- Paul Sherman/Daily
By Matt Slovin, Managing Editor
Published March 13, 2013
Sophomore forward Andrew Sinelli quickly ducked through the on-ice door at Yost Ice Arena after practice on Wednesday.
At the blue line stood Jacob Trouba, named to the CCHA All-Conference team earlier in the day. If Sinelli didn’t step off the rink fast, he’d be in the path of one of Trouba’s signature slapshots. Forgive Sinelli if he didn’t want to be on the wrong end of a Trouba laser.
Earlier this week, Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson expressed surprise at freshman forward Boo Nieves’s omission from the CCHA’s all-rookie team.
Trouba’s inclusion on the all-league list surprised, well, no one.
“As he should be,” said junior defenseman Mac Bennett, when told of his defensive partner’s accolade.
Added Berenson: “I think Jacob’s had a strong year right from the start. When you’re a freshman, you have to have an impact season to be selected for that level. And good for him because there aren’t many freshmen.
“He did it on a team that maybe didn’t impress people for most of the year.”
Trouba received eight first-place votes, the most for any freshman, and 43 total votes, good for third overall. The only other freshman on the first team is Miami (Ohio) forward Riley Barber.
Berenson believes that Trouba and Bennett form the best defensive pairing to play for Michigan in quite some time. They began skating together against Notre Dame in February, and though the results weren’t immediate, the team is currently riding a six-game unbeaten streak thanks, in part, to its solid defense.
“We’re getting good consistency from our defense,” Berenson said. “As good as Jacob is, and as good as Mac is, you need a good partner. Ironically, the player that Mac played with last year (then-senior Greg Pateryn) is playing for the Montreal Canadiens (Wednesday) so that just shows you that it’s good to have a good partner.”
According to Bennett, what makes the duo so special is their off-ice friendship.
“I think that really makes a huge difference in terms of chemistry,” Bennett said. “I can laugh with that guy, I can joke with that guy, but at the same time, I know he’s got my back no matter what. And I think that makes a difference when it comes to game time.”
Berenson said that, though the program has had its share of high-profile freshmen in the past, “very few” have lived up to the lofty expectations that Trouba faced coming into Ann Arbor.
“He’s a first rounder, a top-10 pick (in the NHL Draft),” Bennett said. “Obviously there’s a lot of hype that he had to live up to, and he did it. There’s a reason he’s drafted so high. He’s just a really solid, skilled — can be a shut-down guy, can be a physical guy, can be an offensive guy — there’s a little bit of everything.
“He’s a very special part of this team.”
PARKER HANGS ‘EM UP: When legendary Boston University coach Jack Parker announced his retirement Monday after 40 seasons at the helm, it meant Berenson could add another distinction to his laundry list of them.
Berenson is now tied for the longest-tenured coach in college hockey with Gary Wright of American International. They’ve been at their respective programs for 29 years.
“I look up to (Parker) because he was a college coach for a long time before I came here,” Berenson said. “It was a very respectful relationship.”