PLYMOUTH, Mich. — Despite departing the Michigan hockey team for the San Jose Sharks, Michigan alumnus Thomas Bordeleau’s Ann Arbor roots remain deep — especially due to the impact that the 2021-22 Wolverines squad left on the program for years to come.
Bordeleau emerged as a large locker room presence during his final year at Michigan, putting up 37 points in 37 games and helping the Wolverines to the Frozen Four, where they ultimately fell to Denver in the semifinals.
Despite the loss, Bordeleau is confident that the season remained a resounding success.
“I want to say we left our mark,” Bordeleau said. “We didn’t really accomplish everything you want to accomplish, but we did a lot of great things.”
And whether it means playing with former teammate Luke Hughes at the 2022 IIHF World Championship or visiting Vegas Golden Knights winger Brendan Brisson in Los Angeles, Bordeleau is making sure to maintain his connection to Ann Arbor.
Now, as Bordeleau trains for the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, it is the perfect opportunity for him to keep in contact with his closest Michigan connections, while also getting another chance to play with Team USA without the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bordeleau notably missed out on the 2020 World Junior Championship because his roommate, fellow Michigan forward Johnny Beecher, received a false positive test. The next year, he caught COVID-19 himself and missed the championship again.
“What happened to me those two times was pretty unfortunate,” Bordeleau said. “(This year is) kind of my shot at redemption.”
After his first practice at the 2022 Team USA National Junior Evaluation Camp, Bordeleau heaped praise upon his former teammate, junior defenseman Jacob Truscott, which showcased his commitment to the Wolverines and seeing his former teammates’ triumphs, even without him on the ice.
And even at the professional level, Bordeleau has prioritized retaining ties with his Michigan teammates, such as Seattle Kraken center Matty Beniers.
When San Jose traveled to Seattle on April 29, Bordeleau’s legacy in Ann Arbor became a clear factor in the contest, as he played head-to-head against his former teammate for the first time at the professional level. The two even engaged in a face-off against one another, a moment Bordeleau reflects on fondly.
“Facing off against each other for the first time was … pretty surreal,” Bordeleau said. “It was a fun moment for even our parents who are pretty close.”
And after heavily influencing the program alongside players like Beniers in 2021-22, Bordeleau hopes for a strong turnaround for his former team, especially due to the framework he helped to impose onto the program.
“I just hope that they … keep practicing our practices and processes that we had,” Bordeleau said. “I really hope that they’re going to keep doing well.”
While the future success of the Michigan hockey team remains unclear, Bordeleau’s unwavering support for the program he once played for is strong.