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Assisted surprise: Moffie leading the Wolverines in points

Adam Glanzman/Daily
Junior defenseman Lee Moffie tallied four points last weekend against Northern Michigan and now leads Michigan with 29 total points of offense. Buy this photo

By Everett Cook, Daily Sports Editor
Published February 22, 2012

It’s October. Imagine you have some gambling tendencies — which, of course, you don’t — and are taking a look at the Michigan hockey team. You want to place a bet on who is going to be leading the Wolverines in points in late February.

You would have looked at the forwards first, maybe at senior David Wohlberg and junior Chris Brown. But you don’t want to limit yourself, so you take a gander at junior A.J. Treais and sophomore Luke Moffatt, and throw in a freshman, Phil Di Giuseppe.

If you want this list to be truly comprehensive, you’ll need to pick out a defenseman, just for kicks. You’d probably look to senior defenseman Greg Pateryn, the No. 1 defenseman.

It’s now late February, and you want to collect your money.

But thanks to Lee Moffie, you aren’t going to see any of it. Not a cent.

The junior defenseman has been on a tear the last month, vaulting himself to the top of Michigan’s points list.

He’s registered at least one point in six consecutive games — three goals and six assists — to add to his team-leading and career-high 29 points.

“Twenty-nine points as a defenseman is a big number to put up,” said senior goaltender Shawn Hunwick. “I looked up our team stats and was pretty surprised to see (Moffie) at the top, I thought he would be third or fourth.

“It’s great for our team. You can make up a lot of offense when you don’t have to rely on just the guys up front to create.”

Moffie took home CCHA Defensive Player of the Week honors after a four-point weekend against Northern Michigan, where he registered a goal and three assists. That goal-to-assist ratio is right in Moffie’s wheelhouse — he has six goals to go along with his 23 assists.

And it’s not like Moffie doesn’t have a good shot. Michigan coach Red Berenson often credits Moffie as being an offensive-minded defenseman, and Hunwick also gives credit to Moffie’s shot.

So how has Moffie racked up almost four times as many assists than goals?

“It’s a lot of luck,” he said. “Sometimes your best passes aren’t put in, but other times, you just chip the puck out and a guy scores. I feel like I’m looking to pass more than I’m looking to shoot, which probably isn’t a great thing, but it’s just kind of what my instincts tell me.”

Berenson thinks it could be a shot of confidence that has done the difference for Moffie. He was in and out of the lineup frequently in his first two years in Ann Arbor, finding consistent playing time for the first time in his career this season.

“When you score like that, you get some confidence,” Berenson said. “You start getting that feeling, and confidence is so important in hockey. Everybody can be good, but with confidence you can be great. That can be the difference.”

But Moffie doesn’t have the mindset that other Wolverines do. He looks for the assist more than the goal, which is rare for anyone, let alone an offensive defenseman.

“He always wants to shoot for sticks and talks about how much better a feeling it is when you set up a goal instead of scoring for yourself,” Hunwick said. “I think it’s a little bizarre myself, but I always tell him to shoot the puck.”

While Moffie may not be your prototype on offense, his style of play is working for the Wolverines. Moffie is paired with sophomore defenseman Jon Merrill, arguably one of the best defenseman in the country. The pair may not have similar styles of play, but they complement each other on both sides of the ice.

Merrill gives Moffie the confidence to jump up in the play, knowing that Merrill is going to have his back in the other zone.

“When you know you can count on a guy and he’s got the same mindset as you going into the game, you can use each other to play off each other and make plays,” Merrill said.

Merrill can count on Moffie the same way you can count your winnings.

Oh wait.


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