By Michael Caples –
University of Michigan coach Red Berenson announced today that defenseman Jon Merrill suffered a broken seventh vertebra during the Wolverines’ exhibition win over Windsor last night.
Berenson was quoted by the Michigan Daily as saying that the bone was cracked, but not displaced, and that the Brighton native’s neck will need to be immobilized “for weeks, for sure,” according to the head coach.
Merrill is not expected to miss the entire season.
The New Jersey Devils prospect was injured when retreating into his own zone to play the puck during a Wolverines’ power play, a lone forechecker checked Merrill. The Wolverines’ defenseman was feet away from the corner, and the hit sent him flying awkwardly into the boards.
Merrill was slated to play with freshman Jacob Trouba this season, but now the defensive pairings will have to be juggled. Berenson indicated that sophomore Kevin Clare will now be paired with Trouba, while the other pairings will be Mac Bennett/Mike Chiasson and Brennan Serville/Lee Moffie.
“I think it’s an opportunity for Kevin Clare, for example, to play with Trouba in that role that (Merrill) played,” Berenson said to the Daily. “Kevin Clare has been an improving player since day one and I think he’ll continue.”
Last night, Berenson said the one thing he and the opposition’s coach were hoping for was to avoid injuries.
“…but overall I thought it was a good test for our team. We had to play with five defensemen after Merrill left the game. I’m worried about him and I’m worried about Selman, Selman got a big cut on the back of his leg, I think a skate cut, so we’ll see where we are tomorrow. These games, you just hope, that’s the one thing I told the other coach before the game was that I hope we have a good game, and nobody gets hurt, and sure enough.”