Thursday, March 10, 2011

Woods' mustache leads to scoring run

By Logan Buckley

In his last seven United States Hockey League games, Brendan Woods has scored six goals and recorded an assist. He has also grown a lucky mustache.

Initially, Woods and six of his Muskegon Lumberjacks teammates all grew mustaches, but while the others have shaved, Woods still sports a Sidney Crosby-esque cookie duster.

“A couple guys went over to Carter Foguth’s house,” Woods says. “It was his idea and we got Just for Men (beard and mustache color) to color them black so we could see them.”

While the other five nose skirts have been “taken off” as Jacks defenseman Alexx Privitera so eloquently puts it, Woods’ still is intact – predominantly because his mates won’t let him remove it.

But Woods has a second superstition he also credits for his recent uptick in potency in front of the goal.

“The superstition I have right now going for me is I change my knob at the top of my stick for every weekend,” Woods says. “And not shaving the mustache lately since I’ve been hot.”

Woods has 12 goals and 11 assists in 45 games so far this season which bests the six-goal, four-assist output he had in his rookie USHL season with the Chicago Steel when a broken femur limited him to only 34 appearances.

After a slow scoring start to begin his Lumberjacks tenure, Woods’ confidence, like his once-pencil-thin mustache, recently has grown, yielding undeniable results.

“It took me a while at the beginning of the year when I was still getting used to the league,” Woods says. “Now I notice I have a lot more time I can hold onto the puck a couple seconds and make a play or score a goal. With the speed and competition in the USHL, it took some time.”

A smooth but powerful skater, Woods takes a lot of pride in being physical on the forecheck and is excellent at creating space for himself and his linemates.

The Lumberjacks brass brought the Fairfax, Va., native to Muskegon with their first pick in the 2010 USHL Expansion Draft, when they noticed those very abilities.

“He’s a prototypical power forward who skates well and has as heavy shot,” Lumberjacks head coach Kevin Patrick says. “Opposing teams’ defenders are looking over their shoulder when he's getting in on the forecheck.”

A future Wisconsin Badger, Woods has high hopes for his upcoming career in Madison.

“Having a 30-point season for sure as a freshman, I’d be pretty happy,” Woods joked when asked how he saw his first year shaping up.

“Really I just want to go in there with an open mind so I’m just going to go and work my butt off and hopefully that takes me where I want to be - if it’s fourth line or first line, whatever works.”

For now, Woods is focused on the homestretch of the season. Last season, the Badgers donned mustaches all the way to the national championship game. Woods and his nose neighbor? They’re feeling good about the Jacks’ playoff future.

“We just switched a couple lines up and looked great,” Woods says. “Every line jelled. If we keep playing like we are, hopefully it can take us pretty far on a playoff run.”

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