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March 13, 2009 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-03-13

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8 - Friday, March 13, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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I

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6,

Wolverines see Broncos and beyond

By NICOLE AUERBACH
Daily Sports Editor
The Michigan hockey team's
road to Joe Louis Arena is clear.
Well, there's a minor roadblock
- this weekend's series against
Western Michi-
gan, a team that Westem
finished seventh
in the CCHA Michigan at
regular season. Michigan
But the Bron,
cos finished the Matchup:
season on a tear, Western.
Michigan
winning seven 14-18-7;
of their last 10 Michigan
games, includ- 26-10-0
ing a 4-3 double When: Tonight
overtime victory 7:35 P.M.
last weekend
in their series 'where: Yost
win over Lake
Superior State. Live Blog:
They have a dan- http://the-
game.blogs.
gerous scoring michigan-
threat in senior daily.com
forward Patrick
Galivan, who led
the CCHA in points. Not to mention
that Western Michigan goalie Riley
Gill has been hot of late, making 33
saves in a 2-1 upset win over Michi-
gan on Nov. 14 at Yost Ice.Arena.
OK, maybe the Broncos aren't
such a minor obstacle. And Wolver-
ine coach Red Berenson is making
sure his team realizes that.
"Coach was telling us (Wednes-
day), there's no limo waiting to take
us to the Joe," sophomore center
Louie Caporusso said. "We defi-

nitely can't get ahead of ourselves.
We got to make sure we take one
step at a time and understand that
we have a challenge ahead of us."
And at least for the past week,
Michigan has focused all its atten-
tion on its opponent. Last week's
practices seemed more relaxed, as
the Wolverines coasted through
their bye weekend and watched the
Broncos beat the Lakers.
"You work hard all year to get
a bye and to get home ice, and you
have to take advantage of it," Beren-
son said. "I knew last week that we
would play a good team this week,
a team with some confidence and
some momentum. It didn't matter
if it was Nebraska-Omaha or in this
case, Western. What's important
really is the focus."
Because of that extra weekend
off, Michigan must not show any
rust. Teams generally don't like to
take breaks when they're playing
well, and the Wolverines are no
exception. After closing the regu-
lar season on a 17-3 run, they admit
they didn't really need a breather.
The mini-break did help a few
players, including senior defense-
man Mark Mitera. Mitera, who
sustained a torn anterior cruciate
ligament in the season opener on
Oct. 10, returned to action on Feb.
27 in Michigan's final series of the
regular season against Ferris State.
He played in both games of that
weekend's series, and after another
two weeks of full-contact practice,
he expects to be more confident.
Confidence could be crucial in

this weekend's series with Western
Michigan (9-13-6-2 CCHA, 14-18-7 "
overall). The Broncos come into the
matchup with a pair of playoff wins
under their belt as well as momen-
tum,thanksto acome-from-behind
series win.
Michigan (20-8-0-0, 26-10-0),
on the other hand, hasn't yet faced
a do-or-die situation. And the Wol-
verines haven't played in an over-
time period that would decide the
fate of their season.
"I thinkthe changed part is now
you're in the second round of the
playoffs," Berenson said. "You're
playing against a team that's
already played three games, and
they'll have that momentum and
that playoff mode in their game.
We've got to get it in ours."
And while the Wolverines cau-
tiously say they are staying focused
on the Broncos, Berenson can'thelp
but look ahead just a little.
"Ithinkitspartofourgoalsevery
year to do as well as we can in the
league, in the playoffs to get the
bye, to get to Joe Louis, to get to the
championship game, have a chance
at winning the CCHA tournament,
getting into the NCAA tournament
and so on," Berenson said.
"It's an expectation. We've been
.fortunate. Every year that you get
there, you have to earn it. You have
to play well enough to end anoth-
er team's season. For quite a few
years, we have. But every year's a
different year. Right now, we're
focused on this weekend, but it's a
big weekend."

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