New Michigan AD, Berenson link extends three decades

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Red Berenson

Ann Arbor — Warde Manuel attended Michigan nearly 30 years ago when Red Berenson was just a couple of years into his job as head hockey coach of the Wolverines.

Manuel, 47, was hired last Friday as athletic director at Michigan and his first major job in his new position will be dealing with Berenson and the highly successful hockey program.

Manuel is familiar with Berenson, hired by then athletic director Tom Goss to oversee the hockey program as one of his duties as assistant AD back in 1998, the year the Wolverines won their second national championship in three seasons.

Now, the 76-year-old Berenson is in the final year of a three-year contract. He has the Wolverines as a legitimate threat to not only win the Big Ten League title, but also earn their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012.

The No. 5 Wolverines are off to their best 23-game stretch (16-3-4) since 2008 when they were ranked No. 1 heading into the NCAA Tournament, then advanced to the Frozen Four where they lost to Notre Dame in the semifinals.

Warde Manuel

“I have good memories of Warde and we have a good history and he’s familiar with our program, he was my administrator for some time. So, good for him that he’s gone on and had success wherever he’s been and now he’s coming back and I think it’s a great fit for Michigan,” Berenson said.

So, does Berenson want to come back for another year or two?

“We’ll talk to him once he gets his arms wrapped around Michigan like this whole transition thing since he’s not starting here until the middle of March,” Berenson said. “We’ll have lots to talk about. I mean everybody likes winning more than they like losing. We’ll talk about it and we’ll see what’s best for the program, what the options are.

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“I think our team is closer and I think winning helps. They stick together. There is a little more team toughness. They’re having more success on the road. Even though like we’re still trying to get our goals against down, but that’s been a constant the last couple of years, but we’re finding ways to win games.
“I can’t tell you it’s a dramatic difference, but it doesn’t take much on a given night, like even the other night the score was 3-2 for Penn State after the second period and we weren’t playing very well (in a eventual 6-3 win).

"They got the first two chances in the third period, great chances, 2-on-1, 3-on-1 rushes where (Steve) Racine made the saves and then two minutes later we scored.”

Berenson's biggest move  was linking freshman phenom Kyle Connor with juniors J.T. Compher and Tyler Motte, resulting in 38 goals in the last 12 games.

“It’s just been a recent thing, the last couple of months and it’s been amazing,” Berenson said. “J.T. and Tyler were playing well as it was and they had Alex Kile on their line and I put Kyle Connor with Boo (Nieves) and (Justin) Selman, two senior forwards and they were doing OK, but nothing special about what was going on. We switched Alex Kile and put him on right wing and put Kyle Connor back on left wing (with Motte, Compher), which is more of a natural position for him and right away they just connected.

"It was amazing, so it’s just a combination of each one of them playing hard, bringing their game and together they are much better than the sum of their parts.”