It took a few weeks before Luke Moffatt
became a regular member of the University of Michigan’s lineup during his freshman campaign, but the Avalanche prospect seized an opportunity when it was presented to him.
|Moffatt has totaled eight points (2g/6a) through the first 13 games of his NCAA career with the Michigan Wolverines |
The Scottsdale, Ariz., native was a healthy scratch in four of the Wolverines’ first seven contests this season as he adjusted to the collegiate game and Michigan head coach Red Berenson tinkered with his lineup to give some of his younger players valuable experience at the NCAA level.
But since that season-opening stretch, Moffatt has suited up in 10 of Michigan’s past 11 games, including 10 straight from Oct. 30 to Dec. 3.
As it turned out, a little time spent watching the game from the press box was a helpful tool for the freshman in the grand scheme of things.
“It was a big motivating factor and it was also kind of exciting. Coach had to give all of us young guys a chance and get us some experience with college games,” said Moffatt. “Finally, I was able to get in the lineup full-time with my linemates, A.J. Treais and Chris Brown. We work well together and just gelled right away.”
The 6-foot-1, 187-pound forward was able to get into the good graces of Berenson and his staff through some good old fashioned hard work, both in practices and games.
For his part, Moffatt has responded well after Berenson decided to make him a regular member of the lineup. Over his last 10 games, he’s posted eight points (2g/6a), including a three-assist effort on Nov. 13 against Notre Dame.
“I work my butt off in the corners and try to be really competitive,” said Moffatt, Colorado’s eighth selection (seventh round, 197th overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. “The coaches notice that and it pays off. You get some breaks and get a little luckier than guys who aren’t working hard.”
Moffatt’s quick transition to the collegiate game may have been aided in part by his familiarity with the Ann Arbor lifestyle.
After committing to Michigan during October of his sophomore year of high school, Moffatt spent two seasons (2008-10) at the U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP), which is based just a few miles up the road from the University of Michigan’s campus. Because of the proximity of the two programs, Moffatt was able to keep tabs on what was going on with the Wolverines, and the team’s coaches also had the opportunity to keep a close eye on their incoming player.
“It was great being able to shoot over here once a month and talk to the coaches and meet some of the guys I would be playing with,” said Moffatt. “Even being able to go to some of the games and experience Michigan hockey. It’s quite the tradition they have here, playing at Yost and everything. It was pretty good being so close.”
While Moffatt believes spending two years in Ann Arbor before becoming a Wolverine was a good thing in the long run, he’s the first to admit that things didn’t go quite as expected during his time at the NTDP.
|The Avalanche selected Moffatt in the seventh round (197th overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft |
Maybe expectations were too high for Moffatt, who was selected with the No. 2 overall pick by the Kelowna Rockets in the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft before deciding to head to the NTDP, or maybe he just never felt completely comfortable in the team’s system.
Either way, he avoids making excuses and is just happy he’s found somewhere that feels like home.
“No, the expectations never really crossed my mind. I just had a couple tough years at the USA Program where nothing really worked for me. Now at Michigan I feel really at home again. I got my confidence back and I’m playing like I used to, like I should have been the past two years.”
If the University of Michigan ever wants to put together a promotional video to use as a recruiting tool for prospective students, their first act should be to give Moffatt a call. Unprovoked, he sings the praises of both the school and the hockey program.
“Seriously, everything about this place is great. The coaches are great and we have such a good group of guys in the locker room and a great atmosphere,” said Moffatt. “You’re not looked at as a freshman, you’re looked at like just another player. It’s a little more of a run-and-gun offense. If you make a mistake, yes, you’ll get talked to, but it’s not the end of the world. You have a little more freedom.”
Moffatt’s arrival on campus also included a bit of fortunate timing. This Saturday, Dec. 11, the Wolverines will host “The Big Chill at the Big House,”
an outdoor contest against arch-rival Michigan State that is expected to smash the world record for the largest attendance at an outdoor hockey game. The sold-out event at Michigan Stadium (capacity 109,901) would trump the United States/Germany outdoor tilt (77,803 fans) held at the 2010 IIHF World Championship.
“It’s pretty amazing the timing of it. I come in my freshman year and I’ll hopefully be able to play in this huge game,” said Moffatt. “I’m pretty fortunate that I’m with a good line right now and a good place on the team. It looks like it will be a pretty good game against Michigan State.”
Finally feeling at home again while playing within a legendary program, Moffatt couldn’t be more pleased with how the beginning of his NCAA career has been shaping up.
“These last couple months have been the most fun I’ve had in the last couple years,” said Moffatt.