( Photo Credit: Daryl Marshke / UM Photography / Michigan Athletics )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Last night the NCAA Michigan Wolverines played cross-state rival Michigan State and got a huge 7-2 victory at the Yost Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Five former NHL first-round selections got involved in the point-producing onslaught, including Boston Bruins forward prospect John Beecher. This was Beecher’s 2021/22 NCAA regular-season debut after aggravating a prior upper-body injury during the off-season.

This is the 20-year-old’s junior season with the Wolverines, and at this level of development, the biggest concern thus far for the big rangy forward is health. The 6′-3′ 209-pound versatile forward has appeared in 48 games for the Wolverines club, producing 14-12-26 numbers, but nagging upper-body injuries have certainly hindered his full potential and expectations of a former first-rounder. Many Boston Bruins fans believe Beecher, a member of the United States Development Program before entering the NCAA, is a bust or another Sweeney drafting mistake due to his numbers in stat searches and injury history.

There’s a minimal percentage of young NHL first-round selections that make it to the show in their entry draft year, so the days of instant roster placement as soon as a player leaves the podium are pretty much over. In today’s NHL, general managers, along with the coaching staff’s input, are heavily gravitated to properly developing a player while still keeping control of him at minimal risk. These are the work-in-progress stages of the game, so a player like Beecher from last night’s performance until the end of the year is important to the player and Bruins organizational development.

Beecher is a junior in college, so there’s still plenty of time to mold a big creative forward like him to absorb the Bruins system either in the NCAA hockey ranks or when he actually signed an entry-level contract. There’s heavy speculation that the New York native “could” sign a professional contract as soon as his Wolverines commitment is over with Michigan for this season.

There’s an excellent chance John and many former first-round picks on this Michigan team could challenge hard for a National Championship and most likely a significant reason why he chose to stay in school. How could you not want to compete with names like Matt Beniers, Brendan Brisson, Kent Johnson, Owen Power, Luke Hughes, and lineup orchestrated Head Coach by Mel Pearson and staff?

Beecher’s first goal of the season was a brilliant play against an outplayed and seemingly desperate Michigan State defense. Amongst all the confusion and defensive MSU assignments, the Bruins prospect cruised to the net untouched to give the Wolverines a 7-3 lead. Beecher made several impacts in last night’s victory over the Spartans, including a huge faceoff win which led to the Luke Huges 4-2 goal in the second period, as seen below in the Michigan Hockey video highlights.

Beecher and the Wolverines get back to work tonight once again playing the Michigan State Spartans. This time the locations are reversed as the Wolverines are in East Lansing, Michigan home of the Spartans, for a puck drop set for 7:30 pm at the Munn Ice Arena. The Wolverines club is 7-2 on the regular season with a 2-1 Big-Ten Conference record and a 2-0 record on the road. You can stream this game and others during the season with a paid streaming subscription to the BIG TEN NETWORK, which has a reasonable subscription rate to see tons of NCAA action from one of the nation’s powerhouse conferences.