DETROIT — Scoring highlight-reel goals and chalking up the stat sheet gets a player all the acknowledgment and praise in the world.

Take a look at Louie Caporusso’s last two seasons of 49 and 43 points, respectively, for the Michigan hockey team, and you’ll see a laundry list of accolades.

One of those was being named a Hobey Baker finalist — the equivalent to college football’s Heisman trophy — during his sophomore campaign.

But according to Caporusso, he’s finally learned there’s a little more to being a Division-I hockey player than all the glory like playing defensive-minded hockey without the puck and helping the Wolverines chase an all-elusive national championship.

As the senior alternate captain stood in the recesses of the Joe Louis Arena basement following the Wolverines’ 4-2 victory over Notre Dame, Caporusso discussed his transition from being a prolific goal scorer to a more “complete player.”

“The first couple years, all I cared about was scoring,” Caprousso said. “Sometimes it hurts your stats a bit, but it will help me in the long run. The key is to just keep plugging away.

“The stats give you all the glory, but you know in your heart if you’re improving or not. I feel like I’m doing that.”

After sustaining a lower-body injury that kept him out of the Michigan’s previous three games leading up to the CCHA Tournament semifinals on Friday night, Caporusso finally returned to the ice with linemates Carl Hagelin and Chris Brown. Against Western Michigan, the Woodbridge, Ont. native said he struggled with timing a little bit during various aspects of the game.

“The first game back always sucks,” Caporusso said. “I didn’t expect to feel on top of my game. I didn’t expect to be feeling like I was flying out there. And that’s what I got — that’s how I felt out there. The key is to keep plugging away and staying positive. Slowly but surely, I came along throughout the weekend. I felt glimpses of where I felt really great, and then there were other times where I didn’t feel so great.”

The following night against the Fighting Irish, the Wolverine faithful who made the 45-minute trek down I-94 to “Yost East” as Joe Louis is sometimes referred to, saw a player who kept it simple on the ice.

With a goal and an assist against Notre Dame, Michigan fans saw a player who got a little bit of his scoring touch back after being out of game action for three weeks. And it saw a player grab just his 27th and 28th points of the year, a modest total considering Caporusso’s past two season totals.

Last year, he tallied 14 goals and eight assists in the team’s final 15 games — a huge contributing factor to Michigan’s run in the CCHA playoffs and NCAA Tournament.

And while he’s had bouts of streakiness in the past, Caporusso has been without a similar wave of offensive production this season. The Wolverines have at most four games left in the season if they make it to the NCAA title game in three weeks, and they could surely use some of that star power Caporusso has provided in the past.

“Goals are a funny thing,” Caprousso said. “They come in bunches. Unfortunately, I haven’t hit my hot streak this year … Usually, I score all my goals within a month, and then they come sparingly. Hopefully, the hot streak is still available.”

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