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4 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

March 23, 2009 - 5B

i Despite loss to
Irish,'M' grabs
last No. 1 seed

Wolverines to travel
to Bridgeport, Conn.
as top seed in
East Regional
ByCHRIS MESZAROS
Daily Sports Writer
While the Michigan hockey
team's third-period collapse
against Notre Dame Saturday may
have cost it the CCHA Champion-
ship, the game meant little to the
NCAA Tournament selection com-
mittee.
Michigan's fate was already
sealed. There was essentially no
chance of playing in Grand Rapids
due to the fact the Fighting Irish
had already locked upa spot in that
regional. The Wolverines were
projected to travel east and play in
one of the two regionals among the
New England states.
And sure enough, when the
Wolverines woke up yesterday
morning and gathered in the Yost
Ice Arena locker room, they got
exactly what they predicted.
No. 3 Michigan will play Air
Force in the opening round of the
East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn.
Should the Wolverines win, they
would play the winner of Yale vs.
Vermont in the second round.
"We knew we'd be a No. 1 seed,
and we knew regardless of this
weekend we'd probably end up
in an eastern regional, and it'd
probably be Bridgeport, so it's as
expected," Michigan coach Red
Berenson said. "I'm glad we're in
the tournament again, and when
you look back in the fall there were
questions whetherthisteamwould
even be in the tournament, so good
for them."
Air Force's offense largely
depends on Jacques Lamoureux,
the nation's leading goal scorer.
But Air Force's rsum6 boasts lit-
tle else other than simply winning
the weak Atlantic Hockey Confer-
ence.
Heading down the stretch, the
question for the Wolverines was
whetherthey would earn a coveted
seed close to home. Playing in the
state of Michigan has been a huge
advantage for Michigan in years
past. It won the National Champi-
AUERBACH
From page 1B
"If we play like (Saturday),
then our next game will be our
last game," Michigan coach Red
Berenson said after the 5-2 loss.
After all, nobody expected a
third-period collapse - the Irish's
four-goal frame coupled with
Michigan's measly eight shots on
goal. Prior to Saturday's game,
the Wolverines had outscored
opponents 51-30 in the third this
season.
Maybe the pressure got to
sophomore goalie Bryan Hogan.
It was just the fourth postseason
start of his career, and the match-
up had been intimidating with
Hogan stacked against vaunted
Notre Dame senior Jordan
Pearce, one of the best netmind-
ers in the nation.

The Wolverines argued it
wasn't just one player that cost
them the game, and they're
right. It wasn't just Hogan giv-
ing up those goals. The Michi-
gan defense, an overlooked and
underrated strength of this team
during its hot second half, fell
apart. Irish forwards had no trou-
ble intercepting passes or navi-
gating the Wolverine zone, and
ichigan, a team that prides itself
n blocking shots, tallied just one

onship in 1996 and 1998 after play-
ing in in-state regionals.
If the first round games go
according to seeding, Michigan
would play Yale in the second
round in Bridgeport, which is just
30 minutes from Yale's campus in
New Haven, Conn.
But senior forward Tim Miller
thinks there are benefits to getting
out of the state too.
"I think it's good to get out there
and you don't have to worry too
much about distractions," Miller
said. "It's just the team out there
and you can focus about playing
hockey."
Berenson said the Wolverines
are used to hostile circumstances
in the tournament.
"I don't care where we go, and I
don't care who we play, it's how we
play that's important," Berenson
said. "If we end up playing Yale out
there, we had to play Wisconsin
in Wisconsin and we had to play
(New Hampshire) in Manchester a
few years ago."
Michigan won in Madison in
1995 and in Manchester in 2004.
The biggest controversy in the
selection was the pairing of top-
ranked Boston University with No.
4 seed Ohio State. Usually, the top
seed is protected in the first round
by playing the weakest team that
made the NCAA Tournament and
Bemidji State was considered to be
that team. But since rules stipulate
that conference teams can't play
each other in the regionals - and
both the Buckeyes and Miami
(Ohio) are No. 4 seeds and couldn't
play either Notre Dame or Michi-
gan - theyhad to be matched with
Boston University and Denver.
While Michigan is not favored
like they were last year and might
not have the same pressure as a
team like Notre Dame or Boston
University has, expectations are
still high. But the Wolverines think
they can do some damage.
"The best teams we've played
this year have been (Boston Uni-
versity) and Notre Dame, and if
there's anyone better in the tour-
nament, we'll find out in the next
two weeks," Berenson said. "But
I think we can play with those
teams. We're not as experienced
and not as old, but on a given
night, we can play with those
teams."
block in the final period.
"Goals against are precious this
time of the year," senior defense-
man Mark Mitera said. "Defense
is what's going to win us games
this (coming) weekend. Two
goals for, five against - you're not
going to go anywhere."
It's hard to call Saturday's loss
a wake-up call for the Wolverines.
With just a handful of games left
in the season at best, Michigan
knew it couldn't play a sloppy
period like that.
But now, the Wolverines have
no choice but to learn from the
loss and move on.
They've learned they can't just
hope a one- or two-goal lead will
stand up against the nation's best
competition. They have to main-
tain it with smothering defense,
consistent goaltending and solid
backchecking.
They've also learned they have
to play desperately, like the Irish
did, with the season on the line -
which, from now on, is every time
they step on the ice.
"Where we're at in the season,

no loss is a good loss," junior
defenseman Chris Summers said.
"We have a week to prepare for
next weekend, and it's do-or-die
from there."
- Auerbach can be reached
at naauer@umich.edu.

Sophomore Bryan Hogan, shown here against Western Michigan, was nn track tn bane a treat CCHA Tournament until tovne up tsar toals in the lbird perind Saturday.
Hoan dfese g iveTA up five.
unnwee goals in I'll oss

By MICHAEL EISENSTEIN
Daily Sports Editor
DETROIT - In his first five peri-
ods of the CCHA Championships,
sophomore goalie Bryan Hogan
gave up just two goals.
Hogan arrived at Joe Louis Arena
as argu-
ably the NOTRE DAME 5
most over-MICHIGAN 2
looked
goalie of the four in Detroit. His
Alaska counterpart in the semi-
finals, senior Chad Johnson, was
named the conference's Player of
the Year. Notre Dame goalie Jor-
dan Pearce, who was between the
opposing pipes in the championship
game Saturday, came in with a bet-
ter goals-against average, save per-
centage and win percentage.
Yet it was Hogan, in the midst
of shutting down the nation's No. 2
team, who was outshining them all
- atleastuntilthefloodgatesopened
in the final frame and Hogan let in
four goals on 12 shots, sealing a 5-2
Fighting Irish victory and CCHA
Tournament title.
It was the Wolverines' first loss in
nine games at the Joe, datingback to
a 2-loss in the 2007 CCHA finals to
Notre Dame.
"It was a tough game for Hogie,"
said Michigan coach Red Beren-
SPRING PRACTICE
From page 1B
to dodge the shield after suc-
cessfully fielding the punt. The
coach laughed, yelled at Mathews,
retrieved the shield and did it again.
Saturday's spring practice, the
second with pads, meant the Wol-
verines were more physical in their
drills. Outside on the team's brand-
new practice turf, the crack of the
players' shoulder pads echoed across
the field as they crashed into each
other while practicing field-goal
blocking. Partway through prac-
tice, during a one-on-one blocking
drill, the yells of the players nearly
drowned out the rap music blaring
through the temporary sound sys-
tem.
With increased contact came
increased enthusiasm - and the
intensity is likely to only increase
next Saturday, when Rodriguez
said the Wolverines plan to have
their first full-scale scrimmage.

son, who added Sunday that Hogan
would remain the team's starter in
the NCAA Tournament. "Even the
first goal was a goal I don't know if
he saw, but it wasn't a good goal, and
the pucks started to go in on him.
And it was one of those games where
it was the goalie's worst nightmare,
the puck going in too easy."
Despite the loss, Michigan still
earned the final No. 1 seed for the
upcoming NCAA Tournament in
the East Regional. The Wolverines
will face Air Force on Friday in
Bridgeport, Conn.
Notre Dame's first goal seemed
inconsequential at the time. It came
more than halfway through the sec-
ond period, and the Wolverines still
held a one-goal lead at the end of the
frame. Michigan had only lost once
before - 2-1 to Western Michigan
in November - when it led entering
the third.
But Notre Dame freshman
forward Billy Maday's lamp-
lighter turned out to be a momen-
tum-changer.
"Once they got their first goal -
that was an easy goal - we were get-
ting bounces, and then they started
getting the bounces and that's kind
of how the game went," Berenson
said. "That first goal gave them life
and got them back in the game. Had
we got the next goal, the game was
Until then, it's all about learning the
basics. -
"We're installing some new
defensive stuff, and a lot of fresh-
men are playing for the first time,"
Rodriguez said. "They're still swim-
ming and that's slowing down our
installation a bit, but that's okay
because our primary focus is getting
better fundamentally."
All four practices this spring have
been outdoors. Unlike in recent sea-
sons, the weather hastreated Michi-
gan well - and the Wolverines hope
it will stay warm and sunny for their
final practice and spring scrimmage
in three weeks.
It's Rodriguez's second spring
with the Wolverines, but for all
intents and purposes, this April 11
will mark his first spring game.
Last spring's 100-play scrimmage
was closed to the public and held at
Saline High School due to Big House
construction. About 2,500 boosters,
family members and friends were in
attendance, but many left early due

probably over, but that didn't hap-
pen."
Instead, the Irish scored again
one minute and 45 seconds into
the third off forward Calle Ridder-
wall's redirect in front of the net.
Moments later, Notre Dame for-
ward Ben Ryan closed in towards
the goal from the bottom left circle.
He sent the puck past senior captain
Mark Mitera (who finished minus-
two on the night) and beat Hogan
top right shelf.
The two-goal Wolverine lead
built up by freshmen Luke Glen-
dening and David Wohlberg in the
opening 23 minutes disappeared
within 20 seconds.
Before the Irish added a couple
more tallies in the final 10 minutes,
Michigan had never given up more
than three even-strength goals in an
entire game, let alone in a 20-min-
ute period.
"Hogan was working hard and
that's all you can ask for," Summers
said. "It was a team loss and I don't
think that anything should have to
do with Hogan. It's five guys on the
ice."
After the NCAA Tournament
selection show on Sunday, Beren-
son said he wasn't worried about
Hogan's confidence for Friday's
opening-round game against Air
Force, the East Regional's lowest
to the rainy, cold weather. Rodri-
guez and the Athletic Department
said in a press release Thursday that
they are aiming for about 40,000
fans to attend this year's spring
game at Michigan Stadium. And in
an effort to encourage attendance,
the Wolverines are planning addi-
tional pre-spring game events.
Early on the morning of April
11, the Michigan locker room will
be open for tours and photos. Two
hours before the spring game, the
Wolverines will host an hour-long
alumni flag football game. Though
the rosters have yet to be deter-
mined, the Athletic Department
announced that Gary Moeller (head
coach from 1990 to 1994) will coach
the Maize team and Jerry Hanlon
(longtime assistant coach under Bo
Schembechler) will coach the Blue
team.
Michigan's spring game techni-
cally takes place during the Wol-
verines' last practice and is not
considered a formal spring scrim-

seed. He cited Michigan State goalie
Jeff Lerg's lackluster performance
in the CCHA Championships two
years ago and how the goaltender
turned things around to lead the
Spartans to a national title.
Just before their miracle run,
Lerg surrendered 11 goals at the Joe,
including a 5-2 semifinal loss and
narrow 7-6 overtime win over Lake
Superior State in the third-place
game.
Berenson's example was echoed
by Summers and Miller on Sunday
as the three put Hogan's poor per-
formance in perspective entering
the final weekends of the season.
"Hogan's a tough kid," Summers
said Sunday. "It's how he reacts to it
and how he responds in this week's
practice and the next game coming
up. I think he's a tough enough kid
that he can come fully prepared and
play the best that he can."
No matter how he bounces back,
it's difficult to get rid of the sour
taste of seeing five periods of solid
hockey unravel when the team is
20 minutes away from a champion-
ship.
"Obviously, we've got to regroup,
whether it's defensively, offensively,
goalkeeping, everything," Berenson
said. "It was a disappointing third
period. Otherwise, I thought we
played a good game."
mage. In 2007, public attendance
at the final practice was estimated
at 5,500, according to Big Red Net-
work. In comparison, Michigan
State's 2007 spring game attendance
was estimated at 25,000 and Ohio
State's was estimated at 75,310. Both
teams hold formal spring games.
Rodriguez said on Mar. 10 that
sometime in the next two years,
he wants the Wolverines to "set
the world record in attendance at
a spring game." But even with add-
ing extra attractions on game day,
Michigan has a long way to go. Ala-
bama currently holds the spring
game attendance record of 92,138
people.
"It's not as important from a
coachingstandpoint what we do, but
it is important from an atmosphere
standpoint, particularly for some of
these young guys to play in front of a
crowd and get some of those nerves
out of the way and get a feel for what
the Big House may be like in the
fall," Rodriguez said Saturday.

If

1
t

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