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Illnesses force Michigan to move backup goalie to forward for game against Gophers

Two key Minnesota Gophers, and a half-dozen Michigan Wolverines, were unavailable on Thursday after illness spread throughout both locker rooms, leaving one player hospitalized in serious condition.

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Michigan Wolverines third-string goalie Tyler Shea took warmups as a forward, in a jersey with a sewn-on nameplate prior to their game versus the Minnesota Gophers on Thursday, November 17, 2022 at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich. Shea was moved to forward after illnesses kept six Wolverines out of the lineup.
Jess Myers / The Rink Live

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – College is all about having exciting new experiences. For Michigan Wolverines freshman Tyler Shea, a notable new experience was being listed as a left wing for Thursday’s game versus the Minnesota Gophers.

Shea, who hails from the extreme northern suburbs of Los Angeles, is a goalie.

Welcome to what cannot be called Wellness Weekend in Michigan, as illness which has made its way through both teams’ rosters dramatically affected the lineups that coaches Brandon Naurato and Bob Motzko were able to put on the ice Thursday evening.

The Gophers were without sophomore center Aaron Huglen and senior goalie Justen Close, both of whom missed practice during the week. They made the trip to Michigan, but were in street clothes, isolated from the rest of the team, during the game.

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The starting lines for Minnesota at Michigan on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.

For Michigan, the impact was much more dramatic. The Wolverines had just 17 healthy players in uniform versus the Gophers (normally teams dress 22 – 12 or 13 forwards, six or seven defensemen and three goalies). And their desperate need for forwards meant moving Shea to the wing. He was listed as number 32 on the line chart, but actually wore jersey number 91. A Michigan team official explained that 32 was a goalie jersey, and would be significantly too large for a forward to wear.

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Regulars who were missing from the Michigan lineup included red-hot rookie Adam Fantilli, Nolan Moyle, TJ Hughes, Jacob Truscott and Steven Holtz. A junior defenseman, Holtz was in the most serious shape, with his parents posting a call for prayers earlier in the week, saying that he was in the ICU at the University of Michigan Hospital and was on a ventilator for a time, although his condition had improved by game time on Thursday.

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Screenshot of Slyvia Jacobs-Holtz post on Facebook.

Close’s absence meant that Gophers freshman goalie Owen Bartoszkiewicz , who grew up in Northville, Michigan, less than 25 miles from the Wolverines’ rink, made his first Big Ten start in his home state.

Game details

Thursday’s game at Michigan is a 5:30 p.m. CT start, while the Friday rematch faces off at 5 p.m. CT. Both games will be carried by Big Ten Network , with Ben Holden and Fred Pletsch on the call.

On radio, the Gophers can be heard on 1130 AM / 103.5 FM in the Twin Cities with Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco in their 11th season together describing the action.

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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