WORCESTER, Mass. — One is older, more experienced; the other could be called the young pup. One plays the role of leader for his team; the other is brand-new to college hockey.
But the brothers Comrie — Paul, the senior captain of the University of Denver, and Mike, the rookie sensation for the University of Michigan, have plenty in common. For starters, they both posses the title of leading scorer for their respective teams.
Friday night in Worcester, Mass., in the first round of the NCAA East Regional, the two met on opposite sides for the first time in their college careers.
But instead of the knowledge and experience of the older Comrie breaking through, Friday it was Mike Comrie’s night to shine. Mike posted the only point between the two brothers, but a very important one. With the Wolverines leading 4-3 with less than seven minutes to play, Mike Comrie picked up a perfect pass at the red line and soared in on Denver goaltender Steven Wagner, scoring the important insurance goal.
The goal was the last in a five-goal outburst that capped a come-from-behind Michigan victory, giving the Wolverines continued life to their season.
“Mike and I come from a very competitive family,” said Paul Comrie. “We both want to win and once the puck was dropped tonight we both forgot we were brothers and it didn’t mean anything.”
Over his four years with the Pioneers, Paul Comrie he has consistently improved his performances, notching 40 or more points in three season. He finishes his career ranked 12th on the DU all-time scoring list with 161 career points.
This season Paul was an All-American candidate and was selected to the all-WCHA first team, the first such award to a Denver player since Dave Shields in 1990: Comrie notched 49 points (18 goals, 31 assists) in 39 games this season. He was a ninth-round selection of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who in 1997 traded his rights to the Edmonton Oilers, where he is compared to center Doug Weight.
Over his career, Paul has been a leader in postseason play, having scored 11 points in 15 playoff games, including three in his two NCAA tournament games in 1997.
For the younger of the brothers, Mike, the night’s comeback was bittersweet.
“It’s a little disappointing to see (Paul) lose, but its hockey and one of us had to lose tonight,” Mike said after the victory. “It’s unfortunate, but we’re still going to be brothers.”
The younger Comrie has dazzled the crowds in his first season in Michigan. He arrived in Ann Arbor to join the defending national champions, and though young in age, has performed like a veteran.
In his first year, Mike is leading the team in scoring with 43 points (18 goals, 25 assists). His plus-18 rating is the second-best on the club behind defenseman Jeff Jillson, and his play earned him CCHA Rookie of the Year honors as well as placement on the Bauer/CCHA all-rookie team.
Mike credits a lot of his early success, as well as the win, to mentor and coach Red Berenson.
“Coach Berenson is a great coach. Tonight’s win should [prove] it,” Mike said, “When he called that timeout, he told us to stick to our game plan and focus on what we’re supposed to do.”
The timeout he refers to was called by Berenson after Denver jumped out to a 3-0 lead midway through the game. After that, Michigan outshot Denver 20-1 en route to the 5-3 win.
Mike echoed his brother’s comments.
“Like brothers [are], we’re both competitive. I thought he played well tonight and I thought their team played well. It’s not a big deal playing him. It’s two teams playing hockey.”
So Friday night represented a bit of a beginning, and an end. For Denver’s Paul, it marked the end of a fantastic college career. And for Michigan’s Mike, it is the beginning of a run towards defending the team’s national title.