For the players on Michigan, it is hard for them to remember a time when the Wolverines didn’t make the NCAA tournament. It just happens to be because the last time the Maize and Blue missed the field it was before most of them were born.
In each of the past 22 seasons, Michigan has appeared on the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey bracket, a streak that started in 1991. Making the feat even more impressive is the fact that up until 2003, there were only 12 teams in the field each year. Now, it is comprised of 16 teams.
“The thing that makes our team each year is our senior class,” said Wolverines head coach Red Berenson, who just finished his 27th season at the helm. “This senior class has led this team to this spot, and you saw that happen last year and you saw it happen the year before that and the year before that. It’s the players. I’ll give credit to our fans as well who helped jump start our team when we needed support. One way or another we have been lucky enough to get here and you want to take advantage of it when you do get here.”
Michigan has definitely taken advantage of its appearances, reaching the Frozen Four 11 times during that stretch, including two national titles. For Luke Glendening, a senior forward from Grand Rapids, Mich., the streak is something that was on his mind earlier this year when it was in jeopardy after the Wolverines started the season at 7-8-2.
“You talk about the legacy of Michigan hockey, and I didn’t want to be a part of the legacy of the first team that didn’t make it,” Glendening said. “Obviously you have to continue to play and you have to continue to do the things that make you successful. We are never happy to just make the tournament.”
Among college hockey teams, the streak has no match. Since the start of the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament, no team has made more than 13 in a row, which Minnesota compiled from 1985-1997. Even more impressive about the streak is that Michigan had been in the tournament only once in the 20 years prior to Berenson’s arrival.
“A streak like that is just hard to put into words,” said Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels, who is in his 20th year at the helm of as a conference and state rival. “To be able to make the tournament that many years in a row and achieve that level of consistency is just remarkable. It’s just a real testament to Red and his staff to accomplish that. Achieving that type of consistency over that long of a period of time is just mind-boggling.”