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Eye surgery slowing goaltender Rutledge's progress

By Matt Slovin, Daily Sports Editor
Published October 3, 2012

Michigan’s cloudy goaltending situation became even more obscured when Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson announced Wednesday that freshman goaltender Jared Rutledge hasn’t been able to face shots yet this year due to a contact lens adjustment.

Junior defenseman Mac Bennett referenced an eye surgery and said Rutledge had previously been progressing quite nicely, but Berenson wouldn’t confirm that he underwent surgery.

Berenson hasn’t shied away from tapping Rutledge as the heir apparent to Shawn Hunwick who graduated last spring. Hunwick leaves a gaping hole in the crease for the Wolverines after emerging as a Hobey Baker Award candidate last season and allowing just two goals per game on average.

“(Rutledge) had some adjustments with his contacts in the early going so he’s not ready to take shots yet,” Berenson said on a CCHA coaches conference call with the media. “We’re looking at (freshman goalie) Steven Racine and (junior goalie) Adam Janecyk.”

Berenson said the eye trouble could preclude Rutledge from being the starter at the outset of the season.

“If you have to make any adjustments in terms of his vision, then it’ll take time,” Berenson said. “I’m not counting on him playing Sunday (in the team’s scrimmage) unless there’s a big change.”

Despite his freshman status, the 21-year-old Racine will have the most experience of the four goalies on the roster. But Racine, too, is coming off a summer shortened by surgery. The pecking order behind Rutledge isn’t clear, but it would seem Racine, who went undefeated in the Ontario Junior Hockey League last season, holds the edge.

“(Racine’s) just starting to get close to 100 percent,” Berenson said. “But he looks pretty good.”

Redshirt sophomore Luke Dwyer rounds out the goaltending quartet. Berenson added that this will be the first time in his 29 years at Michigan that the team will have carried that many goalkeepers.

“He had some problem with his eye when he had his eye tested,” Berenson said. “There was nothing wrong with him as far as he was concerned, but when he got it tested, they didn’t like what they saw. And they fixed it, and he’ll see the doctor (Thursday) and he’ll start taking shots (Thursday).”

Berenson added that the early season setback would be enough to throw Rutledge behind the learning curve.

“He’ll be behind a little bit,” Berenson said. “They’ll fit him with a new contact and he should be ready to take shots.”