The Wolverine

December 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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DECEMBER 2020 THE WOLVERINE 51 BY AUSTIN FOX T he Maize and Blue got off to a rough start last year in Big Ten ac- tion in head coach Mel Pearson's third year at the helm, kicking off conference play with an 0-6 mark. They turned things around in a big way, though, finishing 11-10-3-2 in the league and 18-14-4 overall. Michigan lost several key cogs from last year's club, including a trio of for- wards in Will Lockwood, Jacob Hay- hurst and Jake Slaker, who combined to rack up 33 goals in 2019-20. Returning, however, is junior goal- tender Strauss Mann, who was tabbed as the Big Ten's Goalie of the Year last season. He and sophomore defense- man Cam York were each selected to this year's preseason All-Big Ten first team, while sophomore forward Johnny Becher landed on the second team. The Wolverines will also receive a boost from a heralded incoming 10- man freshmen class that is viewed by most outlets as the nation's best. "The freshmen will make impacts in their own way," Pearson said. "Each and every one of them has proved to our staff that they should play and that they aren't out of place. "I'm excited to try and keep this group around for a while, but we'll see how that goes." Though several rookies will un- doubtedly play key roles for the Wol- verines this season, Pearson confirmed the veterans are still going to be the ones who dictate how good the club can be as a whole. "I really like how our team has come along since Aug. 31 when we first took the ice," he said. "We'll need our upper- classmen to lead, and I like the fact that we have Strauss Mann. He'll make up for a lot of mistakes we make, though hopefully we don't make too many. "We have enough solid upperclass- men to make sure our freshmen don't have to lead our team. They just have to find their way, and eventually they will. We're young, not only age-wise, but also in the number of games our guys have played. "We can talk about these good young players, but it could take some time for us to find our way. We'll get there, and that's why we're going to stress patience." Pearson reminded his listeners dur- ing a Zoom call Nov. 9 that the club wound up tying for second place in the Big Ten last year following its 1-7 start. He went on to say it's about the "cul- ture and attitude" the team is building, and "how they handle adversity" that will determine whether or not 2020-21 is a success.   MICHIGAN HOCKEY A Quick Guide To The Wolverines' 2020-21 Season Junior Strauss Mann is the reigning Big Ten Goalie of the Year after setting a single-season school record with six shutouts in 2019-20. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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