While the Michigan football team carries the most tradition of any team at the University, the Michigan ice hockey team is probably the University’s most exciting team. This comes as no surprise as this year’s icers reached the NCAA Frozen Four for the second consecutive year.
But while the Frozen Four was a great accomplishment, it is but one of the many memorable moments provided by this year’s team. In Michigan’s first regular season game of the year against Michigan State, the Wolverines played in front of the largest crowd ever to watch a hockey game. Held outdoors at Spartan Stadium, attendance at the “The Cold War” reached an amazing high at 74,554. While the Wolverines did not win the game, they showed great intensity in their 1-1 tie with the Spartans.
On the subject of the Spartans, Michigan students can thank this year’s hockey team for not succumbing to the same failure that football and basketball suffered against our northern rival. Although the Wolverines started the season with two ties and a loss, they achieved ultimate success by beating the Spartans in the CCHA Tournament championship game held at Joe Louis Arena. Led by the gritty play of senior goaltender Josh Blackburn and team captain Jed Ortmeyer, the Wolverines captured their first victory in over a year to the Spartans, 3-2.
In addition to capturing the CCHA Tournamnent Trophy, the Wolverines shocked many when they won the regular season crown in the final weekend of the season. Winning nine of their final 10 regular season games, the Wolverines edged out Michigan State for the title.
In a year in which the hockey team did everything but win a national championship, several Wolverines on the team also succeeded on an individual level. Junior forward Mike Cammalleri and sophomore defenseman Mike Komisarek capped off a great season by being honored as American Hockey Coaches’ Association First Team All-Americans.
Even with a Frozen Four appearance, regular season and playoff conference championships and two All-Americans, fans of this year’s team might remember Michigan’s spirited victories in the NCAA Regional most. Hosted at the friendly confines of Yost Arena, the Wolverines played their best against St. Cloud State and No. 1 Denver.
In the end, this year’s hockey team provided some of the most memorable moments for students around the university. And hopefully, with a young roster returning and continued brilliance from head coach Red Berenson, the Wolverines will continue to capture the hearts of students next season.