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Jets' Trouba earning real rep at Michigan

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Jacob Trouba is already a lot of things as a hockey player, an NHL first-round draft pick, a gold-medal winner at the World Under-18 tournament and a college freshman playing senior minutes less than 10 games into his NCAA career.

Topping the list of things the 18-year-old defenceman is not?

Dull.

The ninth overall pick of last June's draft, his name called by the Winnipeg Jets, is what you'd call a play-by-play man's dream.

More often than not, he's the centre of the action, the one making all the news and noise.

It matters not the zone or situation. Trouba plays the game and he's not waiting around for it to play him.

Less than 10 games into his college career at University of Michigan (eight points in nine games, including a team-leading three power-play goals), Trouba is not holding back because he's new.

"That's it; they recruited me to come here and play how I play. So that's what I'm trying to do," Trouba said after another eventful night Thursday, though his Wolverines lost a 3-1 CCHA decision to visiting Notre Dame. "That's who I am. It's how I play.

"I'm not changing just because I'm a freshman. I feel like I can add to the team so I'm going to try to do whatever I can to help."

The 6-2, 195-pound blue-liner is on Michigan coach Red Berenson's first defence pairing with junior Mac Bennett, an alternate captain.

Berenson is quite clearly ready to see where it takes them.

"He's been an impact defenceman, come in and played pretty well," said Berenson, the former NHLer, NHL coach of the year and 29-year veteran behind the Michigan bench. "I would say really well at times. But like any young defenceman, he's going to make mistakes.

"At some point, he tries to do too much but that's a good thing rather than a bad thing. As he gets more experience, he's going to be a terrific player."

There was lots to see Thursday at Yost Ice Arena.

In the game's first three minutes, Trouba read offensive pressure accurately, slipped into an open area from the left point and rattled a loose puck off the left post.

Two shifts later, he thumped Notre Dame forward Mario Lucia on his can when he thought about a give-and-go, and did the very same to Mike Voran later in the period.

But the eyebrow-raiser of the period was with just a little over two minutes left, when Trouba showed again how quick and explosive he can be when he chooses to get physical.

Notre Dame defenceman Shayne Taker decided to quickly return a cleared puck to the Michigan zone, hoping to sustain some Fighting Irish pressure.

But it was a one-on-one situation on Trouba's normal right side, and the Michigan blue-liner quickly detected Taker's isolation, stepped quickly up and would have taken his opponent's head off, had Taker not taken half a faulty stride and started to slip.

Still, the contact wasn't incidental and certainly adds to the word that's already getting around fast, that Trouba means it when he decides to use force.

November's not over but the CCHA has taken note. For a high, hard hit two weeks ago in a road game against Northern Michigan, Trouba not only got ejected but he was handed an extra one-game penalty.

Later on in Thursday's game, Trouba decided to join a two-on-two rush to be the extra attacker. Nothing abnormal there, other than his team was killing a penalty.

On the next shift, he was part of the two-on-two rush but when the puck didn't get through to him, he was ridden into Notre Dame goalie Steven Summerhays. Summerhays didn't like the jostling and upended Trouba on the way out of the crease, sending the Yost crowd into an uproar.

Trouba could well have been a game changer in the third. His 70-foot breakaway pass to team captain A.J. Treais hit the mark but Treais couldn't convert. The game was tied 1-1 at the time.

The loss, however, didn't mean discouragement.

"I think I fit in here pretty well with the systems we run," Trouba said. "So I'll just play how I play and (put) it go together with the team. That's what I'm going to do."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 16, 2012 C1

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