He may not be making an impact on the ice during games because of an academic suspension, but Cooper Marody still manages to contribute for the No. 17 Michigan hockey team.
While the stat sheet was once filled with his own scores in the goal column, the sophomore center now keeps tabs of his teammates' chances as he sits on the bench with the coaching staff during games.
“Particularly during the games, in the weekend, we’ll give him something to do and then he can get back to us in between periods as to what he sees,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “Because he’s a center, I want him to be dialed in on faceoffs. We’ve had him critique our power play as well. We try to keep his head into the games, especially the home games.”
This weekend, as the Wolverines take on No. 4 Boston University, Marody will have the chance to spend time with his teammates on game day again — something he was unable to do the past two weeks because he is prohibited from traveling. He will resume his typical duties of stat-tracking at Yost Ice Arena, though.
Last week, he took advantage of the team’s early departure. While his team prepared its gameplan in Tempe, Ariz., Marody skated Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings.
Six weeks remain before Marody can put on the new Nike maize-and-blue sweater for the first time. For now, though, he continues to push himself in practices. Mornings when he doesn’t have class, he will work out in the weight room, oftentimes by himself — something that Berenson and Marody’s fellow players recognize.
“The only thing he can do right now is work hard in practice,” said senior goaltender Zach Nagelvoort. “He can make the guys better in practice by playing his hardest, working hard every single rep. That’s where he’s going to be able to make a difference to this team right now.”
Added junior forward Tony Calderone: “He knows he can’t play. But, he’s in the gym every day, being a positive influence, trying to make everyone better. Playing against a guy like that in practice will make you better (because) you’re playing against guys like that all the time in games. I think he’s making everyone better out there. (Marody’s a) very skilled player, and it’s very cool to watch him out there.”
When Marody practices, his physical skills on the ice become obvious. He shows his ability to shoot the puck from all across the ice and continues to improve his skate speed. According to Berenson, Marody’s skills separate him from his teammates, as he focuses on developing his skating, puck touches and strength.
“Certain times, he’ll get the puck and he’ll score from anywhere,” Berenson said. “He knows how to score. He can be a special player with the puck. We all wish he was playing, (but he’s) taking advantage of the practices, (and putting in) extra work in the weight room.”
The time off the ice during games allowed Marody to focus on becoming a mentor for the younger players. He may be just a sophomore, but on a young Michigan team, his year of experience could prove invaluable.
Marody endured some highs last year — like scoring a goal in four straight games, including the game-winner against Niagara last November — and some unfortunate lows, like missing six games due to mononucleosis.
“He played a big role last year,” Calderone said. “He can give all his advice to those guys, the younger guys. Spreading (his) knowledge and experience that he had will be helpful to the younger guys.”
Added Berenson: “(His role is) to be a good teammate. To be a good mentor for the young players, especially. For our team as a whole, push other guys in practice so that he’s trying to make them better so our team will be better.”
It is unclear which line Marody will join once he returns in late December for the Great Lakes Invitational. In practices, Marody pairs up with players who are not normally a part of the regular line chart, like junior forward Alex Talcott and — before he returned from his own suspension — freshman forward Adam Winborg. Marody has not yet played with first-line players like senior Alex Kile and freshman Will Lockwood, or even his former line partner Calderone. This will happen in the week before he returns, according to Berenson.
When Marody returns for the puck drop against Michigan Tech on Dec. 29, he is sure to have an instant effect.
“He has a chance to make an impact on our team when he comes back,” Berenson said. “He’s had a chance to watch games, but he hasn’t played them. It’s one thing to watch, another thing to play, but I still think he’s got the pulse of the team and he knows what he has to do to be an impact player. He’ll get the chance, and all this work should pay off the minute that he plays his first game.”
And maybe the next time he looks at a stat sheet, he’ll see his name alongside his teammates in the goal column again.