Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson doesn’t keep official tabs on who wins the shuttle runs during practice. But if he did, senior captain Luke Glendening would have his name showing up on yet another stats sheet.
Each week, the Wolverines line up at one end of the rink and sprint as fast as they can down the ice and back with their linemates. It’s standard for any sport, especially one like hockey — the players’ ability to consistently win footraces night in and night out can make or break a game.
Lucky for Michigan, it has Glendening.
“I don’t know if he was as fast when he got here, but he really worked hard as a freshman,” Berenson said. “He’s got a compete level that is off-the-charts, that is showing up on the ice and in his skating.”
Some of Glendening’s speed just comes naturally. Junior forward A.J. Treais jokingly referred to his linemate as “freak,” citing superior genetics as a reason why Glendening is so quick on the ice.
But in reality, it has to do more with nurture than nature. Berenson and Treais are in agreement that no Wolverine is as disciplined in the weight room as Glendening. Throughout his time at Michigan, Glendening has added muscle to his 5-foot-11 frame without bulking up too much.
In past seasons, it was easy for Glendening’s quickness to be overshadowed by that of former Wolverine Carl Hagelin. Hagelin, who recently won the title of fastest skater at the NHL All-Star Game, was known throughout his Michigan career as a speedster who never lost a race.
But after Hagelin’s graduation last year, it was Glendening’s turn to come up and claim the top spot.
It’s easy to see Glendening’s speed and strength manifest itself during games, and he often takes on the role of workhorse to create opportunities for his linemates.
“(Skating with Glendening) helps a lot,” Treais said. “He just opens up space for us, and it makes him easy to play with because he’s so fast and strong.”
Any time Glendening is on the ice, you’ll see him go all out. And as the team sometimes struggles to win battles for the puck, Glendening serves as an example of what a hard-working shift looks like.
Obviously, Berenson likes to see all his players put in effort. But what impresses him most about Glendening is his ability to go and consistently compete at a high level.
Much of that is thanks to his training under Berenson.
“A lot of players can go hard, but they can’t recover,” Berenson said. “Luke can do it, and then he’ll do it again.”
Treais believes that Glendening has set the bar for the Wolverines this season — and right now, it’s pretty high.
For Berenson, it’s only natural that his players strive to play like Glendening. But there’s also an off-the-ice aspect to it all, which he thinks speaks louder than anything Glendening does on the rink.
The Michigan coaches didn’t know that much about Glendening when they recruited him — not his speed, strength or offensive production, which are all things that drive the Wolverines.
All the coaches had to rely on was a letter of recommendation from Glendening’s coach that spoke more about Glendening’s character than his hockey abilities. And that was the most important thing Michigan wanted to consider.
“Luke Glendening is a fitting captain for this team, not just his speed, but the way he works everyday,” Berenson said. “The way he competes, he sets a good example off the ice. He’s a great role model for a Michigan student-athlete.”