The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 98 of 119

The Maize and Blue entered the season with serious questions offensively following the departure of forwards Carl Hagelin (18 goals in 2011 and 61 in his career), Louie Caporusso (68 career markers), Scooter Vaughan (14 goals in 2011), Matt Rust (41 career goals) and Ben Winnett (21 career goals). Meanwhile, among Michigan���s returning skaters, only senior winger David Wohlberg (three times), and juniors Chris Brown (once) and Kevin Lynch (once) had ever scored 10 goals or more in a single year. Through eight games this season, however, U-M had already scored 39 goals and its 4.88 per-game average ranked second nationally. Sparks was at the heart of the offensive outburst, but nine teammates tallied at least two goals and 12 had five points or more through Oct. 31. ���I think it was fair to ask about the offense because even though we felt we had a lot of offensive talent on this team, we really didn���t have many guys that had put up big numbers,��� said junior defender Lee Moffie, who notched five points in the first eight games. ���We were confident we had the ability to score, but you do sense a little pressure before the season because that���s all the media and fans were talking about. ���I think what we���ve proven early is that there are a lot of guys on this team with offensive ability, and a lot of guys that are looking to score. We could have three or four lines that you have to account for, and then add the defensemen to the mix also. I think we���ve surprised some people offensively and I think we���ll keep surprising them.��� All Was Not Lost not take the shine off a spectacular individual performance by Sparks. And it would prove the starting point of a scoring binge for the Oakville, Ont., native, who led the Wolverines in points (11) and shared the lead in goals (five) after the first eight games of the season through Oct. 31. Sparks, owner of just eight career markers and six assists in 40 games his freshman and sophomore campaigns, has been an early surprise, but the greater revelation has been the offense overall. In the preseason, much was made of the players the Wolverines lost in the spring, but head coach Red Berenson pointed out the distinction between perception and reality. Yes, Hagelin, Caporusso, Rust, Vaughan and Winnett were gone, along with defensemen Brandon Burlon and Chad Langlais, but in total the seven accounted for only 60 of Michigan���s 146 markers (41.1 percent). The majority of U-M���s scoring was set to return this season. ���I don���t think we were as worried about our offense,��� Berenson said. ���The question was: who���s going to fill the void of the seniors that we lost? ���And of those seniors, Scooter and Carl were the most productive. Louie had been productive in his career, but in his senior year he had 11 goals. And Rust had fewer than 10 [five]. And Winnett had fewer than 10 [five]. So it wasn���t like we had this huge vacuum in terms of scoring, but we had this vacuum in terms of roles.��� The Wolverines knew with more ice time, and more chances, goals would come. Thus, the question shouldn���t have focused on whether the Maize and Blue would score, but on who would elevate his game to earn an opportunity on Michigan���s top two lines and on the No.��1 power-play unit. ���I was confused why everyone was dogging the offense because if you look at college hockey as a whole, younger guys will evolve into players,��� fifth-year senior goaltender Shawn Hunwick said. ���You can say [junior] A.J. Treais only had 22 points last season, but how is he supposed to put up more when he���s on the third line and the second power play? Guys like Caporusso were on the first line and the first power play the entire season, and they will put up more points because they���re on the ice more. If A.J. had more opportunity last year, he could have put up more points. ���There is turnover every year and guys step up, that���s college athletics. No one said Scooter Vaughan would be a 14-goal guy, and you have guys like that every year. No one in our locker room was worried we didn���t have enough guys that could score goals.��� Though the Wolverines were brimming with confidence, doubt was cast outside the locker room, and if Michigan started slowly this season, those uncertainties may have crept inside the minds of the Maize and Blue. It became critical U-M start the season with bang, and it did, racking up five goals in back-to-back games while a 10-goal eruption in a victory over St. Lawrence confirmed what the players and coaches had believed ��� this team would be just fine. ���It was definitely a confidence boost to score a lot of goals early,��� Sparks said. ���You do your best not to listen to all the questions but you November 2011��� ������ the wolverine��� 99

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - November 2011