So, the fact that the Wolverines’ home opener is against the No. 11 team in the country wasn’t intentional. But Pearson is embracing it as an opportunity to test what his team is made of right off the bat.
Will Lockwood says his dad never told him much about his history at Michigan.
It’s hard to believe, given the kind of history Joe Lockwood made. As a freshman in January 1985, the first season of the Red Berenson era, Joe scored one of the most unexpected, historic goals ever to find twine at Yost Ice Arena.
Berenson didn’t have any expectations that his team, his group that had lost 9-0 to Ferris State the previous night, would even be able to play closely with the professional Russian team, Spartak Moscow, let alone beat them.
The power play system is new for the Wolverines this year, but their performance Sunday wouldn’t show it. Three goals on six opportunities is an impressive showing, though it requires the acknowledgement that it came in an exhibition matchup against a team that doesn’t compete in any division of the NCAA.
After going to the Frozen Four in 2018 and coming 3.7 seconds and an unlucky bounce from a potential spot in the national championship, expectations were high for the Wolverines last fall. They were ranked No. 4 in the USCHO preseason poll, the goaltender who backstopped them on a wild second-half run was back in net and all seemed to be in order.
Filling in the lineup each night will be quite the task for Mel Pearson this season. The Michigan coach will be forced to narrow down the 17 forwards on the roster to just 12 for each game, possibly 13 if he chooses to dress an extra forward as opposed to an extra defenseman. And when you look down the list, there are few — if any — players that are easy to leave out.
Things look very different on the blueline for Michigan this year.
Last season, the Wolverines were led defensively by Quinn Hughes, Joseph Cecconi and Nicholas Boka. Hughes was drafted No. 7 overall by the Vancouver Canucks in June 2018 and spent the vast majority of last season playing on the top defensive pairing with Cecconi, who joined the Dallas Stars after the season ended. Boka, while not the headliner that Hughes and Cecconi were, held down the right side of the second pairing and headed for the AHL’s Iowa Wild after graduating.
With three of its staple defensemen off to play professional hockey, Michigan now has to figure out how to fill their roles.