DETROIT – When it comes to preseason expectations, the
Wolverines have been at both ends of the spectrum during Red
Berenson’s tenure as Michigan hockey coach
“In 1984 there was no respect for Michigan hockey, and that
really bothered me. Things had just gone astray,” Berenson said.
“But I always said I knew what it should be like at Michigan. Every
night when we go out, the other team should respect us. I want our
team to have a chance year in and year out, and that’s part of my
Berenson, now entering his 20th season, has done much more than
Michigan has been to the Frozen Four the last three years and
has been to 13 consecutive NCAA Tournaments. And yesterday, it was
picked to finish first in the CCHA by the coaches and media.
But as everyone knows, and as last year demonstrated, surprises
should be expected. Ferris State, last year’s regular season champ,
was predicted to finish ninth.
With just three seniors on the roster, Michigan’s outstanding
10-man junior class, seven of whom have been drafted by the NHL,
will need to continue its development for the team to fulfill
Leading this year’s junior class are the alternate captains,
Brandon Rogers and Eric Nystrom.
Rogers, who scored just three points his freshman year and five
in the first half of last year, broke out with 20 points in the
second half. He’ll be expected to lead the Wolverines’ blueliners
along with captain Andy Burnes.
Nystrom, who enjoyed a fantastic freshman season, also picked
things up as last season winded down, netting 10 of his 15 goals in
the second half.
“As (an alternate) captain, I think Eric will be one of our
leaders,” Berenson said. “I think he will try to take over some of
the (former captain) Jed Ortmeyer presence that we lost from last
year. I expect him to be a key player on our team right from the
Berenson said he is unsure where the bulk of the scoring will
come from, saying the team will “score by committee.” Aside from
last year’s leading scorer, sophomore Jeff Tambellini, and perhaps
freshman T.J. Hensick, Berenson will be looking for production from
Dwight Helminen and David Moss notched 33 and 31 points,
respectively, and will likely be among the team’s leaders in
scoring again this year. Jason Ryznar, who struggled much of last
year with shoulder injuries, could also emerge as an offensive
creator. And Milan Gajic, who has struggled with consistency (all
11 of his goals came at Yost Ice Arena), could put everything
together for the Wolverines this year.
Rounding out the juniors expected to contribute is Eric Werner,
who was on track for a solid season before being declared
academically ineligible midway through the campaign.
The Wolverines are having captains’ practices this week, with
the coaching staff joining them next week. The season begins with
the Blue/White intrasquad game Sept. 26.