When you think of college hockey, one storied program comes to mind, the University of Michigan Wolverines. Wolverines hockey is a storied program going back to the informal club team formed back in 1920, when the Michigan Chimes expressed a positive sentiment but were disappointed by the fact they were not officially recognized as a “regular team”. The season ended with an outstanding 6-0 record, outscoring their opponents 27-7.

Over the next 10 years support grew monumentally for collegiate hockey with legendary football coach and athletic director Fielding H. Yost calling the team a promising prospect for a minor college sport. The rise in support gave way to more colleges bringing hockey into their schools and gave the Wolverines a more varied season. Through the ’30s and and mid ’40s Michigan continued to grow their program and develop college hockey as a whole.

Then in 1947 the Wolverines saw their greatest coach yet, Vic Heyliger, who would later be inducted into the U.S. Hockey hall of fame in addition to being named one of the 5 greatest hockey coaches of the century by the American Hockey Coaches Association. During his impressive tenure at Michigan Heyliger produced 24 All Americans as well as an outstanding 228-61-13 record as head coach. During this Heyliger era the Wolverines joined the newly formed Midwest Collegiate Hockey League (now know as the Western Collegiate Hockey Association). Under his guidance, Vic never had less than 2 All-American players. Then in 1957 Vic had to step down. due to his particularly bad asthma, after earning an outstanding 6 NCAA titles in his  10 year long career.

Following Vic Heyliger was Al Renfew, a great man who embodied the Wolverines’ fighting spirit and ambitious attitude. After a first couple of rough seasons he pulled it together with a some star recruits – one of which was Red Berenson himself. Over his career Renfew helped to establish the Wolverines on a national stage as well as a Michigan institution. In the years after Al retired the team move to their new home, Yost Ice Arena in 1973. Unfortunately, they fell into a kind of slump through the 70’s and early 80’s. Then three years after the move to the CCHA, all changed when Red Berenson entered the scene in 1984.

Red Berenson is the most decorated coach of the Wolverines by far, and is still going strong. He has ushered in 2 National championships and an unbelievable 21 year streak of NCAA tournament appearances, even becoming the fourth coach ever to have 800 wins with a team. Now in his 33rd season I hope Berenson can continue this program in spectacular fashion. Though after this weekend’s shaky performance against Union College of New York, I’m having my doubts. In the first of a two game series, the Wolverines gave the game up by giving up three power play goals and a late one is the third period to lose the game 4-3. In the second game of the series Freshman Goaltender Hayden Lavigne debuted with a 4-0 shutout as well as his teammate, Freshman James Sanchez netting two of his own.

The away series coming up next week at Ferris State will really put them to the test. Hopefully Red will have addressed the problems of too many men in the box as well as a defensive failure on the counterattack. The series next week should let us know how the team will fare this season under pressure.