The Michigan hockey team has found a way to win consistently. Frankly, I don’t know why the Wolverines haven’t thought of this before.

For so long, they concerned themselves with the technical aspects of the game … fools.

All they really have to do is get celebrities to root for their opponents, and Michigan will win. Now it doesn’t have to be J-Lo, Shaq or Mark Cuban. Any celebrity known nationally or locally will do. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof.

Exhibit A: Friday, Northern Michigan legend and current Michigan State coach Rick Comley appeared in the press box of Yost Ice Arena. While it can be said he was there to scout out the Wolverines for next weekend, there’s no doubt he was rooting for the players he recruited, molded and fathered until this season. The result? Michigan won 3-1.

Exhibit B: Topping a hockey legend like Comley was going to be tough for the Wildcats, but sure enough, sitting in the top row of section five on Saturday was none other than Detroit Lions coach Steve Mariucci. Steve Mariucci! Mooch! The Restorer of the Roar! The newly appointed savior and messiah of Honolulu Blue! Yet, no one seemed to notice the Northern Michigan alum – except for the rare few who tried to begin a Mar-i-u-cci chant – as Michigan skated to an easy 5-1 win. Besides watching his former school play, Mariucci did have a purpose there.

“I wanted to see how many Yoopers there are (at Yost). I found out there were seven,” Mariucci said.

He did talk with the Wildcats, though.

“He came in before the game, shook our hands and wished us luck … it didn’t do us a lot of good out on the ice, though,” Northern Michigan defenseman Jamie Milam said with a chuckle.

Although it was unlikely that Mariucci was the reason for Northern Michigan’s loss, it’s safe to say the former 49ers coach may have been making the Wildcats think about other things – like Barry Sanders for one.

“Mariucci came up to me and asked if I was from the Upper Peninsula,” said Milam, who lives in Lake Orion, which is just north of Detroit and near the Pontiac Silverdome. “I told him no, but I did tell him, ‘You have to bring Barry back.’ He just laughed.”

See? How were the Wildcats supposed to win a hockey game when they were busy wondering how Mooch was going to turn the inept Lions around?

If you still don’t believe me, this new way of winning extends to basketball. Remember that little ol’ win over Michigan State a few weeks back? Former Michigan State star and World Series hero Kirk Gibson was rooting for the Spartans on their bench. Their bench!

I rest my case.

The Michigan hockey team still finds itself four points back of first-place Ferris State. It should be noted that the Bulldogs have played two more games than the Wolverines and that Michigan is on pace to tie Ferris State by the end of the season.

In order to do that, though, the Wolverines will need to conquer a gauntlet of a schedule. They will play the Spartans four times in the next three weeks, and while Michigan State may have been left for dead after its 10-9-1 start, it is 8-1-1 in its last 10 games and all of a sudden in the mix for a postseason run.

Then there’s Nebraska-Omaha on the road in between the Michigan State weekends. In eighth place in the CCHA, the Mavericks look harmless enough. But just ask second-place Ohio State how good Nebraska-Omaha goalie Dan Ellis is, and it will surely tell you how he controlled the Buckeyes, stopping 73 of 74 shots in two Mavericks wins. Finally, the Wolverines will close their regular season in Columbus for what will probably be the most two important games Value City Arena has ever hosted.

At current pace, Ohio State will go into the weekend as the CCHA’s top team and the Wolverines will be tied for second.

For Michigan to win, it is going to take a lot … of celebrities.

It’s time for Michigan coach Red Berenson to stop worrying about how many goals Jeff Tambellini will score or who will be the valued sixth defenseman come postseason play. Berenson has bigger fish to fry.

To begin, this coming Friday, former football coach George Perles can impart his “winning” wisdom to the Spartans for a 5-2 Michigan win. The following night, bring in two-time slam dunk champion Jason Richardson to entertain the masses at intermissions with his dunks-on-ice routine. The Spartans will be so focused on remembering when they had a good basketball team, Michigan will skate off with a 2-0 victory.

As for Nebraska-Omaha, it was tough to find anyone worth selecting to distract the Mavericks. But sure enough, defensive lineman Chris Cooper, a sixth-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2001, will keep the public of the Omaha Civic Auditorium mesmerized with his nine tackles in this year’s postseason run to the Super Bowl.

After the sweep in Nebraska, the Wolverines will use Mateen Cleaves to inspire the Spartans to root on their teammates from the bench. Unfortunately, Cleaves’ words will be so inspiring that not one of Michigan State’s players will leave the bench in a Michigan sweep.

After a Ferris State loss to Western Michigan, the Mar. 7 and 8 meetings between the Buckeyes and Wolverines will be for all the marbles. Michigan will have to bring out the big guns – golfing great Jack Nicklaus and scientist Ray Goodrich, Ph.D. As Nicklaus puts the Buckeyes in a trance with his short game, Goodrich will finish them off with how he created a system where riboflavin, when introduced to light, acts upon viruses or bacteria which could be present in donated blood.

It’s as simple as that. You might as well start raising that “2003 CCHA Regular Season Championship” banner now.

I wonder if James Earl Jones is available for that ceremony.

– If you think Michigan should just quit practicing and began strategizing with People’s 25 Most Beautiful People, please contact Kyle O’Neill at kylero@umich.edu.

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