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Caporusso calls Joe Louis Arena 'home'

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BY MARK BURNS
Daily Sports Editor
Published March 16, 2011

Louie Caporusso hails from Woodbridge, Ont., but for the past three-plus years, he’s called Michigan and Yost Ice Arena his second home.

But could an argument be made for a definitive third home for Caporusso?

In 18-career games, the former Hobey Baker has tallied 18 points at this venue.

Here’s another hint: It’s about 45 minutes away from Ann Arbor, at a place where Steve Yzerman’s presence still lingers after retiring in 2007. Some Wolverine fans even call it ‘Yost East’ because of the large contingent of maize and blue that drowns out any opposing colors.

Haven't guessed yet?

“Every player has a special place to play, and Joe Louis Arena is that place for me,” Caporusso said after practice Wednesday.

This Friday night at Joe Louis, Caporusso will finally trade in his suit and tie — the dress he’s been accustomed to wearing since suffering a lower-body injury at Northern Michigan on Feb. 25 — for some skates and a block ‘M’.

“There was a question mark as to how many weeks it would be,” he said Monday. “That was probably the most devastating thing to hear, that I was uncertain if I would play again at Michigan.

“But I’m so fortunate to be able to play again. You really do take this place for granted. I learned that watching the games this weekend, how much I take this for granted and how privileged and honored I am to be playing here.”

Caporusso's original diagnosis was that he would be out of commission anywhere from three-to-six weeks, which meant there was a slight possibility that he’d never wear the Michigan sweater again.

Or he could return for Michigan’s biggest games near the end of season.

But the recovery process has gone as planned and, barring any unforeseen circumstances, he’ll play in Friday’s CCHA semifinal contest against Western Michigan.

“It’s always so exciting to get back on the ice, even though you know it’s going to be uncomfortable,” Caporusso said. “Just to be back out here with the boys, having a good time, working hard — there’s nothing better.”

Last Saturday, Caporusso skated for the first time since going down in a heap against the Wildcats. He put himself through a “warm-up” skate in an attempt to slowly get back into skating mode, handling the puck here and there, not exerting too much energy on the ice.

The next day, Caporusso conducted the exact opposite — a “cardio type of skate” in order to see how far he had come in 17 days. Against the Broncos on Friday, it’ll be exactly three weeks since sustaining his injury, and what better way for Caporusso to return to the lineup than in an environment where he’s garnered so much success.

“You hope for the best,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said of Caporusso's potential impact this weekend. “I mean, you hope to see a player that can make the difference in a game, or make a great play, or score a big goal because that’s his history. He’s got that in him.”

In his most recent visit to Joe Louis in late January, he collected Michigan’s lone goal in a 2-1 loss to intrastate rival, Michigan State.

And during last year’s CCHA Tournament final game against Northern Michigan — a game the Wolverines needed to win in order to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the 20th straight season — Caporusso tallied both Michigan goals in its 2-1 victory over the Wildcats.

Is there something special about ‘Yost East’ that brings out the best in Caporusso?

One could say that.

“I never thought I’d be playing there so much,” Caporusso said of the arena. “To get a chance to play at the Joe again with the Michigan block ‘M’ on my sweater is just going to be an unbelievable experience.”