Detroit — Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson is looking forward to the second half of the season, knowing the Wolverines will add highly skilled sophomore Cooper Marody.
Marody, 20, was academically ineligible to play the first semester, but will be in the lineup at 3:30 Thursday when the Wolverines play Michigan Tech in a Great Lakes Invitational semifinal at Joe Louis Arena.
Western Michigan will face Michigan State in the other semifinal, at 7, with the title game set for Friday night.
Michigan enters as the defending champion, having defeated Tech, 4-2. The Wolverines also had the upperhand against Tech in October at Yost, winning, 4-3, and then playing to a 3-3 OT tie before pulling out the series finale in a shootout.
Obviously, Marody wasn’t on the ice the first time the teams met. In fact, Marody was under the radar last year while playing in the shadow of freshman sensation Kyle Conner.
“Cooper Marody will now play his first game at Michigan this year,” Berenson said Wednesday after practice. “ He’ll probably head up our first line and play with Alex Kile and then we’ll see who is on the left.
“Cooper looks really good. His situation has been disappointing, but he’s a good student and he ended up in a bad situation and it cost him a semester of eligibility. He’s looked really good in practice.”
Berenson, 77, decided to return for another season feeling the nation’s top line of JT Compher, Tyler Motte and Connor would return from a Big Ten tournament championship team which finished 25-8-5 and won an NCAA Tournament game. All three departed early for the NHL, as did All-America defenseman Zach Werenski.
Still, Berenson has no regrets. He is encouraged by his large, 11-member freshmen class — including goalies Hayden Lavigne (4-2, 2.29 goals-against) and Jack LaFontaine (1-4-1, 3.13).
He’s also been impressed with Will Lockwood, 18, of Bloomfield Hills, and a third-round pick of the Canucks.He has six goals and 12 points.
Michigan comes in 7-8-1, and Michigan Tech 12-7-3. The Huskies have been impressive since freshman Angus Redmond was inserted in goal. He’s posted a 11-2-1 record with a .937 save percentage while leading the nation in goals-against (1.40).
“He didn’t play our first eight games and then we finally got to a point where we felt Angus was ready,” coach Mel Pearson said. “He had a shutout in his first game and has played extremely well ever since.
Michigan State (4-9-1) started well enough,but now rank in the bottom half in defense (3.79) and offense (2.36). Western Michigan (8-5-3) last played in the GLI in 2014, winning the title at Comerica Park. This is the last GLI at Joe Louis Arena.
Great Lakes Invitational
■ Michigan (7-8-1) vs. Michigan Tech (12-7-3), 3:30, FSD
■ Michigan State (4-9-1) vs. Western Michigan (8-5-3), 7
■ Consolation, 3:30
■ Championship, 7