Hockey

Michigan hockey used its extended off season to bond more with its new freshmen.

While this offseason was less structured than a usual one, with players having to hold themselves accountable for their training in new environments, the team kept in constant contact to make sure everyone was staying involved.

Senior forward Jack Becker and his teammates created their own COVID guidelines for the Michigan hockey team to follow.

But the rules weren’t passed down from the university, the athletic department or even a coach. They were developed over the summer during a group conversation between all players on the team. Together, they talked about their expectations for each other and how to best minimize risk of infection.

Ian Hume has been the equipment manager for the Michigan hockey team for over 30 years, where he makes sure the team gets what it needs for games while forming bonds with players.

The dull whir of the skate sharpening machine sets a fitting background noise. 

Michigan freshman goalkeeper Jack Portillo spent last season with the USHL's Dubuque Fighting Saints and earning goalie of the year honors.

Portillo isn’t just coming to Michigan to play hockey. He’s here for the college experience — one he couldn’t get playing in a professional league — and views Mann’s presence as a positive.

College hockey season will be delayed due to COVID-19.

Following the delay of fall sports in the Big Ten, college hockey will be delayed as well, per a statement from the Hockey Commissioners Association, which governs all 11 Division I hockey leagues.

Strauss Mann is the fourth goaltender captain in Michigan history and the first in 78 years.

Mann started 35 games between the pipes and made 987 saves for a .939 save percentage in his sophomore campaign, earning him the title of Big Ten Goaltender of the Year. Now, he’ll be the Wolverines’ first non-senior captain in five years.

Cam York's two-way play makes him one of the best defensemen in the conference.

York’s game is representative of a bigger trend across all levels of hockey. Defensemen are no longer bruisers whose main purpose is to block shots and make checks. Instead, defenders are quick, elusive players who can operate as a fourth forward when their team is on the rush.

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What makes Beecher so effective is his rare combination of size and speed. Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 209 pounds, he is one of the biggest forwards on Michigan’s roster — and he uses that to his advantage.

Forward Kent Johnson is one of many freshmen poised to boost the Michigan hockey team's offense.

Last year’s three top scorers — forwards Jake Slaker, Will Lockwood and Nick Pastujov — are all gone. While those holes won’t be easy to fill, the freshman class knows how to get the puck into the net.

Matt Beniers joins Michigan's roster after playing for NTDP.

Without Matthew Beniers, the Wolverines would have an elite class of scorers and playmakers coming in this season. With him it’s downright ludicrous. Beniers also projects as a top-10 pick in 2021, and it’s easy to see why. His quick feet and puck skills helped him notch a team-leading 18 goals in 44 games for the U.S. National Under-18 Team last season, but he’s more than just a pure goal scorer.