The Wolverine

September 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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signed a pro contract in April to void his senior year, then in early July in- coming freshman defenseman Connor Carrick opted for the OHL instead of college — Michigan's hockey program has seemingly turned the tide, with good news now overshadowing the bad. It began when head coach Red Berenson re-upped for three more sea- sons and continued when defenseman Jon Merrill announced he would re- turn for his junior year. Berenson will remain at U-M F ollowing a tumultuous start to the offseason — forward Chris Brown through the 2016 season, when he will be 76, after agreeing to terms July 17. "I know I'm into my remaining few years, but [athletics director] David Brandon asked me if I wanted this to be my final season, and I said, 'No,'" Berenson relayed. This past spring, he completed his 28th season as the Wolverines' head coach, leading Michigan to a 24-13-4 record and its 22nd consecutive NCAA Tournament — a college hockey record. He has guided U-M to 11 CCHA titles, most recently in 2011, nine confer- ence tournament championships (2010), 11 Frozen Four appearances (2011), and national titles in 1996 and 1998. For his career, Berenson is 752-352-77 (.669) and needs Berenson boasts a 752-352-77 career record and needs just 32 wins to move into fourth place on the all-time victories list for college hockey coaches. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL Red Berenson Re-Ups, Jon Merrill To Return Inside Michigan ATHLETICS ity to what we want to accomplish as a program," said Berenson, who con- tinued that he doesn't expect to sign another deal in four years. "You have to be realistic. There is a calendar tick- ing away, and I'm not stupid. "Jerry York sent me a congratula- tions, joked about keeping all of us old warhorses going, but I'll be 76. I can't see us talking about another contract after this one." In his own way, the 6-3, 206-pound Merrill will lend stability to the Maize and Blue, anchoring the blue line along with senior Lee Moffie and junior Mac Bennett. "You're getting a difference-maker on the blue line, a guy that is a proven top CCHA performer and someone who will be pushing for All-American status this year," assistant coach Billy Powers said. "If Jon left, it would have been a very difficult loss to overcome. "When you get a kid like this to re- sophomores are still learning. You rely on your upper- classmen, and Jonny is a guy we absolutely had to have this season." A 2010 second-round draft pick of the New Jersey Dev- commit to the team, that's huge be- cause freshmen take time and even just 31 wins to tie Rick Comley (1973-2011) for fourth place all time in victories among college hockey coaches. He should reach that tally in 2013-14 at the latest. He won't likely catch No. 2 Jerry York (907 wins) and No. 3 Jack Parker (876), who both remain active at Boston Col- lege and Boston University, respectively. "It's always been about our student-athletes, so I don't get caught looking ahead or looking behind because my focus is one year at a time, on the team we have, what we have to do to compete for championships, for our kids to be good students and good citizens," he said. "So I don't need to focus on anything but this year." Michigan is set to unveil a massively made-over Yost ils, Merrill has contributed nine goals and 27 assists in 61 career contests, with a plus/minus of plus-22. He was one of the nation's top freshmen in 2011, but missed the first half of the 2012 season after bad decision- making off the ice led to an indefinite suspension. He returned in January and made an immediate impact, but faded down the stretch, struggling in postseason competi- tion. He's looking to address his shortcomings this year. "Jonny will play a little more of an edge to his game Ice Arena this season, while the Wolverines — along with Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Penn State — will begin play in the Big Ten Conference in 2013-14, bidding farewell to the CCHA. "From a coaching perspective, this contract lends stabil- 12 THE WOLVERINE SEPTEMBER 2012 — you'll see a defender that is tougher to play against," Powers said. "He won't just rely on his hockey smarts, which are as good as it gets, but without the puck you'll see a more aggressive Jon Merrill. With the puck, he'll take more pride in how he's producing, how he's quarterback- ing the power play, how he's joining the rush. "One of the big reasons he's coming back to school for at least one more year is because he's not a complete player, he knows it, and he's eager to put that full year together from start to finish."

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