The 2012 calendar marked another great year for college hockey in Michigan. Here are the top 10 moments – at least according to us – from the last 365 days of NCAA hockey in the Mitten (with the 2012 Great Lakes Invitational not included, since it hasn’t happened yet).
10. Shawn Hunwick graduates, plays for Jackets
For a long time, the goaltending plans for the Michigan Wolverines didn’t revolve around Shawn Hunwick. But the Sterling Heights native built a collegiate career that few will forget around Yost Ice Arena. The 2011-12 season marked Hunwick’s fifth with the program, and he posted a 24-12-3 record with five shutouts before all was said and done. Hunwick was a Hobey Baker finalist, and on Mar. 29, he was summoned to Columbus, of all places, to begin his professional career. Hunwick dressed for the Blue Jackets on a day where he was supposed to be in an astronomy class, and then saw game action on April 7, when the Jackets took on the Islanders.
9. CCHA Awards Show recognizes conference’s best
The CCHA Awards Show was held at the Fox Theatre on March 15 (hosted by Shannon Hogan and MiHockey’s Darren Eliot) to celebrate the best the previous season had to offer. Some of the award winners included:
- RBC Player of the Year–Torey Krug, Michigan State
- Coach of the Year–Bob Daniels, Ferris State
- Rookie of the Year–Alex Guptill, Michigan
- Scholar-Athlete of the Year–Chad Billins, Ferris State
- Terry Flanagan Award–Domenic Monardo, Lake Superior
- Best Offensive Defenseman–Torey Krug, Michigan State
- Best Defensive Defenseman–Dan DeKeyser, Western Michigan
- Best Defensive Forward – Luke Glendening, Michigan
8. Whirlwind summer for Jacob Trouba
Highly-touted Wolverines recruit Jacob Trouba had quite a summer. The soon-to-be freshman at the University of Michigan was one of the most talked-about prospects at the NHL Draft, and rightfully so – Trouba was taken ninth overall by the Winnipeg Jets. Yet the summer of 2012 will also be remembered as the time that a recruiting battle between an American college and the Canadian Hockey League almost made it to court. The Kitchener Rangers attempted to sue the Michigan Daily for reporting that the OHL club had allegedly made a cash offer to Trouba. It was a lawsuit that was later dropped, but a lawsuit that kept the recruiting battle talks going throughout the summer months.
7. Final CCHA season begins
This would fall higher on the list, but the real story will be in 2013, when the final CCHA season concludes, not begins. The historic hockey conference released a commemorative logo for the 2012-13 season, and a slogan of “Celebrate The Legacy”. The conference is currently working to assemble as many former players as possible for the final CCHA championship weekend at Joe Louis Arena in March.
6. Michigan sends four teams to NCAA Tournament
On March 18, 16 schools were selected to participate in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Four of them call Michigan home, as our state led the nation in terms of representation in the national bracket. The University of Michigan claimed a No. 1 seed, Ferris State checked in at a No. 2 seed, and Michigan State and Western Michigan both received No. 4 seeds in their respective regions. It was the 22nd consecutive appearance for the Wolverines, and the second for the Broncos. The Spartans made their first trip since 2008, while the Bulldogs made it for the first time since 2003.
5. Glendening/Billins to Grand Rapids
Luke Glendening and Chad Billins spent four seasons battling against each other for their respective schools. Now, they are both part of the same professional organization. Glendening signed a contract with the Grand Rapids Griffins on June 19. The University of Michigan alum was the first Grand Rapids native to ever sign with the club. Almost a month later, the Griffins inked another Michigan native, signing Billins, a Marysville native and Ferris State alum.
4. Pearson taking over Michigan Tech
Mel Pearson spent 23 seasons in Ann Arbor, working with Red Berenson. But when his alma mater came calling, Pearson returned to Hougton, where he played for the Michigan Tech Huskies from 1977-81. Pearson led such a turnaround in his first season with the Huskies that he was named WCHA Coach of the Year. Under Pearson, Michigan Tech recorded a 16-19-4 record and a WCHA Final Five appearance – a season after the Huskies finished 4-30-4.
3. Torey Krug signs with Boston
Livonia native Torey Krug made plenty of headlines in his time at Michigan State, but few were as significant as his announcement that he would leave a year early – because he signed with the Boston Bruins. Krug, a two-year captain for the Spartans and the CCHA Player of the Year, announced he would forego his senior season to sign with the NHL club as an undrafted free agent. Nobody could blame him – Krug even played in two of the Bruins’ games before the playoffs.
2. Western Michigan wins CCHA championship
The Lawson lunatics made their presence known at Joe Louis Arena last March, and so did their team. In what was the conclusion of a coming-out party for freshman goaltender Frank Slubowski, the Broncos captured their first CCHA tournament title since 1986. Slubowski was named tournament MVP after allowing only four goals in 120 minutes of hockey. It was also quite a way for first-year coach Andy Murray to establish himself in the league, as Western Michigan topped perennial powerhouses Miami and Michigan at The Joe en route to the title.
The Bulldogs are arguably the top story in college hockey across the nation, not just Michigan, for 2012. After proving the critics wrong in the 2011-12 regular season – Ferris State was the opposite of a preseason favorite but ended up winning the CCHA regular-season title – they became the ‘Cinderella story’ of the 2012 NCAA tournament. While they entered the national tournament as a No. 2 seed in their region, few expected that the Bulldogs would be making their first Frozen Four experience in school history. The Bulldogs went all the way to the final game of the season for college hockey teams, and lost to Boston College in the NCAA title game. It was an incredible year of hockey in Big Rapids.