Tuesday, a day before the No. 2 seed Michigan hockey team headed to St. Louis for the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Michigan coach Red Berenson entered the center ice circle.

With his team lining the outside of the circle and finishing up their stretching, Berenson skated in circles, slightly tapping his stick on the ice and talked to the team. Berenson spoke about No. 3 seed Nebraska-Omaha, the Wolverines’ first round opponent in the NCAA West Regional.

Berenson gives a little speech like this nearly every practice. But like all things in the postseason, this one meant a little more.

“He just said it’s important anytime you’re on the ice, you want to look across the ice and look at whoever you’re playing against, and you just want to make sure you win all the battles and all the footraces,” senior forward Carl Hagelin said. “If we do that, we should be able to win.”

Berenson called the talk a “pre-scouting report.” But whether it’s in a pre-scouting report or a full one, the Mavericks’ balance will be on display. Omaha has eight players who have scored eleven goals or more. They also have five who have 30 points or more.

The Mavericks’ balance has been on display all season. Nebraska-Omaha came to Ann Arbor in late October (only the fifth and sixth games of the season for the Wolverines) and split the series. Twelve different Mavericks recorded a point in the series.

“You could have 20 guys on that team with 20 goals, but there’s only going to be probably three of them on the ice at a time,” Berenson said. “We’ve got to take care of business with the line that’s on the ice. We’ve got be able to outplay or outscore or outcheck that line when they’re on the ice, whoever it is.”

The goal dispersal isn’t nearly as impressive as the points. The Wolverines themselves have seven players with nine goals or more (though one of those, junior forward David Wohlberg, is out for the season with a broken collarbone), but have just one player, Hagelin, over 30 points.

“They don’t have any 20-goal scorers or 30-goal scorers,” Berenson said. “They have really good players, but so do we. All those guys with 11 goals on their team and we’ve got a bunch of guys with nine goals. And really that doesn’t matter. It matters what you do on Friday night, it doesn’t matter what you do in October or November or December.”

A win Friday means another game — the regional final — on Saturday. Michigan is focused on Nebraska-Omaha, but with the short time in between games, the coaching staff will have a peek at the other side of the regional where No. 1 seed and defending national champion Boston College will play No. 4 seed Colorado College.

Berenson said Sunday he would scout all three teams in order to be ready for any possible regional final matchup. The Wolverines beat the Tigers in the finals of the Great Lakes Invitational this season, 6-5, but they haven’t played the Eagles since the team’s seniors played in their very first game their freshman year.

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