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February 14, 2014 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-02-14

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, February 14, 2014 -- 7

PAUL SHERMAN/Day
Junior forward Alex Guptill will miss the Michigan hockey team's series against Minnesota with an upper-body injury
'M' enters defining series

After historic victories,
Crisler Center beckons

Wolverines prepare
for crucial home
contests against
Wisconsin, MSU
By NEAL ROTHSCHILD
Daily Sports Editor

place. TI
with Mic
spot, 2.5
and the b
schedule
"It is p
this con
"but wes
with son
coming u
Michi1

By ALEJANDRO ZUNIGA
Daily Sports Editor
When Mac Bennett walked
into media availability Tuesday
afternoon, he
looked around
the room at the Michigan at
pool of reporters Minnesota
and made a
request. Matchup:
"Don't ask Minnesota
me about Penn 19-4-5;
State," the senior Michigan
14-7-3
defenseman said.
The Michigan When: Friday
hocke team 9 P.M. EST
hockey team Saturday B
suffered anupset P.M. EST
at the hands Where:
of the Nittany Mariucci
Lions last Arena
weekend, butT
it has had little BTN (Fri.),
time to dwell on
the loss. Instead,
the Wolverines
have been busy preparing for
their visit to Minneapolis for a
crucial two-game series against
No.2 Minnesota.
The Golden Gophers (8-2-
2 Big'Ten, 19-4-5 overall), one
of the nation's top teams, only

recently relinquished their
stranglehold on the conference.
Two losses at Wisconsin helped
keep Michigan within six
points of Minnesota, opening
up a three-team battle with the
Badgers for the two invaluable
byes in the Big Ten Tournament.
"We need to make sure we get
up for this game," Bennett said.
"They're going to be ready for us."
But as much as Bennett and
Michigan (6-3-1, 14-7-3) would
like to forget about Penn State,
Alex Guptill's body won't let
him. Though the forward skated
Wednesday after suffering an
upper-body injury against the
Nittany Lions, Michigan coach
Red Berenson confirmed that
the junior won't make the trip.
Berenson plans to replace
Guptillby moving junior forward
Phil Di Giuseppe to the top line
alongside freshman JT Compher
and senior Derek DeBlois.,
Guptill's scoring prowess
will be missed against the
Gophers, which rank second
nationally in team defense,
averaging 1.96 goals against.
Much of that is thanks to
netminder Adam Wilcox, who

is following a record-setting
freshman campaign with an
equally stellar sophomore one.
In 27 games this season, he
boasts a .930 save percentage
and three shutouts.
After surrendering seven
goals in two games to Penn
State, Michigan's defensive unit
will have its hands full with the
Gophers, which rank seventh in
the nation in scoring offense.
And focusing on neutralizing
only one forward won't shut
down the prolific attack. Seven
Minnesota players have found
twine at least eight times, led by
Seth Ambroz's 12 tallies.
"They're an explosive team,"
Berenson said. "All three of their
forward lines are about equal."
Both Minnesota and
Michigan, college hockey's
winningest programs, posted
disappointing results last
weekend, but a split or sweep
would put the Wolverines in a
good position for the remainder
of the Big Ten season.
And when the final horn
sounds Saturday night, it'll
mark the end of a series one
team won't want to forget.

With its firstwin in Columbus attention
in 11 years on Tuesday, the their hot
Michigan men's basketball team weeks, hi
guaranteed itself a winning on Suno
record on the road for the Big ranked S
Ten season. The last time that week. TI
happened was 1994. a long w
In fact, if the Wolverines conferen
(10-2 Big Ten, 18-6 overall) are The s
able to knock off conference Beilein, v
bottom feeders Purdue and to beat at
Illinois over
the next few
weeks, it will 1
be the team's "Jeez, we bet
best Big Ten
record on the have made it
road since t o
1985. The the Final Foi
following last
season, 1986, y a
was the last
time Michigan
seized
an outright conference didn't cot
championship, and this year's Even th
team has put itself in a position Michigan
to be the next. the five I
"This is unusual in this league teams rat
right now to have the road wins Since
that have been coming around," Columbu
said Michigan coach John morning
Beilein. "It gives these kids a for twov
great deal of confidence." the prev
After learning from early- the Wolv
season road losses to Iowa five diffe
State and Duke, Michigan has In ad
negotiated the remaining portion home,
of its road schedule with startling benefit fi
aplomb. And after beating four da
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan (7-5, 20-;
State and Ohio State, it has most tic
emerged from the jungle in first have ha

he Wolverines are tied
higan State for the top
games ahead of Iowa,
iggest games left on the
are at Crisler Center.
great to be at the top of
ference," Beilein said,
still got six games to go
me really tough games
up."
gan will turn its
toward protecting
me court the next two
osting No. 21 Wisconsin
day and the ninth-
Spartans the following
he two games will go
vay in determining the
ce champion.
etup has to appeal to
who has been very tough
t Crisler in recent years.
Michigan's
lone blemish
in Ann Arbor
ter this year
was a final-
to possession loss
to then-No. 1
and unbeaten
Arizona. The
previous two
seasons, the
first home loss
of the season
me until the home finale.
e year before, when
lost 10 Big Ten games,
home losses all came to
nked in the top 15.
returning home from
is early Wednesday
, Michigan will stay put
weeks - a far cry from
ious two weeks when
'erines played games in
rent cities.
[dition to playing at
Michigan will also
rom extended rest. The
ys before the Badgers
5) come to town are the
me off the Wolverines
d since January, and

the week-long break before the
Michigan State game will give
Beilein's squad its most rest
since December.
When the Wolverines last
played Wisconsin, their win in
the Kohl Center was their first
there this millennium, and the
Badgers were ranked No. 3 at the
time, perched atop the Big Ten.
Since then, the teams have
followed opposite trajectories.
Michigan has won five of
its last seven to stay at the
top of the conference, while
Wisconsin 'coach Bo Ryan's
team has sunk back into the
middle of the pack.
However, after losing five
of six games during a stretch
in January, the Badgers have
found their rhythm again. They
knocked off Michigan State last
week before bringing down
Minnesota Thursday night.
A win on Sunday would
mark Michigan's first sweep
of Wisconsin since 1999, and
it would set up a game the
following week that could very
well decide the Big Ten regular-
season champion.
For a coach who is surprised
by very little, that fact is enough
to bring wonder to Beilein.
"It's great to be in this,"
Beilein said. "I don't know if
we expected this this year just
because we're watching these
two kids (Trey Burke and Tim
Hardaway Jr.) play in the NBA
right now, and they're doing
really well. And I'm saying,
'Jeez, we better have made it to
the Final Four last year - those
were really two good players.'
"When you have that drop
off, we didn't know where it
was going to come from, and
especially our defense. Where
it hasn't been where it needs to
be, it's getting better. And then
we've got some kids that hae
been able tostep up."
Michigan
Illinois State, and senior Lyndsay
Doyle matched that on her own.
In the circle, Hutchins
will rotate between Betsa,
Driesenga and junior left-
handed pitcher Haylie Wagner,
matching their strengths with
their opponent's weaknesses
and doling out innings to suit
the pitchers' needs.
"I tell my pitchers, 'You're on
the team. You need to be ready
to pitch,"' Hutchins said.
Michigan's other games will
come against Boston College,
a team it beat 14-2 last season,
and, for the first time in school
history, Central Arkansas.
But behind the Wolverines'
balance of veteran composure
and youthful energy, the
introduction is shaping up as
one that the Bears might want
to forget.

SOCH I 2014
Alumni in Sochi Underclassmen bring depth for

On Sunday, Michigan alumni
Meryl Davis and Charlie White
added another tally to the United
States' medal count at the Winter
Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The two-time world champion
ice dancers brought home the
bronze medal in record-breaking'
fashion, making it the pair's
second Olympic medal.
The road to bronze started
Saturday, when the U.S. Figure
Skating team sat in seventh place,
about to miss the final cut. But
Davis and White's short dance
performance earned a score of
75.98, putting the United States
in the final five on Sunday. The
duo also beat defending Canadian
gold medalists and training
friends Tessa Virtue and Scott
Moir, who trailed by three points.
Davis and White jumped to
first on the scoreboard with their
best international mark, 114.34,
to earn the bronze medal with 60
total points. Russia claimed gold
(75), its first of the 2014 Games,
and Canada (65) settled for silver
despite the second-place finish for
Virtue and Moir.
By Brad Whipple,
Daily Sports Writer

Max Pacioretty, who played
for the Michigan hockey team
in 2007-08, showed no signs of
physical damage throughout the
entirety of his ice time Thursday.
He recorded an assist and ateam-
leading four shots in the United
States' 7-1 rout of Slovakia.
Outside of the American team,
Brian Lebler of Austria was
put to the test Thursday night,
playing on a line with two NHL
players - Michael Grabner of the
New York Islanders and Michael
Raffl of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Lebler, who played under
Michigan coach Red Berenson as
recently as the 2009-10 season,
recorded two assists and two
shots on goal in Austria's 8-4 loss
at the hands of Finland.
He and Team Austria will go
against defending gold medalist
Canada on Friday.
Carl Hagelin, the former
Wolverines' captain and 2011
graduate, failed to show up on
the scoresheet in Team Sweden's
4-2 win over the Czech Republic,
though he recorded two shots on
goal and 12:25 of ice time.
By David Malinowski,
For the Daily

By MAX BULTMAN
Daily Sports Writer
After an appearance in the
Women's College World Series
last season, it shouldn't come
as much of a surprise that
Michigan's softball team has
plenty of veteran leadership.
What is eye catching,

though, is how
productive the
Wolverines'
underclassmen
were in their
season-opening
tournament at
South Florida.
Second
baseman Abby
Ramirez was
named the Big
Ten Freshman
of the Week

Michigan at
Ragin Cajun
Invitational
Matchup:
Michigan 3-1
When: Friday
to Sunday
Where:
Lafayette, La.

filling gaps left by departed
seniors, either - they're
steppingup into important roles.
Left fielder Kelly Christner
pushed hard for playing time
in the preseason and was
ultimately rewarded by starting
the opener against Florida over
returning sophomore outfielder
Sierra Lawrence.
So when Michigan (3-1)
travels to Lafayette, La. for
a five-game invitational this
weekend, it will do so knowing it
has the depth and poise needed
to win games, regardless of
which players have experience.
"The game doesn't know if
you're a freshman or a senior,"
said Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins. "The game only
knows how you play it."
According to Hutchins and
Driesenga, the team is focusing
on playing elite softball.
The Wolverines will open
this weekend's tournament
against Memphis (1-3) on
Friday, a game in which they
will be heavily favored. The
Tigers have mustered just eight
runs in four games while giving
up 17, including nine in a mercy-
rule loss to Troy.
But after thatgame, Michigan
can expect a serious challenge
from No. 20 Louisiana-

Lafayette. The Wolverines
ousted the Ragin' Cajuns (2-2-
1) in last year's Super Regional,
but junior right-handed pitcher
Sara Driesenga insists there
won't be any bad blood - at
least from her dugout.
"I think it's a pretty clean
slate," Driesenga said, smirking.
"We did what we had to do."
According to Hutchins and
Driesenga, the team is focusing
less on what to expect from its
opponents this weekend and
more on playing the type of
softball it knows it can play.
The Wolverines scored seven
runs against Illinois State in
the first half of last Sunday's
doubleheader before crushing
Bethune-Cookman, 12-1, to end
their tournament.
Ramirez and Romero
combined for five hits against

after batting .583 and scoring
six runs in four games this
past weekend, and freshman
right-handed pitcher Megan
Betsa led the sixth-ranked
Wolverines in innings pitched
(10) and strikeouts (13) in her
first tournament. Another
underclassman, sophomore
shortstop Sierra Romero, had
a grand slam and nine runs
batted in.
The freshmen aren't just

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