After playing 987 games in the NHL, Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson knows the price forwards need to pay to be successful in front of the net.

Two games into the season, Berenson hasn’t seen any of his forwards consistently offer up their bodies in front of the pipes. But when his players do swarm the net, the effort is rewarded. After failing to score a goal in its previous game, Michigan found more success swarming the net in its 6-1 win against Alaska-Anchorage Saturday.

“On Friday night, we were getting good shots from the point,” Berenson said. “But the goalie saw all the shots. We never got anybody in front. Our forwards weren’t determined enough to get to the front of the net. Saturday, we were, and that was the difference.”

While the physical role currently remains vacant, there’s a 212-pound glimmer of hope in senior Brian Lebler. He scored his first goal of the season on a deflection early in the game and has been one player to go to the net occasionally.

“Lebler should be (the guy in front),” Berenson said. “He’s a senior, he’s a big body, and he’s a big strong kid. He’s played that role from time to time, but we’re still not as consistently good at it. I could never put a (Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas) ‘Holmstrom’ stamp on anybody on this team until they can do it night after night.”

Young guns cool down: Freshman forward Chris Brown led all freshman in points on the weekend with two goals and an assist. His three points were tied with junior Matt Rust for the most on the team. None of the other six freshman have recorded a point yet.

“You can’t expect your freshman to carry your team,” Berenson said. “But they still need to know the level of play, the level of commitment and competition to play at Michigan, and I think they learned that this weekend.”

With six freshmen on offense and just one on defense, the experienced blue liners have provided support not just with producing offense, but helping the players along.

“We have brought in a lot of freshmen forwards and they’re learning real quick,” junior defenseman Tristin Llewellyn said. “Having this veteran group (on defense) helps really speed up the process.”

With experienced teammates and this weekend off, the forwards should be able to get up to speed in time for their home opener next Thursday. Whatever the learning curve may be, Berenson doesn’t seemed concerned with his freshmen at this point in the season.

“The team, really, is as good as its upperclassmen,” Berenson said. “Freshmen and sophomores need to be making us better and hopefully making a little bit of a difference in different roles.”

Notes: Unlike last season, when the Wolverines were plagued with injuries early in the season, the team remains in good health. Senior forward Anthony Ciraulo sat out practice with a sore back yesterday, and junior defenseman Chad Langlais sat out Monday’s practice with a sore groin, but both are expected to be 100 percent for the next game. … The Wolverines play in their home opener October 22 against Niagara before flying east to take on Boston University the following Saturday. They played the same Thursday/Saturday schedule last year, beating the Purple Eagles 4-2 before losing to BU 7-2.

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