Last season the NCAA selection committee didn’t do the
Wolverines any favors. After two consecutive seasons of hosting the
NCAA tournament regionals at Yost Ice Arena, Michigan drew New
Hampshire in the 2004 Northeast Regional — to be played in
Manchester, N.H.

Before the game last March, Michigan coach Red Berenson was not
upset about having to play a “road” game with the
season on the line. 

“We expected to travel,” said Berenson after he
found out. “I think, personally, it’s good for us.
I’m tired of hearing about how we’re the favorite team,
week after week, game after game. Finally, that’s off our
back; we’re no longer the favorite.”

He was right — it was good for the Wolverines. Michigan
went into New Hampshire, having won just three of its last nine
games, and dominated the Wildcats 4-1. Brandon Kaleniecki scored
two goals, including one just one minute into the game that
silenced the packed crowd, and Michigan went on to play Boston
College in the next round.

Tonight, No. 8 New Hampshire (2-0) will travel to Michigan to
compete in the frosty confines of Yost for No. 3 Michigan’s
(1-1) home opener. Even with the postseason win last year, Berenson
knows the challenge his veteran team will be facing.

“They’re like us,” Berenson said. “They
have a good returning nucleus, they skate well and they’re
expected to have a good team. They’ve essentially got
everyone back but their goalie.”

New Hampshire’s new goalie isn’t a tender to scoff
at. Freshman Kevin Regan stopped 36 of 38 shots in his debut
against St. Lawrence last weekend en route to a 4-2 victory. The
Hockey East named the freshman the Superskills Hockey Rookie of the
Week for his breakout performance.

Last season the Wolverines set a school record when they won 19
games at Yost.

“Getting a good start at home is important,”
Berenson said. “You want to play well and build up some
confidence because it could go the other way. It’s a great
environment, our fans are good, this is a great rink to play in and
it can be intimidating to the other team.”

Maybe too intimidating, according to Michigan Athletic Director
Bill Martin. The athletic department has made a plea to the student
season ticket holders in an effort to temper their
“vulgarity” while in attendance. When season ticket
holders picked up their tickets, a letter stating that vulgarity
will not be tolerated accompanied the contents in an envelope.

Pleas, similar to this one, have been made in the past without
results.

But regardless of the fans’ behavior, Berenson knows New
Hampshire will come to play.

“This is a real tough place to play as an opponent,”
Berenson said. “But the good teams always play well here. I
expect them to play well. They will be a real good gauge so we can
see where we’re at.”

After New Hampshire today, Michigan will host St. Lawrence
(0-1-1) tomorrow.

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