The Kids Are Alright
As someone whose
life pretty much revolved around the Michigan State hockey program
for the previous two seasons, saying I've learned to dread visits
to Yost Ice Arena is like saying Martha Stewart has learned to dread
phone calls from the Securities and Exchange Commission. But I was
there last Saturday, watching the Wolverines play the University
of Toronto in an exhibition game.
wasn't there to see the Varsity Blues – yes, that's the Toronto
team's nickname – on the off chance there might be a James
Van Der Beek sighting. And I wasn't expecting a barnburner. In fact,
the 8-1 final score makes the game seem closer than it
actually was, considering Michigan outshot Toronto 54-13. (Incidentally,
Toronto's lone goal was scored by winger Ian Malcolm. Varsity Blues
coaches, I implore you, please put him at center so guys like me
can fill our notebooks with "Malcolm in the Middle" references.
It's all about promotion.)
Anyway, I had
to go to Ann Arbor to see arguably the nation's most heralded freshman
class. And the kids did not disappoint.
Richmond, a member of INCH's
preseason all-rookie team, has an offensive flair the Wolverines
haven't seen from the blue line in some time. Forward Jeff Tambellini
gives Michigan a dimension of speed they lost when fellow paesan,
Mike Cammalleri, signed with the Los Angeles Kings during the summer.
A deft passer, he wowed the U-M faithful in the first period with
a filthy backhand pass to John Shouneyia as he streaked into the
slot. The Wolverines will need more plays like that from the British
Columbia native, as Shouneyia is out for up to two months with a
Andrew Ebbett and Brandon Kaleniecki were impressive, too. Ebbett,
at 5-foot-9, always seemed to be around the puck and notched a goal
and two assists. The 5-foot-8 Kaleniecki, last year's North American
Hockey League Player of the Year, picked up a pair of goals and
was a threat on the power play.
The jury is
still out on goaltender Al Montoya, who only faced seven shots.
Shaky at times, he was forced to make a spectacular diving stop
on a Toronto attacker after flubbing a clearing attempt.
say, the quintet of Michigan freshmen gives hockey fans a good reason
to visit Yost Ice Arena