA coaches
are rooting for the Midwest's No. 4
seed when it goes up against possi-
bly the best team in the nation in
Colorado College.
"I will be cheering for the War-
riors," Findlay coach Craig Barnett
Along with rooting for them, Bar-
nett knows that Wayne State can
give Colorado College problems as
a lower seed. The Warriors were the
No. 3 seed in the CHA Tournament
before upsetting No. 1 Alabama-
Huntsville in the CHA semifinals
and beating Bemidji State to earn
the bid.
"Wayne State has a few things
which could help them advance,"
Barnett said. "One, the experience
of head coach Bill Wilkinson. A vet-
eran coach - (he spent) 17 years at
Western Michigan - does a great
job with adjustments when needed,
and has his team playing a simple
but effective system. Two, the play-
ers. This is a veteran group - 12
seniors - of players that know each

others' tendencies and have won
some big games in their four years
together. And three, goaltending.
Dave Guerrera is a very solid
goalie. He is not flashy and keeps
things and movements to a mini-
mum, but if he's on early, he can
win a game by himself. In these sin-
gle elimination games, that is dan-
Barnett also said that if the War-
riors' powerplay - led by seniors
Jason Durbin and Dustin Kingston

and freshman Derek MacKay - can
get on the scoreboard, things will be
going in Wayne State's favor.
But as much as Wayne State may
be able to play spoiler, Colorado
College is still Colorado College.
"(The Warriors) lack the depth
that a Colorado College team has,"
Barnett said. "Wayne State's top two
lines can play, but their third and
fourth lines aren't as skilled as Col-
orado College's."
Also, if Wayne State is on the

penalty kill a lot, don't expect the
Warriors to be walking out of Yost
as winners. Wayne State gave up 20
powerplay goals in 111 attempts this
year (just fourth-best in the CHA).
Despite the unlikeliness of its vic-
tory this weekend, Wayne State is
still making steps for a pretty much
unknown conference, and that, in
itself, is a victory.
"They won when they had to, so
they deserve to be there represent-
ing the CHA," Barnett said.

Colorado College goalie Curtis McElhinney has been solid all season - 2.34 goals
allowed per game - and is going to be the main obstacle in Wayne State's way.

Continued from Page 8A
"They only have one class and one
book to take with them, so they don't
have to shift gears as much. So it's
kind of a plus," Owens said.
Taking the block plan are some of
the best players in the nation. Junior
forward Peter Sejna - a straight-A
mathematical economics major from
Slovakia - is one of the leading can-
didates for the Hobey Baker Award
after putting up 35 goals and 44
assists in 40 games.
Fellow Hobey Baker finalist Tom
Pressing, a senior defenseman, is the
highest-scoring blueliner in the
WCHA with 22 goals and 26 assists.
Senior forward Noah Clarke, with 20
goals and 45 assists, combines with
Sejna to make the most powerful for-
ward tandem in college hockey.
Sejna, who Owens coached in the
United States Hockey League in the
1998-99 season, has scored 90 goals
in 124 career games, but has yet to be
drafted by an NHL team. NHL scouts
think the 23-year-old is a little under-
sized, but Owens believes he has the
"will and desire" to make it to the
next level.
"He's a fierce competitor," Owens
said. "He's so strong protecting the
puck, and he has that NHL shot and
passing (ability), so his potential and
possibilities are good."
Sejna could lead the nation's top
powerplay against the nation's second
best penalty kill this Sunday against
Michigan, but it first has to face a vir-
tual unknown in Wayne State.
"We've had to scramble for infor-
mation on them," Owens said. "We
had to make many phone calls. They
don't have a tradition, they've only
played four years, but you have to
respect them."
Facing an unknown opponent in the
first round can be dangerous, as
Michigan found out two years ago
when it played Mercyhurst and trailed
going into the third period.
If the Tigers get by Saturday, they
could go up against Maine, a team
they beat 3-0 in October in Alaska.
Or they could face a Michigan team
that has won six straight NCAA
Tournament games at home dating
back to 1991.
No matter what happens, Owens
says this is the best season he's had
up in the Rockies, and that it's not
done yet.
"For me, this is the best team talent-
wise, and the chemistry has been out-
standing," Owens said. "I think we
have everybody on the same page.
This has been a low-maintenance sea-
son. And I don't think anyone wants it
to end."
- Daily Sports Editor Courtney
Lewis contributed to this report.


Rev.fDr. Roger Iresoni

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