ANN ARBOR, MICH. — Four days after playing in front of the largest crowd in hockey history, Michigan faced the youngest team on its schedule.
“It’s a different mentality for our team,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. The Cold War and its 74,554 fans “affected me emotionally – imagine how it affected our players.”
Getting emotionally ready wasn’t too much of a problem, as the Wolverines used this opportunity to rest some of their players and get a few others some ice time in their 3-1 victory over the U.S. Under-18 National Development Team.
Four Michigan players knew how it felt to battle the Wolverines as a member of the U.S. Under-18 squad. Michigan sophomore defenseman Mike Komisarek and freshmen forwards Eric Nystrom, Jason Ryznar and Dwight Helminen are former apprentices of the program.
Ryznar said he added a little extra to hits to welcome the youngsters to Yost Ice Arena. “I had a little grudge,” he said.
Team USA gave the Wolverines another fair battle this season as Michigan won, 4-2, last year. The Wolverines outshot the Americans 28-14.
“There were parts of the game where they outskated us,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “They’re not out of place with Division I players.”
The US National Under-18 Team battles several college teams each season. Last year they beat Michigan State.
“We play this game for the USA program,” Berenson said. “They are right here out of Ann Arbor, and I think it’s good for the experience of those players.”
Craig Murray got Michigan on the board early with a wraparound goal less than three minutes into the game and then the Wolverine power play clicked.
Eric Werner scored from the slot as junior John Shouneyia’s shot deflected off freshman Jason Ryznar’s stick right to Werner, who flipped it past Team USA goaltender Tim Roth.
The Americans slimmed Michigan’s lead to 2-1 when Brett Sterling skated in all alone on Michigan goaltender Kevin O’Malley. O’Malley made a point-blank stop to his left, but Matthew Carle was lying in wait to his right and went top shelf with the rebound.
Freshman defenseman Reilly Olson scored blasting a shot from the point to make it 3-1 Michigan. It would have been Olson’s first goal, but game statistics were not kept for NCAA records. “I’ll just have to score another one,” Olson said.
Michigan coach Red Berenson rested goaltender Josh Blackburn and it was the first time the senior goaltender dressed and did not start in his college career.
Michigan also played without the services of Mike Cammalleri, Michael Woodford, Mark Mink and defensemen Jay Vancik, Mike Roemensky and Andy Burnes. Woodford is doubtful for this weekend’s Maverick Stampede tournament at Nebraska-Omaha. The Wolverines will face Providence in the first game Friday night.
FLIGHT TROUBLE: At CCHA Media Day several of the coaches expressed concern about flying and scheduling of travel. Most of the plane tickets and bussing had already been purchased prior to the terrorist attacks. Well, the first casualty of the diminished air travel has hit the Wolverines. Michigan’s Northwest flight was cancelled by the airline.
“We’ll catch another flight,” Berenson said. “Otherwise we’ll take a bus.”
Just a note, it’s about 12 hours by bus to Omaha.
Mark Francescutti is a freelance writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org