Chad Kolarik opened eyes during his impressive freshman year. Notching 18 goals and 17 assists, Kolarik was named a CCHA All-Rookie Team honorable mention. He especially made his mark on the power play, where he scored 11 times. Those 11 power-play goals were tops on the Michigan hockey team and the most scored by a Michigan freshman in 15 years.
But Kolarik got off to a surprisingly slow start this year. Through the Wolverines’ first seven games, Kolarik had totaled just four points – all assists. Despite his high-scoring freshman season, Kolarik seemed to be repeating a trend. Last year, he managed just four points in his first eight games. Still, the sophomore was concerned about his low total to start his second campaign.
“I was pressuring myself a little too much,” Kolarik said. “I was thinking 18 goals was pretty good (last year) so I wanted to score more than 18 this season.”
While he struggled with the stick on the ice, Kolarik stepped up his work with his pen off the ice. During Michigan’s long trek to Alaska at the end of October, Kolarik kept a daily journal about the team’s activities in the days leading up to the games. The sophomore enjoyed doing it, but it wasn’t initially his idea.
“I didn’t really volunteer with (sports information director Matt) Trevor,” Kolarik said. “When he asked us to do it, Matt Hunwick and T.J. Hensick were the only guys there, so I said I’d do it. It was fun. I had a good time writing it.”
In addition to writing papers for his classes, keeping the journals has helped Kolarik get out some of his thoughts, while also showing people what the team is like off the ice.
“It’s a good way to express yourself,” Kolarik said. “You can get everything out in the open and let everyone know what is happening with the team outside of hockey.”
Kolarik’s interest in writing peaked thanks to Randy Tessier – Kolarik’s teacher in both English classes he took last year.
“I took (English) 225 with him and then 325 this spring,” Kolarik said. “He helped me a lot with my writing. It wasn’t one of my strong points, but I think it’s definitely going to be. It has gotten a lot better.”
Even though Kolarik didn’t keep a journal during last weekend’s trip to Northern Michigan, he wouldn’t mind doing it again if he was asked to.
“If my number gets called again I would definitely do it,” Kolarik said.
Kolarik’s newfound hobby has coincided with a revival on the ice. Before the Wolverines began their home-and-home series against Notre Dame on Nov. 4, Michigan coach Red Berenson switched Kolarik from right-wing to center. The move paid off immediately for Kolarik and the Wolverines. In the first game at Notre Dame, Kolarik scored his first goal of the season and added an assist in a Michigan win. Back at Yost the next night, Kolarik tallied two more goals, including the game-winner.
“(Berenson) tried me at center last year, and it worked out,” Kolarik said. “I went on a good point streak last year, too, when he moved me to center around Christmas time. And it’s worked out so far this year.”
The change has continued to work out for Kolarik, who added another goal and an assist in last weekend’s series sweep at Northern Michigan. The center position is more suited to Kolarik’s talents, which makes him a greater threat on offense.
“I’m more of a speedy guy,” Kolarik said. “I get my feet moving in the middle (of the ice), I touch the puck a lot more, and I can make more plays.”