WUOMFM

university of michigan hockey

A view across the devastated neighborhood of Richmond in Halifax, Nova Scotia after the Halifax Explosion in 1917. The steamship Imo, one of the ships in the collision that triggered the explosion, can be seen aground on the far side of the harbor.
wikimedia commons

The University of Michigan hockey team started its season last week. But the program started 94 years ago. It was a surprising byproduct of the worst man-made explosion to that point, and of a young man who changed his mind about Americans.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Pearson

This week, the University of Michigan did something it hasn’t had to do in 33 years: hire a new hockey coach.

The last time the job opened was 1984. Athletic director Don Canham heard Red Berenson was on campus moving his oldest son, Gordie, into his dorm room. Canham called Berenson to his office, offered him the job for the third time, and Berenson finally took it.

If he hadn’t, it’s not clear who Canham could have hired. After all, the guy Michigan just fired was a failed former high school hockey coach. Michigan was at the bottom of a glorified bus league, with an empty building, and nothing to brag about.

Some NHL players, like Alex Ovechkin, have said they plan to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, despite the league announcing it won't send its players to compete.
Jennifer Griggs / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It was recently announced that the National Hockey League (NHL) will not be sending its players to the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The last time NHL players weren't included in the Olympic hockey tournament was in 1998. After nearly two decades, that is expected to come to a close next year when the Winter Games are hosted in Seoul, South Korea.

 Red Berenson, coaches the University of Michigan's hockey team.
MGoBlog / Flickr

Gordon “Red” Berenson"  loved the game from the start. When he was a six-year old kid in Regina, Sasketchewan, for Christmas his parent gave him new skates, gloves, and shin pads.

He was so excited, he called his best friend on the party line – at 6 a.m. When his friend’s mom answered, she said, “Do you know it’s 6 a.m.?”

Berenson replied, “Yes -- but this is important!”

He played most of his games outside, where the prairie winds make it feel like you’re skating uphill. By 18 he was so good, the Montreal Canadiens wanted him to turn pro. When he decided to go to the University of Michigan instead, the Canadiens' general manager warned him, “If you go to an American college, you’ll never become a pro.”

Berenson went anyway.

Ninety seconds into his first game at Michigan, he skated end to end and scored his first goal. He scored 78 more, including 43 his senior year, still a Michigan record. He was the best player in the country.

MGoBlue screen shot

The man who led the University of Michigan's hockey program for 33 years is retiring.

77-year-old Red Berenson says he was getting questions on the recruiting trail about how long he'd remain head coach – and it seemed the right time to "get out of the way."

He says he'll play a distant role as an advisor when it comes time to choose his replacement.

Former Michigan hockey player Scott Matzka drops the puck at center ice to start the alumni game.
Michigan Hockey

The most compelling sports story of the week was not the NFL playoffs, the college football playoffs, the NBA, or the NHL. It wasn’t even televised.

On Saturday night, the Red Wing alumni team took on a squad of former University of Michigan players. It was just an exhibition, which only mattered to those who thought it mattered. But 2,000 folks did, because it mattered a great deal to a former Michigan star named Scott Matzka

Yost Arena
University of Michigan

The University of Michigan's Board of Regents has approved an interim athletic director appointment and a $5.8 million upgrade to a hockey arena.

The board signed off Thursday on Jim Hackett's appointment and the renovations to Yost Ice Arena's rink floor and refrigeration system. The meeting moved from the Michigan Union to an administrative building after a group of protesters interrupted to voice concerns over minority enrollment.

Hackett was introduced as the interim athletic director on Oct. 31 when former athletic director Dave Brandon's resignation was announced. Hackett will be paid $600,000 per year for an “indefinite” period of time. He is a former Michigan football player and recently retired as CEO of Grand Rapids-based office furniture maker Steelcase Inc.

Construction on the arena is expected to be completed by next summer.

Hockey net.
Dean Michaud / Flickr

It’s been a sad week for the University of Michigan hockey program.  Last Friday, Michigan’s first three-time All-American, Wally Grant, passed away, at 86.  Then on Monday, Grant’s teammate, Al Renfrew, who went on to coach the team for 16 years, died at 89.  These two men made great contributions to Michigan hockey’s unequaled tradition.

During World War II, the fortunes of a college hockey team didn’t amount to a hill of beans.  The able-bodied were fighting in Europe and Asia, so Michigan’s roster shrunk.  So did the schedule, from 20 games to eight.  From 1940 to 1943, the Wolverines won exactly five games - total.  The next year, a local newspaper warned, “Michigan May Remove Hockey From Athletic Program.”