The Wolverine

October 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 41 of 67

42 THE WOLVERINE OCTOBER 2022 standing 2022 recruiting class intact. The prevailing thought is that a good start to the season could solidify his hold on the job permanently, something he envi- sioned even before he graduated back in 2009. "Did I ever think it would happen? It was always the goal," Naurato said in an interview re- leased to the media in September. "I've had so many people [including] former teammates and friends say, 'I remember you talking about how you would do it when you played here … and even after.' "It was always the goal. I think it came quicker than I expected, but yeah — it was always the goal to be the head coach." And now he's here and ready to lead the Wolverines to even greater heights following a Big Ten Tournament title and Frozen Four appearance in 2021-22. Though he's lost a lot of talent from a team that finished 31-10-1, including elite forwards Matty Beniers, Kent Johnson, and Thomas Bordeleau, U-M has plenty on which to build. Junior goaltender Erik Portillo, sophomore forward Mackie Sa- moskevich and sophomore defenseman Luke Hughes form an outstanding nu- cleus and are among the best players in the country. Portillo, the Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player and a con- ference goaltender of the year finalist, was a 2019 third-round NHL Draft pick (67th overall) of the Buffalo Sabres. He chose to return to school and should be one of the nation's top netminders in 2022-23. Hughes, selected fourth overall (first round) by the New Jersey Devils in the 2021 NHL Draft, was the Big Ten Co- Freshman of the Year, while Samoskevich (the 24th overall pick of the 2021 NHL Draft by the Florida Panthers) earned Big Ten all-freshman honors, as well. Naurato under- stands he walked into a great situa- tion. His goal — to make it even better. "I look at it like taking over a busi- ness," he said. "I've acquired a business with a great brand, and there have been a lot of great things that have happened here. And then, we're going to make some upgrades and just try to be better every day. "I think we had a great locker room cul- ture last year. We're going to keep build- ing on that. I think culture comes from great people. Books and signs on the wall are great, and that stuff matters for little reminders, but I think it's all about your people." He'll have some good ones to lean on Michigan has yet another outstanding crop of freshmen entering this year, including several high NHL Draft picks and/ or players who will be drafted soon. Here's a look at the Wolver- ines' latest group of elite newcomers. Gavin Brindley, 5-9, 170, F (Estero, Fla.): Brindley notched 42 points in 51 games in his second year with the USHL Tri-City Storm. He registered a goal and 3 assists for the U.S. team at the U18 World Championships this year and is eligible for the 2023 NHL Draft. Seamus Casey, 5-10, 178, D (Fort Myers, Fla.): Casey spent the last two years with the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP), finishing with 69 points (18 goals) in 94 games. The New Jersey Devils selected him 46th overall (sec- ond round) in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Kienan Draper, 6-0, 183, F (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.): The son of former Detroit Red Wing Kris Draper played the 2021-22 season with Chilliwack (BCHL) and notched 50 points (23 goals, 27 assists) in 53 games. The Red Wings selected him 187th overall (seventh round) in the 2020 NHL Draft. Johnny Druskinis, 6-1, 185, D (Plymouth, Mich.): Druskinis played for the Tri-City Storm with Brindley in 2021-22, leading the team in penalty minutes with 159 and adding 8 points in 53 games. He has a "defense-first" mentality, moves the puck well and is a throwback defenseman. Adam Fantilli, 6-2, 188, F (Nobleton, Ont., Canada): The big forward spent the last two seasons with the USHL's Chicago Steel and recorded 110 points in 103 games. The 2023 NHL Draft-eligible wing led the Steel in goals in 2021-22 with 37, the second most in a single season in club history. Luca Fantilli, 6-0, 183, D (Nobleton, Ont., Canada): Brother of fellow frosh Adam, Fantilli captained the USHL's Chicago Steel last year and notched 24 points (4 goals, 20 assists) in 60 games. That doubled his 2020-21 offensive output. Jackson Hallum, 6-0, 183, F (Eagan, Minn.): A finalist for Minnesota's 2021 Mr. Hockey Award, Hallum sent two sea- sons with Green Bay (USHL), then was traded to Dubuque mid-season in 2021-22. He finished with 82 points (25 goals) in 77 games and went 91st overall (third round) to the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2020 NHL Draft. T.J. Hughes, 6-0, 185, F (Hamilton, Ont., Canada): Hughes played three seasons with the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League and was a finalist for the Canadian Ju- nior Hockey League Forward of the Year. He scored 78 goals and added 72 assists in 71 games. Rutger McGroarty, 6-1, 200, F (Northville, Mich.): Mc- Groarty played two seasons with the USNTDP and registered 110 points (55 goals, 55 assists) in 107 games with the squad. He also added 52 points in USHL contests. The Winnipeg Jets took him No. 14 overall in the 2022 NHL Draft. Brendan Miles, 6-1, 175, D (Farmington Hills, Mich.): Miles spent the last two seasons with the NAHL Fairbanks Ice Dogs, racking up 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists) in 97 games. He was the Detroit Free Press High School Hockey Player of the Year in 2019 after leading Detroit Catholic Central to a state title. Frank Nazar III, 5-10, 175, F (Mt. Clemens, Mich.): Nazar spent two seasons with the USNTDP and led the team in scoring in 2020-21 with 57 points (28 goals, 27 assists) in 45 games last season. He was selected 13th overall by the Chi- cago Blackhawks in the 2022 NHL Draft. Tyler Shea, 6-0, 165, G (Stevenson Ranch, Calif.): Shea notched 1,040 saves for a .904 save percentage and 2.98 goals against average last year in 40 games with the BCHL Wenatchee Wild. He finished with a 14-14 record. Naurato "I look at it like taking over a business. I've acquired a busi- ness with a great brand, and there have been a lot of great things that have happened here. And then, we're going to make some upgrades and just try to be better every day." Talented Newcomers Bolster 2022-23 Roster

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - October 2022