DETROIT — When Louie Caporusso decided to return to Michigan for his senior season, Wolverines fans looked for him to be a visible offensive presence in his final year in Ann Arbor. After all, Caporusso followed up his 12-goal rookie season with 24 in 2008-09 and another 21 last year.
So it’s a little surprising that in 37 games this season, Caporusso has just 10 goals. His power-play goal at 16:07 in the first period of Michigan’s 4-2 win over Notre Dame in the CCHA’s third-place game Saturday did more than just tie the score; it was Caporusso’s first goal since his winner against Ohio State Feb. 11. Yes, he missed three games with a lower-body injury, but Caporusso played five games since then without having scored a goal, and he registered no points at all in three of those games.
“The stats give you all the glory, but you know in your heart if you’re improving or not,” said Caporusso, “and I feel I’m doing that as a hockey player.”
That’s what he’s been focusing on this season, “rounding up the edges” on his game, as he says. He wants to be better prepared for his future in hockey — and he wants to contribute more than just goal scoring to the Wolverines’ effort this season.
“For the first couple of years, I think that was all I cared about was scoring,” said Caporusso. “Now I’m trying to make myself a complete player. Sometimes it hurts your stats a bit, but I know it’s going to help me in the long run. The key is to keep plugging away.
“My teammates have been very patient, very supportive. Goals are a funny thing. They come in bunches. Fortunately I haven’t hit my hot streak, so to speak, this year.”
Scoring in batches has become a Caporusso trademark. In 2009-10, Caporusso scored goals in 13 of 45 games, going as long as five games without a marker. In 2008-09, his top goal-scoring year, he scored in 15 of 41 contests, with 13 goals coming in October and November.
This season, Caporusso has had two six-game stretches without a goal in addition to the five-game streak he broke in this game.
“Usually, I score all my goals within a month, then they come sparingly,” said Caporusso. “Hopefully, the hot streak’s still available.”
“That’s what I’m hoping, but I’m not going to be thinking that way. I’m going to be thinking defensive hockey and help my team win every game. That’s the biggest thing. I want to win a national championship.”