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Notebook: Freshman Lynch sits after sustaining head injury against MSU

Paul Sherman/Daily
Freshman forward Travis Lynch struggled to skate off the ice after suffering a blow to the head against the Spartans on Saturday. Buy this photo

By Matt Slovin, Daily Sports Writer
Published December 12, 2011

Saturday’s series finale against Michigan State had just begun when freshman forward Travis Lynch slunk to the ice after taking a hard hit. Michigan coach Red Berenson said it initially “didn’t look serious.”

But after sitting for the remainder of the contest in East Lansing, the training staff is going to sit Lynch a bit longer. He missed practice on Monday because of the same injury.

“He hit his head on the ice … in the second shift of the game,” Berenson said. “(The hit) caught him off guard. We’ll just see how he gets.”

Though Lynch has fallen silent since a hot start to the season — he hasn’t scored since before Thanksgiving — the injury still takes away valuable depth from the forward corps. The unit was stretched especially thin in Saturday’s game with freshman forward Phil Di Giuseppe gone to try out for Canada's junior national team.

And with Di Giuseppe still gone on Monday, the ice looked particularly empty during practice when the forwards and defensemen split, with the two freshmen noticeably absent.

Berenson said he remains optimistic about Lynch’s road to recovery. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the Wolverines are in the midst of a three-week break from game action. Lynch is expected to return to the lineup when Michigan faces off against Boston College in the Great Lakes Invitational on Dec. 29 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

“He should be fine (for the tournament),” Berenson said Monday.

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: With final exams and travel plans in the near future, the Wolverines have more to think about than the holiday tournament that awaits them upon their return to Ann Arbor. But hockey will hardly be an afterthought during the mini break from team activities.

“It’s a long time,” Berenson said. “It’s really hard to (take time off midseason).”

But at the very least, Michigan is pleased it will enter the holiday vacation playing its best hockey in weeks. The Wolverines have won two of their last three games and they have a chance to make a huge statement when they resume play against No. 3 Boston College at the Great Lakes Invitational.

“When we come back, we have work to do still,” said senior captain Luke Glendening. “I’ve been really encouraged by what we’ve done in the past couple games.”

Berenson said he thinks the break won’t disrupt the team’s momentum, but rather foster it.

“I think the positive thing is we’re coming off a good stretch,” Berenson said. “Our team knows that at least they aren’t going into Christmas vacation with our tail between our legs.

“On the other hand, I think we’re going into it with a sense of humility too. You look at our first 20 games — it’s tough to say we played really well, and our last 10 weren’t very good.”

PUN INTENDED: Berenson spoke frankly about a new healthy scratch from Saturday — junior forward Lindsay Sparks.

“He was an offensive spark at the start of the year,” Berenson said. “(But) he’s not playing that well.”

After notching 11 points in the first seven games of the season, Sparks has fallen into a long slump. He has recorded just one point since Nov. 4.

To replace him, Berenson gave two fresh pairs of legs a chance to skate. Junior forward Jeff Rohrkemper and freshman forward Andrew Sinelli dressed Saturday night and “worked hard,” according to Berenson.

NOTES: Freshman forward Alex Guptill was named CCHA Gongshow Rookie of the Week for his performance against Michigan State. Guptill became the team’s leading scorer with his ninth goal of the season en route to a three-point weekend. … Sinelli went up against the team he originally committed to when he played against the Spartans on Saturday. When asked if he thought that the change of plans would give the freshman additional motivation, Berenson responded he “hoped it would.” Sinelli notched a point — his first of his career — on sophomore forward Luke Moffatt’s equalizer in the second period.