After the Super Bowl-like atmosphere that surrounded this weekend”s record-setting outdoor game against Michigan State, the Michigan hockey team will return to action tonight in an exhibition game against the U.S. National Under-18 Development Team.
Last year, three recruits entered Yost as members of that team, but this season Eric Nystrom, Jason Ryznar and Dwight Helminen will skate for the home crowd.
“It”ll be good to play against my rival team,” Ryznar said. “I remember last year. We gave it all we had. It”s going to be a big game for them”
Although Michigan does have several potential recruits on this year”s Under-18 Team, none of the them have received any official offers from the Wolverines.
“We recruit from this program, but I can”t tell you that we have had a big advantage,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “Did coming here play a role in getting those players to come here? I hope it did.”
But make no mistake, these high schoolers will not just roll over for Michigan. This is one of the biggest games of their season. Last year the Under-18 Team defeated Michigan State an eventual Frozen Four team 6-4.
“They thought they were going to walk all over us,” Ryznar said. “But we surprised them. Winning that game was like winning the Stanley Cup.”
Banged up: Despite a strong showing this weekend, junior forward Mike Cammalleri did not skate yesterday and is expected to sit out the exhibition game to nurse his hip flexor injury.
But he will not be alone. He will be joined on the bench by Jay Vancik, Mike Roemensky, Mark Mink, Michael Woodford and Andy Burnes.
Woodford is the only player who Berenson doesn”t expect to have for the weekend games in Omaha.
Senior goaltender Kevin O”Malley will get a rare start tonight for Michigan, giving goalie Josh Blackburn a valuable rest.
Delayed score: A scoring change credited Ryznar with an additional assist in the game against Michigan State this weekend, bringing his total to three points on a goal and two assists.
The puck that Ryznar sent past the Spartans” goalie, Ryan Miller, has been sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada. He was given another one to take home.
Sent down: The NHL season began just a few days ago, and 15 former Wolverines can be counted on pro rosters. But one big name is missing: Andy Hilbert.
Hilbert left Michigan last year after a stellar sophomore campaign, in which he led the Wolverines in points and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.
After he had been assured that he was penciled into the team”s lineup, Hilbert signed with the Boston Bruins this summer. Last week, the Bruins sent him down to their minor league affiliate in Providence.
“I was reluctant to accept (that his spot was secure) when I first heard it,” Berenson said. “It isn”t necessarily true. They have had him penciled in, but this is the difference between pen and pencil. You can erase a pencil, and that is obviously what happened.”