The Michigan hockey team wrapped up a CCHA regular season title this past weekend, and on Monday the conference honored two Wolverines that have been a big part of the team”s success.
Freshmen Eric Nystrom and Eric Werner were named to the seven-player CCHA All-Rookie team.
“It”s nice to get recognized the other guys on the team are pretty good players too,” Nystrom said. “I think I got lucky to get on there, and it”s pretty special.”
The two Wolverines joined Western Michigan”s Jim Dwyer, Michigan State”s Jim Slater, Alaska-Fairbanks” Aaron Voros and Ferris State”s Matt York and Mike Brown on the team that is selected by the league”s coaches, who are not allowed to vote for any players on their own team.
Nystrom, a forward, has scored 24 points (15-9-24) good enough to lead all Michigan freshmen in scoring and place him second on the team in goals.
Werner, meanwhile, has been one of the Wolverines” steadiest defensemen. He is one of just five Michigan players to have played in all 36 games, and he has also tallied 21 points (3-18-21) and a plus-16 rating tied for fourth best on the team.
“For them to do as well as they did and to get that kind of recognition is good,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “You have to have a pretty special season to be recognized at that level.”
Junior forward John Shouneyia was also recognized by the league on Monday, when he was named offensive player of the week for his goal and three assists in Michigan”s sweep of Western Michigan this past weekend.
Banged up: Every college hockey team has its share of bumps and bruises when the end of the season comes, and the Wolverines are no exception.
Defenseman Andy Burnes and forward Jason Ryznar both missed practice yesterday due to injury. Burnes is expected to be in the lineup for Michigan”s CCHA playoff series against Lake Superior beginning Friday, but Ryznar will be a scratch.
Burnes “has a bit of an ankle sprain but he”s fine,” Berenson said. “Ryznar will be out this weekend. He broke a finger on his hand we”ll look at him for next week.”
Ryznar”s absence from the lineup will most likely give freshman Milan Gajic an opportunity to get back on the ice. Gajic sat out both games against Western Michigan to allow junior Mike Cammalleri to return to action.
Finally on the board: Heading into the playoffs, the Wolverines appear to have found another scoring threat on offense.
Well, sort of.
Junior J.J. Swistak tallied a shorthanded goal over the break in Michigan”s 6-3 victory over Ohio State on Feb. 23. It was Swistak”s first goal of the year, ending a 60-game scoreless drought for the junior.
“I”ve had so many chances this year, I”ve hit posts and haven”t been getting the bounces,” Swistak said. “It was a relief.”
But while Swistak has not established himself as a top-notch scorer for the Wolverines, his contributions have not gone unnoticed during Michigan”s hot streak in the second half of the season.
“His niche on this team is to be a solid defensive player, a penalty killer and a physical player,” Berenson said. “Those are things he”s good at, and he”s been doing them. Right now he”s playing the best hockey of his career.”