In the 13 weeks since John Gibson signed an OHL contract, voiding his collegiate eligibility, Michigan fans have been waiting for some good news on the goalie front, knowing the roster situation is dire for 2012-13. On Thursday, the Wolverines finally had reason to smile ...
Michigan and U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 goalie Jared Rutledge were introduced for the first time Oct. 3 when the USA team played U-M in an exhibition game. Less than a month later, 5-11, 170-pounder is a Wolverine.
"Their coaches, and the program as a whole, believes in me as a player enough to offer me the starting job next year, which was a huge show of faith in me," Rutledge said. "The program is at the very top in terms of developing players. It really wasn't a tough choice for me with every opportunity Michigan offers."
Though a top prospect, Rutledge entered his senior year uncommitted - hearing from Boston U., Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota - and Michigan wasn't on his radar. But that changed that Monday night when his team played the Maize and Blue.
"I had no idea they were interested but after the game I shook Red Berenson's hand and he asked if I'd like to visit," Rutledge said. "It was like, 'Anytime please.' After that we kept in contact, and I went over to Yost to have a face-to-face meeting, and talk some things out.
"I really had no hesitation after getting to know the coaches more. I had talked to some other schools but no one showed me the interest Michigan did. They wanted me and I wanted them, equally."
Rutledge will be one of six recruits to sign a letter of intent in November, joining USA teammates Jacob Trouba and Connor Carrick, both defensemen, and forwards Boo Nieves, Justin Selman and Daniel Milne. That will be a good day for Michigan and its fans, but the Maize and Blue will not breathe a sigh of relief until Rutledge arrives on campus after its last two goalies bolted early.
"Even though I made my decision in a short time frame, I've been thinking about college hockey versus the OHL for a long time and I am 100 percent committed to play college hockey," said Rutledge. "I joked around with Coach Berenson that I don't want to be his hat trick. I am 110 percent behind this decision. I will play at Michigan."
In six games with the Under-18 team this year, Rutledge is 3-2-1 with a 2.34 goals against average and a .918 save percentage. In 2011, he went 16-12-0 with the Under-17 team, posting a 2.52 goals against and a .911 save percentage.
"I consider myself a technical hybrid goalie, and play a similar style to [Montreal Canadians] goalie Carey Price," Rutledge said.