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November 25, 2008 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-11-25

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The Michigan Daily -- michigandaily.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2008 - 9

Penalty kill a
rare bright spot

Power-play unit has
not allowed a goal
in three weeks
Daily Sports Writer
OXFORD - The Michigan hock-
ey team struggled all weekend. It
couldn't score, it floundered on
defense and it got swept in the
series But one positive that came
out of the weekend was Michi-
gan's penalty kill. .
The last time Michigan gave
up a power-play goal was three
weeks ago against Alaska. The
Wolverines have killed off 23
straight penalties, including 12
against Miami last weekend.
The referees called many pen-
alties againstboth teams, but both
were able to respond. Although
the calls by the officials chopped
up games and disrupted the flow
of the series, the power play goal
by junior Chris Summers in the
second period of Saturday's game
was the only tally on special
"Throw in commercials with
penalties, and it really hurts the
momentum of the game," Beren-
son said.
} Michigan surrendered two
lengthy 5-on-3 chances over the
weekend, both in the first period,
giving the RedHawks seemingly
easy scoring opportunities and a
chance to strike first.
* While Michigan didn't have the
chances to clear the puck when
down two men, it did an effec-
tive job keeping the puck at the
perimeter of the defensive zone.
And when the puck got through,
senior goaltender Billy Sauer and
sophomore Bryan Hogan stopped
the RedHawks shots.
During Saturday's 5-on-3,
which was part of a five-minute
major, Hogan made two good
saves on a shot that came directly
in front of the crease and dived to
save adeflection thatwas heading
That said, the Wolverines were
lucky the RedHawks didn't burn
them. Michigan struggled clear-
ing the puck on many occasions,
giving the Miami snipers extra
chances to capitalize against a
tiring defense.
"Our (defense) and our for-
wards are struggling to get the

pucks out," sophomore forward
Aaron Palushaj said. "You can
only leave Billy (Sauer) out to dry
so many times."
While Michigan struggled to
get the puck out of its own zone,
the Wolverines also kept the Red-
Hawks from registering any good
Michigan forwards worked
hard while shorthanded to stay
in the passing and shooting lanes,
tipping passes and blocking shots.
The defense kept its position
down low to keep the areain front
of the crease clear, and the Wol-
verine goaltenders made great
saves when things broke down.
After Michigan lost to Boston
University in blowout fashion last
month, giving up five power-play
goals, the penalty kill has been a
point of emphasis.
In practicethe Wolverine pow-
er-play matches up against the
defense. With the team lined up
on the blue-line to witness play,
the penalty kill tries to clear the
puck out of the zone, while work-
ing on its positioning. It is one
facet of Michigan's practices, but
with other areas of the team not
performing at their best, Beren-
son likens the team to an old car.
"When you're coaching the
team, its amazing. It's like driv-
ing an old car," Berenson said.
"There's always something wrong
with it. You just fix one thing and
something else goes."
The penalty kill looked par-
ticularly good against Western
Michigan last weekend, though
the Broncos have just two wins
on the season.
Michigan killed off 10 penalties
in that series, giving the Broncos
few good looks while clearing
the puck with ease to render the
power play moot.
The success killing off penal-
ties was one of the bright spots in
an otherwise dull weekend.
"When you lose, sometimes
everything seems bleak," Beren-
son said. "I thought our penalty
killers did a great job. They had
to kill that five-on-three and the
five-minute major."
While the penalty kill can-
not win games, it can give the
Wolverines the momentum they
desperately need in close games.
The question is whether Michi-
gan can apply this momentum to
the offense and end its current

Senior Santos Perez; shown here against Western Michigan, has excelled in his move from midfield to defense for the NCAA-bound Wolverines.
Now on defense, Perez thrives

Daily Sports Writer
When senior Santos Perez took
the field for the men's soccer team's
season opener against Wisconsin-
Green Bay, he had
no idea it would UC Davis at
be his last game Michigan
as a midfielder:
Perez was Matchup: UC
injured early in Davis 13-4-
the game while 4; Michigan
trying to shield t2-5-3
the ball from When: Today,
an oncoming 2 P.M.
defender. Michi- Where: UM
gan earned a free Varsity Soc-
kick off the colli- cer Complex
sion, which gave
the Wolverines an early lead, but
the tackle left Perez limping.
"I didn't know I was hurt," Perez
said. "I was lying on the ground and
got up and I tried to walk it off but
my knee just didn't feel right."
Perez resumed playing after the

Wolve'-ines' goal but knew he had
to leave the game. After looking at
Perez's knee, the trainers quickly
confirmed his injury. The diagno-
sis: a partially torn medial collat-
eral ligament, one of four ligaments
critical for stabilizing the knee
joint. Perez's injury didn't require
surgery, just enough time to heal
and steady rehabilitation, but it left
him on the sidelines for five weeks.
When he returned Oct. 4 against
Indiana, Perez had a new place on
the field: on defense.
As a freshman, Perez came in
with experience at several posi-
tions. He began as a defensive mid-
fielder and tested out the backfield
at the end of his freshman season.
He returned to midfield as a sopho-
more and then last year primarily
played as an outside midfielder.
But after he became more famil-
iar with Perez's style, Michigan
coach Steve Burns saw that Perez
could be a bigger asset in the back-

"Santos has a bit of nastiness to
his game and a bit of bite," Burns
said. "If you've got that going for
you then you're going to be a pretty
good defender in the end."
Even though-Perez fits the defen-
seman profile, sometimes his mid-
fielder tendencies show through.
"The biggest thing Santos has
probably had to make adjustments
on is having patience," Burns said.
"Patience translates to buying more
time for the team to get organized
behind you. As soon as he got that
concept, that my job is to buy time,
he became a starter for us."
Coming off his injury, Perez had
to adjust to a new view of the field.
But the transition wasn't very hard
despite the "bigger and faster game."
The other defenders agree that
Perez fits in well, and they were eager
to welcome him back to the field.
"He has a really good mind for the
game," senior captain and defender
Mike Holody said. "He's really ver-
satile and steady. He always keeps

us organized."
Perez has continued to be a
dominant force for the Wolverines.
Since coming back from his injury,
Perez started seven of the last nine
games and has seen action in all of
them. The Wolverines gave up just
five goals in that span.
"Santos is one of those playmak-
ing players," Burns said. "When
he receives the ball, there is such a
comfort level. He brings the team's
anxiety level down whenever he's
on ball."
Perez wasn't nervous about mov-
ing back either, having always been
more defensive as a midfielder. And
even though Perez plays well in
both positions, he prefers midfield.
But he doesn't let his personal pref-
erence dictate his play.
"I haven't really asked (to move
up)," Perez said. "We've been doing
so well that I'm just lookingto help
out the team. And if that requires
me to play defense, that's fine with

Captains keep team strong in transition

New heavyweight
makes big gains

Phillips bulks up,
wins lineup spot for
first time
For the Daily
"Happy are those who dream
dreams and pay the price to make
them come true."
Every day, redshirt sophomore
Eddie Phillips reads these words,
which stretch across a wall of the
Michigan wrestlingroom in Cris-
ler Arena. Phillips dreamt all off:
season of competing in matches
on a regular basis and was will-.
ing to pay the price in an unusual
way- putting on weight.
Phillips missed the starting
lineup as a 197-pounder for much
of last year, but he will begin the
season as the Wolverines' top
heavyweight wrestler.
After a career of working to
keep his weight in check, Phil-
lips gained 20 pounds this past
summer by eating big and lifting,
"A lot of guys struggle to cut
weight," said Phillips, "But gain-
ing weight is just as hard because
it's hard to make your body
(grow) unnaturally big."
Phillips spent last summer
eating breakfast at Benny's on
South Industrial Highway, eat-
ing lunch at Great Wraps on
State Street and of course, lifting
in between meals. He has added
proteins to his diet and hopes
to gain more weight throughout
the season.
At 220 pounds, Phillips pre-
pares to face opponents who
will outweigh him by at least 30
pounds. In the season opener
against Lehigh last Friday, Phil-

lips was taken down by 285-
pound freshman Zach Rey in the
final minutes of the match.
To compensate for his smaller
frame, Phillips will continue to
wrestle conservatively, tiring his
opponents early and taking shots
in the third period.
One of Michigan's top wres-
tlers, senior captain Tyrel Todd,
normally grapples with Phillips
in practice and has seen drastic
changes in the young wrestler.
"The first two years we wres-
tled, he never took me down, but
this year he's taken me down a
few times," Todd said.
Phillips's added weight and
success in practice have -given
him optimism about the coming
"Strength-wise, I feel like I'm
right there with everyone, even if
they weigh a lot more than me,"
Phillips said.
New strength and condition-
ing coach Jesse Miller played a
large part in Phillips's physical
With new exercises and a fresh
attitude towards lifting,. Miller'
has illuminated the dark wres-
tling weight room. Last year, he
served as an assistant at West Vir-
ginia University under Mike Bar-
wis, the Michigan football team's
current director of strength and
"Last year (lifting) was kind
of ... something you don't want to
do but you have to," Phillips said.
"But with Jesse, you want to get
stronger because you've got him
there motivating you."
. And with his huskier build,
Phillips has already seen positive
results beyond wrestling.
"The girls notice that I got a
little bigger," Phillips said. "They
like it."

Daily Sports Writer
In late August, first-year Michi-
gan men's swimming and diving
coach Mike Bottom sat in his new
office next to the pool deck at Can-
ham Natatorium, staring at the
three team co-captains. He and
assistant coach Josh White were
meeting with them for the first
The three seniors also sat qui-
etly, looking around and even wig-
gling a bit in their chairs. They had
discussed among themselves what
they were going to say, but didn't
seem to want to say it.
Finally, Bobby Savulich spoke
"Coach," he said, looking Bot-
tom in the eyes, "we just want you
to know that we don't swim for any
Bottom had been hired over the
summer to replace former coach
Bob Bowman, who left the pro-
gram shortly before the Beijing
"I was thinking, 'Well, it's a good
thing, because your other coach
just left,' " Bottom joked, remem-
bering the meeting.
But the message Savulich was
sending their new coaching staff
wasn't a joke, and Bottom was glad
to hear his captains had the right
"They were saying to me that
they don't swim for me or for Josh,"
Bottom said. "They swim for Mich-
igan and for the Blue and that's why
they're here. That was the begin-
ning of the meeting and we went on
from there, but both Josh and my
reaction was, 'That's awesome."'
The meeting sums up what
Savulich and his co-captains,
Jamie Martone and Matt Patton,
are all about. All three say they are
honored to be captains and feel an
incredible responsibility to uphold
the team's traditions and build on
its history of success.
The captains may have been
blunt with Bottom during their
first meeting, but he says that since
then, all of them are sensitive indi-
viduals who never lead their team
with a "thumping."
When speaking about their
responsibilities as captains, Mar-
tone, Patton and Savulich are prac-
tical, organized and thorough. But
while they take their work as cap-
tains seriously, they don't always
take themselves seriously. Just ask
them about their different leader-
ship styles.

Senior Jamie Martone, along with his co-captains, has been instrumental in easing the transition to new coach Mike Bottom.

"I don't really say much," Pat-
ton said. "I'm probably the one that
talks the least."
"I probably talk way too much,"
Martone added.
"I probably just scare them,"
Savulich said, laughing.
The truth is, there's no need
for the captains to be yelling and
screaming - at their teammates.
They've been working hard to unite
the team since long before this sea-
son even started.
Last April, when Bowman
announced he was leaving the
program in July to take another
position at a club in Maryland,
he split the team into groups and
allowed only the top members of
the men's collegiate team to con-
tinue training with him over the
summer. Those chosen swam with
Club Wolverine to prepare for the
U.S. Olympic Trials. The captains
for this season had already been
selected, but a new coach had yet
to be hired. Martone said dividing
up the team created a very "indi-
vidualized atmosphere" and along
with the support of former Michi-
gan coaches Jon Urbanchek and
Fernando Canales, it became the
captains' burden to keep everyone
"Bob put a lot of pressure on us,
not purposefully, when he split up
the men's team over the summer
and said, 'You can train with me
and you can't train with me,"' Pat-
ton said. "So the hardest time for us

as captains was over the summer
when everyone was doing their
own thing and we had to keep the
team focused and moving in one
One of the biggest responsibili-
ties the captains have is helping
to recruit. Deciding what visiting
recruits will do on their trip and
selling the Michigan program are
part of their duties. In their last
season at Michigan, convincing
the hottest rising swimming stars
to come to Ann Arbor next year
may not directly benefit Martone,
Patton and Savulich. But recogniz-
ing that winning the NCAA title is
an unlikely end to their collegiate
careers, they take great pride in
creating what they call the "bridge
to a national championship", which
will be the foundation for a cham-
pionship- team to build off in the
It's this future-focused thinking
from Michigan captains that has
helped make the program a perenni-
al swimming powerhouse. Because
the program has such rich tradition,
the captains are quick to pay trib-
ute to the leaders that have helped
shape the program before them. All
three men say they feel honored to
have their names join the company
of former Michigan captains like
Davis Tarwater, Chris DeJong and
Alex and Peter Vanderkaay.
"I remember one time something
tone said. "And Alex Vanderkaay

just said, 'Guys, I'm not going to be
your friend right now. You need to
stop messing up or I'm going to call
you out on it.' And no one wants to
step on anyone's toes or be Mr. Dad,
but it has to be done and Al knew
when it had to be done and there
were no hard feelings afterward
about how he handled it."
Patton said Alex has, "the best
leadership personality of anyone
I've ever met." But it was Tarwa-
ter who taught him the most about
being a good teammate.
"Every road-meet, I roomed with
Davis," Patton said. "And he pretty
much put my head on straight and
taught me a lot of things. I was
a cocky little freshman and he
showed me what it's like to act a
Michigan man."
Just like the captains before
them, Martone, Patton and Savu-
lich are all doing their part to be
that bridge to a national champi-
onship. This is their final season at
Michigan, and though their own
futures after graduation are some-
what uncertain, one thing is clear:,
these captains will continue to be
part of Michigan swimming.
lich said. And look indeed. Peter
and Alex Vanderkaay still swim
with the team, Chris DeJong still
helps at practices and Davis Tar-
water checks in with a phone call
about once a week. "I hope in three
and four years from now, we're still
on deck doing something."


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