It’s been a rollercoaster off-season for coach Red Berenson and the Michigan hockey team.
After dropping a 3-2 overtime decision to Minnesota-Duluth in the NCAA National Championship game, the Wolverines lost 23-year assistant and associate coach Mel Pearson, who left to fill a head coach vacancy at his alma mater Michigan Tech.
But no one is noticing the negatives right now. Michigan announced it’s new line of captains for the 2011-12 season Wednesday, a day after giving the details on its newest batch of recruits that will descend on Ann Arbor for next season.
Senior forward Luke Glendening will retain his captain’s “C” that he wore as a junior, and joining him as alternate captains will be fifth-year senior goalie Shawn Hunwick, senior defenseman Greg Pateryn and senior forward David Wohlberg.
For Berenson, the choice to name Glendening — recently selected as an All-American Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Year — as the stand-alone captain was an obvious one.
“We had an election after the season, and it was pretty clear that the players were unanimous in their support of Luke Glendening to be the captain next season,” Berenson said, according to a press release. “They recognize Luke’s on-ice contributions and his work ethic and the way he does the right thing for the team every day in practice and in games. He sets a great example for young players.”
And after graduating seven seniors after the 2010-11 campaign — including co-captain Carl Hagelin and alternate captains Matt Rust and Louie Caporusso — Michigan is reloading with a five-man incoming class for the fall semester. Berenson announced the players that had signed Letters of Intent to play for Michigan on Wednesday.
The group is headlined by goaltender John Gibson — rated by the NHL Central Scouting Service as the No. 1 North American goaltender prospect for the 2011 NHL Draft.
And the 6-foot-3 goaltender is already familiar with the confines of Yost Ice Arena. Gibson spent two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, amassing a 24-11-3 record with the under-18 team. He also led the Team USA gold-medal charge at the 2011 IIHF World Under-18 Championships in April with a 6-0-0 record, 2.34 GAA and .926 save percentage.
With Hunwick returning for one final year, Michigan will truly have a David and Goliath goaltending mismatch — but in stature only.
“John has a chance to be a big-time goalie,” Berenson said. “He’s one of those oversized goalies. I’ve always liked big goalies and yet we’ve seen recently that Shawn Hunwick has been a terrific goalie for Michigan. John will give us that different dimension. Definitely he can stop the puck. He has a good track record coming in and he should be an all-star goalie at Michigan.”
In addition to Gibson, Berenson rounded out the recruiting class with a defenseman and three forwards.
And Berenson added a significant Canadian flair to his 2011 recruiting haul.
Defenseman Brennan Serville, who hails from Pickering, Ont., spent two years with the Stouffville Spirit of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, tallying nine goals and 51 points during his stint with Stouffville.
“Brennan is a lanky, right-handed defenseman with good smarts and good puck skills,” Berenson said. “I think he’s going to be an outstanding defenseman at Michigan.”
Forward Phil Di Giuseppe from Maple, Ont. has been with the Villanova Knights of the OJHL the past two season, gathering 46 goals and 80 assists. And forward Alex Guptil, a Newmarket, Ont. native, is a third-round draft pick of the Dallas Stars. Guptil spent the 2010-11 season with the Waterloo Blackhawks of the United States Hockey League, scoring 13 goals and adding 12 assists.
Forward Travis Lynch, a White Lake, Mich. native, was with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL for the past two seasons, winning a Clark Cup title and totaling 66 points, including 26 goals in two seasons.
But Michigan’s class might not be quite over. St. Louis Blues reporter Andy Stickland is reporting Wednesday that Canadian Junior ‘A’ Player of the Year Zach Hyman has chosen to play at Michigan this fall. Hyman was originally a Princeton commit, but reconsidered when Tigers coach Guy Gadowsky took the coaching job at Penn State.
The 18-year-old scored 42 goals and tallied 60 assists as captain of the Hamilton Red Wings this season. He has not yet signed a Letter of Intent, but Hyman is expected to sign later this week.