Monday, August 31, 2020

Michigan Hockey Sudoku

I have a challenge for Michigan hockey fans, inspired by Down Goes Brown's article in The Athletic today: Michigan Hockey Sudoku.

Make the best 6 man team you can (G, F, F, F, D, D - don't worry about C/W) using all ten digits in the jersey numbers (0-9), but using each digit only one time. So you can't pick Porter because 11 uses 1 multiple times. If you pick Red/Morrison then you can't pick Pacioretty/Comrie because 9 and 39 both use 9. Got it? You get their whole college career. 

The obvious place to start was using 9 as one of my two single-digit numbers. Red/Morrison, take your pick because they're both legends. 

Goalies are going to be interesting, because almost all of the really good ones either wore 31 (Shields/Hunwick/Mann), which you're not going to use because it wipes out all of the players in the teens, or 35 (Turco/Montoya, which is Turco). That wipes out Cammalleri, Werenski, Tambellini, Hughes, Pacioretty, Comrie, Ward, Norton, Johnson, and Berenzweig. The only other real option is Blackburn (29), which would also wipe out the 9s, 39s, along with Halko/Kolarik (24), Hagelin/Debol (12, which is an impossible number to use because it wipes out the teens and twenties), Ortmeyer (26), Sloan (27), Luhning (28), as well as Stewart/Nystrom (21). 

The other problem that we're going to run into is the number 0. Michigan just hasn't had that many players wear a number ending in 0. Felsner (10) was the obvious choice, but then you lose all the teens as well, and that's a lot of players. Marody is probably the best choice of the #20s. Nobody jumped out at 30 (which, again, would wipe out all the goalies except Blackburn), and then you have Dexter Dancs with his year wearing 90. That's it. I had to bite the bullet here, say goodbye to Red and Brendan, and slot Dancs in as 90. 

Since Dancs wipes out Blackburn and there's no way to use 31, Turco is the obvious choice in net. My next pick was Chris Tamer, the all-time leader in penalties and PIMs. His number 6 only wipes out Muckalt, Wiseman, and Ortmeyer. Matt Hunwick would have worked here as well. Seems like an efficient way to burn a number we probably wouldn't have used otherwise. 

That leaves me 1, 2, 4, 7, and 8 with one slot left for a single-digit number and I need two forwards and a defenseman. I'm clearly going to use one teens, one twenties. I can't use 12 and wipe both of them out. There's not an obvious 14. There isn't an obvious 17 either (Compher?). 18 gives me John Madden or Kyle Connor. 28 would be Warren Luhning, but I don't love my other teens options, so Madden/Connor would work great here. That's a tough choice because Connor absolute should have won the Hobey Baker in his one season here, but Madden is top 25 in points, goals, assist, holds the NCAA record for SHG in a season and career (he had 23 SHG and Michigan's #2 all-time has 9!), and was a Hobey finalist in his own right. 

Now I have 2, 4, 7 left for a forward and a D. 4 would be Van Ryn/Summers and leave me Blake Sloan at forward. I could do 24 and grab Kolarik as my forward and probably Chad Langlais or Steve Richmond as my defenseman. But I think I'm going to opt for Steve Halko as a defenseman wearing 24 and then take TJ Hensick as my last forward.

My team:

Goalie - Marty Turco - 35
Forward - Dexter Dancs - 90
Forward - TJ Hensick - 7
Forward - John Madden - 18
Defenseman - Steve Halko - 24
Defenseman - Chris Tamer - 6

Can you beat that? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @YostBuilt

Edit: Yes, you can beat that, though I still think my team is pretty solid.

What you'll realize when you do it, or if you're more logical than I am, which makes it so much easier, is that you need 4 double-digit numbers. That means 10s, 20s, 30s, and one more. And that one most likely, unless you want to get CRAZY, can't have a 1, 2, or 3 in the number (so no Hughes). That more or less means you have to use Dancs or Boka on the team. Things slot in nicely after that. 

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