The Michigan hockey team is preparing for one of its biggest weekends of the season, and it is going to have to continue doing so without its head coach. Red Berenson left the team on Sunday for Regina, Saskatchewan to tend to his 90-year-old father, who suffered a stroke late last week. Berenson informed the Wolverines of the situation after their 5-1 win over Northern Michigan on Saturday night and associate head coach Mel Pearson has run the team ever since.
“Our prayers and thoughts are obviously with him, and we hope everything turns out,” Pearson said.
As of practice yesterday, no one within the Michigan hockey program had talked with Berenson since he left, but everyone was hopeful that he would be back for this weekend’s home-and-home series with Michigan State.
“I know he really wanted to try and get back for the game on Friday,” Pearson said. “Everybody knows he wants to be here, but he’s attending to some pretty important matters.”
The Wolverines are just trying to go on as normal. They were on the ice for just 40 minutes on Monday and were back to a normal schedule yesterday.
“They’ve been good,” Pearson said. “(Yesterday) they worked hard, they had some energy, and the concern (assistant coach Billy Powers) and I have right now is to make sure we’re sharp in practice.”
While the Wolverines would like to admit that nothing is lost without Berenson on the ice, senior captain Jed Ortmeyer confessed things aren’t the same without the legendary coach.
“The little sense of urgency and pressure is a little more intensified when he’s on the ice,” Ortmeyer said.
Ortmeyer added that nothing could take away the intensity this weekend.
“We look to these series all year,” Ortmeyer said. “It’s doesn’t matter who’s coaching them, it’s still Michigan-Michigan State.”