DETROIT As the Michigan hockey team was struggling to put the puck past Michigan State goalie Ryan Miller in a 3-1 loss on Saturday, the Wolverines probably had to fight the temptation to look up into the Joe Louis Arena stands at two players that no doubt could have helped.
Junior forward Mike Cammalleri still recovering from mono was sitting next to former Michigan standout Mike Comrie during the showdown. The 21-year old Comrie, who left Michigan after his sophomore season to play for the Edmonton Oilers, was in Detroit while the NHL takes a two-week break for the Olympics.
In his second and final season as a Wolverine in 1999-2000, Comrie led the team with 59 points, 25 more than the next highest scorer on the team. But Comrie”s mere presence wasn”t enough to get the Wolverines over the hump against a Michigan State team that now holds a 1-0-2 record against Michigan this year.
“It”s tough any time you lose to Michigan State when you”re a Wolverine,” Comrie said “But it was a good game, exciting for the fans. It was just unfortunate they didn”t get the win.”
As much as Cammalleri who hopes to return to play as early as next weekend against Ohio State might have enjoyed his ex-teammate Comrie”s company for a night, he didn”t enjoy missing his second game against Michigan State in just over a month.
“Watching is real hard, especially now that I feel better. You really want to be out there,” Cammalleri said. “It”s a nervous feeling when you watch. When you”re playing there”s more of an excitement.”
Comrie, who would be a senior at Michigan this year had he stayed in school, understood what Cammalleri was feeling.
“(Cammalleri) wanted to get out there, as did I,” Comrie said. “We could both be playing in this game.”
Constant struggle: Michigan defenseman Mike Roemensky continued to fight with his season-long inconsistency on Saturday night.
The junior defenseman was on the ice for Michigan State”s first goal 1:36 into the first period, and then was beaten by freshman Mike Lalonde to allow the Spartans” third goal.
Lalonde took a pass from Kevin Estrada and broke down the left side of the Michigan zone in a one-on-one situation with Roemensky.
Lalonde fought off Roemensky”s light checking attempt and managed to play the puck through the defenseman. The Michigan State forward then snapped a shot past Michigan goalie Josh Blackburn to give the Spartans an insurmountable 3-1 lead.
“He got beat one-on-one, and that”s one of the rules for defenseman. You can”t get beat one-on-one,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson of the play that led to the Spartans” third goal. “It”s as simple as that. It”s not like you”re playing Steve Yzerman these are good players but they”re players of our caliber, and you shouldn”t get beat one-on-one.”
Mason respect: Michigan State coach Ron Mason was honored with a plaque from Berenson before the game, and a video tribute in the second period. Mason, the winningest coach in college hockey history, will step down at the end of the year to become the school”s athletic director.