By Erin Lennon, Daily Sports Writer
Published June 12, 2014
Last November, when several Wolverines missed crucial games due to injury, Michigan coach Red Berenson had few options, so few that he handed forward Andrew Sinelli a defenseman spot for the rest of the season.
On Thursday, he gave himself a few more options, as the program officially announced the commitments of four players, expanding the 2014 class to eight.
The additions include forwards Tony Calderone and Alex Talcott and defensemen Sam Piazza and Niko Porikos.
Michigan, a team without a consistent defensive scoring threat last season, gains an attack-minded defender in Piazza, formerly of the North American Hockey League’s Wichita Falls Wildcats. A team captain, Piazza tallied 11 goals and 26 assists in 58 games, good for fifth in the NAHL.
“Sam is a defenseman who is not afraid to join the rush,” Michigan associate head coach Billy Powers told MGoBlue.com. “He’s got great offensive instincts.”
Powers said Porikos, a 21-year-old with two years of experience in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, also has two-way ability similar to that of Sinelli.
Though they may not be NHL prospect talents, these four recruits bring valuable experience. Each has played two years of junior hockey, and each is 19 or older.
A 20-year-old native of Kentwood, Mich., Talcott recorded 35 points in two seasons with the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League en route to a Clark Cup championship in May.
Another USHL prospect, Calderone was the first overall pick in the 2012 USHL Draft and finished the 2013-14 season second on the Sioux Fall Stampede in scoring with 24 goals and 17 assists.
“Tony comes here with the reputation of a player who puts numbers up and has a great shot,” Powers said. “Offensively, we expect Tony to add to his game here.”
The class now features three defensemen and five forwards, a good balance for a team that lost a contributing pair of defensemen and forwards in April. Still, last year’s freshman class totaled 10, and there is still time to add one or more commits before August 1.