Confident and healthy David Wohlberg returns to form for Michigan hockey team
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com
The shot was nothing special. It was nothing more than an ordinary puck-on-net effort similar to others David Wohlberg has taken in his Michigan hockey career.
But this particular shot - taken just 8 seconds into the Wolverines' 6-1 win over Nebraska-Omaha last weekend - symbolizes the difference the junior forward sees after enduring a season-long roller coaster ride as a sophomore.
Last year, his shots weren't delivered with as much energy. They were put on goal to set Wohlberg's teammates up rather than true scoring attempts. This season, Wohlberg shares the goals scored lead with Scooter Vaughan.
"He's got such great skill - he's just so fast, so big, strong, he's got great hands, he can shoot the puck - it's just a matter of keeping him positive and keeping him (playing) with confidence," senior forward Louie Caporusso said. "If you can do that, he's a very dangerous player and he can help our team tremendously."
In six games, Wohlberg, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound South Lyon native, has four goals and an assist heading into this weekend's home-and-home series with Ferris State (Friday at Ferris, 7:05 p.m.; Saturday at Yost Ice Arena, 7:35 p.m.).
While at least half of his goals wouldn't be considered textbook-style great goals, Wohlberg's ability to find the net has gotten him off to the fastest start of his career.
The early offensive flourish follows a sophomore season when Wohlberg battled injuries. Rather than playing at full speed, Wohlberg was tentative and uncertain. Although he finished strong, scoring 10 goals and a career-high 17 assists, Wohlberg considered his sophomore year a disappointment.
That's changed this year. Wohlberg has put more shots on-target, combining natural ability with a little puck luck while also playing with a different level of passion that has sparked the No. 4-ranked Wolverines (3-1-2 overall, 2-0-0-0 CCHA).
"That's one thing I always want to do is put pucks on net and get a lot of shots," Wohlberg said. "I know when I'm getting a lot of shots, it's keeping me in the game and that's the way that I feel I play better."
Wohlberg is part of Michigan's top line, playing off the skills of sophomore Chris Brown and center Matt Rust.
Michigan coach Red Berenson has noticed a difference in Wohlberg this season.
"A player can be a good player just because of his talent, but when he gets his confidence, you can become a border-line great player," Berenson said. "When you're just playing within yourself and with a little bit of tentativeness whether it's in your body or in your head, then you're just an average player."
Two of Wohlberg's goals this season have come on breakaway, allowing him to make the most of his skating speed.
"I just learned that I need to play with more conviction and determination in my game," he said. "I really learned from last year when I didn't get off to a fast start and so to be able to do that this year has really helped."