Betty Crocker? Nope. Hamburger Helper? No dice. Kraft Easy Mac?
Not in this house. Every fall, Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson
cooks up the Wolverines’ new lines the old fashioned way: from
scratch.

Janna Hutz
Michigan junior Eric Nystrom has had success with a new line so far this season. (DAVID TUMAN/Daily)

After losing three key players in the offseason – Danny Richmond
to professional hockey, Jed Ortmeyer and John Shouneyia to
graduation – and welcoming one of the finest recruiting classes in
the nation, who can blame him? A clean slate and fair chance for
everyone is in order.

With talent running as thick as it ever has, Berenson says it’s
going to take some time for him to figure out everybody’s
niche.

“Typically this is the time of year we will make some changes
here and there as we go,” Berenson said.

Over the first couple weeks of the season, Berenson partook in
some shuffling that would make Ickey Woods proud, but recently he
found some solid amalgamations.

One line in particular stood out last Saturday.

In only their second game on the ice together, junior Eric
Nystrom, sophomore Jeff Tambellini and freshman T.J. Hensick played
brilliantly, as the Wolverines prevailed over Quinnipiac last
Saturday, 3-2. Tambellini grabbed all the headlines, netting every
Michigan score with his first career hat trick, but the line’s
collective work wasn’t forgotten.

“The way we played with the line is really why Tamby had
success,” Nystrom said. “T.J. was setting him up, and I was kind of
stirring some traffic in front of the net, and that’s how we have
to do it if we want to be successful.”

“On Saturday night, that line was the difference-maker,”
Berenson said. “Tambellini was the recipient. Another night it
might be Nystrom or Hensick.”

The line features three completely different playing styles, but
Berenson sees big things for this big name trio.

“I like the ingredients on the line,” Berenson said. “You’ve got
a young, talented centerman (in Hensick) that needs leadership and
guidance. We’ve got one of our captain’s on that line with Nystrom,
who’s a solid two-way player, and then you’ve got arguably our top
goal-scorer on the other side. So, I think it has got the potential
to be a real good line.”

Tambellini likens this situation to his experience last year,
when he thrived on the first line as a true freshman, leading the
team in points (45) and goals (26).

“It’s a good line,” Tambellini said. “It has got a little bit of
everything. It’s like my line was set up last year with Ortmeyer
and Shouneyia. We’ve got a power forward with Nystrom and a good
playmaker with T.J. So, I think it’s a real good mix.”

Although each player in the trio has a different playing style,
they share a common approach to the game. Every day after practice,
these three are among the last Wolverines to step off the ice.

“We all enjoy the game so much. It’s so fun to be out here,”
Tambellini said. “Everyone’s got the same mindset.”

Berenson maintains that no line is set, but Tambellini believes
this group has staying power.

“This line has got a chance to stick, I think throughout the
whole year,” Tambellini said. “Just the way it sets up – it’s going
to work.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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