April 11, 2003
By Dan Rosen
Daily Sports Writer
BUFFALO, N.Y. - In the end,
the injury bug came back to haunt
Back on Dec. 7, forward Michael
Woodford said that it could be a
"scary thing" if
ever got every-
one healthy. The first half of the
Wolverines' season was plagued by
broken bones and torn ligaments.
During the month-long run to the
Frozen Four, though, Michigan was
healthy and playing with its best
roster. For those few weeks, it
looked like Woodford's prediction
would hold true.
The team skated past the rest of
the CCHA for another conference
tournament crown. At the Midwest
regional, Maine and high-powered
Colorado College were no match for
a healthy Michigan.
But in the most important game
of the season, two of the team's reg-
ulars were struck by the bug. Milan
Gajic left last night's contest early
with an injury to his leg and didn't
return. Throughout the second and
third periods, alternate captain
Andy Burnes was visibly hobbled
by cramping in both of his legs. It's
an injury that the Battle Creek
native has had to deal with for most
of his life.
"I get going and my legs just lock
up," Burnes said. "I don't have any
control over it."
The pain was so bad that Burnes
had to sit out a number of shifts late
in the game to try and get his legs to
"In an overtime game especially,
(it) will kind of take its toll on you,"
Burnes said. "You can't sit there and
leads to same result
Michigan senior Mark Mink, right, looks for assurance that the Wolverines scored their third goal of the game. None came,
as the review showed that a referee blew his whistle before the puck crossed the goalline.
watch your team play without you.
You definitely don't want to do that
because this is it, this is your last
With Gajic's injury, Michigan was
forced to use defenseman J.J. Swis-
tak up front alongside David Moss
and Jason Ryznar. Swistak was a
forward most of his career, but was
recently switched to defenseman to
help add some depth to Michigan's
"It was a chance for him to play
more," said assistant coach Billy
Powers of Swistak's move up front.
"Against a team like Minnesota, for
someone who hasn't played defense
much, they're too quick and
(there's) too much transition. You
don't want him out in a vulnerable
spot, where you feel bad about him
making a mistake."
Even after losing their regular
linemate in Gajic, Ryznar and
Moss gave Minnesota problems.
Gophers' coach Don Lucia said
that they were his biggest concern
heading into the extra frame
because of their physical play
behind the net.
Powers was pleased with the way
the remaining defensemen held up.
He said that he actually thought the
Wolverines gained some more legs
heading into overtime.
Burnes agreed that energy was
not a factor.
"This time of year, this kind of
hockey, you're just going on pure
adrenaline anyway," Burnes said.
"It doesn't matter if we're playing
with three (defensemen), the guys
were ready to go, (and) knew what
Michigan 2, Minnesota 3
MichIgan 1 1 0 2
Minnesota 0 1 1 3 (ot)
First period - 1, MICH,3Brandon Kaleniecki 14
(Andrew Ebbett 18) 9:33. Penalties - Jed Ortmey-
er, MICH (tripping) 2:52; Matt DeMarchi, MINN
(oi) 4:39; Keith Ballard, MINN (holding) 14:26;
Mark Mink, MICH (high sticking) 17:15; Gino
Guyer, MINN (cross-checking) 18:49. Second pod-
od - 2, MICH, Jed Ortmeyer 18 (Jeff Tambellini
19) 14:38; 3, MINN, Troy Riddle 26 (Thomas
Vanek 30, Matt Koalska 30) 17:45. Penalties -
Brandon Rogers, MICH (holding) 1:34; Al Mon-
toya, MICH (tripping) 12:07Third Period -4,
MINN, Gino Guyer 13 (Barry Tallackson 15, Chris
Harrington 13) 1:35. Penalties - Chris Harring-
ton, MINN (hooking) 4:05; Chris Harrington, MINN
(holding) 7:49. OT Period -5,MINN, Thomas Vanek
30 (unassisted) 8:55. Penalties - none. Shots on
Goal: MICH 15-6-10-2 33; MINN 5-15-84 32. Power
plays: MICH 0 of 5; MINN 0 of 4. Penalties: MICH 4 (8
min.); MINN 5 (10 min.) Saves - MICH, Al Mon-
toya (30-10-3) -29; MINN, Travis Weber (17-6-7)
- 31). Referee: Scott Hansen. At: HSBC Arena,
Buffalo. Attendance: 18,702.
Full Court Press
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Michigan
went into the Frozen Four
believing that the first period
was the key to advancing past the
first round. The Wolverines vowed
not be knocked out before they
were even in it. They said they were
"on a mission," and they took that
steely determination into Buffalo's
HSBC Arena, attacked in the open-
ing period and grabbed the lead.
And it still wasn't enough.
Michigan led 2-0 in the second
and looked like it might get over the
semifinal stumbling block, but it
was just a tease. In the end, the
Wolverines saw their ticket to the
title game slip away for the third
A red-eyed Eric Nystrom tried to
convey the pain of loosing in over-
time on a Thomas Vanek shot after
leading early on: "Take your worst
feelings and multiply it by 10 to see
that goal go in."
"We took it right to them," junior
Andy Burnes said of the first peri-
od. "We were in their face, and we
were dominating the play."
Nystrom agreed that Michigan
followed its gameplan, and both
were at a loss as to why it didn't
produce the result they wanted.
Maybe it was injuries or inexperi-
ence finally catching up to the
Maybe it was an inability to put
together a complete game - the
Wolverines seem to always have
one lapse, one stretch like last
night's second period when they
only mustered six shots after firing
15 in the first.
Maybe it was the little things
that Minnesota did in crunch time
- a blocked shot by Paul Martin
when Michigan's Jason Ryznar
seemed to have an open net at the
end of the third, or a great individ-
ual effort by Thomas Vanek for the
Whatever the problem was, it cer-
tainly wasn't lack of effort. Min-
nesota coach Don Lucia said his
team had the heart of a champion,
but it seemed that Michigan did as
well this season. With a freshman
goaltender, a thin defense, injuries
galore and no real go-to guy, the
team could have easily made excus-
es for its season well before this
Instead, Al Montoya shook off
enormous pressure and, remark-
ably, played like a veteran between
the pipes down the stretch. What
captain Jed Ortmeyer and alternate
captains John Shouneyia and Andy
Burnes lacked in the scoring
department, they more than made
up for with leadership. And all of
the Wolverines bought into coach
Red Bereson's belief that this was
the year of the team - they all
took turns donning the superhero's
cape and coming up with the big
Although Michigan has become a
fixture in the Frozen Four, it was
anything but a given that this team
would come this far, and the fact
that it did is a considerable accom-
When Vanek slung that final shot
of Michigan's season through an
invisible space between Montoya's
right shoulder and the post, senior
Mike Roemensky froze in place,
bent at the waste, unwilling or
unable to skate off for the last time.
This was the seniors' team, and it
was crystal clear that they won't
take any solace in getting this far.
The guys lucky enough to come
back next year can't either.
There's a saying in hockey that
the players use constantly - you
have to bury your chances. It was
true on the ice in this game, but
also in a larger sense. Three straight
Frozen Fours and three straight
years of going home two nights too
early has to make you wonder how
many opportunities you're going to
get. The Wolverines came so close
to the championship game - much
closer than the past two years when
they spent much of the semifinal
game digging themselves out of a
hole - and again they let it slip
The desire and commitment is
there, but last night proved that
those aren't enough.
The Wolverines have to find a
way to grip tight that chance to do
something special when it lands in
their hands, rather then watch it
slide through their fingers.
Courtney Lewis can be reached at
Ryznar, Moss win battle of the fourth lines-
By Kyle O'Neill
Daily Sports Editor
BUFFALO, N.Y. - It may have not been enough
to win, but it made Minnesota worry enough.
The pseudo-fourth line of sophomores David
Moss and Jason Ryznar - fellow winger Milan
Gajic was injured during most of the game -
played well enough without a third
linesman, according to Minnesota
coach Don Lucia. Michigan senior
Jed Ortmeyer usually filled in for
the injured sophomore. -
"The hardest matchup we had
was with Ryznar's and Moss' line,"
Lucia said. "(Minnesota sophomore fourth-line cen-
ter) Jake Fleming's not real big (compared to Moss),
so it's not a great matchup, but what are you going
to do? That was our biggest concern - they were
such a load down low ... they -threw Ortmeyer on
that line ... and we tried to put bigger defensemen
Neither Moss nor Ryznar had a point - Ryznar
came close midway through as he had an assist (or a
possible goal, depending on what the replay
showed) disallowed as an official blew the play dead
before a dribbling puck went in the net. But what
they did do was shut down Minnesota's fourth line
of Fleming, junior Jon Waible and sophomore Gar-
rett Smaagaard, holding it to a combined four shots,
no points and a minus-four rating.
"They call it the so-called fourth line, but they've
got four real good lines," Smaagaard said. "We had
to play defense first and then try to produce offense
Even though the result of the game was hardly
what Moss wanted to see, he could still manage to
hold his head up high in being able to play his style
of game well.
"Ryz and I, we work the puck down low, and we
take pride in that," Moss said. "If we can shutdown
one of their lines, that's fine. We just wanted to work
hard out there."
ONE THAT WASN'T: For a second, it appeared
Michigan had scored a huge goal midway through
the third to take a 3-2 lead. The section of Michigan
fans behind Minnesota's goal rose to their feet, as
the Wolverines pushed the puck through a melee
and over the goaline.
But after review, the goal was waived off because
it was ruled that the whistle had already blown.
That left the score 2-2 and the Wolverines deflated.
"From our angle on the bench, we could see it
going over the line about the time the whistle was
blown," Berenson said. "I didn't have the privilege
of seeing the replay."
Berenson added that the Wolverines tried not to
dwell on the play down the stretch. But he was left
wondering if the right call was made.
D-TOWN REPRESENTIN': So, watch out Utica -
Detroit is a city on the grow.
Apparently with the Super Bowl coming to Ford
Field in 2006 and the possibility of baseball's all-
star game coming to Comerica Park in two years,
Joe Louis Arena is possibly ready to host one of the
premier sporting events other than the usual World
Wrestling Entertainment event.
According to CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos,
the Frozen Four may be coming to the Joe as early
as 2007 or 2008 - and it may also be the site of an
upcoming NCAA Midwest Regional within the next
three years - after next season's regional in Grand
"We've met with Joe Louis (officials), and it
looks like we're moving forward," Anastos said.
Anastos also said both 2007 and 2008 are up in
the air, as for who will host. But in 2008, the selec-
tion process becomes much more complicated, as
the Frozen Four is a week later than usual - as was
the case this year - and becomes a conflict with the
NHL playoffs. The NCAA dodged a potential prob-
lem when the Buffalo Sabres did not make the play-
offs, which started two days ago. Detroit's chance to
host in 2008 may not be as good as it would be in
2007, given its playoff schedule would not be as
easy to adjust to the Frozen Four as the regular sea-
son would be.
STOP IT ALREADY: The crowd at HSBC Arena was
not happy with the repeated playing of the NCAA
"student-athlete" commercials - seen during about
every commercial break of the men's basketball
tournament - being played over the big screen.
After the third running of the shot-putter version
and second of the swimmer, the fans began to boo
the 30-second clips and produce some of the loudest
noise of the night with their displeasure. The
18,000-plus fans applauded the new Niagara Uni-
versity advertisement that appeared in the third peri-
od in place of the NCAA one.
S- ,' I ° "Jintemovement..