BY JAKE ROSENWASSER
Daily Sports Writer
Published February 4, 2005
When Michigan and archrival Michigan State meet this weekend, it will be the second straight time that Michigan will be playing its intrastate opponent shorthanded.
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Last time the two teams met — on Dec. 30 in the Great Lakes Invitational final — Michigan was without five players, who were representing the United States in the World Junior Championships.
This time, the No. 5 Wolverines (17-3-0 CCHA, 20-7-1 overall) will be shorthanded because of illness and injury. Michigan will take the ice for a two-game series against the Spartans (8-9-1, 13-11-2) without regulars Mike Brown and David Rohlfs — who are sidelined indefinitely due to mononucleosis. The Wolverines will also be without senior forward Jason Ryznar, who broke his finger in last Saturday’s win against Northern Michigan. Seniors Charlie Henderson, Michael Woodford and Reilly Olson will play in their place.
“I don’t think you really need a full lineup,” sophomore defenseman Matt Hunwick said. “It’s all about determination, playing hard and just having that will to compete.”
These games will be the teams’ fourth and fifth meetings between the intrastate rivals this season. In November, Michigan swept the Spartans in a home-in-home series. The Wolverines beat the Spartans 4-2 at Munn Ice Arena and 5-4 at home in Yost Ice Arena.
But the Spartans got their revenge in the GLI, with a 2-1 overtime win in the final.
Ryznar’s injury may have come at the worst possible time. In his three years at Michigan, Ryznar has been most successful against the Spartans. In Ryznar’s first ever game for Michigan — the Cold War at Michigan State’s Spartan Stadium in 2001 — Ryznar tallied a goal and two assists. This season, Ryznar— who is known as a defensive forward — tallied two assists in Michigan’s November sweep over the Spartans.
Today’s game will be played at Yost and tomorrow’s game will be in Detroit at Joe Louis Arena. The annual Joe Louis game between the two teams has become a fun game to attend because of the large, divided crowd and because of the inevitable importance in the CCHA race for one or both teams.
“It has been a big crowd game,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “And it always seems to be a meaningful game too. It’s a crunch-time game for both teams.”
Its importance to the Wolverines is obvious. With a split against Northern Michigan last weekend and with Ohio State’s sweep of Western Michigan, Michigan’s lead in the CCHA dwindled to three points.
Michigan State is hovering in the middle of conference standings and is playing for home-ice advantage in the first round of the CCHA tournament.
“The rivalry is always gonna be there,” Hunwick said. “No matter if they’re in first and we’re in last or the opposite. It’s still going to be an intense weekend.”
C-YA News: Last night, executive Associate Athletic Director Michael Stevenson met, for the second time, with student season-ticket holders to discuss the controversy surrounding the C-YA cheer. Stevenson made clear that he wants to eradicate a few of the words he finds inappropriate and not the entire cheer. About 50 student season-ticket holders out of more than 1,000 came to discuss the issue over pizza. The athletic department also announced the creation of a contest for a 2005 Michigan hockey T-shirt contest. The contest would be similar to Michigan football’s. The athletic department hopes to put the words to a new, revised C-YA cheer on the back of the T-shirt. The athletic department also rewarded those who came to the meeting by giving them a tour of the Michigan hockey locker room.