Last season, leadership was such a big question for the Wolverines that coach Red Berenson decided to chose the captains himself, instead of letting the players elect them as they had always done in the past. This year, Berenson named the captains again, but for an entirely different reason.
Jed Ortmeyer and John Shouneyia filled the roles so well in 2001 that Berenson wanted to be sure they would serve again. He chose defenseman Andy Burnes to complete the trio.
“Now, (leadership) is not even an issue,” Berenson said. “Jed Ortmeyer is as good a captain I’ve had since I’ve been here. Johnny Shouneyia has taken a leadership role on this team, and Andy Burnes has captain material written all over him.”
Each brings something different to the table. Burnes’ job is to head the young defensive corps, and Ortmeyer is the vocal leader. Shouneyia lets his game do his talking.
“I think players respect us on the ice differently,” Shouneyia. “I would have to say, I lead more by example on the ice. I try to really work hard every shift, every practice. (And) maybe joke around in the locker room a little bit, keep things a little loose.”
Shouneyia is a statistical leader, and his role will be magnified with the departure of his former winger, Mike Cammalleri. Shouneyia’s 50 points (10 goals and 40 assists) were the most of any Wolverine last year.
Shouneyia fractured his right wrist in an exhibition against Toronto on October 5 and will miss four to eight weeks. His absence will be especially tough for Michigan because he had been centering two young forwards.
Before the injury, Shouneyia played with freshman Jeff Tambellini and sophomore Eric Nystrom. Nystrom cited Shouneyia as one player who helped him make the transition to college hockey last season, and Shouneyia has been trying to do the same with Tambellini. The rookie has impressed the alternate captain so far.
“I think everyone sees the talent he’s got and the potential he has to really be a great player, so he’s obviously fun to work with,” Shouneyia said. “I try to tell him a few things, both on the ice and off the ice as well.”
Tambellini looks up to Shouneyia, and has appreciated the senior’s help in his first few weeks as a college hockey player.
“John Shouneyia has done a great job,” Tambellini said. “I’ve worked out with him every day and he’s done a great job bringing me along and making me feel like one of the guys.”