For Wolverines seniors, X marks the spot again

Louie Caporusso and his veteran teammates began their Michigan careers in a tournament in St. Paul. They're back, and hungry for more.

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Michigan’s Chad Langlais, a senior defenseman, took a break during practice in preparation for tonight’s semifinals.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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The college hockey careers of center Louie Caporusso and six fellow seniors at Michigan are coming full circle this week.

Caporusso played his first two games as a freshman for the Wolverines at Xcel Energy Center in the Icebreaker Invitational in October 2007.

Michigan beat Boston College 4-3 in overtime in the first game, then lost to the Gophers by the same score the next day.

On Thursday, the Wolverines will play North Dakota in the second semifinal of the Frozen Four at Xcel.

"It's great being back here [to] Minnesota," Caporusso said. "I remember like it was yesterday, playing our first game against BC.

"When I was walking to the rink [Wednesday], I felt like it was freshman year all over again and I had just started here. It was the same exact walk to the dressing room, the same dressing room. It is kind of cool how we made a full circle here.

"Hopefully, this time we can win both games."

Caporusso scored the winning goal against Boston College in his first college game, and Carl Hagelin, his linemate now, had the first goal.

Hagelin, a left winger from Sweden, leads the Wolverines in scoring with 18 goals and 30 assists for 48 points; Caporusso is next (11-19--30).

"Me and Carl have been rooming together for four years now," said Caporusso, from Woodbridge, Ontario. "We talk about hockey a lot. And we are not scared to tell each other what we feel we should do on the ice together."

The other winger on Caporusso's line is sophomore Chris Brown (9-14--23) of Flower Mound, Texas.

"With Brown, he is all ears and eyes," Caporusso said. "We get mad at him a lot sometimes because we are just trying to get him going. I am not scared to get into Brown's face, and he always responds really well. He has a bright future ahead of him."

Caporusso, a 2007 third-round pick by the Ottawa Senators, may as well.

Michigan coach Red Berenson said Caporusso came to the Wolverines as a goal-scorer but has become an all-around player. "Now I can trust him in any situation on the ice," Berenson said, "because he knows how important the rest of the game is."

Red almost joined Sioux

Berenson said after high school in Regina, Saskatchewan, he visited North Dakota and really liked the hockey program. But Al Renfrew, a former Sioux coach who recently had taken the Michigan job, convinced Berenson to make a trip to Ann Arbor, too.

"What I really liked about [Ann Arbor], it was only 45 minutes from the Olympia," Berenson said, referring to the former home of the Detroit Red Wings. "I could watch Gordie Howe play. I had never seen an NHL game. When I was a kid they hardly had games on TV.

"And Ren said, 'Oh, ya, I can introduce you to Gordie Howe.' North Dakota had no chance after that."

Etc.

• Berenson supports Michigan adding a women's hockey program, but said the facilities at Yost Ice Arena, built in 1924 and converted to hockey in 1973, are inadequate.

"The women's program will have a better chance when they build a new rink," he said.

• Gophers fans at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday will be supporting the Wolverines over North Dakota, Berenson predicted. "I know the animosity between Minnesota and North Dakota," he said. "If [this] was a game at Michigan State, they would be cheering for North Dakota."

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