Michigan’s slumping hockey team will receive a huge boost on Tuesday night, with Jon Merrill set to make his regular-season debut. Merrill, who played in last Friday’s loss to the U.S. U-18 team, missed the first 19 games of the season with a cracked vertebra in his neck.
He’ll be paired on the blue line, for the game against Bowling Green, with recent World Juniors gold medalist Jacob Trouba, TheWolverine.com’s Michael Spath reported:
Merrill will appear in his first regular-season game all year after missing the Wolverines’ first 19 games after suffering a cracked vertebra in an exhibition contest Oct. 9. He skated on the power play during the Maize and Blue’s 5-3 exhibition loss to the U.S. Under-18 team last Friday, and will go full bore this evening.
Merrill was taken No. 38 overall by the Devils during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. There was some speculation that he would bolt Ann Arbor after last season to join the Devils’ organization, but instead, he wound up pegged as Michigan’s rock on the blue line.
The injury he suffered in the exhibition season changed those plans — a setback that Michigan has not yet overcome, despite the presence of Trouba, who starred for the United States during the Worlds tournament.
Michigan faces an uphill battle during the second half of the season, if its to extend its NCAA Tournament streak to 22 straight seasons. The Wolverines are just 7-10-2 overall this year, and their 13 points are good for just eighth place in the CCHA.
Tuesday’s game begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and can be seen on the Big Ten Network.