After Friday night”s 4-2 loss to Bowling Green, the Michigan hockey team has a new appreciation for the theory that “you play how you practice.”
The Wolverines, fresh off an emotional performance in a 1-1 tie against Michigan State last weekend, could not duplicate that same intensity, execution and desire during last week”s practices and it showed in Friday”s debacle.
“We were worried about this, not because of (Michigan State) last week, but because of the way the week was going,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “You talk about practice in any sport and it really translates into the games because our practices just seemed to deteriorate as the week went on and that”s how we played tonight.”
The loss to the Falcons continued a theme of the Wolverines” season not “coming to play” against lesser opponents at Yost Ice Arena. Michigan underestimated Bowling Green, the 11th place team in the conference, just as it did against Alaska-Fairbanks two weekends before.
“Michigan State week we knew we were going to have a tough game, so every practice was intense and we really came to work hard,” freshman Michael Woodford said. “This week, it was just awful.
“When you play the second-to-last-place team, and you”re one of the top teams, you want to bring the same intensity every night. But you look at the standings and you think you should pad your stats that game.”
With last-place Lake Superior looming this weekend for the Wolverines, Berenson is expecting his team to be focused on improving at practice not padding stats.
“We”re looking for better execution, better work ethic and more enthusiasm.”
Still the captain: In an otherwise lackadaisical team performance on Friday, Michigan captain Jed Ortmeyer was his usual self, delivering jarring hits and skating tirelessly every shift on the ice.
“I don”t think there”s a better leader in college hockey than Jed Ortmeyer, and just by the way he played tonight was another example,” Berenson said. “But he can”t do it for the young players, he can”t do it for the other upperclassmen, and he can”t do it for our defensemen who are out of position or giving the puck away.”
Ortmeyer, by virtue of a collision in Friday night”s game, felt he might have injured his left knee and did not dress for Saturday”s game. The junior forward was sidelined during the second half of last season due to an injury to his other knee and did not want to risk any further injury.
“I think it scared him,” Berenson said. “We had an MRI last night and it was fine. I don”t expect him to be out for long.”
Saturday, Ortmeyer made his presence felt in a different way, cheering on his teammates from the bench and offering some advice when it was needed.
“I was just keeping them positive,” Ortmeyer said. “I could see little things behind the play that maybe they wouldn”t notice. I just wanted to help out the team as much as I could.”
Follow the leader: With his two-goal effort in Saturday”s 3-2 victory over Bowling Green, Michigan defenseman Mike Komisarek has scored more goals (seven) than any other player at Yost this season.
“The kid”s got a dynamite shot,” Berenson said. “When he shoots it, he shoots it like a man. The first one was in the net before the goalie could move.”
Komisarek has three two-goal games at home on the season each coming on Saturday nights after Friday night losses.
“It”s something about Yost,” Komisarek said. “I”ve never played in a place with so much energy. I grew up playing in front of my parents, that”s about it.”
Gutting it out: Michigan freshman Eric Nystrom, who scored on Saturday to mark his first goal since Dec. 15 against Harvard, has been playing with an injured left ankle for the past two weekends, and currently feels that it is 75-percent healthy.
“It”s going to be sore for the rest of the season probably, so I”ll just have to gut it out,” Nystrom said.
Nystrom leads all freshman in scoring with 15 points and is first amoung active players in goals with nine. He has been playing on the first line with Jed Ortmeyer since mid-October.