Oct. 17, 2013
By Chad Shepard, MGoBlue.com
The University of Michigan hockey team is off to a hot start at 2-0 after beating No. 4 Boston College, 3-1, at home and the RIT Tigers, 7-4, on the road.
"It's huge for our confidence," said defenseman Mac Bennett, "We're a confident team right now and I like where we're heading."
This weekend, the Wolverines will embark on their first road trip of the season when they head to Durham, N.H., to face the 13th-ranked Wildcats for first time since the 2010-11 season, when the two schools tied (3-3 OT) on Oct. 16, 2010, at Whittemore Center Arena.
It was after that 2010-11 season that Michigan, and the rest of the Big Ten, announced the establishment of the Big Ten Hockey conference. With just six teams in the conference, U-M will face some team during the 2013-14 season it hasn't seen in some time. That 2010-11 campaign was also the first season at Michigan for Narragansett, R.I., natives Bennett and Derek DeBlois, who remember their only previous trip to New England as Wolverines.
"It was my first game out east," DeBlois said. "I was lucky enough to have a bunch of family and friends there -- so it was great to get out and see them."
Bennett, who made the trip but did not dress, remembers taking the game in from the stands in the Whittemore Center. "It was a crazy atmosphere," he said, "It'll be a great place to go. It's going to be wild."
The Wolverines' visit to UNH this Friday (Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m.) and Saturday (Oct. 19, 7 p.m.) is something of a homecoming for the two seniors.
"My phone's blowing up with people saying, 'Hey can I have your tickets' or 'I'm coming out to the game,'" Bennett said. "It's about two-and-a-half hours away from home for me. My whole family will be there and friends will be there too, same goes for Derek."
Bennett and DeBlois have known each other nearly their entire lives, and have been playing together from the day they took their first strides on ice.
Nostalgia aside, Bennett and DeBlois said the idea of their careers coming full circle is far from their minds.
"I haven't thought too much about it," DeBlois admitted, "We're just excited about where we're at."
Michigan will have faced four top-15 teams in the latest USCHO.com poll by the end of the month of October. The Wolverines welcome No. 15 Boston University and No. 9 UMass-Lowell to Ann Arbor on Oct. 25 and Oct. 26.
U-M is a combined 19-12-2 (.576) against the Wildcats, Terriers and Rivercats, but just nine of those contests have come since 2000.