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November 21, 1994 - Image 16

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-11-21

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8 - The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, November 21, 1994

MORRISON
Continued from page 1
to another level," Botterill says.
"He's got an unbelievable knack for
the pass --putting it through skates,
putting it through sticks and getting it
around to his linemate's stick."
Says Powers: "Brendan is a
prototype playmaking center. He
creates time and space for his
wingers to get into holes and when
(the wingers) do that, Brendan can
get the puck to them in a position
when they can shoot."
All this doesn't mean he can't
score himself. After all, he did score
a hat trick Saturday night against
Miami and is tied for the team lead in
goals this year with eight. He
notched 20 goals in his first year of
college hockey. Not too shabby for
someone who doesn't even look to
shoot most of the time.
"I like being creative out on the
ice, that's for sure," Morrison says.
"That's one of my problems, I'm
always looking to pass. I wish I
would shoot more, but it just seems
like I'm always looking for the pass
first.
"I get as much satisfaction out of
having a nice assist as I do scoring a
goal."
Morrison's poise and passing
talents were never more evident than
in Michigan's thrilling 5-4 win over
Colorado College Oct. 22 at Yost Ice
Arena.
After losing to the Tigers the
previous night, the Wolverines'
record stood at 1-1. Another loss
would give Michigan a losing

PtR T PROFME
Name: Brendan Morrison
Team: Hockey
Weight: 165 pounds
Height: 6 feet
record for the first time in seven
years. In other words, it was a must-
win game.
The Wolverines led 3-0 early on,
but the Tigers scrapped and fought
back before tying the game 4-4 with
less than five minutes to play. It was
looking bleak for the Wolverine
faithful until a Colorado penalty put
Michigan on the power play with a
little over a minute to play.
"We wanted to avenge our loss
from the night before," Morrison
says. "We just went out there
thinking we were going to score."
Morrison assumed his spot at the
point and went to work. He passed
the puck patiently back and forth
between his wings as the clock ran
down.
"When I looked up at the clock,
there were 10 seconds left and the
puck was in the corner," Morrison
recalls. "When a (Colorado player)
tried to clear the puck, Hilton made a
great play and got his stick on the
(Colorado player's) stick and the
puck came right to me."
With the clock seconds away
from expiring, most players would
have probably fired the puck toward
the net, hoping for a deflection or a
rebound. Not Morrison.
He skated in and faked a shot
before delivering a perfect pass -
through traffic -onto Botterill's

waiting stick. From there, all it took
was a quick backhand swipe to give
the Wolverines a huge early-season
victory.
"The good thing about Brendan is
that he can keep his head when
maybe a lot of others are losing
theirs," Michigan coach Red
Berenson says. "He could see that
play. He knew there wasn't much
time, but he's the kind of kid that can
see the play.
"Where some players might bury
their head and shoot into the crowd,
Brendan can see aside from the
crowd that there's someone open and
he made the play. That's what makes
him special. He can see those plays
where other players may not even
look for them."
That's high praise from a man
who's seen dozens of NHL draftees
take the ice at Yost. Morrison joined
the list when the New Jersey Devils
selected him 39th overall in the 1993
Entry Draft.
Did this recognition go to his
head?
Notreally.
Take what he says about being
named the CCHA Rookie of the Year
last season:
"I think that's a big credit to my
teammates," Morrison says. "It's a
big adjustment coming into this
league as a rookie and the senior
class last year really helped us
freshmen adjust pretty easily."
Those who know him best see
this modesty everyday.
"Off the ice, he's a really laid-
back guy," housemate and right wing
Warren Luhning says. "After our
games, he won't talk about hockey
that much. He's areally down-to-
earth kind of guy, he does so many
things that he doesn't talk about to
anybody."
Morrison's gift for passing and
playmaking was apparent early to
those who watched him grow up in
Pitt Meadows, B.C., located about
30 minutes outside of Vancouver.
"He was on the ice since he was
about four-years-old," his dad, Ron,
says. "As a young guy, he was
hockey-crazy. He played a lot of
sports, but he had a flair for hockey
that you could tell early in the game
plan.
"He always seemed to have good
control of the puck, even when he
was a youngster. You could tell right
from the get-go that his position
should be center."
When he was 17, Morrison
moved on to the Penticton Panthers
of the British Columbia Junior
Hockey League. He joined the team a
year after superstar Paul Kariya left

the club. Kariya departed for Maine
- where he won the Hobey Baker
Award -and left large skates to fill.
Morrison stepped into them
admirably, collecting 35 goals and 59
assists for 94 points in only 55
games. He was named Rookie of the
Year, a second-team All-Star and the
starting center in the league's 1993
All-Star game.
After only a year in juniors, he
decided to head for one of 14
colleges that offered him a full
athletic scholarship. The day he
signed his letter of intent to attend
Michigan is a day he will not forget.
"(Signing) was a great feeling,"
he remembers. "All I've wanted to
do in hockey is get my education
paid for some day. I finally had that
chance, and it was a dream come true
for me."
Morrison didn't waste any time in
becoming part of Wolverine lore. He
scored three goals in his first two
college games, both victories over
Alaska-Fairbanks, and was an
instrumental piece in a team that
started off the year by losing only
one of its first 23 games.
Morrison's quick transition to the
college game was no surprise.
"We had the personnel that
Brendan could play with right away,"
Powers says. "We had players that I
knew would complement him. A
Mike Knuble is an ideal player for
Brendan Morrison. (Knuble) is a big,
strong winger who creates space and
is good at finding the holes. Good
goal-scorers can find areas of the ice
where they position themselves,
Greatplay-makers find those
players."
Last year, thanks in part to
Morrison's talents, Knuble led the
'He does a lot of things
that Wiseman did well.
We felt he had the skill
and thepatience to
play (the point), and for
Brendan as a
sophomore to be in this
position is a real credit
to him. He's handling it
well.'
- Red Berenson
Michigan hockey coach
nation in power play goals with 21.
"Since the first day we were
paired together I knew I liked it
because he enjoys passing the puck,"
Knuble says. "I need someone who
enjoys setting guys up, and I owe a
lot of my success to him."
Former Wolverine David Oliver

TONYA BROAD/Daily
Brendan Morrison has become a dominant player for the Michigan hockey
team in only his second season of play.

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figured heavily in Morrison's
acclimation to the college game.
When Morrison joined the team,
Oliver was the only Michigan player
who was also from British Columbia.
The two roomed together on the road
and formed an instant bond.
"He was sort of like a big brother
to me all year," Morrison says. "As
soon as I got here, he took me under
his wing. He made my adjustment
here really easy, and he just helped
me out tremendously."
This year, there are two other
British Columbia natives on the
team, and Morrison wants to return
what Oliver gave him to freshmen
Robb Gordon and Bill Muckalt.
Brian Wiseman also aided
Morrison's development and
transition in the college game. Last
year, Wiseman played the point on
the power play and broke the
Michigan record for career assists.
When Wiseman graduated last year,
Morrison assumed his position.
"At first this year I was a little
nervous up there because it's my first
time actually playing the point,"
Morrison says. "I played on the
power play with Wiseman last year
and I learned so much from him,
little tricks back there that have
helped me out so much this year."
Berenson recognizes the
similarities between the two.

"He does a lot of things that
Wiseman did well. We felt he had
the skill and the patience to play (the
point), and for Brendan as a
sophomore to be in this position is a
real credit to him. He's handling it
well."
Some of Morrison's teammates
were the beneficiaries of Wiseman's
numerous assists. Despite the fact
that Morrison brings almost 140
fewer assists to the ice, they haven't
noticed much difference.
"He's done a really great job
filling in where Wiseman was and
running the power play," Knuble
says. "Our power play hasn't really
missed a beat since Wiseman left.
That's a tough spot. There's a lot of
pressure and there's always someone.
in your face, and I feel he's handled
it really well.
"One crafty centerman moved on
and another one stepped in."
Is Morrison chasing Wiseman's
assist record?
"I haven't even thought about
that," he says. "In a couple years
down the road, maybe we'll see how
close Iam."
You're Brendan Morrison. You'r
not concerned with records. Maybe
in thefutureyourpriorities will
change, but not now. You've got the
puck, the clock is winding down, and
there are games to be won.

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