Sophomore forward Thomas Bordeleau has been a mainstay for the Michigan hockey team this season, recording six goals and 15 assists for the Wolverines. But his season was put to a halt in December after a positive test for COVID-19, which forced him to miss the World Junior Championship.
Saturday against Penn State — Bordeleau’s second game back — when Michigan wasn’t producing offensively or defensively, adjustments had to be made.
“We had to get a spark so we moved (sophomore forward Brendan) Brisson back down with Bordeleau,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson said. “They’ve played together a lot and it worked out that they ended up getting the winning goal on Saturday.”
Bordeleau adds a different dimension to the Wolverines’ offense. Last season, he scored eight goals and had 22 assists. And not only can he win key draws, he can also add a dynamic element to the power play.
After not playing for over a month, Bordeleau’s weekend performance was rustier than usual. But this experience and skill will quickly catch him up to the rest of the group.
“He does many things for our team,” Brisson said. “He’s always making plays and being solid defensively … you get a guy like Thomas to be back in the lineup and it really helps.”
Able to shake off the rust, Bordeleau registered an assist in both games against the Nittany Lions.
The first came six minutes into game one. Gliding a high pass to freshman forward Mackie Samoskevich, the winger caught the puck out of the air and fed it to freshman defenseman Luke Hughes, who fired the puck past the goaltender.
Bordeleau’s second assist came in the closing minutes of game two. The score tied at three, Bordeleau fired a shot from the slot, which was blocked and fell to Brisson for the rebound finish.
In addition to facilitating the game-winning goal, Bordeleau also won 10 out of his 13 faceoffs and had one block in the second game. Although he didn’t score any goals, his record indicates that those will come soon enough.
Bordeleau has significant history with players on the Michigan roster, spending two seasons with sophomore forward Matty Beniers at the US National Team Development Program. He’s also shared a line with Brisson the past two seasons at Michigan. Having a few familiar faces in Ann Arbor helped him achieve Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Second Team All-Big Ten last season.
Beniers knows what Bordeleau is capable of.
“He’s got speed, skill and he’s showing them the puck,” Beniers said. “He made really good plays and started to put the puck in the net a little bit more. He’s just an all-around guy and he’s gonna be really important down the stretch.”
Undoubtedly, Bordeleau missed an opportunity to showcase his abilities in the World Junior Championship.
With Brisson and Beniers leaving for the Olympics in February, the Wolverines will rely heavily on him to score in front of goal.
Now he has another shot to prove himself.