Michigan hockey play-by-play men beware.
The Wolverines announced five recruits that have signed letters of intent to play for Michigan next fall, and among them are forward T.J. Hensick and defenseman Matt Hunwick.
The thought of, “Hensick to Hunwick, back to Hensick who passes it to Hunwick for the one-timer goal!” is a tongue-twister waiting to happen.
And given the talent level of this incoming freshman class, Michigan fans are likely to hear that statement called many times.
Hensick, Hunwick and forward Mike Brown all come in from the U.S. National Development Under-18 Team. Both defensemen Tim Cook and Jason Dest are playing for the River City Lancers (USHL) in Omaha.
Michigan associate head coach Mel Pearson was the one primarily responsible for keeping in contact with the three US-NTDP players, and thus far he’s liked what he’s seen.
“T.J. Hensick is more of a finesse player,” Pearson said. “He’s a lot like (senior) John Shouneyia. Not that I like comparing people to other players, but he’s going to bring that finesse play to our team.
“Mike Brown is more of an honest, physical, grinding player – very strong, very good CCHA player. And Hunwick is just a solid defensive defenseman and a great character player who will play anywhere, anytime.”
Head coach Red Berenson went on to say that Brown reminded him of captain Jed Ortmeyer because of his tough play around the net – interesting comparisons given the four-year success of both Shouneyia and Ortmeyer.
Another positive about next year’s class was that the Wolverines’ coaching staff got the five players that they wanted. Last year, they went after sensations Zach Parise and Jeff Tambellini. The Wolverines got Tambellini, who has produced nine points in 10 games, but lost Parise to North Dakota. Parise made the Wolverines pay in October, when he recorded two goals and assisted on the game-winner in the Sioux’s 5-4 overtime win.
“We talked to a couple other people, but pretty much we’ve had these guys for awhile,” Pearson said. “We’re really happy with them all, and I know we’re only losing one defender (Mike Roemensky), but we’re bringing in three. Those kids who are coming, they’ll give us something we lack this year in a little bit of size and physical presence on the blue line.”
Though there may not be a Parise or Tambellini in next year’s group – Hensick is probably the closest – there are many role players to fill the void from this year’s departing senior class, which includes captains Ortmeyer and Shouneyia.
“They’ll just contribute in their own ways, and not have a real high-impact player,” Pearson said. “T.J. has that type of skill, but I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on him. Overall, I think this is a real solid class and will be a good group.”
The three US-NTDP members that have already played in Yost this year will have a chip on their shoulders, as none of the three had games they would like to remember against the Wolverines.
“Hensick hurt his hand in the first period, it was Mike Brown’s first game back from a long-lasting shoulder injury and Hunwick didn’t play,” Pearson said. “It wasn’t a great game for those kids, but they played in other college games and played very well from our reports. I think their games here will be much better in the future.”