DETROIT – It's always big whenever Michigan plays Notre Dame, no matter which sport.
Last week, Notre Dame got the best of Michigan in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
But the Wolverines have a chance for a bit of revenge as the NCAA men's ice hockey championship gets underway this weekend.
In the first round, No. 2 seed Michigan (24-7-5) faces No. 3 seed Notre Dame (19-10-7) at 5:30 p.m. Friday at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati.
In the Red Wings' dressing room, that pits roommates against each other again.
Luke Glendening and Dylan Larkin both went to Michigan while Riley Sheahan went to Notre Dame.
So far, no chirping among the roommates.
"Not in the negative way, I think we’re just excited to see our teams play against each other, and I think they’ve put themselves in a good position, and they’ve both been doing really well," Sheahan said. "I think Larks has some connections still there with some buddies on the team, and I know a few of the guys at Notre Dame, so it’s just cool to see them be in the position that they’re in."
Sheahan said he and Glendening actually watched the basketball game together and might try to watch the hockey game as well.
"That was exciting," Sheahan said. "I was a little scared at first and then I saw them coming back and it made me a little more comfortable and they got the win, which was huge because I’ve got them going far in my bracket."
Glendening said they haven't set a bet yet for Friday's game.
"I don't know, there might be," Glendening said. "But we just lost a tough one in the basketball March Madness too. I got to maybe redeem myself, I don't know, but we'll see. Hopefully it'll be a good game. It's obviously a great time of year."
Glendening is counting on Michigan's three Hobey Baker finalists to give his team the edge.
Juniors JT Compher and Tyler Motte plus freshman Kyle Connor are three of the 10 finalists for the award and form one of the top-scoring lines in the country.
"They have an impressive group of talent," Glendening said. "Kyle Connor is obviously doing very well. Motte and Compher have done extremely well. Those guys haven't been to the tournament yet so it'll be a little new. Obviously excited for them."
There could be additional motivation as 76-year-old Michigan coach Red Berenson does not appear to age yet there are always rumors that he is ready to retire.
"That guy defies time, defies age," Glendening said. "When I was there, I had heard that he was leaving and he's still there. I don't know when his last year is. Obviously he's still doing a great job there. You want to win for that guy whether it's his last year or not so I guess that's part of it."
STREAK ON THE LINE: The Wings are currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 83 points.
The Philadelphia Flyers also have 83 points but have a game in hand.
"This hockey team is playing to get into the NHL playoffs this year so we have the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "We want to be one of eight teams in the Eastern Conference that then has the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup. That's what this team wants to do. The streak is a great testament to the work that's been put in here before but our ultimate goal this year – we never talked about anything except our ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup and to do that, you've got to gain entrance into the playoffs and that's what our goal is right now."
The Wings are well aware that there is very little margin for error.
"We've got to win most of those nine games to get in," Gustav Nyquist said. "But our single focus right now is on Montreal tonight. We've just got to take it one game at a time. We know we have to win games to get in for sure. We also know that we control our own destiny. Our focus is just on ourselves. We can't be worried about the other teams, what the other scores are in the other games. It starts tonight against Montreal, a big two points."
|Reese Cordes (second from left) poses for a photo with his favorite Red Wing Pavel Datsyuk on Thursday morning. Also in the picture are Reese's brothers, Riley (left) and Reagan (right). (Photo by Bill Roose/Detroit Red Wings) |
MAKE A WISH: Reese Cordes was speechless, literally, as he walked through the Red Wings’ dressing room, where he eventually received his wish to meet his favorite player, Pavel Datsyuk, on Thursday morning.
The Red Wings hosted Reese, a 13-year-old, who has a life-threatening former of epilepsy, to the team’s morning skate as well as the game tonight against the Montreal Canadiens, marking the fourth annual Wings for Wishes Night to benefit Make-A-Wish Michigan.
“Reese’s epilepsy has not been well controlled for the last year and a half,” said Holly Cordes, Reese’s mother. “We’ve been to Cleveland Clinic, various doctors have tried all sorts of different medications and nothing seems to be working, so it’s very frustrating day in and day out to worry about him at school, worry about him here that it might get triggered.”
Tonight, Reese, his parents and two brothers, will be guests of Henrik Zetterberg and his wife, Emma, in the Zetterberg Foundation suite. Reese will also get the opportunity to watch pre-game warm-ups from the penalty box and he’ll ride on a Zamboni during the first intermission.
“Just to be here and put (his troubles) on the back burner and be treated by kings and queens today is great,” Holly Cordes said. “We’ve come to games before but we certainly have never been able to experience any of (this).”
In the first three years, the Wings have raised more than $50,000, which has helped Make-a-Wish Michigan grant wishes to six children.
DetroitRedWings.com managing editor Bill Roose contributed to this report.