So. | F | Bellingham, Wash.
With Darin Olver and Mike Santorelli (and their
255 combined career points) out of the picture,
sophomore Matt Butcher assumes the role of Northern
Michigan's top center.
Key Statistic: One year
after finishing second in the British Columbia Hockey
League in scoring with 101 points in 57 regular-season
games, the son of longtime NHL defenseman Garth Butcher
totaled just four points — all assists —
in 40 games as a freshman.
What He Does: Don't let
last year's numbers fool you. Based on his eye-popping
numbers in junior hockey, the imposing center is a skilled
scorer and playmaker. Coach Walt Kyle says Butcher is
among the college game's best faceoff men, and adds
that his greatest strength is his character, a trait
he inherited from his father, who logged 14 seasons
in the bigs.
The Bigger Picture: Being
such a highly regarded recruit, one would expect a certain
disappointment with Butcher's scoring output as a freshman.
Not so, says Kyle, who points out that Butcher's production
last season mirrored that of his first season with the
BCHL's Chilliwack Chiefs — he tallied 25 points
in 48 regular-season games — and expects his fortunes
in Marquette to follow a similar career arc. Besides,
Kyle points out, Butcher was generating "tons of
scoring chances" during the second half of the
year but wasn't getting any bounces and, as the team's
third-line pivot, logged very little power-play time.
With All-American Mike Santorelli and Darin Olver, the
Wildcats' top two centermen from a year ago, out of
the picture, Butcher is expected to fill the void.
Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle
on Butcher: “We're looking to him as
a go-to guy. We think he can be a guy who jumps from
four points to 30 points this season. I think he'll
surprise people with his effectiveness right out of
the gate this year.”