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Michigan's backstop in CCHA playoffs? Berenson: 'That's the toughest question'

Patrick Barron/Daily
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By Matt Slovin, Managing Editor
Published February 14, 2013

Despite all the soft goals the Michigan hockey team’s netminders have allowed this season, coach Red Berenson has kept up hope that one would emerge as his go-to guy.

Berenson’s always been a one-goalie coach and he knows that the constant uncertainty surrounding the position doesn’t help.

“That’s been the difficulty all year, getting a consistent go-to goalie, and it’s hard for the goalies,” Berenson said. “They could easily make the point that, ‘I’m just getting a few games under my belt, and they pull me.’ But I want to see a goalie that gives us a chance to win and I'll play him every night. That’s been our history here, but we haven’t had that goalie this year.”

With four games remaining before the CCHA playoffs, and with desperation having set in months ago, Berenson seems ready to use the opportunity to give his fourth goalie a shot — redshirt sophomore Luke Dwyer.

“Dwyer is in the picture now,” Berenson said. “He would’ve been in the picture a month ago or two months ago had he not broken his collarbone.”

Dwyer was injured in November while playing pickup football.

The Plymouth, Mich. native played high-school hockey at Huron High School before trying out for a junior team in Port Huron, Mich. Dwyer made the roster, but also found out he’d been admitted to the University, and he decided to enroll.

During his freshman year, Dwyer, who wasn’t recruited by Michigan, didn’t play hockey at all. But according to Berenson, he would suit up for open skates at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube.

“He’d go out there with his goalie equipment, skating,” Berenson said. “It’s a pretty good story.”

The next year, Michigan was in need of a third goalie and Berenson knew where to find one.

“I looked him up and asked him if he’s interested,” Berenson said. “And he said he’d like to.”

Berenson never gave Dwyer any promise that he’d see the ice, and so far, he hasn’t. Dwyer hasn’t played a game of organized hockey in three years. But with the goalie situation showing no signs of improvement after freshman Jared Rutledge allowed 11 goals in last weekend’s pair of losses to Notre Dame, the team is running out of time to find a frontrunner to lead the team into the CCHA Tournament.

Who would it be if the season were to end today?

“That’s the toughest question you could ask me,” Berenson said.

Before Rutledge’s disastrous weekend, he had been gaining momentum, leading the Wolverines to their first sweep of the season over Michigan State. The other freshman candidate, Steven Racine, has started just one game in 2013 — a 5-4 loss to Alaska. Junior Adam Janecyk was tagged for eight combined goals in his last two starts against Western Michigan.

That’s why Berenson has decided to entertain the idea of using Dwyer.

“If he ends up traveling to Ohio State … you might see him.”

The next week of practice should dictate which direction Michigan goes in between the pipes. Berenson has stressed that he’ll stick with one goalie for the playoffs, when an immaculate run will be needed to continue the season. And time is running short for one goalie to rise above the pack.