Through 16 games this season, Bryan Hogan has been on the bench for just four minutes and 21 seconds.
And during that time, he wasn’t watching a backup play in his place. The only reason he has been pulled this year has been to gain an extra attacker. During tomorrow night’s game against No. 18 Notre Dame, he will likely pass 1,000 total minutes on the season.
But Hogan says he isn’t fatigued. In fact, if he had it his way, he would be on the ice even more.
“It’s only a 40-game season, if that,” Hogan said. “We’re used to playing 68 games in juniors or something like that. That’s more of a grind than it is here. I’m fine. I wish there were more games, to be honest.”
Michigan coach Red Berenson isn’t concerned, either. And he isn’t hesitant to use Hogan in every game for the rest of the season, as long as he remains effective.
“Fatigue is not a factor,” Berenson said. “It would be different if he were giving up 45 shots a game. If fatigue were a factor, then I would give him some time off in practice.”
Despite the relatively short season, Hogan has racked up an unusually high number of minutes for a college hockey goalie. No. 16 Alaska is the only other team in the CCHA to have played just one goalie this season, and the conference’s other 10 teams have played their second-string goalies in at least three games.
Though Michigan (3-6-0-0 CCHA, 7-8-0 overall) is ranked 10th in the CCHA standings, Berenson said the team’s struggles don’t play a role in his decision to continue using Hogan instead of backup Shawn Hunwick, who has never started a game in his career.
Before the season began, it was clear that Hogan would receive the bulk of the action. Berenson even labeled Hunwick a “relief pitcher” in late September.
“Maybe if we were higher up in the standings, Coach would give me a shot,” Hunwick said. “But you gotta win every game. So if he thinks Hogie is the best goalie, he’s not going to give me a game just to give me a game.”
Earlier in the season, Hunwick seemed like a legitimate option. During the Wolverines’ five-game losing streak last month, Berenson considered turning to Hunwick when Hogan was struggling to make simple saves. Since then, those problems have subsided and Hogan’s job is completely secure.
“Right now, Hogie’s in a good place,” Berenson said. “Every weekend is an adventure. But was I thinking about (making a change)? Yeah. You have to think about it when your goalie is fighting the puck.”
During Berenson’s 26-year tenure, he has typically found success when he uses primarily one goalie.
Past Wolverine netminders like Marty Turco and Al Montoya played nearly every game. But Hogan isn’t used to playing full-time for Michigan, as he split time with Billy Sauer for the majority of last season.
“Traditionally, I have been a one-goalie coach,” Berenson said. “But last year, we had two I thought could play, and then it was up to them to show us who is the starting goalie.”
This year, Hogan has made that decision easy.