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February 11, 2013 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-02-11

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2B - Monday, February 11, 2013

Spor~s~o 3

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Where does the hockev teamcio from here?

SOUTH BEND - Red
Berenson's favorite cof-
fee mug, the clear one he
cradles each time he sits down
with reporters outside his office
on the second floor of Yost Ice
Arena, always offers him the
same, pleasant reminder. Black
font shadowed against black cof-
fee: Start every day with a smile.
Berenson may start every day
with a smile, but lately he hasn't
often ended the day with one.
He hasn't found much reason
to smile,
you see. The
73-year-old
head coach
is steering
a Michigan
hockey team
on a crash
course for
rock bot- STEPHEN J.
tom. Or NESBITT
maybe he's
not steering
anymore; maybe he's trying to
regain control of the wheel. It's
hard to tell.
Gazing across the ice at
Compton Family Ice Arena in
South Bend on Friday night
after the Wolverines dropped
a 7-4 contest to Notre Dame,
Berenson wasn't smiling He
wasn't the next night, either,
when Michigan lost again, 6-4
this time.
Despite four games remain-
ing on the schedule, the sweep
in South Bend secured Michi-
gan's first losing, sub-.500
regular season since 1986-87 -
Berenson's third season as head
coach.
This isn't to say Berenson's
program hasn't had pitfalls
before. They just haven't had
them this badly in the last quar-
ter-century. The Wolverines
have earned an NCAA Tourna-
ment berth for 22 consecutive
years - a NCAA-record streak
likely to be shattered this
spring.
Most of the players on Michi-
gan's roster weren't even alive
the last time the Wolverines
didn't make the tournament.
It's hard to fathom that type

4

A

I

PAUL SHERMAN/Daily
Senior forward Kevin Lynch is one of the alternate captains on a team struggling to find leadership.

a

of sustained success. It's even
harder to stomach this collapse.
Berenson has always prided
himself on fielding a roster
packed with two-way forwards
and shutdown defensemen. But
Michigan has allowed 109 goals
(3.63 goals allowed per game)
and has scored just 88 times
(2.93 goals per game).
The Wolverines are a paltry
minus-21 in goal differential.
They were a plus-43 just last
season, and they haven't been a
minus team since 1986-87.
It's hard to find the heart of
the problem. Michigan simply
looked outmatched at times in
South Bend.
It's easy to blame the defense.
Michigan has cycled through
three goaltenders and has had
a defense corps riddled with
injuries and penalties. Miami
(Ohio), the CCHA frontrunner,
has allowed less than half the
number of goals the Wolverines
have allowed.

It's easy to blame the offense.
The three returning 30-plus
point-getters from last season
- Alex Guptill, A.J. Treais and
Lee Moffie - won't come near
that same production, all sit-
ting at or below the 20-point
plateau.
And it's easy to critique these
athletes as we just sit back, but
if I may ... I blame the chemis-
try. I blame the accountability,
which is as important on the ice
as it is through the week.
It's hard to find the leader-
ship on this team. Sure, there
is someone wearing a 'C' and
a few wearing 'A's, but the
accountability that needs to
come from the top down isn't
there. There's no Luke Glenden-
ing outworking his man in the
corner. There's no Carl Hagelin
outracing everyone up the ice.
(It's no coincidence that Glen-
dening and Hagelin are the two
names guaranteed to bring the
rare smile to Berenson's face.)

Most everyone seems as cool
as the head coach behind the
bench.
I think there's no lack of
talent - NIL franchises hold
the rights of nearly half of the
players on the Michigan roster
- but there's alack of selfless-
ness. I think there are players
more concerned with the name
on the back of the jersey than
the 'M' on the front of it. I think
there's no sense of urgency. And
I think there is a flood of talent
ready to slip out of Ann Arbor
after the season, a few minds
already on to their next stage of
hockey career.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe
that's just me. Prove me wrong.
The simple fact I do know
is this: barring a miracle run
through the CCHA Tourna-
ment, Michigan won't find a
way into the NCAA Tourna-
ment this spring. The Wolver-
ines swept just one team all
season and they have won only

one of 11 true road games this
year, so a lengthy postseason
run seems highly unlikely -
though I'll stop short of saying
it's never gonna happen.
It's not impossible. It's darn
near impossible, but it's not.
quite.
There are some reassur-
ing signs yet, since half of this
roster has the experience of
seeing the mountaintop of col-
lege hockey. Less than two
years ago, these juniors and
seniors were staring blankly
at the white-washed walls of a
locker room inside Xcel Energy
Center in St. Paul, Minn. Their
tear-stained faces told the story
of an overtime game that just
happened to go the other way,
a finish that gave Minnesota-
Duluth the national champion-
ship. These players wiped away
their tears and promised they'd
be back.
Now, for many of them,
they've got one last chance. And

it's nothing like they imagined.
Berenson sat down in the
big, blue chair outside his office
a few weeks back and looked,
around at the reporters in the
room. Holding his favorite mug
in his right hand, he asked if
they were enjoying covering
this team.
They nodded, mostly. In
truth, though, it's been a hard
season to watch. It's been hard
to watch the greatest program
in the land plummet from
invincible to inferior.
How will this chapter close?
It's not written by those report-
ers. It's written by the 26 names
that line the Michigan roster,
the players that carry the pride
of a program and the legacy of
one legendary coach. This end-
ing, for better or worse, is on
them.
- Nesbitt can be reached
at stnesbit@umich.edu and on
Twitter: @stephenjnesbitt.

olverines swept
byightinglris

0

By MATT SLOVIN
ManagingEditor
SOUTH BEND - As they
have all season, the goals
against the Michigan hockey
team came
in droves MICHIGAN 4
Saturday NOTRE DAME 7
night.
And MICHIGAN 4
just like NOTRE DAME 6
the entire
year, the offense lacked the fire-
power to make up for the poor
defense and goaltending that
continue to plague the Wolver-
ines. They lost 6-4 to close a
weekend sweep during which
they were outscored 13-8.
"It was another tough week-
end," Michigan coach Red
Berenson said. "I don't know
what to tell you.
"I liked our team tonight; I
thought we hung in there. We
got behind too easily with the
goals against. They were just
not good enough goals to give
up, but the team hung in there
and stayed in the game."
The opening half of Satur-
day's first period was marred
by missed opportunities on the
power play for both teams.
First, with Michigan on the
night's first power play, senior
forward Kevin Lynch skated
through the slot all alone, only
to be stoned by goalie Steve
Summerhays.
After Notre Dame took aturn
on the power play minutes later,
a Fighting Irish 2-on-1 ended in
a whiff on a wide-open net.
But Notre Dame would still
draw first blood at the 12:10
mark of the first period. For-
ward Jeff Costello lowered his
shoulder and drove through
the left circle, firing a shot that
trickled through Michigan

goalie Jared Rutledge's five-
hole. Rutledge started for the
fourth-straight game despite
allowing six goals Friday night
in the Wolverines' defeat.
The period ended with the
Wolverines shorthanded, and
sophomore forward Andrew
Sinelli failing to turn a bounc-
ing puck into an equalizer.
Notre Dame's power play
was given another chance in
the second period when Sinelli
was whistled for cross-check-
ing.
Thirty-eight seconds later, it
became a two-man advantage
for the Fighting Irish as junior
forward Derek DeBlois went off
for roughing.
The Michigan penalty kill
held its ground for nearly the
duration, but with about 20
seconds left on the last man
advantage, forward Anders
Lee scored his third goal of
the weekend after a fortu-
nate bounce to his stick in the
crease.
After killing off yet another
penalty, it was the Wolverine
power-play unit that had the
next opportunity as the two
teams spent much of the sec-
ond period away from even
strength. Sophomore forward
Alex Guptill cut the Notre
Dame lead in half by shooting
over " Summerhays' pad-side
shoulder.
But, just as they did Fri-
day night, the Fighting Irish
responded with two quick tal-
lies. Lee chased down a loose
puck before sailing it across the
crease to Bryan Rust, brother
of former Wolverine Matt Rust,
who finished past Rutledge.
One minute and 37 seconds
later, Peter Schneider connect-
ed on a pass from behind the
goal line to extend the lead to

three goals.
With the- middle frame
winding down, Lynch was
turned away by Summerhays,
but sophomore forward Phil
Di Giuseppe caught up to the
rebound before the goalie could
respond, and Michigan entered
the second intermission trail-
ing 4-2.
Notre Dame added two more
in a quick span to start the third
period, as well. Just 47 seconds
into the frame, Austin Wuth-
rich extended it to a 5-2 Fight-
ing Irish lead.
Junior goalie Adam Jane-
cyk came in for mop-up work.
only to surrender another goal
almost instantly.
The Wolverines got one back
on the power play as Kevin
Lynch scored his sixth of the
season despite some contact to
Summerhays. After a lengthy
video review, the goal was
called clean..
With three minutes remain-
ing in the game, junior defen-
seman Mac Bennett, playing
in his first weekend back from
injury, drove straight from cen-
ter ice to the, slot and sniped
one to make it a two-goal game.
That would beas close as Mich-
igan would come, though.
"I think physically, I feel 100
percent," Bennett said. "I think
mentally, Iam not there yet. It's
tough when you have a month
off and then you jump back in,
especially when you are playing
a team like Notre Dame. Physi-
cally I am fine, but it is going to
take a game or two to get my
head back to where it was."
The 13 combined goals the
Wolverines gave up were the
most they've allowed in a week-
end all year - the previous high
for a series was nine against
Alaska.

Sophomore forward Phil Di Giuseppe showed his inexperience, registering only one
'M'no match for top

By LIZ VUKELICH
Daily Sports Editor
SOUTH BEND - The Michi-
gan hockey team appeared over-
whelmed by its series against
Notre Dame, as evidenced by the
Fighting Irish's effortless sweep
over the Wolverines 'this week-
end.
But Michigan seemed even
more taken aback by the Notre
Dame trio of juniors Anders Lee,
Jeff Costello and Bryan Rust, who
ran circles around the Wolverines
en route to 16 combined points
over the weekend.
"We don't have one line that
can outplay that line, but we've
got three lines that can play with
them," said Michigan coach Red
Berenson. "They've got a good
line, they've got a good team and
that's why they're way ahead of
us."
Ifthere were any Fighting Irish
players that Michigan desperately
needed to shut down in order to
have any real chance in the game,
it was that line. Both Friday and
Saturday night played out in simi-
lar ways - the Wolverines were
barely keeping themselves alive,
but quickgoals fromLee, Costello
and.Rust's line put the final nail in
Michigan's coffin.
On Friday, freshman forward
Andrew Copp's shorthanded goal
knotted the game at three in the
final four minutes of the second

period, giving Michigan some
hope that it could keep up with
Notre Dame's quick pace. Enter
Lee who, about 40 seconds later,
easily beat freshman goaltender
Jared Rutledge on aone-timer.
The Fighting Irish would go
on to score three more times in
the course of that game, but Lee's
momentum-busting goal -- off
the power play no less - was all
Notre Dame needed to pull ahead
of the Wolverines and never look
back.
Flash forward to Saturday. The
Wolverines were down, 2-1, mid-
way through the second period,
but overcoming a one-goal deficit
still seemed like afeasible mission
at that point.
Sophomore forward Alex Gup-
till had just scored on the power
play, and with the game getting
increasingly chippy, it looked like
Michigan would have a lot more
opportunities for its man advan-
tage to capitalize.
But Rust's tap in from the bot-
tom of the circle paved the way
for another Notre Dame goal less
than two minutes later, and the
Fighting Irish tendency to score
in bunches never put the Wolver-
ines close enough to effectively
play catch up.
"We needed to match their
physicality," said junior defense-
man Mac Bennett. "There are
a lot of big guys over there and
unfortunately, I don't think we

PAUL SHEMAN /Daily
point over the weekend.
'NDline
could match (that). They won a
lot more battles than we did, they
were tougher on pucks and we
couldn't match that."
Consistency on the forward
corps has been a big question
mark for the Wolverines, but in
the past few weeks, they finally
seem to have found some in the
form of their underclassmen.
Berenson admitted that some
players, like freshman Boo Nieves
and sophomore Phil Di Giuseppe,
were still too young to fully hold
their own against the Fighting
Irish's experienced trio.
Even the Wolverines' upper-
classmen couldn't do enough to
hold their own in front of the
Fighting Irish. Berenson contin-
ued to tinker with senior forward
A.J. Treais' line in order to find
a spark for his captain, but after
Treais' -3 plus-minus rating on
the weekend, the coach implied
he's going to continue to mix and
match players to ignite Treais'
game.
Despite the shortcomings,
Berenson still believes Michigan
had the potential to keep up with
Lee, Costello and Rust.
"They're a good line, but our
players are good too," Berenson
said. "They play against good
players every weekend. (Notre
Dame was) opportunistic and
they made their chances count
and had a good weekend. We
didn't."

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