One of the features of college hockey that separates it from professional hockey is the concept of a weekend series.
As fans of college hockey know, a team such as Michigan with occasional exceptions generally will only play twice a week, on Friday and Saturday nights. What makes it more intriguing is that the same two teams play both nights, hence the term “weekend series.”
Sweeping a weekend series is no easy task, but the good teams generally find a way to do it with some regularity. Therein lies what was one of the biggest headaches for the Michigan hockey team this season.
This weekend”s two-game sweep of Ferris State in a CCHA first-round playoff series marked the first time that Michigan swept an opponent since the Wolverines took a pair from Lake Superior (5-0, 2-0) on Jan. 5 and 7 at Yost Ice Arena.
Michigan made a habit this year of playing well in one game of a weekend set and playing poorly in the other game. The Wolverines didn”t discriminate when it came to picking a night to play well on four occasions Michigan won on Friday and lost on Saturday. In three instances, the Wolverines lost on Friday and won on Saturday.
“If someone kept a stat when you play the same team both nights, it”s always that the team that loses the first night gets a little more up for the next game,” Michigan assistant coach Mel Pearson said. “The coaches get on the players, and things become a little more desperate. The team that wins, all of a sudden you have a tendency to relax a little bit.”
Matzka loses “A”: Senior forward Scott Matzka was sporting a slightly different look this weekend. After receiving a game misconduct for gesturing at referee Steve Piotrowski late in the third period of a March 1 game at Michigan State, Matzka was permanently stripped of his assistant captaincy by Michigan coach Red Berenson.
“We”re not going to embarrass him, but it”s a subtle response to his misconduct and it”s just not conduct becoming of a team captain,” Berenson said following Friday night”s game.
Back in the saddle: In a Feb. 17 game against Michigan State at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, senior forward Josh Langfeld suffered what looked to be a serious knee injury. At the time, it looked like Langfeld might be sidelined for the rest of the season, but just four weeks later, he returned to the lineup on Friday night and scored a goal in Michigan”s 8-3 triumph.
“It was good to be back,” Langfeld said after Friday”s game. “With the playoff atmosphere, I think our team responded pretty well, and for myself, it was a good game.”
All in the name of team unity: NBA fans might remember the playoffs from a few years ago, when the entire rosters of both the Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets shaved their heads as a sign of team unity.
In a similar act of solidarity, several members of the Michigan hockey team inserted blond highlights into their hair prior to Friday night”s CCHA playoff opener against Ferris State.
While there was nothing quite as frightening as the sight of Chris Mullin, Rik Smits or Vlade Divac with a bald pate, the newly-styled Wolverines did raise a few eyebrows.
“A bunch of us did it for a little team unity in the playoffs,” sophomore center Mike Cammalleri said after Saturday”s game.
“Most of the guys put some highlights in their hair. I can”t grow much (of a beard), so I thought I”d do something else.”