He can’t be faulted for leaving the team.

Paul Wong
DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily
After taking last year off to concentrate on his studies, pre-med senior Brad Fraser is trying to earn back his spot on the Michigan hockey team.

He did leave the team for himself.

But he didn’t leave to make some agent rich.

Brad Fraser, a senior defenseman, left the Michigan hockey team last season to improve his academic standing.

“I’m doing pre-med now and I am going on to chiropracting school after, so there was a lot of work to be done,” Fraser said. “It was hockey or school that had to give, and school was more important.”

It’s been more than eight months since Fraser’s departure on Jan. 15. But with his grades improved and his tougher classes now out of the way, the future chiropractor is looking to reclaim his spot on the team and help win a national title in his final year.

But it won’t be easy for Fraser, who is currently trying out for the team as a walk-on and is watching redshirt freshman Reilly Olson, freshman Danny Richmond and junior forward-turned-defenseman David Wyzgowski impress coaches.

“Midway through the summer, when I really gave it a serious thought about coming back, I picked up my training and tried getting myself acclimated to these kinds of (practice) situations,” Fraser said. “Unfortunately, the only way to keep tempo with these guys is to play with them, and I didn’t get a whole lot of chances to skate with these guys.”

Fraser will make his return to competition tomorrow in the Blue/White game at Yost Ice Arena. He will be one of five walk-ons trying to impress coaches enough to get the chance to play. Yesterday, Fraser did get one opportunity that none of the other walk-ons have had: He played in a full practice. Normally walk-ons play in the first hour of practice, but do not return for the second hour after the break.

Coach Red Berenson explained that it was pain in sophomore Nick Marten’s foot – caused by a tight pair of skates – that allowed Fraser to play more so that Martens could rest when he needed to. Although it wasn’t the way he would want to get back in the everyday swing of things, Fraser did enjoy the full day.

“It’s not back to normal yet by any means, but it did feel good here being out for the entire practice,” Fraser said.

Although the Michigan coaches don’t usually support players leaving the team early, they understood Fraser’s unique situation.

“The coaching staff here wants you to do well in school; that’s why we’re here,” Fraser said. “If nobody goes on to have a hockey career after this, they’re fine with that as long as you take care of school, because that’s what is going to earn you the bucks. Hockey for them is something they enjoy doing, and they enjoy having (the players) here. And if the players go on (to the pros), great, but school is something the coaches really stress here.”

Fraser might play in his last game tomorrow for Michigan, as his career is in the coaching staff’s hands.

No matter what happens, he accepts his future with no regrets.

Brad Fraser left the team for all the right reasons.

He’s trying to return for all the right reasons too.

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