The year was 1984. Harrison Ford was a whip-wielding super hero Indiana Jones while Kenny Loggins was tearing up the airwaves with “Footloose.”
But there is another reason that 1984 was so special – coach Red Berenson coached his first CCHA hockey game as the head coach of the Michigan hockey team.
“It’s as clear in my mind (today),” Berenson said. “We started the game (against Miami) and I couldn’t believe it – it was an absolute war. I couldn’t believe the hockey – the high-sticking and the cross-checking across the head. And I called the league commissioner after the first period.”
Now, 21 years later, Berenson and his third-ranked Wolverines will return where it all began – Goggin Arena, the home of the RedHawks.
This weekend’s series will mark the last time Berenson and the Wolverines will play in Goggin Arena. Miami is playing their final season in the old arena before it will move into the new Miami Ice Arena next season.
“Goggin Arena is an exciting place, and we’ve had some exciting games in there,” Berenson said. “I think it’s time, and it’ll be a great move for their program and school to build a new building and facility.”
Michigan (5-1-1 CCHA, 9-3-1 overall) will play No. 8 Miami (8-1-1, 9-2-1) this weekend in what could be a preview of the Mason Cup championship in March.
Currently, Miami sits in first place in the conference with 17 points while the Wolverines are in third – behind Ohio State – with 13 points. Both teams come into the series after two completely different Thanksgiving weekends. The RedHawks are coming off a sweep of Bowling Green, outscoring the Falcons 11-4. On the other hand, Michigan is still feeling the sting of a College Hockey Showcase sweep at home. The poor performance prompted senior captain Andrew Ebbett to call out his fellow teammates, and the team’s performance this week in practice indicates that the Wolverines took his advice to heart.
“I think (the team) has responded well,” Berenson said. “One of the reasons all these kids came here is because they knew they would get a chance to play. Now we need to play just a little better, and I think they understand that.”
One of the things the Wolverines worked on this week was improving their power play, which had been abysmal against then-No. 7 Minnesota and then-No. 2 Wisconsin. Over last weekend, the team went a combined 1-for-15.
Michigan will also have to improve its defense by the blueliners and forwards.
“Teams like Minnesota and Wisconsin have their defensemen coming up on the play all the time, and Miami is going to do the same thing,” Ebbett said. “So we’re really working on our forwards having a defensive attitude.”
RedHawks defensemen Andy Greene and Mitch Ganzak have been a big part of the team’s success this season as evidenced by both of them notching nine points – good for third on the team.
Michigan’s own defense duo – freshman Jack Johnson and junior Matt Hunwick – have scored 13 points and nine points, respectively. But to be effective for Michigan, they will have to avoid the mistakes made against the Badgers, including a defensive miscue that allowed the game-wining goal.
Notes: Berenson admitted that the coaching staff had decided who would start Friday night’s game between the pipes, but he would not release his decision until tonight – Alternate captain Brandon Kaleniecki – who left the Wisconsin game early due to injury – sat out of practice on Monday and Tuesday but was back on Wednesday. According to Berenson, the Livonia native will be healthy enough to play this weekend.