SOUTH BEND – Before yesterday’s game, forwards T.J. Hensick and Kevin Porter combined for 63 points on the season.
Sophomore forward Travis Turnbull accounted for just three.
So when the Chesterfield, Mo., native got a chance to play on the top line with Porter and Hensick last night, he took advantage of the opportunity.
And quickly, too.
Forty-two seconds into the game, to be exact.
On the first shift of the game, the sophomore collected a cross-crease pass from junior Chad Kolarik – Porter and Hensick had already left the ice on a line change – and deposited the puck behind Notre Dame goalie David Brown to give Michigan the early lead in yesterday’s loss.
By the end of the game, Turnbull picked up two assists, doubling his point total for the season and turning in his first multi-point performance of the year.
Turnbull has spent the first half of the season on the third and fourth lines, playing the role of an enforcing physical presence.
But with sophomore forward Andrew Cogliano unable to play – he was practicing with the Canadian national team in preparation for the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships – Michigan coach Red Berenson was forced to switch his lines. Turnbull moved up to the top line alongside Hensick and Porter, and senior forward David Rohlfs filled Cogliano’s spot on the second line.
“Like Rohlfs, (Turnbull is) a big, strong guy, so it wasn’t much of a change,” Porter said. “It was tough having Rohlfs leave our line but with Turnbull, it’s pretty much the same.”
Not only did Turnbull have a chance to play with some of the most potent offensive players in the country, but he also reunited with some former linemates. The sophomore played on the same line as Hensick and Porter for eight games last season.
He displayed some of that chemistry from last year midway through the second period yesterday.
On Michigan’s second goal, Turnbull set Porter up with a pass from his own blue line that caught the junior forward in stride. Porter beat the Notre Dame defender for position and converted the breakaway chance to extend his point streak to 15 games, one shy of Andy Hilbert’s 16-gamer during the 2001-02 season.
“It’s definitely a big lift to play with guys like that because you know you are going to get your chances,” Turnbull said.
In the final minute of the second period, Turnbull sent a pass along the boards to sophomore defensemen Mark Mitera at the blue line next to the Michigan bench. Mitera unleashed a slapshot that found its way into the net for Turnbull’s third point of the contest.
With the first half of the season finished and the Great Lakes Invitational over the holidays, Turnbull’s offensive outburst in the final game before the break could create a little momentum for a team that needs a lift.