Michigan hockey team would prefer not to have a layoff and other notes
Shawn Hunwick stepped onto the ice last Wednesday and, for a few moments, everything felt fresh again.
It didn’t feel like the Michigan hockey team had been playing games since Oct. 2 and like Hunwick, a senior goalie, had played 33 of the Wolverines’ 42 games this year.
With Michigan having to wait 12 days between qualifying for the Frozen Four and actually playing in it this Thursday against top-seeded North Dakota (8:30 p.m., ESPN2), a lot felt brand new.
“When we first got back on the ice, it felt like summertime again, trying to get your legs and your runs back,” Hunwick said. “But it’s kind of boring. You kind of just want to keep playing when your team is playing well and had good momentum.”
The break allowed Hunwick to catch up on schoolwork — finals and papers start being due when Michigan returns from St. Paul, Minn. — but it was not the ideal situation for a team that has won 11 of its last 12 games.
It also allows Michigan, Minnesota-Duluth, Notre Dame and North Dakota to set travel and practice schedules with time to spare. But with the week-long break — set, in part, Michigan coach Red Berenson said, because the Frozen Four and Final Four don’t want to conflict with each other — allows time for players to heal and prepare.
But if they had their choice, they’d still like to play right away.
“I would have rather kept playing personally,” Berenson said. “I think all the teams would. It’s tough to not play a game for how many days since last Saturday.”
Burlon back practicing Michigan received a boost when defenseman Brandon Burlon, who has missed the CCHA tournament championship weekend and the first weekend of the NCAA tournament with an illness, returned to practice midway through last week.
“Whatever was his problem has gone away, so he can eat now,” Berenson said. “It wasn’t a digestion thing but a swallowing thing. I don’t really need to get into it, but he couldn’t eat solid foods for a week.”
Berenson said Burlon lost 17 pounds during the illness, but the Michigan hockey coach said the junior is back now “like nothing ever happened.”
The New Jersey Devils draft pick, Berenson said, could be an option Thursday in the Frozen Four semifinals. If Burlon can't go, freshman Kevin Clare will continue to play in his place.
This and that With Crisler Arena now closed for renovations, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have moved their locker rooms temporarily into Yost Ice Arena. The teams were seen moving things into the locker rooms Monday. Berenson said he thinks having open media access will help his players this week, when the crush of media intensifies for the Frozen Four. North Dakota hasn’t lost since Jan. 28, when the Fighting Sioux fell at Colorado College, 4-2. Since then, North Dakota in 14-0-1 with a 3-3 tie against St. Cloud State