Though they won’t be waking up from a nightmare muttering,
“there’s no place like home” to themselves, the
Wolverines just might share Dorothy’s sentiments.
That’s because — as has been the case for
Michigan’s football and basketball teams — the hockey
team plays at a much higher level when in Ann Arbor. Though the
Wolverines won all 13 conference home games, they were just 5-8-2
away from Yost Ice Arena.
This weekend’s CCHA Tournament first-round series with
Nebraska-Omaha will mark Yost’s last stand, as the Wolverines
will be on the road for the remainder of the season. But Michigan
coach Red Berenson has made some changes for the last few home
After 16 straight games with the same four lines, Berenson has
given the lineup a makeover, hoping to reignite a scoring attack
that has come back to earth after its best stretch of the season.
In its last four games, Michigan has scored just eight goals and
“Our offense has struggled a bit the last two
weeks,” said Milan Gajic, who will be alongside Jason Ryznar
and Andrew Ebbett on his line this weekend. “It’s not
that we’re not getting chances, things just aren’t
quite clicking. And it’s a bad time to not be clicking. We
went a long time without changing lines, so hopefully this can get
The fact that the first line changes in 10 weeks have come just
before the postseason doesn’t have the Wolverines worried.
Over the course of the season, the coaching staff changes the lines
often enough to eliminate any chemistry issues.
“What would be tough is if we were a pro team and we
brought in a bunch of players at the trade deadline and tried to
fit them in,” Berenson said. “These are players that
have been playing together all year, and in some cases three
Gajic agreed: “We’ve all played with each other.
There’s only three freshmen up front, it’s not like the
lines are totally new.”
Gajic was referring to the fact that Berenson kept two players
from old lines together, hoping a different third player will make
the difference. For example, Gajic and Ryznar played together
during Michigan’s tournament run last year, and Ebbett and
Ryznar have been playing together lately.
“I’m trying to find lines that are going to compete
and play well at both ends of the ice,” Berenson said.
“It’s not just about scoring. It’s about playing
good defense and playing responsibly so that in any situation we
can send out a line we can be comfortable with.”
But the last two weeks haven’t been all that bad for some
members of the hockey team. Freshman center T.J. Hensick, who led
the Wolverines with 41 points, was named to the All-CCHA first team
by the league’s coaches.
Hensick is the first freshman Wolverine ever to be named to the
first team. His 30 assists are tied for second in the NCAA. He was
also named to the CCHA all-rookie team earlier this week.
Junior defenseman Brandon Rogers and sophomore goaltender Al
Montoya were named to the CCHA’s second team.