Junior defenseman Jon Merrill will return to the Michigan hockey lineup tonight for the exhibition game against the United States National Team Development Program’s Under-18s, the team announced today.

Merrill has been out since he suffered a cracked vertebrae in an Oct. 9 exhibition game against the University of Windsor (Ont.).

According to a team spokesman, Merrill “will dress and be available to play,” though his role is to be determined.

Merrill was expected to be an anchor of the Michigan blue line, which has failed to live up to the preseason hype that surrounded it. Last season, he notched 11 points in 19 games after being suspended for the season’s first half due to an undisclosed violation of team rules.

With freshman defenseman Jacob Trouba in Ufa, Russia for the World Junior Championships and junior defenseman Kevin Clare injured, senior forward Jeff Rohrkemper is expected to see time on defense.

The Wolverines officially begin their season’s second half Tuesday night when they host Bowling Green.

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