After a grueling regular season that has spanned more than five months, an injury on the Michigan hockey team would be more than understandable. But even after weekend series after weekend series — 36 games in total — the Wolverines are unscathed.
There have been minor injuries here and there — senior goaltender Shawn Hunwick missed a game in January — but nothing major, which isn’t just remarkable, but also pretty lucky.
“Right now, we are healthy, and we are just touching wood to stay healthy,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “There have been years when we have had four or five guys out, but right now, we are good to go.”
Last season, Michigan had to deal with losing now-senior forward David Wohlberg for the playoffs after he injured his collarbone in the quarterfinals of the CCHA Tournament.
Wohlberg’s injury was “a weird hit on the boards,” according to junior forward A.J. Treais. There wasn’t much Wohlberg could have done about it — just the luck of the draw.
This year, Michigan hasn’t done anything different in terms of strength training or conditioning. Call it luck, call it physical strength, call it whatever you want — the injury bug has sidestepped the Wolverines.
“Even though we have a really deep team, I think that the lineup we have in right now is what we need to win a championship and make a run,” Treais said. “Not having to fill in for someone, especially one of our better players like Wohlberg, it gives us a little more comfort.”
FEELING SUPERSTITIOUS: As the games become more important, the superstitions become more rampant. When every game is do-or-die, the last thing a player wants to do is upset the hockey gods.
Senior forward Greg Pateryn doesn’t fit into that category, but he has teammates that do.
“In years past, it would have been (Hunwick), but he hasn’t been that bad this year,” he said. “He had to wake up at the same time and eat the same thing before every game.”
Pateryn suggested that some of the other players aren’t as hardcore as Hunwick, but do things such as changing their sticks or shoelaces every game.
They take after their coach, who has only one playoff superstition.
“I usually get a haircut, just a playoff haircut,” Berenson said. “And I need one … but that’s it.”
The playoff gods approve — the program has all but clinched its 22nd straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
FINDING A SPOT FOR ROHRKEMPER: After Wohlberg got injured last season, then-sophomore forward Jeff Rohrkemper was forced to step in, playing in every game all the way up to the national championship.
Berenson might be setting the junior up to do the same thing this year.
After Rohrkemper played in only one game from Nov. 11 to Feb. 17, Berenson plugged him into the lineup on Feb. 18 against Northern Michigan.
Berenson apparently liked what he saw, playing Rohrkemper again in the last regular-season series of the year against Bowling Green.
Don’t be surprised to see him out there again this weekend.
“I know he has the experience, and he doesn’t look out of place right now,” Berenson said. “He’s in a position where we are seriously looking at him playing, and he should be able to play.”
Rohrkemper was also just named to the CCHA scholar-athlete team.