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March 23, 2010 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-03-23

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 -- 7

CCHA run reminds Berenson of '68 Blues

Berensonuses St. Louis
experience to spark
Michigan team's
underdog mentality
By TIM ROHAN
Daily Sports Writer
Forty-two years ago, when Red
Berenson played center for the St.
Louis Blues, he found himself skat-
ing onto the ice during the Stanley
Cup playoffs, realizing that he had
lived most of his life on the ice.
Back then, the playoffs weren't
as spread out and teams regularly
had to play four games in five days,
in two different cities. So Berenson
was on the ice, all the time, come
playoff time.
During the 1967-68 season, the
Blues finished third in the Western
Conference and qualified for the
playoffs even though they finished
with a recordbelow.500. Backthen,
there were only 12 teams in the
NHL.
It was the inaugural year for
the St. Louis expansion team and
Berenson was acquired by the Blues
early into then sasn. Berenson led

game," Berenson said.
"You'vegottodomore
than be in it - you've
got to win it. Because
that's the only way
we're going to get in
the tournament."
Michigan went
on to beat North-
ern Michigan by a
narrow 2-1 margin,
with two power-play
goals coming from
junior forward Louie
Caporusso, who has
caught fire lately,
scoring 21 points in
his last 17 games.
Berenson said he
has never coached a
team that has over-

"We knew, even in the Miami
game, they probably had more
good chances to score before we
scored that first goal. Even though
we ended up scoring five goals, had
they scored on one or two of those
chances, it could've been a whole
different weekend."
Since March, and six wins later
over the conference's first-ranked,
second-ranked and fourth-ranked
teams, the Wolverines now find
themselves in the NCAA Tourna-
ment. The first round matchup
against Bemidji State this Saturday
has Michigan pitted against a team
that made the Frozen Four last sea-
son.
But the Wolverines have been
to hell and back. After starting the
season 10-10, Michigan scratched

and clawed its way into the NCAA
tournament.
The Wolverines' last six wins
have displayed a new team that has
seemingly reached the potential
that Berenson said he and his staff
have expected all along. But Michi-
gan has thrived throughout the
CCHA playoffs masquerading as the
underdog.
"I think it's a good role," Beren-
son said. "I've always liked to be the
underdog, as a player and a coach.
I think our team wear that mantle
well when we're in that role. I think
playing good teams brings wthe
best out of our team. Especially once
we get out team playing. And I think
they're playing now. They're play-
ing hard, they're playing together,
they're playing the rightway."

-I le
ARELdOB FDily
Michigan coach Red Berenson was a part of the'68 St. Louis Blues who lost in the Stanley Cup Finals.

come more adverst

"We wanted Miami," Berenson
said. "I'llbe honest,Iwanted Miami.
I think our team wanted Miami. Not
because we were over-confident.
We didn't want to be relieved that
Miami wasn't there and now we get
to play a lesser team. We were ready
for Miami and you saw it on the ice.
Our team played with a level of des-
peration, but I thought we elevated

our overall game, offensively, defen-
sively."
The Wolverines defeated the
RedHawks 5-2 on Friday night.
Berenson, then gathered his team
Saturday morning to talk about the
NCAA tournament for the first time
all year. And his message was short
and simple.
"We came here to be in this

than this year's team.
And he knows what these kind of
situations feel like; he has been in
desperate situations before.
"I remember the attitude,"
Berenson said. "I think the team
talk is important. How our team
talks about our game and the other
team and so on. The focus is impor-
tant. You've got to be resilient. The
game is not goingto be perfect.

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early into the season. Berenson led
the team in goals (22) and points (51)
that season, even though he only
played in 55 of St. Louis's 74 games.
In the playoffs, the Blues came
alive, and thrived - especially in
clutch situations. St. Louis defeated
the No. 1 seeded Philadelphia Fly-
ers in seven games, winning the
seventh game in Philadelphia 3-1.
Berenson scored the empty-net goal
that sealed the game.
In the second round, the Blues
won the series in another game
seven against the Minnesota North
Stars. The No. 1 seed in the East,
the Montreal Canadiens, eventually
swept St. Louis in the Stanley Cup
finals.
The Michigan hockey team's
run in the CCHA tournament over
the past three weeks has its coach
thinking of that playoff run Beren-
son's Blues made in '68.
"That's a long time ago," Beren-
son said with a laugh. "But it's the
same. I've been through it as a
player. I know what our players are
going through. And I think they're
in sync with it, fine with it. We're
not walking around with the weight
of the world on our shoulders.
"But we know when we step on
the ice, 'Hey, this is big time.''I think
it takes less at this time of year to
get ready to play, because you know.
You've been through it, and now
here you are."
The Wolverines entered the
CCHA tournament as the No. 7
seed, and though they hosted a first-
round series against Lake Superior
State, Michigan had to do most of
its heavy lifting on the road. And
winning the conference tourna-
ment was the team's only path to
the NCAA Tournament for a record
20th consecutive time.
And to do so, the Wolverines
embraced the role of underdog,
which seemed bizarre for a team
that has been in the tournament
for 19 straight years. They're a team
that is used to answering questions
in February about the Frozen Four,
rather than whether they can make
a run to close out the season.
On Feb. 25, junior goaltender
Bryan Hogan got hurt during a
game with a groin injury, then a
week later, senior captain defense-
man Chris Summers went down
with a lower body injury and Michi-
gan was left to fight for its season
and pick up the pieces - just like
how Berenson and St. Louis fought
its way through the playoffs in 1968
winning two game sevens on its way
to the championship series.
The road wins over Michigan
State in East Lansing sent Michigan
to Joe Louis Arena for the CCHA
Championship weekend, starting
with a semifinal date with Miami
(Ohio). And Berenson's competitive
drive wouldn't have had it any other
way.
WISH YOU WERE
IN FORT WAYNE,
IND. FOR HOCKEY
THIS WEEKEND?
MAYBE YOU
SHOULD WRITE FOR
DAILY SPORTS.

E-MAIL RYAN KARTJE AT
RKARTJE@UMICH.EDU

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