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February 20, 2013 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-02-20

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8A - Wednesday, February 20, 2013

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

40

By MICHAEL LAURILA
Daily Sports Editor
As of Wednesday, senior for-
ward Kevin Lynch has appeared
in 158 games for the Michigan
hockey team.
How many has he missed?
Two.
He sat out the Wolverines' first
series last year against Bentley
because of back spasms. He said
that he'd been struggling with
back spasms for the entirety of
the preseason, and the pain was
to the point where he knew his
back wouldn't recover if he didn't
take any games off.
Though senior forward A.J.
Treais has littered the stat sheet
more than Lynch the past two
years, he hasn't matched Lynch's
stability and consistency over
the four-year period. The youth-
ful struggles that affect most
freshmen transitioning to col-
lege hockey, the injuries that are
constantly a problem in a physi-
cal, grueling sport like hockey
or even the rare one-game sus-
pension that can result from a
game misconduct never resulted

Lync
in Lynch regularly watching the
game from the stands.
It's neither his goal-scoring
prowess nor his good fortune to
avoid bad injuries that have sepa-
rated Lynch from his classmates.
Berenson attributes Lynch's suc-
cess to his hard work, physical
play and bigbody.
"I think he's a mentally tough
kid and he's mature physically,"
he said. "He's one of our stronger
kids, too, so he not only plays and
has been a bit of an iron man, but
he's strong."
How lucky has Lynch been in
avoiding a serious injury? This
season, for example, four of the
seven Michigan defensemen have
missed multiple games due to an
injury. That number might be
higher than average, but it shows
how difficult it can be during the
long college hockey season - the
Wolverines' first exhibition game
against Windsor came on Oct.
9 and their last regular-season
game will be played on March 2
- to stay healthy.
And Berenson, who not only
played three seasons at Michigan
but also went onto have a20-year

NHL career, relates to t
and tribulations these
face every day of the sea
"When you're a hocke
if you're a good player, th
a day in the season thaty
wake up and somethini
hurt," he said. "It might
finger, it might be your
might be your knee.
"There's always so
that hurts
and you don't
get over that "
until you're a
coach - that's all
the good thing
about coach- -
ing. You wake
up and you
realize nothing
hurts anymore."

:he trials expected to continue for the
players Wolverines, but he - along with
son. Treais, who played alongside
y player, Lynch in the NTDP - struggled
ere's not early on in their careers to find an
you don't identity in Wolverines' offense.
g doesn't "I think he's a different person
be your now," Berenson said. "He came in
ankle, it and it was all about him and his
stats and his goals and his points,
mething and now I think it's all about what
kind of player
he is and how
Vhen he's on hard he works
I every night.
he has to do If you would
have talked
s hit guys." to somebody
when he was a
freshman, you
wouldn't have

rsironman

currently ranks last in the CCHA
in goals allowed per game, and
third worst in the NCAA.
And it's not that Lynch is
physical to the point of being
too aggressive. Though he ranks
second on the team in penalty
minutes with 34, he has just four
more than senior defenseman
Lee Moffie and 36 fewer than
freshman defenseman Jacob
Trouba. Not only does Lynch's
physicality force turnovers and
give Michigan a necessary pres-
ence deep in the other team's
zone, but it also helps him create
offensively.
"When he's on, all he has to do
is hit guys," said junior defense-
man Mac Bennett. "If he hits
guys, people give him more space,
and if you get that space, he's able
to make plays. He doesn't put
himself in a position to get hit
awkwardly, and I think that kind
of attributes to him always being
in a position where he can hit you
instead of you hitting him."
And Lynch didn't become the
physical player that he is today
overnight. He says that his physi-
cal mindset came from when he

was a freshman, struggling to
find the back of the net. Instead
of just working o'n honing his
offensive skills, he worked on
other intangibles that a good for-
ward should have - transform-
ing into the physical player that
bangs bodies every night.
Even after Lynch upped his
physicality, offensive production
didn't always come effortlessly.
- or at all. His freshman cam-
paign endured a 13-game point-
less streak, and a year later he
experienced an even more bru-
tal 18-game pointless streak. But
during this time, his physical-
ity and defensive presence were
constants. It's these attributes,
not his line on the stat sheet, that
have made him the consistent
player Berenson has seen for so
long.
"Lynch has gone through some
slumps of all slumps," Beren-
son said. "But I can tell you that
he never gave up and never quit
working. He never quit check-
ing, never quit hitting so you still
wanted him in the lineup even
though he might not have been at
his best."

Before arriving at Michigan,
Lynch played two seasons with
the National Team Development
Program in Ann Arbor where he
was one of the best goal scorers
- he compiled 24 goals and 24
assists for a total of 48 points in
63 games during his last year.
Lynch's consistency and pro-
ductivity for the U-18 team was

said he was one of our most phys-
ical players, but he is now."
It's this physicality that has
made Lynch a regular name on
the Michigan line chart over the
years. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 210
pounds, he uses his big body to
play a physical type of hockey.
Especially this year, his physical
presence has been something of
a bright spot for a defense that

Beilein hopes week off will do wonders for Michigan

By DANIEL WASSERMAN
Daily Sports Editor
Beginning with a Jan. 24 win
>aver Purdue and culminating
With an embarrassing road loss
toMichigan State on Feb. 12, the
Michigan men's basketball team
flayed a stretch of seven games in
20 days..
The Wolverines won the first
three games comfortably, but lost
hree of the final four contests. By
- The time the gantlet had ended,
they'd played four road games,
four teams in the current Top-25
-poll (includingtwo of the nation's
top;four teams), and two over-
times but held just one practice
that wasn't devoted to a specific-
ame preparation in the three
week period.
After a few days to get over the
loss to the Spartans and prepare
for Sunday's win over Penn State,

Michigan now finds itself at the
beginning of a 20-day stretch with
just four games before the regu-
lar-season finale at home against
No.1 Indiana.
Michigan coach John Beilein,
who said after Tuesday's loss in
East Lansing that the time off will
be a "great time to get back to the
basics that we were doing earlier
in the year," was relieved to finally
be done with the toughest portion
of the schedule.
Beilein gave his players Mon-
day off in hopes they'd come back
fresh on Tuesday. The Wolverines
don't have a game until Illinois
visits Ann Arbor on Sunday.
"We don't usually take (a day
off) the day after a game," Beilein
said Sunday. "We like to watch the
film, video, and take the following
day off, but the way I looked at it
during this week is get healthy

Tuesday and Wednesday andhave
another day off Thursday for most.
of our guys. That way we get guys
two days of rest this week."
The regular wear and tear of a
season can slow down anyone -
perhaps an explanation for why,
Penn State was able to score 10
points more than its season aver-
age on Sunday - but. the Wol-
verines are facing more pressing
injury issues. Redshirt junior for-
ward Jordan Morgan has been
severelylimitedbyan ankle sprain
he suffered on Jan. 27 at Illinois.
Since then, he's missed two games
and has yet to play double-digit
minutes in the other four contests.
"We had no idea that Jordan
Morgan would take this long,"
Beilein said. "He wants to play,
he's insisting on playing, he's
insisting on coming to practice, so
you've got to trust him. But when
you watch him move outthere, it's
not happening. He's delayed.
"He's rehabbing all day long....
He's very slow. Until he gets bet-
ter, that really affects us."
Freshman guard Caris LeVert
is also dealing with a sprained
ankle sustained on Sunday, pro-
viding more evidence that this
time off couldn't have come at a
better time for the Wolverines.
But even ' with the injuries,
Michigan has several issues to
correct, mainly on defense. The
Wolverines allow an average of
61.4 points per game, but they
have given up 70-plus points in
five of their last seven games.
Some of that has to do with the
nature of the opponent, but Michi-
gan's defense has also committed
numerous defensive breakdowns,

such as slow rotations or failure
to box out, which Beilein hopes he
can correct in practice.
"We're going to get back and
guard some people, play defense,"
Beilein said of this week's plans.
With the postseason less
than a month away, this week
off is crucial for Michigan to get
back ontrack. But with so many
young, inexperienced players,

Beilein cautioned of the difficul- teachers, but there were some

ties between allowing for slower
learning curves and trying to get
his messages to stick.
"It's a sweet spot that we real-
ly have to be very careful with,"
Beilein said. "If this is the 80th
practice and you're still not talk-
ing on defense, then you have to
get after them.
"We pride ourselves on being

moments these last couple weeks
that we just say, 'Enough is
enough. We're going to do this
because you won't do that' It's
that area where you don't want to
get them to where they lose their
confidence, but at the same time,
gettingtougher right now through
all these things is important for
us."

6
6

Redshirt junior forward Jordan Morgan will use the off week to nurse his ankle.

n a

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