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January 08, 2009 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-01-08

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8A - Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

8A - Thursday, January 8, 2009 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Well ahead of schedule,

M' looks to

Mitera to lace up tomorrow past for future

Senior captain to
skate for first time
since knee injury
in October
By MICHAEL EISENSTEIN
Daily Sports Editor
Nineteen minutes into this sea-
son, senior captain Mark Mitera
had to be carried
off the ice after NOTEBOOK
tearing his ante-
rior cruciate ligament. With an
injury that serious, many thought
it would be the last time he would
don the maize and blue.
But tomorrow, just two months
and three days after undergoing
surgery, Mitera plans to take the
ice and continue his quick recov-
ery. Michigan coach Red Berenson
originally estimated the defen-
seman would be out three to six
months after the operation.
"He looks really good," Beren-
son said. "Right now, he's been fit
for a brace (to) try and start skat-
ing on Friday. Not with the team,
but on his own."
Mitera has been a regular pres-
ence at practice since the injury,
usually sitting on the bleachers
just outside the Wolverines' locker
room. Yesterday, he slowlyclimbed
the stairs of Yost Ice Arena with a
small brace on his left knee as a
part of his rehab while his team-
mates skated drills.
"Everything off the ice has gone
really well - his range of motion,
his strength, his pain, his swell-
ing," Berenson said. "All that. is
good. So the next step is to get him
on the ice and start that process."
But Berenson was quick to add
that even though Miteralooks very
good, it's still difficult to set aspe-
cific timetable for his return to the
starting lineup.
And while there is no question
Mitera has been missed as a key
part of an underclassmen-heavy
defensive unit, Berenson has been
very impressed with how Mitera

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er lour seasons pot
tirement coach In her nine previous seasons as
the Wolverines' head coach, Pank-
eturns to A2 ratz achieved results to match her
passion.
After a 7-11 record in 1996, she
By IAN KAY led the program to its first-ever Big
Daily Sports Writer Ten title in 1997. The program's first
NCAA bid followed two years later.
n Marcia Pankratz first took Then in 2001, the Wolverines won
Michigan's field hockeycoach ,the NCAA championship, solidify-
the program was justmedio- ing Michigan as an elite program
h a 193-183 all-time record. at the national level - a status the
y the time she retired after Wolverines have yet to relinquish.
04 season, the Wolverines By the time she retired in 2004,
insformed into a national Pankratz had posted a 130-49
ouse. career record, along with five Big
* a disappointing 2008 sea- Ten crowns and six NCAA Tourna-
ichigan will again turn to ment berths.
z. Two days ago, the three- Pankratz has spent the last four
g Ten Coach of the Year was years running 4 Goals, the con-
ced as successor to coach sulting firm she founded to aid
ox, who retired Dec.11. high school athletes with the col-
r this season, we all knew lege recruiting process. She has
mething had to change," also hosted numerous clinics and
midfielder Kelly Fitzpatrick booked speaking engagements
around the nation.
atrick said she and redshirt But the opportunity to coach at
goalkeeper Paige Pickett Michigan again was too good to
changed e-mails with Pank- pass up.
t won't know any specifics "I think I'm a teacher at heart,"
ow on-field strategies will Pankratz said through the Athletic
until the team's first offsea- Department. "I really missed work-
ctice session next Monday. ing with the student-athletes, and
iven Pankratz's reputation I wanted to get back around those
ciplinarian and an intense players.and mentor them."
e on the sideline, an adjust- And there is plenty of mentoring
demeanor is a certainty. to be done after Michigan struggled
cy Cox would nicely to an 8-12 record in 2008, including
h you about something a 3-3 mark in Big Ten play. Oppo-
done wrong," Fitzpatrick nents outscored the Wolverines
hear Marcia will get in your 50-41 and Michigan lacked consis-
1 at you, and tell you to do it tency in crucial penalty corner situ-
ext time around." ations.
junior forward Paige Lay- While it's yet to be determined
ying under Pankratz will whether Pankratz will fix these
ream come true." Pankratz problems, her players are excited
d Laytos during her firststint about a new approach.
gan, and the coach'senthusi- "She's there to be a coach and
de a strong impression. she'll also really encourage you and
all about field hockey," Lay- push you to do your best," Fitzpat-
. "There are no outside fac- rick said. "I know I personally need
th (Pankratz), it's about the that and I know a lot of members of
and the fire you have forthe the team need that, too."

Senior defenseman Mark Mitera has been an off-the-ice leader for the Wolverines while sidelined with an ACL injury.

has led the team from the stands.
"He's handled it well," BerensonO
said. "He's been very supportive of
the team, very positive about his sit-
uation. He's handled it like a pro."
BACK IN TOWN: After skating
for Team USA in the World Junior
Championship for nearly a month,
sophomore forward Matt Rust
returned to the Wolverines yes-
terday, and was feeling the impact
of getting very little rest over the
team's break.
"I'm definitely pretty tired, pret-
ty worn out," said Rust, who tallied
three goals and an assist while in
Ontario. "It's a long tournament.
We only got a couple days off in the
span of I think 30-some days."
But Rust, who played alongside
fellow Wolverine Aaron Palushaj
(two goals, three assists) for Team
USA, is anxious to get back on the
ice for Michigan this weekend.

The center tallied just two goals in
the season's first half - which Rust
called "embarrassing" - after his
12-goal campaign last year.
"On a personal note for me, I
think I played well and I think I'm
going to be able to carry over that
confidence into the second half of
the season," Rust said.
Team USA posted a disappoint-
ing fifth-place finish in the tour-
nament after a 3-2 overtime win
over the Czech Republic in its final
game. The squad had hoped to play
for a gold medal after finishing
third last year.
Berenson said that players
usually don't return to first-half
form after playing in the tourna-
ment. But with a series against
No. 6 Miami (Ohio) this weekend,
Palushaj thinks the transition back
to college hockey will be much
smoother.

"I don't think it's going to be
much different going from play-
ing the world junior players to
Miami," Palushaj said. "It's a good
transition from the tournament to
playing a really good team."
HOBEY WATCH: Voting for the
Hobey Baker Award, awarded to
college hockey's bestplayer, begins
tomorrow. Sophomore forward
Louie Caporusso, sophomore goal-
ie Bryan Hogan and Palushaj are
all in the running for the award.
Caporusso leads the country in
goals with 18, one of off last year's
nation-leading pace set by Hobey
Baker winner and former Wolver-
ine Kevin Porter.
Palushaj is sixth in the country
in points per game, while Hogan
leads the nation in winning per-
centage.
The field will be narrowed to 10
candidates on March 19.

4

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