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March 24, 2014 - Image 12

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-03-24

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- March 24, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

A bitter, deserved result

S T. PAUL, Minn. -
the first overtime
Michigan hockey
Big Ten
Tournament
opener
against Penn
State was a
battle of skill
and stamina.
By the
second extra ALEJA
frame, it had ZUNIG
devolved
into a battle
of wills.
And then it was over
Zach Saar laced a wrist
goaltender Zach Nagelv
never saw it, and the
Wolverines
were
trudging
silently into Th
the locker
room. Ten on
minutes later,
they had to Wo
turn around
and face a d]
the media,
knowing full
well that,
barring a near-miracle,
Bennett would never pc
a Michigan uniform ag,
Neither would Luke Mc
Kevin Clare, or Derek I
or Adam Janecyk.
Then they loaded th
drove back to the hotel
bags that were suppose
be left untouched thatr
and made their way tor
plane that had tobe sui
from Michigan, becaus
Wolverines weren't pla
needing it until Saturds
The lights dimmed f
departure and the grou
disappeared. Then ther
silence.

By the hockey gods, or just simple
,the physics, something just didn't
team's favor Michigan this year, a
talented team that has sniffed
at greatness but never quite
achieved it.
Thursday, the puck caromed
across the crease, and then
Andrew Copp slapped it toward
the open net, where it took a
deflection off the inside of the
kNDRO post and onto the goal line.
:A There, it spun.
And spun.
And was kicked away.
This much is true: One more
inch and the Wolverines are
shot, in the NCAA Tournament.
voort Instead of hanging their heads
in desolation, the players mob
each other in
celebration of
accomplishing
ey'll say that a season-long
goal. One
le more inch more inch
and Michigan
uld make this coach Red
Berenson
ifferent story. isn't sitting
at his press
conference
with a distant

PATRICK BARRON/Daily
Junior forward Alex Guptill might forgo his final year of eligibility to go pro, and he could decide before next week,
13erenson returning

But ifa season comes down
to beating the Nittany Lions,
proud owners of three regular-
season Big Ten wins, something
is wrong no matter the result.
Yes, you can point to it and say
that the narrative would have
been different, but this year
has been a conglomeration of
inches, enough that the chasm
between Michigan and its
former glory seems miles wide.
The puck spun and spun and
didn't go in, and Berenson and
Bennett finally faced the reality
that has been threateningto
unfold since the Wolverines
first stagnated in December
and January. It's something
that may be surprising to the
players, but it's not to those
who have been watching them
since October.
The only opponent Michigan
could beat consistently was itself.
Fatigue sets in by the end
of a 60-minute hockey game.
That's Berenson's expectation
- If you're not tired after
three periods, you're doing
something wrong.
What was left, then, after
regulation and an added 32
minutes of overtime?
Exhaustion, and the memory
of a moment that had teased
them with the tantalizing allure
of the NCAA Tournament.
Just 1:05 after takeoff in
Minneapolis, wheels touch down
at Willow Run. It's dark, but on
the tarmac, another bus awaits.
This one wasn't supposed to be
there that night, either.
Speaking in hushed voices,
the team files on and the driver
begins the short drive back
into Ann Arbor. Thirty minutes
later, the day is mercifully over.
With that, their season
has come to a bitter, painful
conclusion.
Zdfiga can be reached
at azs@umich.edu and on
Twitter @the_zuniga

-Michigan coach
Berenson conter
retirement last season
missing the NCAA Tour
for the first time in 22 ye
-Sunday,
after it was NOTE
confirmed
his team would mi
tournament for a
consecutive year, ret
wasn't so much on hi:
Instead, Berenson co,
he'd return to the bench
2014-15 campaign.
'But another rocky
has Berenson contem
the future. With two ye
on his contract and h
birthday
Hooming Dec.
&,thelongtime
coach knows "J C
his days at 1
the helms dr-e
numbered.
"I'm getting
closer,"
Berenson said. "I can't
losing. I can't handle
anderachieving. That's t
disappointing part, ai
team definitely underact
.After sustaining nu
heart-wrenching losses
the final third of the year
more tantalizing than th
to, lowly Penn State -
familiar with college
lnows Michigan fell s
expectations. Berenso
that all starts with the c
staff.
But only so much bla
be placed on himself
assistants. More so, tu
laden hockey and an
offense shoulder much
shortcomings throughi
year.
Berenson is unquest
one of the great minds in
hockey, and he has bee
long time. What matters
program, and essentia
grsgram is that a brief

Red from two decades of national
mplated prominence isn't enough to
n after push the legendary coach away
nament from his passion.
ears. LEFTIES LEAVING:
Sunday, Berenson hinted at the
EBOOK possibility that junior forwards
Phil Di Giuseppe and Alex
ss the Guptill could bolt toward the
second National Hockey League this
irement spring. As two integral parts
s mind. of the Wolverines' offense, Di
nfirmed Giuseppe and Guptill combined
ifor the for 25 of the team's 107 goals
this season, and 49 of281 points.
season The Dallas Stars drafted
nplating Guptill in 2010, and the
tars left Carolina Hurricanes selected
is 75th Di Giuseppe in 2012. While
nothing is
certain,
Berenson
can't handle doesn't
suspect any
losin" other non-
s g seniors will
be leaving
the program
handle before next season.
a team Developments involving
he most players leaving early for the
nd this professional ranks don't
hieved." always come to fruition as they
merous probably should. Berenson said
during some NHL teams are up front
- none about their intentions involving
he three college players, while others
anyone might not be.
hockey "It's not done face to face; it's
hort of not done up front," Berenson
n said said. "It's done before the fact,
oaching and then I find out that (an NHL
team) has already made plans
me can for our players."
and his Still, this week should be
rnover- the time Berenson finds out
anemic about the future of Di Giuseppe
of the and Guptill. Last year, the
out the Wolverines lost defensemen
Jacob Trouba and Jon Merrill to
ionably the Winnipeg Jets and the New
college Jersey Devils, respectively.
n for a EDUCATION EMPHASIS:
for the When Luke Moffatt came
lly his into Berenson's office Sunday
f hiatus morning to discuss his future,

he told the senior forward not to
screw it up.
That is, don't screw up his
progress toward a degree from
the Business school, and follow
Berenson's path from 1962. That
spring, the Montreal Canadiens
signed Berenson after the
organization's general manager
drove him from Ann Arbor to
Boston on St. Patrick's Day.
After playing that same day,
Berenson told the team he had
to go back to Michigan to take
his finals. They looked at him
like he was crazy.
"I told the NHL team what
I was going to do," Berenson
said. "And that's 50 years ago,
when the NHL was the dream
of every kid and there were only
six teams. You felt like you had
died and gone to heaven if you
played in the NHL. You'd play
for nothing, but still, school was
importantto me, and it better be
important to you."
He expressed that he disliked
that Trouba and Merrill
"dropped the ball" on school
after last season. However,
Berenson says he's still in
contact with those, players in
hopes to iron out their progress
toward a degree.
Berenson said Moffatt is
the team's best student and
wanted to remind him hockey
shouldn't be what stands in the
way from academic success.
Moffatt will head to Cleveland
to play for the Colorado
Avalanche's AHL affiliate
before returning to Ann Arbor
to graduate in May.
Meanwhile, Berenson still
emphasizes graduating to the
rest of his seniors, including
Mac Bennett and Derek
DeBlois. Both players said
they'd be in contact with their
agents this week about their
future hockey careers.
Bennett is tied to the
Canadiens, while DeBlois is still
an undrafted free agent.

Mac
ut on
;ain.
offatt, or
DeBlois,
e bus,
to pack
d to
night,
meet a
mmoned
e the
ning on
ay.
or
nd
e was

look in his eyes, and Bennett
isn't standing with recorders
in his face answering questions
about what went wrong.
One more inch and the bags
are still unpacked and the plane
is still sitting at Willow Run
airport.
But one inch doesn't change
the identity of this Michigan
team.
A week ago, the Wolverines
embarrassed the top-ranked
Golden Gophers, 6-2. In
February, they completed
what was essentially a sweep
of Wisconsin. Thursday, they
couldn't beat the Nittany Lions
- the conference's worst team,
by a wide margin - on a neutral
site with everything on the line.
What gives? Is it talent?
Mentality? Luck? Some
combination of the three?
One more inch, and
Michigan is dancing neytweek.

They'll say that one more
inch would make this a
different story.
Whether it's puck luck, or

PATRICK BARRON/Daily
Senior defenseman Mac Bennett played his final game as a Wolverine in an upset loss to Penn State in St. Paul, Minn.

"

NCAA HOCKEY
From Page 1B
season all but ended. Denver,
which won the NCHC, took
the 15th PairWise slot from the
Wolverines with its automatic
bid.
"That game was more
important to North Dakota
than Western
Michigan,"
Berenson said.
"I can't blame "W e'r
them. We're in Y
our situation situatio
because of us."
The NCAA of
Tournament
nearly featured
three Big
Ten teams other than the
Wolverines. Saturday night,
Ohio State - a team Michigan
defeated three times this season
- took No. 4 Wisconsin to
overtime but fell short in the Big
Ten Tournament final, failing
to secure an automatic bid and
ensuring North Dakota would
slip in.
Michigan became the first
team out, a mocking conclusion

for a team that
tournament as
objective all season
"The goal was
Tournament and
reach that," Benne
better or worse th
I couldn't tell yo
reach our goal."
Before the ret
began, the captain
e in our
n because
us."
what the team w
tournament time
never a question of
It was simple enou
just win the next g
In the first r
Big Ten Tour
Thursday, the Wo
thoroughly in con
own destiny. The
one game, thist
last-seeded Penn;

placed the For 40 minutes, it looked as if
its biggest Michigan had forgotten that it
n long. sat on a bubble that would burst
to make the with a loss.
we didn't In overtime - 32 minutes of it
ett said. "Is it - the Wolverines remembered.
tan last year? Freshman goaltender Zach
u. We didn't Nagelvoort stood on the very
top of his head and stopped the
gular season last of his 63 shots, sophomore
hung a sign forward Andrew Copp shot
that read from his behind and came
simply: one inch away from an NCAA
"Win the Tournament-clinching goal.
next game." After 9o-plus minutes of play,
The early a team that preached week after
season week about winning one game
rhetoric in at a time, a team that needed
Michigan's only one more win, couldn't.
locker room Sunday, Berenson ,held a
revolved glass mug of black coffee as he
around answered questions about the
ould do come official end of the season, his
there was predictions for the next few
f making it in. weeks and the next year.
gh, anyway - He smiled when reporters
ame. asked if he would be back for
ound of the another season. The could've,
nament on would've, should've of the
iverines were weekend aside, he was certain
ntrol of their of one thing.
y had to win "Oh yeah, I'm back,"
time against Berenson said. "One year at a
State. time."

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