“Down goes Frazier!”
Essentially, the only thing that the Michigan-Ferris State hockey series in mid-November was missing was a ring announcer. Without one, the games lacked the last element that would have given them true title-fight atmosphere.
In the home-and-home series, in which the home team won each game, the two teams combined for 198 penalty minutes, about 120 more than an average weekend set in the CCHA. Each game was decimated by a brawl and eight players were suspended.
“There is some bad blood between these two teams,” said Michigan sophomore Mike Cammalleri, one of Michigan”s three players named to the CCHA All-Conference first team. “We don”t want to let emotions get the best of us, but at the same time, we want to bring that emotion out and battle all night long.”
Exactly what kind of battle is the question on a lot of people”s minds as the two teams will face off in the first round of the CCHA playoffs tonight at Yost Ice Arena.
In a playoff setting, with the winner”s season continuing through the CCHA Tournament at Joe Louis Arena next weekend, neither team can afford suspensions, making a good argument for a tamer series on the horizon one remembered for dominating right wings as opposed to blistering right hooks.
“It was so long ago,” Michigan associate head coach Mel Pearson said, referring to his hope that this series will bare little resemblance to the season”s first. “I think if it was just recently it would be a little bit more of a problem. But it”s such a long time ago and I think (the Bulldogs) understand that they can”t be doing that either.”
As the No. 3 seed in the conference its worst seeding in more than a decade Michigan has a lot more to lose this weekend than the eighth-seeded Bulldogs. The Wolverines stand to end a season that has been disappointing at best, but still has them in position to make the NCAA Tournament. And despite the underachievement, few people have ruled Michigan out of the title chase.
“They don”t have any pressure on them,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “They finished in eighth place, they”re going to come in here and try to upset Michigan it”s as simple as that.”
The biggest factor in Michigan”s favor besides home-ice advantage is the probable return of senior Josh Langfeld. After injuring himself in the game against Michigan State Feb. 17, Langfeld has recovered quickly and practiced with the team this week. His return significantly improves Michigan”s offense.
“I think we have three solid lines now and a good fourth line that checks and plays hard,” Langfeld said. “I think we have all the intangibles to be a championship team, it”s just putting them all together.”
In the best-of-three series, Michigan is looking to act quickly. Finishing off the Bulldogs in two games could help exorcise some of the demons of inconsistency that plagued the Wolverines at the end of the regular season.
“It”s huge,” captain Geoff Koch said. “Who wants to play three games this weekend? We want to finish them off. During playoff time, it”s key to be rested and we want to finish them off just for our state of mind.”
Let the Games Begin: Bowling Green scored the game”s lone powerplay goal with less than 5:00 left in the third period, as the Falcons defeated Miami 4-3 at Goggin Ice Arena last night.
Greg Day had three assists for Bowling Green, the ninth seed in the tournament. In the game that started the CCHA”s playoff season.
Falcon goalie Tyler Masters saved 31 shots.