The Anaheim Angels won the World Series behind the power of the Rally Monkey. The Notre Dame basketball team reached the Sweet 16 last Saturday with a roster of shaved heads. And the Michigan hockey team is hoping that facial hair will power them to the Frozen Four.

J. Brady McCollough
Seniors John Shouneyia (left) and Mark Mink do their best to look like Sly Stallone from “Rocky IV.”

The Wolverines decided to show some unity for the postseason by putting the Mach 3s away for a while. Now that a few weeks have passed, not everyone is pleased with how things look.

“I’m not a big fan of (the facial hair),” associate head coach Mel Pearson said. “I know we have some players who can’t grow any facial hair. So it looks kind of weird – some guys with it, some guys without it.”

Last year, the Michigan players dyed their hair blonde for the most important games of the season. But that didn’t work, as a 3-2 loss to Minnesota dropped the Wolverines in the semifinals of the Frozen Four.

And Pearson liked that look even less.

“I don’t know who did it, but they had some issues last year,” Pearson said. “It was bad. It wasn’t like it was a little dyed, it was all different colors. So I didn’t think it looked good.”

This year, the team decided to try something a little different. And after winning the Mason Cup this past weekend at Joe Louis Arena, none of the players seem to care what they look like.

“It’s like sacrificing for the team,” alternate captain Andy Burnes said. “You give up a little bit of your looks for the sake of the team. So it’s fun.”

That doesn’t mean that they won’t give each other a hard time about it. Backup goalie Noah Ruden said center Andrew Ebbett, his roommate, could use a little work on his.

“We say he’s got the ‘Joe Dirt’ look, because he’s got the chops coming in only and the goatee, he can’t really grow anything else,” said Ruden, pointing to his cheeks where Ebbett is missing hair. “So I kind of give him stuff for that.”

The Wolverines aren’t alone in their superstitions. In Detroit, it seemed like every team at the CCHA Super Six had done something. Ferris State had beards. The Northern Michigan freshmen had shaved heads.

Pearson said that he feels the only effect any of those things might have is to give the team a bit of a mental edge. Whatever impact the beards have, it seems that the hockey postseason brings out more superstition than any other sport.

“Maybe it’s because we have the shields on, we feel a little bit more free to do what we want with our hair and facial hair,” Ruden said. “I don’t know. I think as a breed, we’re a little bit crazier than most. We come up with some crazy ideas to do.”

The only consensus seems to be that if it works, stick with it.

“If we win it (all), for sure I’ll keep (the beard) on,” Ruden said. “But we’ll see.”

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