ALBANY, N.Y. Scott Clemmensen didn”t have too much to say about it. But it was pretty clear that it was on his mind.
After all, it was on everyone else”s mind.
Midway through the second period, with the Wolverines down 2-0 and Boston College dominating the game in every way possible, Michigan senior Josh Langfeld got the puck about five feet from the net and fired an absolute bullet toward the net.
Somehow, and replay didn”t provide any means of understanding how the hell it happened, Clemmensen kept the puck out and kept his shutout alive.
He”d later lose the shutout, but he”d gain something far more important.
Clemmensen downplayed it anyone with a mind for sportsmanship would have but it”s not remotely possible that the goalie will ever see a tape from this game and not think 1998 at that moment.
In many ways, the entire game was a throwback to the championship matchup in “98 between Michigan and Boston College. What would have made the two line up perfectly would have been Mark Kosick and Langfeld leading the way for the Wolverines, and Scott Clemmensen playing a great game, but just not good enough in the crunch.
Kosick and Langfeld did their best, but couldn”t get the Eagles” goalie to join in on the fun.
They attacked him. Together, they accounted for nine of Michigan”s 33 shots on the night. They”d been performing brilliantly so far in the playoffs, and all signs were indicating that they were going to be involved again last night.
But Clemmensen kept the door closed.
“I want to make every save,” Clemmensen said after the game. “I don”t care who shot the puck.”
Apparently, he no longer thinks about the fact that Kosick”s two goals and Langfeld”s overtime winner brought the Wolverines to the top of the mountain and left him fighting back through the years with three more Frozen Four berths and two more championship game appearances.
Scott, I applaud your humility. But I don”t believe you.
I don”t believe that when you stopped a Kosick breakaway with 1:30 left in the game you didn”t think about the ghosts that you were exorcising.
I don”t believe that when your team scored two early goals you weren”t thanking god and everything holy that the post stayed out of the way this time. After all, you guys really were only a few inches away from winning that game on two occasions.
But hey, a save is a save, right?
Maybe so. Maybe it doesn”t matter who shoots, from where or in what game.
But I won”t buy that the final result wasn”t redemption.
“That was a long time ago,” Clemmensen said. “This is a whole new season.”
Did Bill Buckner take the field in 1987 and say that the grounder through his legs in the “86 World Series was out of his mind? Has Greg Norman gotten over choking at The Masters in 1996?
I doubt it.
It might not hound them every minute of every day, but they certainly think about it.
And they certainly dream of a chance to redeem themselves.
They dream of another Mookie Wilson dribbler to field cleanly or another chance at a final round in Augusta with a big lead to hold.
They dream about the chance to face what brought them down one more time.
And they dream that this time around, they take it down.
Clemmensen got that chance last night. He succeeded.
And if that”s not redemption, I don”t know what is.
Jon Schwartz can be reached at email@example.com