The No. 3 Michigan hockey team cancelled its game against No. 4 Western Michigan originally scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 30 due to health and welfare protocols, the team released in a statement.
At 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 27, a medical staff conference call decided that Michigan could only play one game of the Great Lakes Invitational — Wednesday’s matchup against No. 18 Michigan Tech. Michigan coach Mel Pearson was not a part of the call, but did relay his concerns to trainer Brian Brewster who took part. The Wolverines’ players and coaches were not told the call’s outcome until 4:30 p.m.
“It’s frustrating,” Pearson said. “I feel for the players. They want to play. We’re coaches, we want to coach.”
The decision came because Michigan’s roster was missing many skaters leading up to the GLI. Injuries to junior forward Johnny Beecher and sophomore defenseman Jacob Truscott kept them from practicing, and sophomore goaltender Erik Portillo missed extensive practice time. Sophomore defenseman Steve Holtz also sustained a shoulder injury at Ohio State and was unavailable.
COVID-19 made sophomore forward Thomas Bordeleau unavailable, and international duties took another five Wolverines. Michigan held some practices with just 14 skaters and a single goaltender. Because of that situation, the medical staff ruled that Michigan could play the Huskies but not the Broncos because of that situation.
“(Michigan is) maybe the best in the world as far as a medical community,” Pearson said. “So when they tell me and give me their thoughts on where we’re at, I accept that. I’m not going to go against that. I’m going to get fired if I go against that.”
A team spokesperson told the Daily on Tuesday, Dec. 27, that playing games on back-to-back nights would create wear and tear on the already depleted roster. The spokesperson maintained that the cancellation was not COVID-19 related. However, later information shows that COVID-19 protocols did take some players out of the lineup — namely Bordeleau.
Michigan was able to play with 18 skaters against the Huskies, ending the game in a scoreless tie.