FAIRBANKS — The Michigan hockey team has relied on two scorers this season: sophomore top-liners Louie Caporusso and Aaron Palushaj.
Caporusso has nine goals this season, and Palushaj has seven, but freshman David Wohlberg, with three goals in the last three games, appears to be a third scorer in the mix for the Wolverines.
Unlike the sophomores, Wohlberg’s goals aren’t the result of jaw-dropping dekes or blistering wrist shots.
“He’s been opportunistic, in terms of he’s finding loose pucks and he’s found out places wherever the puck is,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “He’s using some good puck sense.”
He’s played a crucial part in Michigan’s recent offensive ignition — and that began a week ago against Ohio State.
Wohlberg came to Michigan as a center and anchored the team’s fourth line at the beginning of the season. But last Friday against the Buckeyes, he moved to left wing to try to spark some chemistry on the third-line with fellow freshman Robbie Czarnik, his U.S. National Team Development Program teammate for the last two years.
The experiment was shortlived, however, as Wohlberg was promoted to the second line the next night to replace left winger Carl Hagelin, who shifted to center while sophomore Matt Rust sat out with an injury.
Then, nearly halfway through the second period, Wohlberg jumpstarted a four-minute, three-goal explosion. Wohlberg’s score, the first of his career, was Michigan’s first shorthanded tally of the season.
The game was Michigan’s best offensive performance of the season.
Despite providing the spark, Wohlberg spent most of the weekend adjusting to his new position and two different sets of linemates.
Against Alaska, though, Berenson kept Wohlberg on the second line with a healthy Rust at center and senior Travis Turnbull at right wing.
And they just started rolling.
“Now he’s playing with two little more experienced players than he was earlier,” Berenson said. “We had him on center and we had him on the wing, and right now I think (wing) is a good fit for him.”
It has been a particularly good fit for Turnbull, who assisted on both of Wohlberg’s game-opening goals this weekend against the Nanooks.
“You don’t score goals unless you’re working hard,” Turnbull said of Wohlberg. “He’s going to those tough areas where you need to be to score goals. He’s going to the net (and) he’s working hard.”
Although Michigan was unable to maintain the early lead it had from Wohlberg’s goal on Friday, his score Saturday gave the Wolverines an advantage they would never relinquish in their 3-2 win.
And during a weekend in which the top line mustered just one goal, Wohlberg was just the boost the Michigan offense needed.
“(I) feel pretty good about it,” Wohlberg said, referring to his goal streak. “My line has a lot to do with it. We’re working hard down low, and that’s what’s causing a lot of the chances, and I’ve just been lucky to finish on a couple of them.
“I guess I’m just feeling it.”