The Wolverine

January 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 67 of 75

68 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2017   MICHIGAN HOCKEY Will Lockwood's ties to Michi- gan run deep. His father, Joe, was part of Red Berenson's first recruiting class in the mid-1980s. The elder Lockwood, according to Berenson, was a "hard-skat- ing, hard-hitting, solid two-way player" who played with "a lot of heart and enthusiasm." While at Michigan, Joe became friends with Berenson's son, Gor- die, and many years later, Will would befriend Gordie's son, Blake, as well. So when Will developed into the type of prospect that would merit a look from Michigan, it didn't take long for Berenson to give him a call. After all, he al- ready knew Will pretty well, and it isn't often one of the best play- ers in the country also happens to be the son of a former player. Despite his own experience with Michigan, though, when the time came for Will to pick a school, Joe let his son make his own decision, choosing not to pressure him in any direction. But it appeared Will had his eyes set on Michigan all along anyway — how could he turn down the hometown team he grew up cheering for and the university that most of his family members had attended? "I was glad we could [recruit Lockwood]," Berenson said. "We want to get the best kids from Michigan, and if you have kids whose dad played at Michigan, it doesn't get any better than that. "I know Joe's really proud of Will, and Will's got probably a little extra motivation because of all that." The list of star freshmen that have worn the Block M during Berenson's tenure is long. Just last season, Kyle Connor tallied 35 goals and 36 assists in his lone year with the program. The year before that, Dylan Larkin put up 15 goals and 32 assists. Though Lockwood arrived in Ann Arbor without the pedi- gree of either Connor or Larkin — who were both taken in the first round of the NHL Draft — Berenson was still ex- pecting him to make an immediate impact, especially after Lockwood had a strong finish to his junior career with the United States National Development Team Program. The veteran was not to be disappointed — Lockwood, he said, exceeded all expectations very quickly in the offseason and proved he belonged almost immediately. "Everything we did off the ice and on the ice, [Lockwood] was as good as it gets and one of our best players," Berenson said. "He couldn't wait to come here and play here, but that's what he brings to the table. I don't think it's just because he's at Michigan, but I think it's special that he's at Michigan." B y the time U-M's season opener rolled around, Lockwood had already earned a spot on the Wolverine's top line — a spot he has yet to relinquish, even while the rest of the team's lineup has fluctuated. "Any time you can play with speed and physicality like that, your transition will be more smooth going into the college level," senior forward and cap- tain Alex Kile said. "[Lockwood's] leading the team in points right now — I can't say I expected that, but I can't say that I'm sur- prised he's playing so well. "Right from the get-go, he's probably the freshman that stood out the most, and he earned the role that he's in right now. Red's a coach that has been known to give freshmen an op- portunity to prove themselves, and [Lockwood has] done that." After a hot start to the season that saw Lockwood put up 10 points in just nine games, the freshman has cooled off signifi- cantly since, recording just two points in Michigan's last seven games — over which the team's record is 2-5. Despite the slowdown in pro- duction — which he believes is the result of bad luck — Lockwood still leads the team in points with 12. That, combined with the team's record during his cold streak, is a clear reflection of just how important Lockwood is to this team. If a recent report that he suffered a serious shoul- der injury during the 4-1 win over Wisconsin Dec. 10 is true, there could be some even tougher times ahead for Michigan. The Wolverines, off to a 7-8-1 start, don't appear to be national title contenders — let alone in the Big Ten — this year. Michigan has struggled tremendously on offense to replace what it lost from last year, and the defense has not made things easy on the goaltenders. Despite the early struggles, there have been bright spots. With 11 freshmen on the team (all of whom have played in multiple games already), the Wolverines are as young as they've ever been, and they'll only get better from here on out. Jack Lafontaine and Hayden Lavigne have played well in net, while fellow rookies Jake Slaker, Adam Winborg and James Sanchez have bolstered the forwards corps, and Luke Martin and Griffin Luce have played extensively on the blue line. Still, just like it didn't take much time for his coach to real- ize Lockwood's talent, it has quickly become apparent that any conversations about future teams will have to start with Michigan's speedy freshman. — Orion Sang Freshman Will Lockwood Emerges As Wolverine To Watch Lockwood has a team-best 12 points through the first 16 games, thanks to six goals and six assists. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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