That is the last time that both Michigan and MSU missed out on the NCAA Tournament. We were in the midst of a 13 year tourney drought, Red wasn't arriving for a couple more years. Ron Mason was in his second season and was set to start a run of finishing 1st or 2nd in the conference in 8 of the next 9 seasons.
Fast forward 10 years and Red has made the program respectable again but we still can't crack the postseason. Ron Mason has MSU running like a machine. A conference dynasty at the least. Since taking over, he's guided them to 9 tourney births, 7 CCHA tourney crowns, 4 regular season conf crowns, 4 Frozen Fours and a National Championship. However, the tables are about to turn slightly.
Red Berenson is a god. So is Ron Mason. While Michigan clearly dominated in the 90s with 6 Frozen Fours, 2 NC, 6 conf titles, 4 conf tourney titles, MSU is still no slouch as they're a regular in the NCAAs and added a couple CCHA regular season and tourney titles themselves. Mason is about to retire and the rivalry has seen it's peak. Both programs are pumping players into the NHL. Life is good for these two programs and they don't show signs of stopping
Michigan St was plagued by inconsistency throughout the decade but were able to put it together in 2007 to win a national title. Comley is in his last year and has not left the program in a good place, however, they do retrn to the NCAAs the following season. Michigan is still a powerhouse under Red with 4 Frozen Fours and we're about to make a magical near-title run with Tiny ***** in goal. We lose in heartbreaking fashion as OT in the NCAAs just seems to have our number. Still, we don't show many signs of slowing down and should continue to be a contender until Red retires.
It's been over 30 years since it last happened, but both programs are staring it in the eyes. MSU at least had the Comley years to prepare them for this but for us Michigan fans, it's hit us like a train. It still hasn't sunk in quite yet, but barring a miraculous conference tourney, I won't see the winged helmets in the NCAA Tournament, something that I've only seen happen twice in my life - while I was an infant and a couple months after my 1st birthday. I don't know what I'll do.
Both programs are in the basement of the conference, something that should never happen with such prestigious programs. The rivalry is pretty even head-to-head in its entire history. however, neither program seems to share the spotlight. Other than the late 90s and 2007, one is on top while the other is catching up. Rivalry games are pretty much all either program have to play for this season. Maybe it's not as exciting and raucous as it was in the 90s, but I'll still get satisfaction if we kick their ***.
The boys need to play with some pride. It's probably not going to be pretty hockey, but it'll still be enjoyable to watch for me since it's pretty much all we've got left this season. The games are televised this weekend. Friday on BTN at 6:30, Saturday on FSD at 4