|Kevin Porter - Photo Credit: University of Michigan |
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The fact that Kevin Porter is an NHL draft pick and still at the University of Michigan can be conveyed as a success story for the Wolverines.
Players leaving the college ranks to sign lucrative professional contracts are nothing new in the hockey world. Michigan Head Coach Red Berenson has been very vocal with his displeasure in these particular situations, as he has had several big-name players skip town for the NHL.
Not Porter. He knows his time will come.
Porter, a left wing, came to Michigan in 2004 as one of just two freshmen recruits (fellow Phoenix prospect Chad Kolarik was the other). In each of his first three seasons, Porter has increased his goal-scoring output and overall point production, while at the same time decreasing his penalty minute totals.
He’s being counted on to provide some added scoring this season and shoulder more load in the dressing room as Berenson named him team captain at the end of last season.
|Photo Credit: Dave Sandford |
“Since his freshman year, I’ve seen Porter mature a lot,” said Berenson. “Not that he was ever a problem, but over the years he has developed not only as a hockey player, but also a person. Porter plays a great overall game and has a good role on the team. He has taken the role of being captain very seriously. He’s well-liked by his teammates and has their respect.
“Off the ice, Kevin is one of those kids that doesn’t get too high or too low. He’s a blue-collar person and a blue-collar player, very serious.”
“We have 12 freshmen coming in and I think there will be some extra pressure on me,” Porter said. “I just want to show them the way and make sure they know what’s going on. I was a freshman once, and it was tough, but fun. Being a leader is a tough job, but one I know I’m ready for.”
The Coyotes liked enough of the Northville, Mich., native at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and scooped up the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder in the fourth round, 119th overall.
Porter, a 21-year-old general studies major at Michigan, said being drafted was only the first step of fulfilling a lifelong infatuation.
“I was there with my family and some friends and when my name was called I rushed down the steps (at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina),” Porter remembered. “Everything pretty much sunk in right away that I now needed to get bigger, stronger and quicker. I didn’t take any time off after that and still haven’t. I got right to work.”
|Photo Credit: Scott Halleran |
Last year, Porter played on Michigan’s top line with Colorado prospect and then-senior T.J. Hensick, a one-time Hobey Baker hopeful. Porter amassed 58 points (second on U-M and third in the nation) on 24 goals (tied for seventh in the nation) and 34 assists (tied for fifth in the nation). Some college hockey critics said that playing with Hensick inflated Porter’s points – and that may be true.
“Yeah, that is probably true and I’ll be the first one to admit that T.J. had a lot to do with it,” said Porter.
“He’s played on both our power play and penalty kill since he was a freshman and has been on our top lines since he was a freshman,” added Berenson. “I predict he’ll be our leading scorer this season, but he won’t have T.J. Hensick to play with. That being said, I think Porter will have a breakout season for his own game. He’s played left wing and some right wing for us and I suspect if we ever had to put him at center that he’d excel there as well.”
Playing for a contract is a priority for Porter as Michigan gets ready to hit the ice, but in the short term, winning a CCHA championship is at the top of his list.
“We have a tough non-conference schedule to start the season,” Porter said. “I just want to start out strong and end strong. Then I’ll talk to Phoenix and see what we can do.”