Morrison's Emergence Adds to Deep WMU Blue Line
by Taylor Lewis/CHN Reporter
Despite the numbers, Kenney Morrison’s transition into college hockey hasn’t been seamless.
The Western Michigan freshman is second on the team in penalties, with 10 of his 22 minutes in the box coming in his first seven games.
“It’s not really a stat I want,” said the defenseman. “A lot of penalties at the beginning of the year [were] just getting used to the game.”
But those numbers are only a small stain on a season of success. Coming into a program with high expectations for the season, including a defensive unit that is otherwise filled with experience, Morrison has not just fit in, but made a substantial impact on a team that currently sits in first place in the CCHA.
His 11 power-play points puts Morrison first on the team and third in the CCHA behind teammate and fellow blueliner Dennis Brown and Miami’s Riley Barber in special team scoring. His 15 points overall are third most for the Broncos and fourth among the CCHA’s defensemen and freshmen.
Morrison’s offensive numbers, really, come as no surprise. His shot is reminiscent of former Bronco Matt Tennyson, a CCHA Best Offensive Defenseman finalist last year. In his final year of junior, the former Omaha Lancer was the USHL’s top-scoring defenseman.
While the 6-foot-2, 198-pound Alberta native shrugs off the comparison, Brown, who plays on the same power play unit as Morrison, has seen him progressing well.
“He had to fill some big shoes and he’s filling them for sure,” said Brown, a junior defenseman, of Morrison’s task of stepping into Tennyson’s former role.
A power-play shot that broke the glass in Yost Arena put the 20-year-old on the map for anyone who hadn’t been paying attention before. Morrison, though, takes it in stride, wanting more than a YouTube clip from the eventual 2-0 loss.
Said the Lloydminster, Alb., native, “The crowd at Yost was getting into it, so it was kind of cool. But next time I’ll try hitting the net and scoring for the team.”
While the production comes “naturally,” as Brown put it, Morrison has had to put in extra work on the defensive end. He cites both assistant coach Pat Ferschweiler and regular defensive partner Garrett Haar as key in his development. Extra work after practice also allows him to fine-tune his shot, making the most of a mandatory duty.
“I have to pick up the pucks anyways, so might as well get something out of it,” said Morrison, who names the Washington’s Capitals Mike Green and the reigning Stanley Cup Champion L.A. Kings’ Drew Doughty as two of his favorite players.
As the Broncos head into the final stretch of the season, both Morrison’s defensive and offensive abilities will be crucial to Western Michigan’s CCHA-leading power play.
“We definitely feel the pressure,” said Brown, who Morrison calls the “mastermind of the power play.”
But again, the freshman gives credit to his teammates.
Said Morrison, “Our power play has been a big part of the team’s success, but it’s the guys who are drawing penalties too, that get us out there.”