Chad Kolarik is upset. The freshman forward, who finished the conference season with 28 points in as many games, found a form for a tuxedo in his locker yesterday. The piece of paper meant he had earned some post-season honors. It wasn’t the spot on the CCHA All-Rookie team he had expected, but rather an honorable mention.
“I’ve been kind of pissed off the last couple of days since I found out,” Kolarik said. “It’s definitely been motivating me in practice to work harder.”
Had the ballots not been cast before Kolarik’s two-goal performance against Bowling Green on Saturday — his 10th multi-point game of the year — his appearance on the team would have been all but assured. Kolarik finished tied for third on the Wolverines in conference points.
“Their teams will hopefully be watching in a month, and we’ll be playing,” the freshman said. “That’s what matters.
The last two CCHA Rookie of the Year winners, sophomore T.J. Hensick and junior Jeff Tambellini, found their way on to this year’s first-team All-CCHA team. Sophomore Matt Hunwick made the second team while his defensive partner, senior Brandon Rogers, and senior captain Eric Nystrom earned honorable mention accolades.
Hensick tallied 43 points in 28 games against conference foes. He edged out Scott Parse from Nebraska-Omaha, Western Michigan’s Brent Walton and Tambellini for best in the conference. Despite the impressive numbers, Hensick is still concerned about consistent production.
“There is more to being a great player in this league,” Hensick said. “But it’s just one of those things where the offensive guys get more of the limelight.”
Tambellini bounced back from a less-than-ideal sophomore performance to net 17 goals and 21 assists while firing a staggering 137 shots at opposing goalies.
“We’re the No. 1 team in the league,” Hensick said. “To have two guys in the top (two of scoring) — it is something that is pretty remarkable.”
Hunwick, who is set to take over as the Wolverines’ top defenseman next season, nearly doubled his production in conference play. With much more offensive aggressiveness this season, Hunwick added eight points to his total from a year ago. Despite the offensive surge, Hunwick’s focus remains on what he does in his own end.
“Hopefully they saw good defensive play and good penalty kill,” Hunwick said. “But, ultimately, it comes down to numbers.”
By holding the vote before the final weekend, a handful of Michigan players, in addition to Kolarik may have been robbed of hardware. Senior Eric Werner had a five-point weekend against Bowling Green, taking over the lead in scoring amongst defenseman, and junior Andrew Ebbett registered his 25th assist last weekend, putting him tied for second in assists.
“They need to change the system,” Tambellini said. “They pick them a week before the season is over, which I think is bull.”
Kolarik doesn’t intend to dwell on the snub for too long. He has bigger fish to fry than a spot on the All-Rookie team.
“It’s a great honor I guess,” Kolarik said of his honorable mention. “But I’d rather win a national championship.”