Michigan's Louie Caporusso rediscovers his scoring touch at the perfect time
Louie Caporusso's statistical superlatives may not be as gaudy as they were last season when theÂ Michigan forward was among the nation's leading goal-scorers.
Despite a drop in scoring as a junior, Caporusso's confidence may be peaking at the right time.
Four of Caporusso's 11 goals have come in Michigan's past five games. He had three assists Saturday in a 5-4 win over Northern Michigan. The win kept the Wolverines in the hunt for a top-four finish in the CCHA standings heading into this weekend's regular season-ending series with Notre Dame.
The timing of Caporusso's re-emergence couldn't have been better - both for Michigan's fleeting NCAA Tournament hopes and for Michigan's third-leading scorer, who believes he can still play a major role in getting the Wolverines where they want to go.
Last season, Caporusso finished with 49 points, scored 24 goals and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.Â This year, the scoring has come gradually, forcing Caporusso, who currently has 28 points, to grind out his game more before hitting his stride in recent weeks.
Caporusso has noticed an improvement in the way he has played, even though at times, the rewards haven't been evident on the scoresheet.
"I'm just playing my game and not thinking too much and just trying to react," Caporusso said. "I'm trying to take shots on net. Even when they're low-percentage shots, you still shoot it on net and you never know what may happen. I think that's helped me."
Michigan coach Red Berenson refers to Caporusso as a work in progress, pleading with the junior to take more shots. While Caporusso's recent string of success has come through puck bounces that he refers to as "dumb luck", Berenson said Caporusso's best may be yet to come.
Not necessarily through goal-scoring, but by just being in position to make things happen.
"When you start forcing it and looking for the perfect play, you're never going to get it," Berenson said Wednesday. "But these guys know he can be a pretty good player if they leave him alone, but they don't leave him alone. They're all over him."
Michigan is in seventh place in the CCHA standings, three spots away from where it needs to be to earn a first-round bye in next month's conference tournament.
With two wins over Notre Dame this weekend and some help, the Wolverines could finish as high as tied for second.
But with a poor showing against the Irish, who are 1-1 against Michigan this season, the Wolverines could finish as low as ninth. That scenario would force the Wolverines to begin the CCHA Tournament on the road.
The series begins Thursday at Yost Ice Arena at 7:35 p.m. (TV: Fox Sports Detroit), and continues Saturday at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind. at 7:05 p.m. (TV: Big Ten Network).
Berenson said he hasn't gone through all the scenarios, but won't allow his team to get distracted by when and where it will begin its postseason push for the program's 20th straight NCAA appearance.
"We're just focusing on our game because that's the only game we can do anything about," Berenson said. "Saturday, we'll worry about Saturday and we'll see when the smoke clears, where we are. It will be our doing one way or another."
Last stand at Yost
Thursday night's game against Notre Dame will mark the regular-season finale at Yost Ice Arena. Michigan's five seniors - Anthony Ciraulo, Eric Elmblad, Steve Kampfer, Brian Lebler and captain Chris Summers - will all be honored in a post-game ceremony.
Berenson believes that maybe the ceremony is what the Wolverines need to summon their best hockey. Regardless, this year's Senior Night will have a different feel than in the past just because of the work Michigan still has to accomplish.
"I think it does feel different just considering our position in the league and we're fighting for points," Caporusso said. "I don't think we've ever been in a position when we're in a dogfight to get that bye."
Jeff Arnold covers Michigan hockey for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at email@example.com or 734-623-2554. Follow him at Twitter @jeffreyparnold.