The Michigan hockey team will be without one of its key players for the remainder of the season.
Sophomore forward Johnny Beecher — who missed the last two series against Ohio State and Arizona State with an upper-body injury — underwent shoulder surgery last week and will miss the rest of the season, as reported by Dominic Tiano of ohlwriters.me and Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now.
Beecher — a first-round draft pick of the Boston Bruins in 2019 — was a key contributor to the Wolverines’ offense in the 2019-20 season, totalling nine goals and seven assists in 31 games played. This season, he’s produced at a similar pace with four goals and four assists in 16 games.
The lack of improvement could, at least in part, be the result of Beecher playing through the injury this season. Though it’s unclear when Beecher first hurt his shoulder, the injury has bothered him for much of the season, according to Michigan coach Mel Pearson.
“It’s been an ongoing thing,” Pearson said on Feb. 22. “He’s played through it all year pretty much, and it just keeps getting aggravated, so we just gotta shut him down for a while.”
According to Tiano, who spoke with Bruins’ director of player development and player personnel advisor Jamie Langenbrunner, Beecher should be ready to play again in the fall, but no decision has been made yet whether that will be in Ann Arbor or Boston. In theory, the injury could prompt the Bruins to want Beecher to stay with the Wolverines for another season to recover.
This year, though, it means Michigan will need to look elsewhere to fill the hole left by Beecher. In Beecher’s absence, senior forward Jack Becker — who had been scratched Feb. 13 and 14 against Wisconsin, has filled in, picking up one goal against the Buckeyes and another against the Sun Devils. Elsewhere, senior Dakota Raabe, junior Nolan Moyle and freshman Philippe Lapointe have rotated in at forward, with Raabe tallying the trio’s only recent goal in the Feb. 20 matchup against Ohio State.
Beecher’s surgery comes at an inopportune time for the Wolverines, with the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments looming. Still, injuries are a reality of hockey, and Michigan will have to find ways to move forward without him.