Hagelin's playmaking ability bodes well for 'M' early on

Daily Sports Editor
Published October 20, 2010

He’s been all Swedish and no finish for the Michigan hockey team so far this season.

Through four games, senior forward Carl Hagelin, a native of Sodertalje, Sweden, has tallied just one lamplighter — an empty-net goal against Bowling Green in Michigan’s first conference series of the year.

“My shot just isn’t good enough to be a goal scorer at the moment,” Hagelin said, laughing at practice this week. “I go through phases during the year when I score more than getting assists sometimes. I’d like to score more, but I just haven’t been able to make my chances count.”

Michigan coach Red Berenson commented that he isn’t too concerned with his veteran’s lack of production so far. But at the same time, he hopes “Carl can get his game going as quickly as he can” since he is such an integral part of the offense.

Despite Hagelin’s inability to finish as frequently as he would like, he has been setting up his teammates all over the ice and has a team-leading four helpers.

Last weekend at then-No. 9 New Hampshire, he registered two primary assists, both of which came on the power play for the Wolverines. His second assist on Michigan’s third goal was the type of play that Berenson hopes to see more of as the Wolverines host non-conference opponent Nebraska-Omaha this weekend.

“We’re telling him, ‘Look for the open man, and move the puck quick,' " Berenson said. "Then, it takes the patience and the skill to make the play — it’s all timing.”

Midway through the third period on Saturday and with the score knotted at two, Michigan had a man-advantage for a third time. After receiving a pass in the right corner from fellow senior Matt Rust, Hagelin looked to return the puck back to Rust. But with a cheating defenseman inching toward Rust, Hagelin opted to cut to the net, where he saw a Wildcat defender staring him down.

But Hagelin picked up his head and saw junior defenseman Brandon Burlon cutting down the left side of the ice to the back door, and with a quick move, dished the puck to Burlon who deposited the puck short side past the Wildcat netminder.

Burlon then proceeded with what Hagelin described as “one of the worst celebrations I’ve ever seen.”

All joking aside, that particular play had been one the Wolverines have practiced since last season, according to Burlon. The secret to the play lies within the non-verbal communication between the two players.

Burlon mentioned that knowing where the other player is on the ice and being familiar with his tendencies definitely helps in orchestrating the play to perfection.

“I give credit to Carl and Rust working down on the far side,” Burlon said. “I was in the right place, Carl knew where I was and he put it on my tape and luckily I finished.”

Besides having the ability to locate a teammate on the ice, Hagelin added that it’s crucial for Burlon to make a subtle move to the net rather than “drawing attention to himself” by yelling or slamming his stick on the ice.

And while the play seems relatively inconsequential, it’s the heads-up move by Hagelin that will help place Michigan among the nation's elite as the season progresses. That type of tic-tac-toe passing and vision on the ice sets apart great players from good players.

“He saw the open ice and made the play,” Berenson said. “That should happen. That’s something all of our top players should definitely be able to do, and Carl’s one of our top players. I’m not surprised or overly impressed, I expect that.”