By Warren Kozireski —
While it didn’t end the way stories are supposed to end with a national semifinal loss to Quinnipiac and emotions were raw immediately afterward, University of Michigan captain Nolan Moyle will someday look back on this past season with a lot of pride.
From a head coach controversy to the loss of a long-term equipment manager to a teammate’s serious illness not to mention 12 freshmen that needed to be nurtured into the new culture.
Consider it job accomplished.
“I can’t thank them enough for giving me the opportunity to come back here and lead this group,” Moyle said in the post-game press conference. “It was a special year. I just love this team. I love this school. I’m so proud to be a Michigan man. And you always hear just leave this place better than I found it. It’s unfortunate we came up short, but I’m so proud of this group.”
“That senior class has been amazing, just pulling these freshmen in and showing them what Michigan is all about,” first year head coach Brandon Naurato said about Moyle and others. “That’s why I made the comment I did earlier that Michigan is in a better place going forward because of the stamp that that class has left on it.”
The 6’2”, 185 lb. right winger began his junior hockey with the Toronto Marlboros and New jersey Rocket before settling in for two seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL where he had the best offensive season of his career with 19 goals and 45 points in year two.
“I was fortunate enough to have a really good coach that believed in me at Green Bay and I lived with two different families both of which were awesome. It’s tough when you’re a young kid and you go somewhere and have to live with new people; you grow up a little bit quicker than you expect and I think I learned a lot of life lessons and on the ice you’re playing against bigger, older guys.
“By the time my second year rolled around I was kind of one of those go-to guys and it was good to grow into that role. There’s a lot of people who see the success that you have, but don’t really understand what goes into it. My first year in Green Bay wasn’t all sunshine; it was a big learning curve for me, so it’s good to see it all pay off in the end.”
And then Michigan.
“It’s actually a funny story,” Moyle said the day prior to the semi-final. “My junior year of high school I actually played in Michigan with the U-16’s for Victory Honda and I came out here and was originally committed to Michigan State. Played two years of juniors in Wisconsin, had the chance to come to Michigan, came on a visit and it felt right and I’m really grateful for the last five years.”
“There’s a lot of guys who come in and don’t really know much, so it’s my job and the upperclassmen and the other letters to come in and instill the culture that was instilled in us, so we try to pass that down and set the standards and expectations right away.
“I can’t give those freshmen enough credit; they’ve done an awesome job of listening and learning and maturing and all have had outstanding years…and excelled in every aspect, so it’s really proud to see.”
Though Moyle hopes to continue his hockey career professionally, he has an Internation Business undergraduate degree and has spent this year securing a Real Estate certificate.
“It’s been fun meeting older people in the program is a little different because you’re not taking classes with your teammates or friends, but it’s been a good challenge and responsibility. I enjoy the real estate development side…and I think it might be the path I want to go down when I’m older.”
(Michigan Athletics Hockey Photos)