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March 24, 2006 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-03-24

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Friday
March 24, 2006
sports.michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily.com

PmRiftogattSBaitg

8

ICers face road test
in tourney opener

Get off your asses

-

and

go

to the

Fish

By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer

They're already good enough at
neutral sites, but imagine what Duke
might do if it played its first- and
second-round games of the NCAA
Tournament at Cameron Indoor Sta-
dium, its home floor. It wouldn't be
a pretty sight.
This would never happen in the

the home team is going to handle
the pressure."
Michigan does have history on its
side. It defeated New Hampshire in
Manchester, N.H. at the Northeast
Regional in 2004. Captain Andrew
Ebbett said he believes that, like
they did in Manchester, the Wol-
verines must begin the game on the
right foot to have any hopes of stay-

ing in thec

basketball tourna-
ment, but the hockey
selection committee
often puts teams in
their own home for the
regionals. And when
the bracket came out,
the 12th-ranked Wol-
verines drew the host.
Michigan will face off
against North Dakota
in Grand Forks, N.D.
tonight at 9:30 p.m.

TONIGHT
No. 12 Michigan at
No. 6 North Dakota
9:30 p.m.
Ralph Engelstad Arena
ESPNU

contest.
"We had a good start
in the game, and that
was huge for us," Ebbett
said. "We had two goals
in the first couple of
minutes, and that didn't
really give the crowd
a chance to get in the
game. It's always huge
on the road to keep the
fans out of it."
Quick starts have

The Fighting Sioux finished their
league playoffs strong, winning the
WCHA title over St. Cloud State
after knocking off former No. 1
Wisconsin. North Dakota's final
record was 27-15-1, but the wins
were loaded heavily in the latter
part of the season.
"North Dakota has a big advan-
tage in this scenario, coming off of
a playoff championship," Michigan
coach Red Berenson said. "They've
had a terrific run, they're playing at
home. We're a three seed, and they
could've been a No. 1 seed. They're
a top team right now, as good as
anyone playing at home."
But the responsibilities North
Dakota faces by playing in its home
arena might outweigh their obvious
advantages.
"Let's face it, there's a lot of pres-
sure on the home team," Berenson
said. "Home teams don't always win
regionals. But you never know how

helped Michigan all year long. It's
14-4-2 when scoring the first goal
of the game. But when the Wolver-
ines can't knock one in first, they're
just 7-10-3.
Scoring won't come easy dur-
ing tonight's game. The Fighting
Sioux's Jordan Parisi has established
himself as one of nation's premiere
goaltenders. He went 22-8-1 with a
2.12 goals against average this sea-
son.
Leading the charge for Michigan
will be Ebbett, who boasts a nine-
game scoring streak. In that span,
he has notched five goals and nine
assists. Ebbett's line, which also fea-
tures fellow senior Brandon Kalen-
iecki, is the most experienced on the
team, giving Ebbett the chance to
continue his hot streak, even against
the Fighting Sioux's stingy defense.
Should the Wolverines knock
off North Dakota in the first-round
game, they will play the winner of
tonight's Minnesota-Holy Cross

Baseball fans, do me a favor.
If you're home now, stop
reading this column. Go dig
out your baseball mitt, put it right
near your face and breathe in deep.
Sniff it good. Then, come back.
If you're like me, taking in that
leathery smell brings back a host
of baseball memories: throwing the
ball around in the backyard with
Dad, heading to the ball-
park and hoping to catch
a foul ball, playing second
base and letting the ball
go through your legs to
lose a little league game
(Okay, maybe that one's
just me).,
At 3 p.m. today, just
a short walk down State ~
Street, the opportunity to M
create new baseball mem- SIN
ories beckons. It's Open-
ing Day for the Michigan SPitti
baseball team, the most
underappreciated team on campus.
A small, dilapidated old structure
calls out to you.
"I AM THE FISH," it cries. "I
have been hosting Michigan baseball
games since 1923, and today, I ask
- nay, implore - that you drop
whatever you are doing and watch
America's pastime right here in Ann
Arbor."
Not convinced by the Fish's val-
iant plea? Let me argue on its behalf.
Here are my top 10 reasons to get
your lazy ass out of bed and watch
Michigan baseball this afternoon:
10.) The ping. Close your eyes and
picture it: a fastball, right down Broad-
way. A quick, non-steroid-induced
swing slicing through the batter's box.
PING! The beautiful sound of alumi-
num hitting the ball at precisely the
right moment. Ahhh...
9.) Because the Fish is so small,
you can pick up on all the on-the-field
chatter. Just sit behind a dugout and
keep your ears peeled.
8.) Chicks dig baseball. Accord-
ing to the dating service "It's Just
Lunch," more than 65 percent of
women say baseball games are
good for dates (I read this in an
airplane magazine). So take the
apple of your eye to the Fish. Snug-
gle up under a blanket, impress her
with your extensive (but not exces-
sive) baseball knowledge and kick
your game as best you can. If the
ballgame date doesn't work out,
no worries. Dancing up on random
drunk girls at Skeeps or Rick's is
still an option - the game should
be over by 6 p.m.
7.) I covered the team last year,
and I can tell you, the baseball play-
ers are a bunch of cool, fun-loving,
down-to-earth guys. And, word on

[A
vG

the street is that they throw some
pretty sweet parties.
6.) Michigan's at-bat music is clas-
sic. Last year, for example, the PA
played "Apache" by the Sugarhill
Gang every time Eric Rose stepped
to the plate. Needless to say, Mich-
igan's fans couldn't help but "jump
on it" prior to each at-bat.
5.) It's free for students.
4.) Going through
afternoon-drinking with-
drawal after St. Patty's
Day? Michigan baseball
is a perfect excuse to start
your weekend early. With
forecast temperatures in
the high 30s, you could
probably use a little extra
alcohol-induced warmth.
TT I particularly recommend
3ER spiked hot chocolate. (Note:
Drinking is not allowed at
the Fish. Don't say I didn't
warn you.)
3.) Michigan coach Rich Maloney
is the man. First of all, he's a great
coach. Michigan's program has done a
180 since he took over in 2003, culmi-
nating in last season's NCAA Region-
al berth. Plus, when his team does
falter, he's straight up with the media.
He doesn't hide behind clich6s like so
many other Michigan coaches. And,
finally, he's generally an easygoing
guy, which makes his rare blow-ups at
the umps especially entertaining.
2.) The Fish's small size, sparse
attendance figures and limited
security presence provide a perfect
opportunity for heckling. "Spike"
from Theta Chi knows what I'm
talking about. During last year's.
Iowa series, he spent an entire nine
innings yelling at Hawkeye players,
visibly annoying a few of them.
1.) The Fish is old school. The
Michigan Athletic Department
claims the stadium has been renovat-
ed seven times since its construction
in 1923, but it's hard to believe it was
much different back in the day. The
wooden benches are splintered and
worn, the only bathrooms are located
outside of the ballpark and there are
no reserved seats, luxury boxes or
advertisements. In short, it's the per-
fect place to watch Michigan's oldest
sport (The Wolverines have played
ball since 1866).
For me, those factors add up. I'll
be at the Fish at 3 p.m. tomorrow,
with my blanket, hot chocolate and
scorecard in hand, ready to cre-
ate some new baseball memories. I
expect to have some company.
- If anyone actually goes on
a date at the Fish, Matt Singer
wants to know about it. He can be
reached at mattsing@umich.edu.

I

RODRIGO GAYA/Daily
Goalie Noah Ruden and the Wolverines will take on North Dakota in the first round of
the NCAA Tournament.

game. Barring a great upset, the
Golden Gophers will win their first
game, making a Michigan run to the
Frozen Four almost inconceivable.
Minnesota defeated Michigan, 6-3,
during the College Hockey Showcase
in November behind Hobey Baker
candidate Ryan Potulny's hat trick
and two goals from freshman Phil
Kessel.
Although Minnesota's shadow

looms large, Michigan is focused
solely on North Dakota.
"North Dakota is a pretty good
team," Ebbett said. "They've played
well recently. We're just going to
focus on them for now. Once we get
that game, we'll move onto the next.
The NCAA Tournament is just one
game at a time. We'll focus on that
second one after, hopefully, having
won the first one."

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