Michigan Hockey: Starts Anew; Big Ten Inaugural Season Commences — Preview — Part I
Coach Red Berenson begins his 30th season behind the bench on October 6th buoyed by the excitement of a new group of freshmen and a new conference. The Wolverines will attempt to rebound from an up and down 2012-13 campaign where they finished 18-19-3 and saw their 22 year NCAA tournament string snapped in the final CCHA Conference Championship game. Here is a look at the 2013-14 Wolverines along with a projection on the schedule and their B1G Ten opponents.Captains and Returnees:
The Maize and Blue elected Senior Defenseman Mac Bennett (6-12-18, 31 games) as Captain with Senior forward Derek DeBlois (11-9-20, +4) and Sophomore forward Andrew Copp (11-10-21, +4) serving as Alternate Captains. Bennett, a Montreal Canadiens draftee, is a smooth skating blue liner with a knack for transitioning from the defensive zone to the offensive attack. DeBlois has become a weapon on Michigan’s penalty killing unit, scoring three shorthanded goals, including the Wolverine’s lone tally against Notre Dame in the CCHA Championship game. Copp, a Winnipeg selectee, is one of the pleasant surprises that came out of last season’s freshmen crop. He is a local product (AA Skyline) that quickly made his rugged presence felt on the ice and in the locker room. Copp also added two SHG’s during his freshman campaign. All three share the same strong, quiet demeanor, but definitely have different leadership styles. (Copp is well respected by the coaches and his peers and will most likely captain the squad the following two years.)
Michigan’s returning forwards are led by Junior Alex Guptill (16-20-36, +3). The rangy Canadian is property of the Dallas Stars and is on the B1G Ten POTY watch list. Sophomore Cristoval (Boo) Nieves (8-21-29) is a slick skating NYR draft choice that will provide Guptill with offensive support. Junior Phil Di Giuseppe (9-19-28) like Guptill, hails from north of the border. He is trying to find the balance between his offensive game and his defensive responsibilities… but will be counted on to provide offensive firepower up front. Carolina selected PDG in the NHL draft.
Arizonian Luke Moffatt (8-13-21) enters his senior year hoping to break out offensively after a rather pedestrian three years. Colorado owns his NHL rights. Junior Zach Hyman (4-5-9) is a Florida draftee and also calls Ontario his home. Hyman is a faceoff/checking specialist that often is matched against the opponent’s top two lines. Sophomore Justin Selman (4-6-10) is a big, strong winger that likes to do the dirty work in the corners. Junior Travis Lynch (3-5-8, +1) takes pride in his defensive game, especially on specialty units. Junior Andrew Sinelli (3-3-6, +1) typically makes the most out of his limited ice time and adds an element of energy to the fourth line.
The Wolverines also return four other defensemen in addition to Bennett. Senior Kevin Clare (0-2-2) is looking to gain the form of his sophomore season. He battled both injury and suspension that cut short his junior year. Junior Brennan Serville (1-2-3, +3) calls Ontario his home and was selected by Winnipeg in the NHL draft. His lone goal last season was a game winner against WMU.
Junior (preferred walk-on) Mike Szuma (0-1-1, +5) was a seldom dressed blue liner that, through injury, got the opportunity to jump into the lineup on a regular basis last season. He is a hard working, serviceable reserve that proved his worth, dressing in 30 games.
The Maize and Blue have four net minders on the roster for 2013-14. Sophomore Steve Racine (12-6-3, 2.65 GAA, .899 save %) grabbed the reins in the second half of last season and led Michigan to within a game of the CCHA Championship and a berth in the NCAA playoffs. His stellar play makes him the frontrunner for the goaltending duties. Joining Steve is Senior Adam Janecyk (3-7-0, 3.46 GAA, .892 save %) and redshirt Junior Luke Dwyer (2 games, no record.) Newcomer (freshman) Zach Nagelvoort will presumably serve as Racine’s back-up.
Michigan suffered two huge losses in the departures of (would be senior) defensemen Jon Merrill (NJ Devils) and (would be sophomore) Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg Jets). (Would be sophomore) goaltender Jared Rutledge also left the program and returned to the NAHL (juniors). Earlier in the season, freshman Daniel Milne also elected to leave the program for the OHL. Merrill’s departure was much anticipated after an oft-injured career at Michigan. Trouba was a special talent that, in the mind of the coaches, was probably the player most likely to succeed after jumping into the pro ranks.
This was on top of the five graduated seniors from last season, which opens up competition for the ten incoming freshmen.
Overall, the Wolverines return a solid corps of offensive talent, even after suffering graduation losses (particularly AJ Treais and Kevin Lynch.) The biggest question mark will be how the returning defenders will fill the huge holes (and ice time) left by the graduated Lee Moffie as well as Merrill and Trouba. The goaltending chore is Racine’s to lose. If he can step into the role like he did during the second half of last season, Michigan will be able to compete earlier this season and take the pressure off of the offense.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Yostmeister
Go Blue — Wear Maize!