Posted at 6:00am -- 9/27/2011 GBMWolverine: Michigan Hockey — Returns —..."/> Posted at 6:00am -- 9/27/2011 GBMWolverine: Michigan Hockey — Returns —..."/>

GBMWolverine: Michigan Hockey — Returns — Future NCAA Landscape Has Major Changes — Part I


Posted at 6:00am — 9/27/2011

GBMWolverine: Michigan Hockey — Returns — Future NCAA Landscape Has Major Changes — Part I

(This is part I of a two part look at the upcoming U-M hockey team and the changes that have taken place since last Spring.)

The chill in the air has returned and calendar has wound down to end of September. It’s time for the hockey to start up at Yost arena again. There is cautious optimism surrounding the program as the season kicks off as the Wolverines return a core group of veterans and will sprinkle in eight freshmen and a new goaltender this season.

Michigan will be led by fifth year senior goaltender Shawn Hunwick (22-9-4 last season) who’s phenomenal second half last season willed the Wolverines into the National Championship game. He will be joined by seniors Luke Glendening, Kevin Lynch, David Wohlberg and defensive defenseman Greg Pateryn. Wohlberg will be expected to shoulder a fair share of the scoring burden with the departures of Carl Hagelin, Louie Caporusso, Matt Rust, Ben Winnett and Scooter Vaughn from last season. Returning junior forwards Chris Brown and AJ Treais are also expected to raise their offensive game in lieu of the huge scoring void that exists. Over 60% of last season’s offense was generated by players that are no longer on Michigan’s roster. Forwards (junior) Jeff Rohrkemper, (sophomore) Derek DeBlois, (sophomore) Luke Moffatt and (junior) Lindsay Sparks will also expect more ice time and, with that, more production from that additional ice time.

The defense, outside of Pateryn, returns an offensive minded pair in (junior) Lee Moffie and (sophomore) Mac Bennett. All-American, do everything (sophomore) Jon Merill thankfully returns for at least one more season. Steady sophomore Kevin Clare looks to gain more confidence this season and is more of a stay at home type defender. A trio of incoming freshmen will battle for a spot on the third defensive pairing. The strength of the Wolverines clearly lies in their defensive corps and in their starting goaltending.

Unfortunately, this squad doesn’t have the same depth or experience as last season’s roster and will heavily depend on two factors: health and freshmen contributions.

One of the biggest hits that the Wolverines took was the late decision by incoming freshmen (stud) goaltender John Gibson to forego his collegiate eligibility and to sign on with the Ontario Hockey League. This, along with the departure of Bryan Hogan last season, left a huge hole in Michigan’s future goaltending plans which are still pending. The Wolverines will enter the season with returning back-up (sophomore) Adam Janecyk and have also added (sophomore) walk-on Luke Dwyer (All-Stater at AA Huron) to serve as Hunwick’s back-ups.

The Wolverines also suffered a minor setback when defenseman Brandon Burlon signed a contract with the NJ Devils and departed after three seasons. Michigan will miss his offensive contributions and his physical presence at the blueline.

Freshmen Profiles

Here is a quick look at the talent coming into the program:

Michigan is adding five forwards and three defensemen to their roster for this season.

Forward Phil DiGuiseppe comes to Michigan from the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Villanova Knights and doesn’t have the notoriety that some of the Wolverine’s top recruits have had in the past. Don’t let that fool you- the kid is a goalscorer and should fit in right away. He is 6’1”, 200 lbs, but is also very young- 17- so he’ll need to mature before we really see how he’ll do for the Maize and Blue.

The OJHL also produced one of Michigan’s prize recruits in Forward Zach Hyman, a Florida Panthers draft choice. He was a top five scorer in the league and was named the Canadian Junior A ‘Player of the Year’, the top pro prospect, the most gentlemanly player and the MVP for the Hamilton Red Wings. He came to Michigan after initially committing to Princeton, but backed out when the Tigers’ coach became the new coach for the inaugural Penn State hockey program. Hyman has a goalscorer’s touch and will get ample opportunity to use it this season. His brother Spence is a future Wolverine and will be part of the 2012 or 2013 incoming class.

Forward Alex Guptill will also try to replace some of the offense up front. Guptill also cut his teeth in the OJHL and then moved on to the USHL’s Waterloo team. Alex is rangy and lean at 6’3” and 189, and fought through an injury shortened campaign last season. He is a Dallas Stars draftee.

Andrew Sinelli is a self described “high energy forward” that will fill a penalty killing and checking role at Michigan. He is physical and enjoys doing the dirty work necessary to win games. He’s not real big but should excite Yost fans with his propensity to take the body.

Travis Lynch comes to Michigan from the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL and is also a self described “physical presence”. He is quick and can play a two way game. His offensive numbers in the juniors look good, but it is hard to read whether he’ll be a consistent goal scorer at the collegiate Division I level. He is no relation to Michigan’s Kevin Lynch.

Defenseman Brennan Serville was an original commit to Canisius before deciding to sign on with Michigan. The 6’3” 195 pound Serville is a Winnipeg Jets draft choice and played in the OJHL with the Stouffville Spirit team. He isn’t much of an offensive threat, but can skate, has good vision and should settle in quickly into the Wolverines d-man rotation.

Mike Chaisson was a late add (which tells me that the staff predicted Burlon’s intentions to leave) but will provide additional blue line depth. He toiled for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL last season and served as team captain. He’s an older recruit (20) which should lend some maturity to the rest of his class. He is former Red Wing Steve Chaisson’s son and wears his father’s #3. Unfortunately, his father was killed in an alcohol related car accident many years ago right at the end of his playing days with the Calgary Flames.

Michael Szuma is a “preferred walk-on” defender that will have to battle for playing time. He’s not big, but he is mobile and can get at it on both ends of the ice. He’s from Novi and played in the NAHL for the Michigan Warriors last season.

Other Changes of note:

Assistant coach Mel Pearson who was courted by his alma mater, Michigan Tech, initially turned down the opportunity to coach the Huskies, but later reconsidered and accepted the job. He is surrounding himself with other U-M hockey graduates to try to restore that program.

In turn, Michigan hired former Wolverine player Brian Wiseman to take over Pearson’s role. Pearson will be missed for his leadership, humor and excellent recruiting ability.

Next up: A review of the schedule, the CCHA and the monumental change taking place in the hockey landscape.

Become a GBMWolverine member and talk hockey in the forum. Stay tuned to the forum for the latest Michigan Hockey news… Go Blue!

Please comment on our GBMWolverine Message Board about this article and read what others comment.

You can contact us at our e-mail address: GBMWolverine

Follow us on Twitter: @GBMWolverine
Follow us on Twitter: @YostMeister

Written by GBMWolverine Staff — YostMeister

Go Blue — Wear Maize!