Tag Archives: Red Berenson

Hometown, Hockeytown

It’s taken a few days for it all to sink in. The town I grew up in will be the host of the Winter Classic 2013 between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The high school I attended sat kitty-corner from Michigan Stadium. Every Friday afternoon, tailgaters would descend upon Pioneer High School’s  parking lot to set up for the Saturday Michigan games. I remember my uncle Rich sneaking us in at the start of the 4th quarter at his gate where he volunteered for 35 years. He also volunteered with Michigan hockey, and gave me a set of Michigan hockey cards I still have. That was the year Kevin Porter won the Hobey Baker.

Ann Arbor is a hockey town. The University of Michigan Wolverines have been a cornerstone in Big Ten hockey and NCAA hockey for decades. Michigan boasts coach Red Berenson who has produced some of the best talent int he NHL today:  Carl Hagelin, Brendan Morrison, Mike Cammalleri, Mike Komisarek, Mike Knuble, Jack Johnson  and Kevin Porter to name a few.  The Wolverines have nine NCAA men’s ice hockey titles.

Hockey tradition represents Ann Arbor, but also training as the home of the USA Hockey Team Development Program.  NHL participants have included Ryan Kesler, Patrick Kane, Erik Johnson and Cam Fowler.

Not too far down the road is Hockeytown, home to the Detroit Red Wings and the bright spot for the Detroit sports scene. Just across the Detroit River is Windsor, Ontario, home of the two-time Calder Cup champions Windsor Spitfires and MVP Taylor Hall.  The matchup between the Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs is fitting not only because of the close proximity, but both are each country’s respective hockey epicenters.  The line coming in and out of Detroit and Windsor after Wings games displays the regions affinity for hockey.

The perfect platform, the picturesque scenery of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan campus, plus the craziness of hockey fans in A2 will create an atmosphere that could cost the Winter Classic in topping it the following year.   I read somewhere that this Classic could break attendance records….it will! Michigan Stadium holds up to 113,000. The Big Chill at the Big House broke an outdoor hockey game record, and so shall the Winter Classic 2013.


The Road to the Frozen Four

Minnesota-Duluth, Michigan, North Dakota, and Notre Dame will battle in St. Paul April 7-9 to claim the NCAA college hockey championship title at the Frozen Four.  Michigan will meet North Dakota and UMD will meet Notre Dame to determine the final pair. The defending national champs Boston College were stunned by a sturdy Colorado College team, but that wasn’t the last shock as the No. 1 seed fell short of advancing in what many called the “dog fight.”
The University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs took on the top seeded Yale Bulldogs to move on for the first tourney spot. UMD looked like they had it all wrapped, 5-1. Yale took task and came within reach, 5-3, but couldn’t pull it off.  UMD (24–10–6) held on to be the first team to advance to the NCAA championship game. UMD have had 4 tournament appearances, the latest in 2004.

West Regional action took St. Louis by storm with the appearance of two vital St. Louis Blues personalities: Red Berenson and Jaden Schwartz.

Sixth-ranked Michigan (26-10-4) met Nebraska-Omaha (21-15-2) in the first round. UNO joined the WCHA last season and took on such notable tournament teams as Denver and North Dakota. The Wolverines made their 21st consecutive appearance in the West Regional held in St. Louis where Wolverine coach Red Berenson played then coached.  In a controversial call, the Wolverines took the win in overtime, 4-3.

Michigan faced Colorado College for the next slot. And it was tough. Scooter Vaughn scored first the Wolverines and stood with a 2-0 lead. Ryland Schwartz beat Wolverines goaltender Shawn Hunwick to up their chance 2-1 with just over 3 minutes left. With their 43 shots to 19 shots, the Wolverines kept it close but move on to St. Paul for their 24th tournament appearance.

Though the CC Tigers lost to Michigan, they played a phenomenal game against the defending champs. Colorado College faced Boston College with a 4-1 lead in the second, then leapt into an 8-4 victory knocking off the defending champs and No. 1 seed in the West. Boston’s star forward Cam Atkinson, a Hobey Baker finalist, met his match in Colorado College’s freshman, Jaden Schwartz, who is the first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues.

Green Bay hosted the Midwest regional action. WCHA super teams, North Dakota and Denver graced the rink for a chance to move on.  For North Dakota, it was no contest as they denied Rensselaer 6-0.

Denver faced a tough Western Michigan team to advance. The Broncos, who have never won a championship and was last in the tourney in 1996, had control through the second period with a 2-0 lead, but Denver roared back to tie the game in the third pushing the challenge to OT. Then, another OT. Until Jason Zucker scored his 22nd goal of the year, for a 3-2 win. Zucker is a draft pick of the Minnesota Wild. Denver moved on for a rematch of the WCHA championship game with North Dakota, who won 3-2 in double overtime. North Dakota wanted another run at the title with a 6-1 victory over the Pioneers to advance to St. Paul. Both Denver and North Dakota have each won 7 national titles.

Notre Dame (23-13-5) beat New Hampshire, 2-1, to take the final slot in the Frozen Four for their second appearance. The last Frozen Four for both Notre Dame and Michigan was in Denver in 2008, and advanced beating Michigan but lost to Boston College. There is a possibility that Notre Dame and Michigan could face off for the NCAA title- awesome rivalry in college football, so the Frozen Four battle would be amazing.

It’s been a good showing for Colorado this season with Air Force, Colorado College and Denver competing in the ultimate college hockey experience. The Midwest will be abuzz with fans traveling to St. Paul, which means the Xcel Energy Center will be electrified with plenty of hockey loyal. Watch for Frozen Four updates April 7-9. Notre Dame will play Minnesota-Duluth  on Thursday, April 7 at 5pm EST in the early semifinal, followed by the Michigan-North Dakota semifinal.  Tune to ESPN  for Frozen Four games and coverage.

Big Chill at the Big House

The most exciting event is happening in my hometown, Ann Arbor. Just blocks away from my aunt’s house, crazy collegiate hockey fans will pour into Michigan Stadium for a legendary game.  College football is done, so bring on the hockey!

NCAA hockey has taken over the nation’s largest football arena. The Michigan Wolverines will host the Michigan State Spartans for” The Big Chill at the Big House,” an outdoor hockey game on Dec. 11 before a sold out crowd of 110,00. The two teams met previously on Oct. 6, 2001 at Spartan Stadium for what was called “The Cold War.” In a 3-3 tie, both teams hope to change the past.

Big Chill at the Big House

Michigan brings a veteran team that has been inconsistent this season (9-5-4, 8-3-1 CCHA), but is pushing for a tournament tour. The Wolverines have the most NCAA championships than any other collegiate hockey program. Coach Red Berenson anticipates a strong show for Michigan, expecting 80-85% maize and blue. Berenson, who played some World Championship games for the Canadian National Team as a teenager, coached two outdoor games with the Wolverines.  Michigan and Wisconsin drew more than 55,000 hockey fans to Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., last February for an outdoor game.

Rick Comley, Michigan State’s coach also grew up playing outdoor hockey. Michigan State hasn’t fared as well as their state rival (6-8-3, 3-7-1 CCHA).  Michigan State goalie Drew Palmisano attended Ann Arbor Pioneer High, directly across the street from The Big House. He attended many Wolverine football games, and anticipates a memorable game and experience.  Wonder if ex-MSU goaltender Ryan Miller will use his day off to watch the game?

The Michigan hockey team will sport retro-inspired game jerseys designed by Adidas, to honor the “The Big Chill at the Big House.” The design is similar to Wolverine jerseys worn by the 1945-46, 1946-47 and 1947-48 teams with an image of a wolverine on the front and stripes on the shoulders.

A fireworks display, will introduce the Wolverines as they take the ice, plus more fireworks with a Michigan goal. Post-game fireworks, will be choreographed to the music from the movie “The Big Chill.” Big Chill co-writer, director, and Michigan grad Lawrence Kasdan, will take part in the pre-game ceremonial puck drop.

To help prepare the ice for Saturday’s big game, Michigan Stadium have scheduled hockey games, including high schools, youth leagues and a few alumni groups. A public skate will end the festivities on Dec. 12.

Former MSU forward, Mike Modano will watch, as well as other former Michigan players Kevin Porter, Mike Knuble and the other  Wolverine players now in the NHL.

Catch the game on the Big Ten Network at 3 p.m.EST. Go Blue!