Mark Mink and John Shouneyia usually come as a packaged deal.
Whenever one”s name is on the scoring sheet, the other”s usually appears right next to it.
But Mink had been sidelined with a broken hand for the first three games of the season, leaving sophomore Joe Kautz on Shouneyia”s left side. This weekend was the first time that the two have played together this season. On the other side of Shouneyia, freshmen Mike Woodford and Milan Gajic have split time.
The line accounted for two goals and was on the ice for four of Michigan”s six goals this weekend.
It appeared that Shouneyia and Mink were back in sync five minutes into the first period Friday night. On an up-ice rush, Shouneyia made a no-look drop pass to a trailing Mink who then took a hard wrist shot from inside the right circle that was saved.
“It is going to take (Mink) a while,” Berenson said. “You don”t just come back and lead the team. But he has got to be the steady player that we expect him to be, and he has got to make his chances count. He gives us a little experience and a little more depth than we had two weeks ago.”
In Saturday”s game, the line made its chances count when Shouneyia slammed home the game-winning goal. After winning the faceoff, Mink took a pass from the corner against three defenders and created an odd-man rush. The moment before Western Michigan could steal the puck, Mink made a seemingly improbable backhand pass to a wide-open Shouneyia in the slot who put it away.
“I came out of the corner with two or three guys on me. I saw him out of the corner of my eye and as soon as I swung around, I saw that he was still open so I threw it right to him,” Mink said.
Mink, typically the scorer of the duo, had two assists on the night. After the game he joked that he and Shouneyia were going to “switch around this year,” referring to Shouneyia”s tendency to set Mink up for goals.
In addition, right-winger, Gajic picked up an assist on Mike Komisarek”s first goal of the game while Shouneyia and Mink both assisted on Komisarek”s second goal.
“You are going to see a lot of teams keying on Mike Cammalleri,” said Brian Wiseman, former Michigan captain and currently its Administrative Assistant. “Teams that think if they stop Cammalleri or his line they have a chance to beat us, so our second third and fourth line have to be able to step up when the chance counts and bury it.”
Woodford completed the line as the third forward until he suffered a shoulder injury during Friday night”s game against Western Michigan. In his place Berenson inserted Gajic who had been a healthy scratch in Friday”s game.
While Gajic played better Saturday than in previous starts, according to Wiseman, he has not secured his spot on the second line with Saturday”s improved play.
Adding to the production of the line has been the play of freshmen Eric Nystrom who has been paired up with Mink and Shouneyia on the powerplay. The move paid off when Nystrom scored Michigan”s only goal on Friday on a feed down low from Shouneyia.
“Shouneyia is the type of guy that is going to find open guys,” Wiseman said. “You need guys that can create space for him and find those open holes for him and he can fill them.”