Senior Louie Caporusso (OTT) saw his share of struggles this season, but was nevertheless a key component in Michigan’s successful run up to Saturday night’s National Championship game. Caporusso has played in 40 games to date, posting 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists), which currently ranks second on the Wolverines roster.
Hockey’s Future caught up with Caporusso after practice on Friday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN.
Hockey’s Future: Being one of the players that has been in the Frozen Four before has to feel extra special to you, especially since this is another opportunity to win a National Championship.
Louie Caporusso: Yeah, absolutely. I believe in this team and I believe in every guy in this locker room. I think we can win it all. When the belief sets in, anything is possible. I think everyone on the team believes it too. I don’t think we’re surprised that we’re in the National Championship game, which is a good sign that we’re confident.
HF: What are some of the similarities or differences between this year’s Frozen Four team and the one in 2008?
LC: I think one of the differences is experience. When you look at the 2008 team, there were 12 freshmen on that team. It looked very similar to the team that Notre Dame had here this year. With six of us seniors now back in the Frozen Four, we look at it differently. We don’t take it for granted and we’re trying to make the most of it. I think that’s a big difference. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how mature our young guys are and how well they’ve been playing.
HF: I know that you had the opportunity to sign with the Ottawa Senators, but you chose to come back to Michigan to finish out your career. Any regrets?
LC: No, absolutely not. The University of Michigan has been one of the best places that I have ever played hockey in my life. I have no regrets coming back to Michigan to try and win a National Championship, play all four year and graduating. The friends that I’ve made here are unbelievable and I’ll never forget them.
HF: Putting aside for a moment whatever happens on Saturday night, what is going to be some of the fondest moments that you will take with you when you leave the University of Michigan?
LC: I’d say probably hanging out with the guys in the dressing room. It’s something that I look forward to everyday. I’m always one of the first guys there at the rink and one of the last ones to leave. I love everybody on this team. And it’s not just the guys that I’m playing with right now, but also the guys that I’ve played with in the past three years as well. There is no bad blood between me and other guys on this team. Just the amount of time that we’ve spent together and the amount of laughs that we’ve had together have been so special. The down times that we have had I think has really pulled us together. People always looked down on us when it got tough, but I didn’t mind when it got tough because I felt that it brought us closer together as a team. It’s a family, and families win championships.
HF: Is there anything that you can take from the adversity that you dealt with this year?
LC: Absolutely. You come to the realization that the puck doesn’t always go in for you. Goals have been hard to come by this year. It doesn’t mean that I’m not trying to score goals or don’t want to. Hopefully with a little bit of luck and being in the right place at the right time, the goals will come again. You have your ups and downs in hockey and I think being here at Michigan for four years, I’ve learned that. I think that’s also one of the things that have made me a better player too. Adversity always comes your way, but I love it.
HF: Will we see you in an Ottawa Senators uniform after the Frozen Four?
LC: Ottawa Senators uniform? (Laughs) That would be pretty cool but I haven’t really thought about it because it is probably the farthest thing from my mind right now. I love being here with the boys and I’m just trying to savor every moment with the "M" on my jersey.
LC: No, not one regret. This is the best place in the world.
HF: I know that you’re a Canadian-born player. What kind of advice would give another Canadian player who is weighing his options between choosing the NCAA route and choosing the Major Junior route?
LC: I would say that if they choose the NCAA route, they’ll get the opportunity to have four unbelievably memorable years. You won’t be going to place where you could potentially get traded and guys are constantly coming and going. It’s not a business here. This is a place where you develop people and hockey players. Why wouldn’t you want that? I come to the rink everyday knowing that my coaches want me to get better and that I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying here until I exhaust my eligibility and they’re going to give me the best possible opportunity to succeed here. Just that right there is one of the best reasons to take the NCAA route, not to mention you’re going to get a great education. You don’t know how long hockey will last for you, so to be able to get an education from a school like Michigan, you can’t go wrong there.
HF: Being here at Michigan, would you say that you’re treated as a member of the family rather than as a commodity?
LC: Absolutely. I feel like a son to these coaches. I feel like I’m part of a family. Michigan is much bigger than any one person. You can’t put it into words. It’s a very special place and I’m sure there are other schools like it, but I’m family here and it’s a lot better than being a commodity.
HF: So once a Wolverine, always a Wolverine.
HF: Finally, what is the most important thing that you have learned from Coach Berenson?
LC: I’ve learned so many things from him. But I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned from Coach Berenson is to become more concerned about the person that I will become instead of the hockey player that I will become. He’s obviously here (at Michigan) to develop players, but he’s more concerned about who you become as a person. He knows what it takes to be a champion. And it doesn’t take much. Just listen to everything that he says. He’s going to give you the best advice possible to be the best player possible. He knows what type of player you are and he’s going to guide you in the right direction. He’s given me so many lessons about trust and I’ve put my trust in him and the other coaches because they’ve done an unreal job with me and the team. But I think it’s mostly about the person that you are becoming rather than just the player that you’re becoming.