For the first time in more than a month, the Michigan hockey goalies had to make the exciting, albeit harrowing, skate down the ice during practice.
The Wolverine netminders restarted their regular practice rotation when freshman goalie Bryan Hogan returned to practice Monday. With three goalies and just two goals, the backstops have to alternate around the ice.
After one goalie faces shots for a few minutes, he swaps out and skates to the other end of the ice to replace the third goalie on the other end. It’s a three-man cycle that runs the entire practice.
Maneuvering around forwards and defensemen rushing full speed through drills in the opposite direction doesn’t look like much fun to any observer, but junior goalie Billy Sauer doesn’t think it’s that bad.
“Sometimes I get in the way,” Sauer said. “It’s not too dangerous, but sometimes I mess up the drills.”
Sauer and Michigan’s other goalie, freshman Shawn Hunwick, can thank Hogan for the return of the cycle and the skate that goes along with it.
The Highland native had been out since late September with mononucleosis. While he’s not even close to being at game speed, Hogan is still taking things slowly.
“It’s going to take some time for me to get back timing and things like that,” Hogan said. “I don’t know how long. We’ll just see how things go in the next couple weeks.”
Hogan skated for the first time last Friday and again in the afternoon warmup before Saturday’s win over Boston University, but his first full practice came Monday.
His absence from the rink has been obvious to anyone following the No. 3 Michigan hockey team, but his leave had a larger impact on his roommate, defenseman Scooter Vaughan.
“He’s been going home a lot,” Vaughan said. “It’s your first year of college and you’re supposed to have a roommate. I’ve kind of been missing out on a little bit of that experience. He just started staying at the room (Tuesday night). It’s great to have him back.”
Because of his illness, Hogan also missed the team picture two weeks ago. Now, Hogan is working his way back into the picture of Michigan’s season now. He was expected to compete with junior Billy Sauer for playing time. But his illness, coupled with Sauer’s solid play (2.49 goals against average and a 5-1-0 record), has pretty much eliminated discussion of Hogan taking the starting spot.
“I’m pulling for him,” Hogan said. “He’s been playing great.”
But Sauer’s continued excellence could spell an even longer absence from game situations than mononucleosis did for Hogan.
In a group of 12, Hogan and Hunwick are the only freshman not to play this season. But at least Hunwick has practiced over the past five weeks.
“(Hogan has) had the hardest start of anyone on our team, obviously,” Berenson said. “Especially for a freshman.”