After the Michigan hockey team’s weekend sweep over Penn State, junior forward Tyler Motte has found himself in a spot he never dreamed of being: the leading goal scorer in the nation.
Through 23 games, Motte has netted 22 goals to go along with 13 assists. His previous career high for goals in a season was nine, and his productivity has blossomed in the 12 games since Michigan coach Red Berenson put him with junior forward JT Compher and freshman forward Kyle Connor on one line.
For all those reasons, Motte became the focal point for this week’s edition of Quick Hits.
The Michigan Daily: You’re the leading goal scorer in the NCAA. How does that feel?
Tyler Motte: It feels good. I’ve never been one to go back and look at stats and compare myself to even my teammates, but having that confidence in your back pocket never hurts.
TMD: Did you expect this of yourself? You always joke that you’re not a skill player and those are the ones who usually are at the top of the leaderboards.
TM: I don’t think I would’ve ever been the top goal scorer in the country. Like you said, I’ve never really been that type of player. I’ve always tried to be a 200-foot type guy, and that is really my game. But the chemistry with my linemates has worked out.
TMD: Your line has been pretty good. Is there a thing between you and JT where you guys are making sure Kyle, the freshman, doesn’t lead the nation in goals?
TM: No. (Laughs.) Not at all. We’ve been joking around with the guys about this. But it’s great to see a guy dominate as a freshman similar to (how) Dylan Larkin did it last year. Each of them dominated in different ways, but it’s great to see freshmen come to Michigan and be able to do that. Just to see JT and how he works and puts up numbers, he’s proud of that.
TMD: Well, JT had a nice toe drag this weekend. Were you like, “Wow, JT, how did you do that?”
Motte: Yeah, he might joke around and tell you he is a skill guy, too, but it was a phenomenal play, something he has in his back pocket.
TMD: It’s been coined the “CCM line.” Are you guys trying to earn a future sponsorship from them? What’s with that?
Motte: I didn’t quite know what it meant at first. I thought it was because we all used their sticks, but then JT doesn’t, he uses Bauer, and then I realized it had to do with our names. It’s pretty creative, though. It’s pretty good. I’ve definitely heard worse names for lines.
TMD: The team has been giving you crap for the beanie you wear. I see it’s changed colors.
Motte: Yeah. I got a new one. I found one in my closet. Some might call it bad press with that haircut article there, but it’s good, it’s fun.
TMD: You won’t take it off until you start slowing down with your points, right?
Motte: It’s no superstition.
TMD: Nolan is the team barber. Should one of our writers get a haircut from him?
Motte: I don’t know how open the barber shop is to walk-ins. But he does a good job. If he doesn’t make it in hockey, he could definitely open his own barber shop.
TMD: Describe Max Shuart.
Motte: I don’t know if there is one way to describe Max Shuart other than he’s a character. He sits next to me in the locker room and sometimes is a peanut gallery. He really has a good balance of having fun and enjoying things while also doing it the right way.
TMD: Could he beat Michael Downing in a fight?
Motte: I’d like to see a best-of-three or best-of-five series there. I could see it going either way.
TMD: You, JT and Kyle are all up for the Hobey Baker Award, but it can only be one.
Motte: Yeah. Unfortunately, that is how it goes. I think it could be unbelievable to see a freshman win back-to-back years.
TMD: When Kevin Porter won the Hobey in 2008, his linemate Chad Kolarik, who was up for the Hobey, wanted to vault Porter to win and pushed for it despite being a strong candidate as well. Have you guys discussed this?
Motte: I don’t think any of us focus on it that much, but to have another Hobey Baker winner at Michigan would be huge.
TMD: You took a nasty hit at the Garden. There are some pictures that show you chewing your mouthguard rather than wearing it. Why do you do that?
Motte: Well, I’ve had the same mouthguard here since my freshman year so it doesn’t exactly snuggly fit any more. Most guys don’t even wear them even more.
TMD: Will you wear one now?
Motte: We’ll see if the old one still fits. I might.
TMD: You’re growing quite the beard here. What’s with that?
Motte: There is no superstition behind the beard. I do tend to trim it up a bit. In the winter, I don’t like to go clean-shaven. It’s comfy.