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Following Michigan’s first Frozen Four practice Wednesday afternoon, the Wolverines were loose enough to provide a few laughs for the press, some of them unintentional.

When coach Red Berenson was asked about the status of defenseman Brandon Burlon, who has been out of the lineup with esophagitis since mid-March, Berenson’s answer had his own players snickering.

“Burlon, who’s missed three-and-a-half weeks with a strange disease or whatever,” said Berenson. “Anyway, he’s trying to get his weight back on. We’ll decide tomorrow whether he plays or not.”

Then there was the running theme of concurrence. After Carl Hagelin talked about the differences between this Michigan team and the one that made a trip to the Frozen Four in 2008, Louie Caporusso was prompted to answer as well.

“I concur,” said Caporusso.

Later, after Caporusso had answered a question about the Wolverines playing in front of a crowd that will undoubtedly be pro-North Dakota, Matt Rust said, “I think Louie said most of it, so I concur.”

Rust talked about potentially facing off against his brother, Notre Dame freshman Bryan Rust. “I’m happy for him, but at the end of the day I’m going to take my time here and be a little bit selfish. I think this is my time,” said Rust, emphasizing my time, “and hopefully my brother can respect that and we can go on our separate ways.”

That drew the biggest laugh from the crowd.

Wohlberg

Forward David Wohlberg, out of the lineup since breaking his collarbone March 11, was on the ice in practice today but is nowhere near being ready to play.

Said Berenson, “It’s been four weeks since his injury and his collarbone was broken — and it wasn’t just broken, it was displaced and he’s got a plate on it now. There’s no chance he can play. He’s skating now, but he can’t take contact.”

A bit of trivia

Berenson also revealed an interesting personal connection to North Dakota. “I nearly went to North Dakota as a high school graduate, and I ended up at Michigan.”

Makes you wonder how much the history of college hockey itself was affected by Berenson’s decision.

  • I wonder what swayed his decision . . . does anybody know?

    • bluetell

      This is what Blue Ice (The story of Michigan Hockey) says about it:

      “Berenson and his buddies wrote letters to a handful of schools, which resulted in Berenson visiting North Dakota in 1958 as the pilot fish for his friends. Berenson was favorably impressed by North Dakota and the caliber of players the former coach, a man named Al Renfrew, has lured to Grand Forks before Renfrew returned to Michigan the year before. But soon after Berenson’s visit to North Dakota, Dale MacDonald, a Saskatoon native playing for Renfrew at Michigan, told his coach that Berenson was the rare player worth going out of his way to get.

      “Al called me and said ‘North Dakota’s great, but you gotta come see Michigan,'” Berenson remembers. Renfrew scraped together enough money to fly the young phenom to Michigan, thereby making Berenson the first hockey player to ever receive a free recruiting trip to Ann Arbor. It also marked Berenson’s first trip on an airplane.

      The extra effort was worth it, for both parties. “Once he was on campus,” Renfrew says, “we didn’t have to sell him on it.”

      “After I came down on a visit,” Berenson confirms, “I came back and told the other guys, ‘This is where we’re going.'” And just like that, a pipeline of hockey talent was created between Regina and Ann Arbor”

      In the next 6 years (1958-1964), 14 players from Regina played for Michigan primarily because Red chose Michigan over North Dakota and they followed him down to Ann Arbor