“Yost magic” is something that most Michigan hockey teams have always been able to rely on. It”s an intangible weapon that has allowed the Wolverines to rack up many winning seasons at home. Coming into this season, the Wolverines thought that the “magic” would help them overcome their difficult road schedule in the first half of the season, and come on strong in the end.
But after 12 home games, Michigan has broken even (5-5-2 overall), still searching for that home-ice advantage it thought it would always be there.
“It”s definitely an issue,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said of his team”s play at home this season. “We haven”t taken advantage of our opportunities. We”re .500 so far, and that”s unacceptable for us. The loss to Alaska-Fairbanks and the loss to Bowling Green are two that we shouldn”t have had.”
The Wolverines have not suffered more than five home-losses in a single season since 1988-89. Since that season, they have lost five home games in a season just twice (1989-90, 1999-00). But after the split this weekend with Bowling Green (11th in the CCHA), the Wolverines are learning that there is no such thing as “Yost magic” if there is no team effort.
“The effort and the hard work should be there every night,” Michigan defenseman Mike Komisarek said. “We always seem to have problems underestimating teams in our league. We need to come out and set the tone.
“When we”re at home, we can”t just throw our sticks on the ice because we”re Michigan and expect other teams to just lay over and play dead. We have to be ready to play every night.”
The Wolverines” play away from home has kept them near the top of the CCHA so far this year. In 11 road games, they have just one loss.
“We don”t have to put on a show when we”re away,” freshman Michael Woodford said. “Everyone gets excited to play away because it”s a hostile environment, we just build off that.”
But with only two remaining road contests, the Wolverines must figure out how to bring their road-intensity into their own building if they want to challenge Michigan State for first in the CCHA.
Michigan has five games remaining at Yost (weekend series against Nebraska-Omaha, Ohio State and a game against Western Michigan). To keep pace with Michigan State, which is four points up on the Wolverines in the standings, Michigan will have to win these games.
In order to do so, the Wolverines know that they will need a high level of intensity. Michigan played with the type of fire it needed in its 1-1 tie to Michigan State nine days ago, but it couldn”t find it this past weekend against the Falcons.
“It”s tough to bring out the same intensity every night, but it is something that we have to do,” freshman Eric Nystrom said. “Whether it”s pretending that they”re in green jerseys out there or just being more prepared, we have to do it.”