When Michigan hockey sophomore Ben Winnett injured his knee Mar. 13 against Western Michigan, the Wolverines lost an experienced center on their fourth line and a key penalty killer.
Winnett’s injury didn’t heal as fast as the coaching staff had hoped, and Michigan coach Red Berenson was forced to move freshman Luke Glendening to center in practice last week to handle faceoff duties.
So, needing to fill a hole at right wing, Berenson let his curiosity get the best of him.
Sophomore Scooter Vaughan, who had played defense his entire collegiate career, was surprised when he discovered he would switch to the open forward spot. The Placentia, Calif., native played on the fourth line in the CCHA Tournament last weekend alongside Glendening and senior Brandon Naurato.
With Alaska playing just three lines for most of Friday’s semifinal game, Vaughan didn’t see as much ice time as Berenson would have liked. But Berenson said Vaughan looked decent in his limited opportunities.
“The thing I like about him is he’s an upbeat skater,” Berenson said Friday. “He’s a better-than-average skater and gives us some jump. He also gives us some good puck touches. He has pretty good hands and he’s hungry to play.”
With Winnett still questionable for Michigan’s first-round matchup with Air Force in the NCAA Tournament, Berenson said Vaughan might stay on the wing. Berenson thought Glendening looked smooth at center, and Vaughan said he felt comfortable on the ice with his new linemate.
“I think me and Luke cycle the puck really well down low,” Vaughan said. “I bring a little speed and a little physical play. I didn’t really show that much this weekend, but it’s something I need to work on through practice and I’ll get another chance this upcoming weekend.”
Vaughan said his primary goal entering the weekend was to have a positive plus-minus rating. And although he didn’t record a point against Alaska or Notre Dame, he registered a plus-two on the weekend.
Trouble in the circle: Michigan looked like two different teams in the faceoff circles last weekend. The Wolverines won 42 of 68 draws (61.8 percent) against Alaska, which has won 50.3 percent of its faceoffs this season.
But Michigan was uncharacteristically submissive against Notre Dame, winning just 23-of-62 faceoffs (37.1 percent) against the Fighting Irish, who have won 56 percent of their draws this season.
Berenson admitted he was concerned about the night-and-day performance but said losing faceoffs can depend more on individual matchups than discouraging trends within the team.
The player most responsible for the discrepancy in the circles was Notre Dame junior center Kevin Deeth, who won 14 of 21 draws. Deeth was surprisingly dominant against sophomore forward Louie Caporusso, taking seven of eight draws from the Wolverines’ top faceoff man. Caporusso entered the weekend having won 58.2 percent of his draws. Deeth is just as impressive in the circle, winning 58.4 percent of his faceoffs this season.
Honor roll: Caporusso and junior defenseman Steve Kampfer were selected to the CCHA All-Tournament team after Saturday’s title game.
Caporusso had a goal and five assists in four games in the tournament. The Woodbridge, Ont., native is tied for fourth in the nation with 24 goals. He is also one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker award, given to the nation’s top college hockey player.
Kampfer notched two assists and accumulated a plus-two plus-minus rating in the conference playoffs.
Notre Dame goaltender Jordan Pearce was the tournament’s most valuable player. Fighting Irish defenseman Ian Cole and forwards Ben Ryan and Calle Ridderwall rounded out the All-Tournament squad.
Perfect attendance: Senior forwards Tim Miller and Travis Turnbull both played in their 165th consecutive game Saturday, breaking the program record set by Rob Brown (1986-1990). Neither Miller nor Turnbull has missed a game during their collegiate careers. Their streak dates back to 2005.
Miller, named CCHA’s top defensive forward last Thursday, has scored a goal and three assists in his past three games. Turnbull went pointless on the weekend.
Notes: Saturday’s defeat snapped Michigan’s nine-game winning streak at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The Wolverines had not lost there since the Fighting Irish beat them in the 2007 CCHA Championship game. … Saturday marked just the second time this season Michigan has lost with a lead after two periods. The first came on Nov. 14, a 2-1 defeat against Western Michigan. … The four goals allowed in Saturday’s third period were the most the Wolverines have surrendered in a single stanza since the opening round of the 2007 NCCA Tournament, an 8-5 loss to North Dakota.