Ice Hockey

Senior Nick Pastujov is part of a deep group of forwards for Michigan coach Mel Pearson.

Filling in the lineup each night will be quite the task for Mel Pearson this season. The Michigan coach will be forced to narrow down the 17 forwards on the roster to just 12 for each game, possibly 13 if he chooses to dress an extra forward as opposed to an extra defenseman. And when you look down the list, there are few — if any — players that are easy to leave out.

The Wolverines hired Matt Hunwick as a volunteer assistant coach.

The Michigan hockey team has brought former Wolverine defenseman Matt Hunwick back into the fold as a volunteer assistant coach, the team announced Friday afternoon.

Michigan coach Mel Pearson looks to improve the Wolverines’ power play, which ranked 45th out of the 60 teams nationally last season.

It goes without saying that to win hockey games, a team must score.

Goals can come from a variety of channels, from breakaways, one-timers and penalty shots to quick wristers, wraparounds and sometimes sheer luck.

Freshman forward Nick Granowicz faces a transition from junior college to Michigan this season.

Size. Strength. Speed. School. The four horsemen of college hockey. 

And for many incoming freshmen, these elements create turbulence in the transition from junior level hockey to the NCAA level.

Senior defenseman Luke Martin is pleased with the efforts of Michigan's new defensemen.

Things look very different on the blueline for Michigan this year.

Last season, the Wolverines were led defensively by Quinn Hughes, Joseph Cecconi and Nicholas Boka. Hughes was drafted No. 7 overall by the Vancouver Canucks in June 2018 and spent the vast majority of last season playing on the top defensive pairing with Cecconi, who joined the Dallas Stars after the season ended. Boka, while not the headliner that Hughes and Cecconi were, held down the right side of the second pairing and headed for the AHL’s Iowa Wild after graduating.

With three of its staple defensemen off to play professional hockey, Michigan now has to figure out how to fill their roles.

Senior forward Nick Pastujov believes the team's forward depth will be the team's strength going into the season.

Running a finger down the Michigan hockey team’s lineups, next to the majority of the players’ names will be the letter “F” — indicating their position, forward. Of the 27 players on the roster, 17 are forwards.

Michigan hockey coach Mel Pearson is working to get his team off to a faster start in 2019.

It was the preparation Pearson was readying his team for. In a game, every aspect of hockey is ramped up — speed, strength, skill. The standards for a game could not be easily mimicked in practice. But that’s what the Michigan hockey team is striving for.

Senior defenseman Luke Martin has helped to lead practice on off days, when coaches are not allowed to be on the ice.

Sitting there Wednesday, watching practice, you couldn’t tell anything had changed.

The motions were the same. The drills. The pace. The intensity.

But something was different. There was no Mel Pearson in skates with a stick watching over practice. No assistant coaches. Just the players led by their captains.

During the preseason, the NCAA mandates teams have two days off from practicing. Optional practice is allowed one of those days, but no coaches can be on the ice. During these practices, the four letter-wearers — the captain, Will Lockwood, and the three alternate captains Luke Martin, Griffin Luce and Jake Slaker, all seniors — are responsible for keeping the intensity.

Cam York and Johnny Beecher, both first-round draft picks, are excited about joining Michigan's hockey program this season.

The duo took different paths to Michigan, but both are expected to hit the ground running and contribute right away. In this year’s NHL Entry Draft, York was drafted No. 14 overall by the Philadelphia Flyers and Beecher went No. 30 overall to the Boston Bruins.

Michigan coach Mel Pearson called for multiple rule changes, similar to other Big Ten revenue sports.

Pearson isn’t normally one to voice his frustrations with rules or officiating, but at a meeting of the Big Ten hockey coaches on Wednesday, Pearson hopes they’ll get the ball rolling on a conversation about potential changes. It’s clear there are a few hot-button issues Pearson feels strongly about, including being allowed to add a third full-time assistant coach.