On Saturday, junior Adam Janecyk swooped in to (potentially) rescue Michigan's hockey season, blanking Western Michigan 2-0 behind 25 saves. Which of course has left many wondering: what took so long? Coach Red Berenson had an answer today.
"I was hoping he would come back in the fall in better shape, and would play better in the early going -- I'm talking about the Blue-White game, the Windsor game, and he just didn't," Berenson said. "He put himself in the No. 3 spot right from the get-go.
"And then we were expecting Jared Rutledge and Steve Racine to come in and give us good goalkeeping, but I can't tell you that's happened either. But they're freshmen and we were trying to give them … and Janecyk was the odd man out.
"His experience is limited in terms of playing time and he hasn't given us a great reason to play him."
Janeyck had appeared in six career contests prior to last weekend's game, including a single start. He was 0-1-1 with a 3.17 goals against average and an .899 save percentage. Not sterling numbers but then Shawn Hunwick hadn't exactly put together a strong resume when he was thrust into the lineup late in his redshirt sophomore campaign.
Hunwick received his chance when starter Bryan Hogan went down with an injury, and ran with it, and Janecyk earned his opportunity because of Rutledge's and Racine's struggles - combined the two are 5-9-2 with a 3.44 goals against average and an .887 save percentage.
"You have to give him credit because he's taken advantage of extra ice time, morning ice, day-of-the-game ice. He's trying, and then on the flip side, the other guys have opened the door," Berenson said.
The Ada, Mich., native, Janecyk was just thrilled he was able to rise up when called upon, knowing he has given the coaches something tangible to think about going forward.
"The No. 1 thing is that the coaches respect me as a player and a person," he said. "I've been trying my best but it's hard when you're taking only half the reps of the other two guys at practice. Sometimes as a third goalie you get sidetracked and get into a comfortable routine so it's important for me to get out of that comfort zone.
"I'm taking it one step at a time and when I'm in there, I will try my best to perform well."
Michigan will now have two full weeks off before competing opposite Michigan Tech in the Great Lakes Invitational Dec. 29. Though he seemed to give the Wolverines a spark, Janecyk won't start that game out of default.
"We go through this every year, because when we come back for practice you can tell some guys go home and don't skate and are out of shape, and it's up to him to come back ready," Berenson said.
"We have a practice on the 26th, two on the 27th, maybe two on the 28th and then we're playing on the 29th, and we have to make decisions in those three days, and our players will make those decisions for us based on how they approach these next 10 days.
"But Janecyk's name will be in the conversation, where it wouldn't have been if he hadn't played and played well this past weekend."
The Maize and Blue would ideally like to play this weekend, capitalizing off the momentum of their 2-0 victory, but at least they will spend the next two weeks thinking positive thoughts instead of the negativity that occupied their mind following a 4-1 loss in the series opener against WMU.
"I would like to think this can be a turning point," Berenson said. "By the time we get back on the ice in another 10 days it will be a distant memory, but it will be a good memory. Hopefully that will help jumpstart the GLI."
"I know all the guys are pumped right now and feeling good," Janecyk said.
Berenson was out of answers following Friday's loss, but thinks his team's frustration helped pave the way to Saturday's win.
"How many times can we make excuses? And just say we gave up too many goals or can't score on the power play, we're not working hard enough, gave up too many mistakes. The team came out, they have some character and some resiliency, and they showed it.
"We know we're not as good as we want to be defensively. We don't know what the answer is and I can't tell you it's just goalkeeping but goalkeeping has been part of the problem. We're not scoring goals so we can't give up soft goals.
"I think everyone rallied around our situation, maybe our goalie, maybe the fact that it was the last game of the first half, but they did. We absolutely played our best game of the first half."