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March 18, 2004 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-18

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A.

Thursday
March 18, 2004
sports.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily.com

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By Gennaro Fiice
Daily Sports Editor
"He does it quietly - just his style,
there's not a lot of pizazz, not a lot of
notoriety," Michigan coach Red Beren-
'son said. "He doesn't draw attention to
himself - he kind of deflects atten-
tion. But, when it's all said and done,
- whether you're looking at him on the
'ice, or you're looking at him on paper,
he's a great player."
Berenson's words
-speak volumes of the
Wolverines' leading
goal scorer. T.J. Hen-
sick? Nope. Having
undressed opposing
blueliners all year long, Hensick
defines pizazz. Milan Gajic? Remem-
.ber, Berenson said, "quietly."
Berenson's description applies to
* junior center Dwight Helminen.
-,Helminen, known as "Dewey" to his
* teammates, doesn't receive the hype of
many fellow Wolverines, but he's qui-
etly put together the team's most well-
rounded season of work. Last night,
#Helminen - Michigan's leader in
Z 'goals with 17 - was named CCHA
Best Defensive Forward at the confer-
Ience awards banquet.
"So you're looking at him as the
best defensive forward and then
you're looking at him as our leading
goal scorer - that's a pretty good
hockey player," Berenson said. "I
;.compare him to (former Wolverine
and current New Jersey Devils center)
Johnny Madden.
"(Helminen's) a great two-way player."
Helminen, whose NHL rights
belong to the New York Rangers,
;attributes his defensive prowess to his
speed and an innate hockey sense.
"Basically it's being in the right

position," Helminen said. "And with
my speed, I have the opportunity - if
I get caught out of position - I have
the ability to get back in position. I'm
maybe a little quicker than somebody
else. But it's just a matter of being in
the right place at the right time."
Helminen's line, which currently
includes junior Eric Nystrom and
freshman Mike Brown, has routinely
matched up with the opponents' top
group of forwards. In facing the
CCHA's finest in 37 games, the
Brighton native has been called for just
two penalties.
"For our line, our priority is playing
tough 'D,' " Helminen said. "Our job's
to go out there and shut down the other
team's top lines, and when that hap-
pens, that's when we're usually getting
chances. Our line has just happened to
capitalize on those chances and it hap-
pens to be coming off my stick."
Although Michigan's lines have
changed throughout the year, Helmi-
nen and Nystrom have been almost
inseparable because of a chemistry
they've enjoyed since first playing in
Ann Arbor on the U.S. Under-18 team
in high school.
"It's unbelievable," Helminen said.
"We've been playing together since the
U.S. program. We know each other like
the back of our hands. It's huge playing
with a guy like that you know so much
about and played with so much."
Helminen and Nystrom are two of
the team's 10 juniors. Since the
Wolverines have just one senior who
sees regular playing time, captain
Andy Burnes, the junior class's role on
the team has been heightened.
"It's a little more responsibility and
a little more pressure, you might say,
but it's something we've got to thrive
off of," said Helminen of being one of

TONY DING/Daily
Junior Dwight Helminen earned Best Defensive Forward honors last night at the
CCHA awards.

the team's elder statesmen. "That's
how I kind of looked at it. It's a chance
for me personally and a chance for our
class to step up this year, show the
team and show everybody else that's
remembered at Michigan as a success-
ful, hardworking class."

HEN-SICK: In addition to Helminen's
award, T.J. Hensick was named CCHA
Rookie of the Year last night after lead-
ing all freshman in goals and leading
the entire conference in assists. Hen-
sick is the third freshman in six years
to lead Michigan in scoring.

0

* WOMEN'S TENNIS
Netters return to winning ways with thumping of Broncos

NIT SCORES

By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Writer

On St. Patrick's Day, the No. 19
Michigan women's tennis team didn't
-need the luck of the Irish - it just
.needed to be back home. After dropping
its first match of the season in Alabama,

the Wolverines returned to the Varsity
Tennis Center to cruise past Western
Michigan 6-1 yesterday.
"I just love playing on these courts -
everything's so normal;" freshman Eliz-
abeth Exon said.
Exon and her doubles partner, sen-
ior Chrissie Nolan helped Michigan

(8-1) jump out to an early lead, domi-
nating their match 8-2. The No. 43
first doubles pairing of junior
Michelle DaCosta and freshman Kara
Delicata didn't have it as easy and had
to battle back from a 1-4 deficit to
come up with an 8-6 victory.
"When you get down that far at one,
it's tough to come back and win - and
they did," Michigan coach Bitsy Ritt
said. "We just have to work at getting
out to a better start at one doubles and
play with more energy."
With the doubles point already
sealed, the usually consistent team of
sophomore Debra Streifler and senior
Kim Plaushines (No. 36) gutted out a 9-
8 (7-4) victory.
"It was the first time we weren't play-
ing well together," Streifler said.
After sweeping doubles, the Wolver-

ines picked up where they left off. Deli-
cata (6-3, 6-1), Streifler (6-4, 6-4), No.
67 Exon (6-3, 6-3) and senior Kavitha
Tipimeni (6-3, 6-1) all won their singles
matches in straight sets. Junior Leanne
Rutherford had to fight for her victory
after dropping the first set 4-6. She
bounced back after dropping a 6-1 sec-
ond set and won the tiebreaker, earning
Michigan's sixth point of the match.
The hardest-fought match featured
two ranked players, as No. 99 DaCosta
faced off against No. 95 Fredrika Gir-
sang. Girsang jumped out to a 5-2 lead
in the first set when - just like in her
doubles match - DaCosta turned it on.
She forced a tiebreaker, but was unable
to seal the deal, falling 3-7. The second
set was just as tight until Girsang broke
DaCosta's serve late, winning the Bron-
cos' lone point.

As if homecourt advantage wasn't
enough, the Wolverines had some extra
supporters in crowd. A day after win-
ning a thriller against Missouri, three
members of Michigan's basketball team
were in attendance: Amadou Ba, J.C.
Mathis and Dani Wohli.
"We are just going to go and give
them support," Ba said. 'Just like they
did for us last night."
With the decisive victory, Michigan
managed to get right back on the win-
ning track. While the Wolverines came
in with superior talent, they avoided the
trap of taking the Broncos lightly.
"(Western Michigan is) always
competitive," Ritt said. "They are
well-coached. They compete hard.
Certainly we're deeper than they are,
but to beat Western, you have to go
out and play well."

Yesterday's results:
GEORGE MASON 58, Tennessee 55
VIRGINIA 79, George Washington 66
Florida State 91, WITCHITA STATE 84 (2 OT)
AUSTIN PEAY 65, Belmont 59
RUTGERS 76, Temple 71
Hawaii 85, UTAH STATE 74
OKLAHOMA 70, Louisiana State 61
NIAGRA 87, Troy State 83
NOTRE DAME 71, Purdue 59
WISCONSIN-MILWAUKEE 91, Rice 63
RHODE ISLAND 80, Boston University 52
VILLANOVA 85, Drexel 70
IOWA STATE 82, Georgia 74
West Virginia 65, KENT STATE 54
Tuesday's results:
MICHIGAN 65, Missouri 64
SAINT LoUis 70, Iowa 69
Nebraska 71, CREIGHTON 70
Monday's game:
MARQUETTE 87, Toledo 72

0

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