For one weekend, Michael Woodford was just like any other
Without a hockey game to play, Woodford and his teammates spent
last Saturday at Michigan Stadium. Saturday’s game against
Ohio State was so big that not only did the New York Yankees to
show up, Woodford decided to stick around for the entire game,
something that he had not been able to do before.
But there was one thing the students did that the players
didn’t join in on.
“Coach Pearson had us on the other side (of the field) so
we wouldn’t get trampled and could just watch everyone rush
the field,” the junior forward said.
When Monday rolled around, while the student body continued to
enjoy the Big Ten title and look ahead to Thanksgiving break, the
hockey players returned to being student-athletes.
The Wolverines host the College Hockey Showcase and have a pair
of important non-conference games Friday and Saturday against
Wisconsin and Minnesota, respectively.
Woodford is eager to play some elite teams from other
“It’s a good chance to see how our team stacks up
against the rest of the country,” Woodford said. “The
CCHA is one of the top leagues, but the WCHA is also a real good
conference. It’s a good opportunity for us to show the
country that we’re big-time players.”
Minnesota (3-6-1 WCHA, 4-7-1 overall), Michigan’s Frozen
Four semifinal nemesis the past two years, has had a shockingly
rough start to the season. The Gophers have replaced last
year’s goaltender, Travis Weber, with freshman Kellen Briggs,
but do have 85 percent of their scoring from last year back.
Minnesota had its best two games of the season this past
weekend, when they swept Michigan Tech.
Michigan is coming off a light week in which they practiced
without coaches. The week off came at a good time, as the
Wolverines rested to full strength. Captain Andy Burnes, who had
been out since Nov. 7 after dislocating his collarbone from his
sternum, is practicing this week and will be ready to go against
the streaking Badgers (3-2-3, 6-3-3), who are unbeaten in their
last eight games (5-0-3).
“I think (the week off) will be good,” Michigan
coach Red Berenson said. “We might be a little bit rusty for
a shift or two. I think not playing last weekend will probably help
our enthusiasm this weekend. If we’re playing with enthusiasm
everything else will fall into place.”