Indiana Daily Student

Do or die for Hoosier hockey

The word "pressure" is not foreign to the IU hockey team, but rarely is so much pressure put on a non-playoff weekend. \n As the Hoosiers (14-7-1, 10-1-1 Midwest Collegiate Hockey League) are hosts to the Michigan Wolverines (20-4-1, 11-1 MCHL) at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday, conference tournament placement is on the line.\n "I think the time for sulking or discouraging over past losses is over," assistant coach and general manager Alex Kyrias said. "If we want to do that, we'll just lose more."\n Michigan leads the MCHL with 22 league points. The Hoosiers are in second with 21 points, Miami (Ohio) is in third with 18 points and Kentucky rounds out the top four with 16 points. In a conference game, a win is worth two points, a tie is one point and a loss is neither a gain nor loss in points.\n While Miami and Kentucky battle in a home-and-home series this weekend, the Hoosiers will try to sweep the Wolverines, the only way to secure first place in the MCHL entering the conference tournament.\n But if Miami gets at least three points from its Kentucky series and Michigan sweeps IU, the Hoosiers could finish as low as third place in the conference entering the tournament.\n But the Hoosiers are sure they are the best team.\n "Everyone has the confidence that we're a good team, but it's time to put it together for the stretch," junior forward and assistant captain Bryan Grant said. "We have to put it together the way we're supposed to be playing."\n The Hoosiers will start Grant, junior forward and captain Dan Hauck, junior forward and assistant captain Brandon Phillips, freshman defenseman Mike Piotrowski and senior defenseman Brad Lutsch Friday. Senior Justin Wojtowicz makes his 10th start this season in goal for the Hoosiers, with Saturday's goalie yet to be determined.\n "The team as a whole is sick of losing," Wojtowicz said. "We're ready to come out and play hard. There isn't a team that's better than us; it's just other teams coming out and wanting it more than us."\n Both the Wolverines and Hoosiers are on to their longest losing streaks in recent memory. IU has dropped its last three games, while Arizona swept the Wolverines in a two-game series last weekend in Tucson, Ariz. Kyrias said he doesn't doubt both teams will come out ready to play.\n "These games will only make us stronger, these tough games, whether we win or lose them," Kyrias said. "There's been a lot said this week at practice about heart, and guys are starting to get the message that a regular effort will not win us these games. It's going to take an extraordinary effort by everyone."\n Both games begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Frank Southern Center, 1965 S. Henderson St. They are the last two home conference games for the Hoosiers this season.

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