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January 08, 2004 - Image 10

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1QA - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 8, 2004

Montoya brings home gold

By Sharad Mattu
Daily Sports Writer
The World Junior Championships
weren't supposed to go this way for
Al Montoya. Michigan's sophomore
goaltender was supposed to back up
Maine's Jimmy Howard, get some
exposure to international competition
and be ready when the United States
hosts next year's tournament.
But a left knee sprain just before
the team was set to fly to Finland
knocked Howard out, and Montoya
suddenly became the starter.
Though the United States was
favored to win the tournament, some
previews said the Americans' only
weakness might be Montoya in goal
due to his lack of international experi-
ence.
But this week, recaps of the World
Juniors are singing a far different
tune. On the big stage, Montoya
turned out to be an asset and not a
liability for the gold medal-winning
Americans. He earned the Direc-
torate Award as the tournament's top

goaltender, allowing just eight goals
in six wins and notching a .944 save
percentage.
In the Americans' 4-3 win over
Canada, Montoya topped Marc-
Andre Fleury - the No. 1 overall
pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins last
year. Fleury's strong showing in last
year's World Juniors catapulted him
to the top of the draft, and Montoya's
draft prospects shot up with his great
showing.
"He played unbelievable," U.S
teammate Matt Hunwick said. "He
made big saves at big times. He gave
us a chance to come back against
Canada."
Jeff Tambellini, who played for the
Canadian team, agreed that Montoya
played at the top of his game. But the
loss has been tough for him and many
others in Canada, where hockey is
followed extremely closely.
"I just congratulated him," the
sophomore forward said of the few
minutes they've spent together since
the game. "He's been playing the
national anthem in (the lockerroom),

so me and (Milan) Gajic made sure
that got turned off."
In the Gold medal game, Tambelli-
ni and Montoya got the chance to go
one on one.
"He had a breakaway on me," Mon-
toya said, before smiling and adding:
"He says he missed by an inch.
"I saw (it was Tambellini) at the
last second. The only spot he goes is
glove. Our scouting report said that,
so I knew what to do."
Tambellini said he had just collided
with a player at the blueline and was
slightly disoriented as he skated
toward the goal. But he concedes he
was going glove side all the way.
While it is easy to assume that
Montoya should come back to col-
lege hockey and cruise past Michi-
gan's CCHA opponents, he doesn't
believe that's true. But he felt that
college hockey helped him out in
Finland.
"Before we played Canada, they put
the whole Canadian fan section right
behind me and all I could think about
was how this is college hockey all

AP PHOTO

Goalie Al Montoya, sporting his Michigan helmet, helped Team USA to the Gold at the World Junior Championships.

over again," Montoya said. "It wasn't
a big deal. I'm used to the heckling
and know how to zone it out."
All three players said the World
Juniors were a great experience, and
while the travel and time difference
hasn't been easy, they're back in Ann

Arbor reenergized.
"It was so special to be playing for
our country," Tambellini said. "We
would wake up in the morning and
have 10 pages of e-mails wishing us
good luck and thanking us for playing
so well for our country. The passion

behind the Canadian team during the
whole tournament is something you
don't see often.
"That was the best experience I've
ever had in the game of hockey. I was
just dying to get to the rink today. I
feel the best I've ever felt."

Ritt has high hopes
for freshman trio

Traing in Hawai
not all fun in sun

Gabdela D'Jaen
Daily Sports Writer
In any athletic environment, there is
always a desire for rookies to prove
themselves worthy as competitors. The
three freshmen - Liz Exon, Lindsey
Goldstein and Kara Delicata - on the
Michigan women's tennis team are no
exception.
They have found that
their actions are the THIS I'
fastest way to validating Michigan
their presence on the Time: 10
team. After demonstrating rowand
their individual ability 9 a.m.
during the fall season,
these women have gained Varsity Te
the respect of their team-
mates, coaches and opponents. Now,
they are just excited to play in a team
environment with aspirations of win-
ning the Big Ten title in 2004.
This weekend the Wolverines host
Eastern Michigan, Georgia Tech and
LSU in the second Michigan Invitation-
al. While the Invitational is not part of
the dual-match season, it is the first
event of the winter. The freshman trio
voiced anticipation in regard to playing
team events, but coach Bitsy Ritt is

confident that they will continue to per-
form up to par.
"Players sometimes have feelings of
anxiety and nervousness at the begin-
ning of the dual-match season," Ritt
said. "I've had some funny conversa-
tions with players on the first change-
over about how nervous they actually
are, but once the match gets going, they
focus on the game, relax
and realize it's the same
EKEND game of tennis they've
vitational played all their life."
Exon, who is the No. 6
:d tomor ranked singles player in
inday the Midwest region
.s Caccording to the Intercol-
IS Center legiate Tennis Association,
takes Ritt's advice to heart

VE
Inv
am
St
nni

FIL"''"O'
Michigan freshman Lindsey Goldstein performed well In her flight of the Wolverine
Invitational In October with a 4-0 record.

and tries to maintain a calm attitude
before heading into a match. She also
looks to her older brother and sister for
guidance, as both have made the transi-
tion to college tennis.
"As I watched my brother and sister
play college tennis, I had an idea of
what it was going to be like," Exon
said. "It's everything I expected."
The California native had an excep-
tional individual season, winning the
first Wolverine Invitational and finish-

ing with a 10-4 record. This confidant
freshman attributes her success to hard
work and motivation from teammates.
"Team tennis is totally different than
what I grew up playing," Exon said.
"I'm a little unsure, but my teammates
know what it takes to win. When I'm
looking at the team individually, I can
tell we have a lot of depth - we are
ready to compete."
Delicata and Goldstein echo Exon's
contentment with the fall season and
are equally excited for the winter sea-
son to begin.
"The Wolverine Invitational was a
great confidence booster," Delicata said.
"I didn't know what it was going to be

like coming into a NCAA environment."
Delicata, who hails from Windsor,
Canada, is a foreigner to team tennis,
but has quickly adapted to both an
American school and the team environ-
ment. She admits it is easier to share
her emotions and nerves with the eight
other girls on the team than keep them
to herself
"I love this team," Delicata said.
"There's a lot of school spirit here, which
Michigan tennis really embodies."
While this environment might be dif-
ferent for Delicata, Goldstein has easily
adapted to the team setting. Her doubles
partner in the Wolverine Invitational was
also her partner at Highland Park (Ill.)
High School, sophomore Debra Streifler.
"We won state champs together in
high school, and I love playing with her,"
Goldstein said of Streifler. "It's really
rare that two people from the same high
school are on the same team."
"Freshmen are always fun," Coach
Ritt said. "But this is certainly a great
class. They bring a lot to the program."'
Every player on the team agrees that
the conference will be competitive, but
with the addition of these three women,
the team's conference title aspirations
are definitely attainable.

By Anne Ulbe
Daily Sports Writer
The excitement leading up to the
team training session began weeks
before the women's swimming and div-
ing team's plane left Detroit the day
after Christmas. A week of sun and
sand on the beautiful island of Hawaii
looked like another world from the gray
and white streets of Ann Arbor.
"We were so fortunate to be able to
have this opportunity to train in such a
beautiful place," head coach Jim
Richardson said. "The team was really
pumped for the trip"
The team spent its holiday training
session in Hawaii for a week-long
reprieve from the Ann Arbor winter to
be greeted with just three full days of
sunshine.
"The main purpose of taking the
team to Hawaii was to have them stay
active outside," Richardson said.
"Unfortunately, we were forced to do a
lot of it in the rain."
While basking in the unfavorable
weather, the Wolverines competed in
the Rainbow Invitational on Jan. 2
against several other teams doing their
winter training on the island. Wisconsin
and Iowa joined Michigan as the other
teams representing the Big Ten confer-
ence. Although the meet was not
scored, the Big Ten held its own against
the other participating nonconference
teams.
"Wisconsin definitely dominated the
meet," Richardson said. "Their team
won every event except the 50- and 100-
yard butterfly, which (our own) Anne
Weilbacher managed to place first in."
Following in the pattern of the previ-
ous days' weather, the meet was swum
during a tropical downpour. The rain

affected many of the swimmers' races
and times.
"We swam okay given the rain and
the tough early morning workout we
had given the swimmers that day,"
Richardson said. "Under different cir-
cumstances, we probably would have
had faster times."
Although the rain hindered the team's
sole competition and some of the prac-
tices, the Wolverines were still able to
put in an average of 15,000-yards a day,
which is equivalent to 600 laps in the
pool. Richardson was extremely
impressed with the team's attitude dur-
ing its training. The swimmers' willing-
ness to work hard and go the extra mile
during practices makes him believe that
the team has the potential to be one of
the best squads he's coached over the
past few years.
"I'm really looking forward to the
next three months," Richardson said.
"We have the ability to do some great
things."
Before Michigan's next scheduled
meet, the team will be increasing the
intensity of its training. Along with
upping the yardage in the pool,
Richardson will be implementing a new
circuit training system. The program
has three segments of weights broken
into a part designated toward 20 min-
utes for upper body, one part for 20
minutes for lower body and the last part
for 20 minutes for core training.
"This new circuit is going to be very
demanding," Richardson said. "It will
be the hardest training we've done yet.
This program will determine the core
strength of the swimmers."
The Wolverines will open their Big
Ten season schedule in two weeks host-
ing the Michigan Invitational on Jan.
16-17.

4

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Gibbs heading back to D.C.

A

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - In a bid to
return to their heyday, the Washington
Redskins reached into their past with a
stunning move: Joe Gibbs is coming
back.
The Hall of Fame coach who led the
team to three Super Bowl champi-
onships instantly restored hope to a
franchise searching for answers after a
decade of losing and the resignation of
Steve Spurrier.
Gibbs retired 11 years ago and then
rose to the top in a second sports career
as a NASCAR team owner. He signed a
five-year contract worth about $25 mil-
lion yesterday in a coup for owner Dan
Snyder, who grew up rooting for Gibbs'
great teams.
"Who better to set our strategy and
lead the Redskins back to champi-
onship glory?" Snyder said.
The details of Gibbs' contract, con-
firmed by a source within the NFL,
speaking on condition of anonymity, is
similar to the NFL-record deal given to
Spurrner.
"Thedesire to coach has always been
with me, even after being away from the
game for 11 years," Gibbs said.
Gibbs owns a minority share of the
Atlanta Falcons and will sell his por-
tion. In a statement, the Falcons said
Gibbs approached them several weeks
ago and talked about their vacant
coaching job.
"When the opportunity at the Red-
skins came up, Joe told us he couldn't
turn his back on the history, fans, loyal-
ties and relationships built over time in
Washington," the Falcons' statement
said. "While we understand his feel-
ins, we are disannointed that he didn't

AP.PHOTO
Legendary Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs will return to coach next fail.

i&R

0
IE

s/t

source. Former Buffalo Bills coach
Gregg Williams will be defensive coor-
dinator.
Joe Bugel, who oversaw the "Hogs"
as offensive line coach under Gibbs
from 1981-89, returns to that post. The
Williams hiring was first reported by
SportsLine.com.

ance under five different coaches.
Burned out from long days and
nights - he was known as a worka-
holic who sometimes slept on a cot at
Redskins Park - Gibbs left football
and pursued a successful NASCAR
career. His racing team heavily involved
both his sons, giving him the family life

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