The Wolverine

December 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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BY CLAYTON SAYFIE O ver the last two years, Michigan has had seven first-round NHL Draft picks, including three who are currently on the roster — sophomore forward Mackie Samoskevich (No. 24 overall, 2021) and freshman forwards Frank Nazar III (No. 13, 2022) and Rut- ger McGroarty (No. 14, 2022). The Wol- verines will likely add at least another during the 2023 event, with freshman forward Adam Fantilli off to a hot start to his collegiate career. Fantilli — a Nobleton, Ontario, na- tive who spent the previous two seasons with the USHL's Chicago Steel — led the NCAA with 23 points (9 goals, 14 assists) in 12 games through Nov. 13. Sa- moskevich was second on the team with 19 points. If Fantilli winds up leading Michigan in points by season's end, he'll become just the second freshman to do so in the last six years (Thomas Borde- leau, 2020-21). The expectations were high com- ing into the campaign for the 6-foot- 2, 195-pounder, and he's lived up to them in the early going. He registered 15 points in the first six games of the season, then followed it up by notching 3 goals in a two-game weekend series sweep against nationally ranked West- ern Michigan Oct. 28-29. Through 10 games, Fantilli had the best points-per-game average (2.0) among all NCAA players since 2000-01 (minimum eight contests), according to NHL Draft writer Sebastian High. "The pucks are going in, but there's way more from him. He can be even bet- ter," interim head coach Brandon Nau- rato said Oct. 25. However, the coach admitted, what Fantilli was doing was nothing short of impressive. "It's not a fluke," Naurato added. "He's not just on a hot streak. He's real." Fantilli checked in No. 2 on The Ath- letic analyst Scott Wheeler's top pros- pects list released Nov. 1, behind No. 1 Connor Bedard, a 5-foot-10 forward from the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League, making the Michigan freshman the top-rated player in college hockey. No other college players ranked in the top 10. Wheeler revealed that a USHL source described Fantilli as "a horse," and said that he's a " big, strong, powerful kid who takes pucks from the wall to the interior with force, and ease, and speed. He can beat you along the wall on the cycle. He can beat you carrying the puck in rotations around the perimeter of the offensive zone. He can beat you by pushing through lanes to the middle third, driving the net, or dropping a shoulder to take space that isn't there." Fantilli blew Wheeler away during his performance in Calgary at Canada's summer showcase last year, and has done the same during the beginning of his Michigan career. "He's off to one of the best starts in the history of college hockey," Wheeler wrote. "He might be the best skater in this draft. It's not often we see play- ers his size who can move like him. His skating is balanced. It's powerful when it needs to be and light and adjustable when it needs to be. Within his move- ment patterns, he can handle the puck on a string. He's going to be a transition monster. Fantilli, a forward, led the NCAA with 23 points (9 goals, 14 assists) in 12 games through Nov. 13. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETICS MICHIGAN HOCKEY Freshman Adam Fantilli Out To Stellar Start 52 THE WOLVERINE DECEMBER 2022

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