The hockey team takes on Mercyhurst this weekend in an actual game, and since I had the good sense to write my hockey season preview in the summer it exists for the first time ever. The forwards:
- Lose just Brian Lebler and midseason defection Robbie Czarnik.
- Return everyone else including seniors Carl Hagelin, Louie Caporusso, and Matt Rust.
- Add talented-but-engimatic forwards and draft stock imploders Luke Moffatt and Jacob Fallon.
Carl Hagelin == hockey Denard.
- Michigan loses Chris Summers and Steve Kampfer.
- They return Tristin Llewellyn, Chad Langlais, Brandon Burlon, Greg Pateryn, and Lee Moffie.
- They add second-rounder Jon Merrill, 2009 third-rounder Mac Bennett, and undrafted NTDPer Kevin Clare.
Biggest concerns are Llewellyn's reliability, a shut-down defender against top pairings, and how to get Moffie on the ice if he's learned how to play D.
I have no idea what will happen here. Hunwick could backslide as his rebound control betrays him, and Hogan could bounce back to his junior-year form. If you put a gun to my head I would say Hunwick claims the starting job around midseason, but that is a prediction with nothing but good memories from the playoff run behind it. I don't think anyone has a clue here, including the coaches.
Yost Built is also ramping up its season preview. Michigan is ranked #4 in the first USA today poll of the season and the official site has launched a "Countdown to Faceoff" series similar to the CTK videos. Here's Louie Caporusso:
The TV schedule, road games in bold:
|10/2/10||Mercyhurst at Michigan||7:35||Comcast|
|10/8/10||Michigan at Bowling Green||7:05||Comcast|
|10/30/10||Ferris State at Michigan||7:35||Comcast|
|11/5/10||Michigan State at Western Michigan||7:35||Comcast|
|11/13/10||Notre Dame at Michigan||7:35||Comcast|
|11/19/10||Lake Superior at Michigan||7:35||Comcast|
|12/3/10||Michigan at Ohio State||7:35||BTN|
|12/11/10||Michigan State v. Michigan
The Big Chill at the Big House
|12/30/10||G-L-I Championship (Teams TBD)||7:35||FSD|
|1/7/11||Michigan at Michigan State||7:35||BTN|
|1/8/11||Michigan State at Michigan||7:05||FS PLUS|
|1/14/11||Ferris State at Michigan||7:35||CBS College|
|1/15/11||Michigan at Ferris State||7:05||Comcast|
|1/21/11||Alaska at Michigan||7:35||FS PLUS|
|1/29/11||Michigan v. Michigan State (JLA)||8:05||FSD|
|2/4/11||Michigan at Miami||7:35||CBS College|
|2/5/11||Michigan at Miami||5:05||FSD|
|2/11/11||Ohio State at Michigan||7:35||BTN|
|2/12/11||Ohio State at Michigan||7:35||BTN|
|2/18/11||Western Michigan at Michigan||7:35||Comcast|
|2/19/11||Western Michigan at Michigan||7:35||FSD|
|3/4 OR 5/11||First-Round Campus-Site||TBA||CBS College|
|3/12/11||Second-Round Campus Site||TBA||Comcast|
|3/18/11||CCHA Semifinal # 1||4:35||FS PLUS|
|3/18/11||CCHA Semifinal # 2||8:05||FS PLUS|
|3/19/11||CCHA Championship Game||7:35||FS PLUS|
That's 20 of 34 games plus potential additions if they get to the GLI championship (likely since the first opponent this year is Michigan Tech) and host a playoff series, which they obviously will. As a bonus, all of the FSD games will be in HD.
Serious coverage will have to wait until football season is over, but there will be erratic posts when warranted.
A Stupid Prediction
Michigan spent most of last year floundering around looking like they'd be the first Berenson team in 20 years to miss the tournament, then caught fire in the CCHA playoffs. Eight games later they were undefeated in the postseason when some guy from Hockey East and his galaxy-spanning incompetence robbed Michigan of a goal that would send them to the Frozen Four. Fate being what it is, Shawn Hunwick would misplay an easy slap shot in the most crushing hockey game I've ever seen.
The question Michigan hockey will spend the first half of the season answering is "well, which is it?" Is it the .500 team that entered the CCHA playoffs or the undefeated team that outshot Miami almost 4 to 1 in the first overtime of the Waterloo, Indiana game?
It should be the latter. Michigan will battle Miami for the conference title, make the NCAA tournament as either a 1 or 2 seed, and then you've got single elimination playoff hockey designed to make a mockery of anyone stupid enough to predict it. Red is going around bluntly stating things like this:
"We realized we were as good as anybody at the end of last year and this team will take that (confidence) and put that on the ice."
"Does it make our team better? Definitely, it's huge," said Berenson of having Hagelin and Caporusso back. "You're so much more optimistic because you know who your top players are. I felt they had their heads in the right place. They are really invested in this program."
They will lay waste and then it will be the tournament again, where nothing makes sense and it all matters so much.