Settling back into their old positions wasn’t what Michigan freshman Chris Summers and senior Tim Cook envisioned for February after spending most of the season adjusting to new posts.

But in an effort to find the magic chemistry that might lead to a CCHA playoff title and a run at the Frozen Four, Michigan coach Red Berenson has swapped Summers into a forward slot and returned Cook to defense for this weekend’s games at Bowling Green and against Michigan State.

Summers is excited about the prospects of moving up the ice, particularly because he will line up with sophomore Andrew Cogliano and junior Chad Kolarik on Michigan’s second line.

Summers believes he can help the pair continue to find the back of the net by providing protection with his 6-foot-2, 185 pound frame.

“(Cogliano and Kolarik) designated me as the first forechecker,” Summers said. “I’m kind of the body guy for that line, so I should have a little fun with it.”

In addition to helping out his linemates, Summers hopes to add some points, especially after notching his first collegiate goal on Saturday night.

Skating as a forward for much of last season, Summers scored six goals in 59 games with the United States National Team Development Program’s under-18 team. The freshman even found the back of the net for the game-winning goal at the World Under-18 Championships in Sweden. But skating as a defenseman at Michigan, Summers failed to light the lamp in the first 29 games of this season.

Having seen alternate captain Jason Dest ice last Friday’s 7-4 victory at Western Michigan on Friday with a score, Summers laughingly envisioned his first goal coming in a similar fashion. Little did he know, it would come just 24 hours later.

“(The first goal) was kind of funny because I was joking about it with (sophomore Mark) Mitera the night before after Dest got the empty net,” Summers said. “I said ‘Watch my first goal be an empty net,’ and I told him I wouldn’t accept it if it was. But I don’t really care how it comes as long as it goes on the board.”

Regardless of whether or not Summers can score on a goaltender, Cogliano considers Summers’s speed and forechecking abilities among the best on the team. Even with the adjustments Summers will have to make, Cogliano is optimistic the freshman will make a difference.

“(Summers) will definitely create space,” Cogliano said. “I think the only thing he will need to get accustomed to will be getting the puck on the boards and playing well in the neutral zone. If he does that, he will definitely create space for Chad and I.”

The adjustment will likely be even smoother for Cook, who always skated as a defenseman before this season. The senior has been forced to switch from defense to forward and back several times this season, and he has been recognized by Berenson for it.

Having skated at forward in recent games, Cook has picked up some different habits, but practicing on defense this week helped him work out the kinks.

“(The adjustment) is not really that tough because I played defense my whole life,” Cook said. “For a second, sometimes you will catch yourself doing something that you did on forward, but that is gone after a practice or two. Defense is like second nature to me, it’s going forward that’s a tougher transition.”

Even though Cook’s shift will change the chemistry of the whole unit, his experience playing with Mitera and Dest will help ease the burden.

After playing just 24 games as a freshman and sitting out the NCAA Tournament during his sophomore year, Cook has matured into a reliable defenseman. Senior captain Matt Hunwick believes that Cook’s presence will help solidify the blue line unit as the regular season winds to a close.

“(Cook) brings a veteran presence back to the blue line,” Hunwick said. “He is able to kill penalties and is reliable on the ice. He just knows how to play the game as a senior. Over the past couple of years, he has tried to learn the game more from a defensive standpoint.”

Cook will still have the opportunity to jumpstart the offense. During scoring lulls this season, the defensive and neutral zone transition have been sticking points for the Wolverines. As Cook has matured as a player, Hunwick notes that Cook’s ability to aid the transition game has vastly improved.

“I think (Cook) has gotten a lot better and getting back to the puck and making that first play,” Hunwick said. “In the past, he has relied on just throwing it off the glass, but now he’s able to make the first good pass and get the puck out of the zone.”

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