Hunwick, Michigan Writing Cinderella Story
by Michael Florek/CHN Reporter
DETROIT On paper, in experience, and in height, Michigan junior goaltender Shawn Hunwick just didn’t match up in the Wolverines' CCHA semifinal appearance against No. 2 Miami.
Hunwick was giving up almost a half goal more per game than the RedHawks’ Cody Reichard, the CCHA Player of the Year. Hunwick had played in just seven games all season while Reichard had played in 24. And the 5-foot-7 Hunwick was giving up three inches to Reichard.
But with just under 13 minutes left, one goalie skated to his bench with his eyes staring a hole through the ice, and it wasn’t Hunwick. Hunwick, who is writing one of this season's bigger Cinderella stories, led Michigan to a 5-2 upset of top-seeded Miami, his fifth consecutive win, Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Hunwick was only inserted a few weeks ago, after an injury to starter Bryan Hogan. He had barely played before. Meanwhile, Michigan was mired in a seventh-place CCHA finish. But as Hunwick settled in, the team got hot — and whether it was chicken or the egg that came first, the bottom line is, Michigan is in the CCHA tournament final.
Hunwick had a two-goal cushion midway through the second period, but still had to earn the win.
First it was a stick save on a 3-on-1. Hunwick was beat seconds later, but dove back with his stick to deflect the puck into the netting.
“I wasn’t really sure I even got a piece of that, I thought he just missed the net until someone came up and said great save,” Hunwick said.
Hunwick made a sprawling glove save a couple of minutes later to keep the two-goal lead in the second. He was beaten two minutes later, but his nine stops were more than enough for Michigan to head into the locker room with the lead.
“Throughout the second period was probably the smoothest and most confident I’ve felt in the net since I’ve been in,” Hunwick said. “I wasn’t really thinking, I was just reacting. I knew they were a good team and I knew they were going to come out strong.”
As good as Hunwick’s second period was, on the other side of the ice, Reichard’s third was the opposite. His fourth and fifth goals allowed, a long tip in and a soft rebound given up, were ultimately his undoing.
Reichard was pulled for the first time all season, giving way to sophomore Connor Knapp. But by the time he was pulled, the damage was already done.
“The way I know Cody, I’m sure he’s very upset with the way he played and the fact that we lost the game,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “We had to get him out of there.”
Hunwick’s defense helped him out in the third, as he was only forced to make four stops. He gave up his second goal in garbage time but that didn’t deter the pro-Michigan crowd from chanting his name in the final minutes. It also didn’t stop him from being named the game’s second star.
After Hogan had a groin injury in Michigan’s Feb. 25 game against Notre Dame, Hunwick was thrust into the lineup and has made the most of his opportunity. His 20 saves tonight pushed his record to 6-2 and has the team one game away from making their 20th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.
Currently on the wrong side of the bubble, the Wolverines will need a repeat performance from Hunwick to beat Northern Michigan in the CCHA Championship Game to keep the streak alive.
“Ironically, we have not even talked about the tournament,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “Last week we talked about Michigan State and this week we talked about Miami.”