Hunwick Gets Late Nod, Shutout
by Mark Joseph Burns/CHN Reporter
For most college and professional hockey games, there’s generally three stars nominated after the final buzzer, but following No. 12 Michigan’s 5-0 victory over Michigan State at The Big Chill at the Big House, a ceremonial fourth star was added to the equation: Wolverine netminder Shawn Hunwick, who wasn’t even slated to start between the pipes.
This past Thursday, Michigan coach Red Berenson actually gave senior goaltender Bryan Hogan the starting job against the Spartans, citing his current 7-2 record and experience in last year’s outdoor game at Wisconsin in the Camp Randall Classic as reasons for receiving the nod.
“Hunwick's not out of the loop (for the starting job later this season), he's just not going to start this game,” Berenson said on Thursday.
And with just under 30 minutes prior to the opening faceoff at Michigan Stadium, Hogan suffered a groin injury in the pre-game warm-ups, with Berenson saying “there’s no way he could play” following the win.
That’s when Berenson called on the 5-foot-7 Hunwick to start for the Wolverines in front of 113,411 people, the largest crowd ever to watch a hockey game or NCAA sporting event for that matter.
“To be honest, I was a little scared,” Huwick said following the game. “I wasn’t really prepared to play, and you try your best to get ready in practice but you know it’s not the same. You’re not mentally as sharp as you would have been if you knew you were going to play.”
Despite receiving the starting nod so close to the opening faceoff, Hunwick still came out and executed a star-worthy performance, stopping all 34 shots en route to his second career-shutout. Ironically, his previous shutout came on February 25 in a similar relief effort, as Hogan went down with another groin injury to Notre Dame.
So, for Hunwick to come in and backstop the Wolverines to their first shutout of the season was certainly an easier void to fill than the one he successfully filled nine months ago. While Michigan allowed 34 shots on net — a fairly high number — it didn’t allow Michigan State to penetrate the middle of the zone, with most of the Spartans’ shots being routine saves for Hunwick.
“The kid – he just never missed a beat,” Berenson said. “It didn’t seem like it bothered him at all, so good for him and good for our team.”
As the three stars of Jon Merrill, Carl Hagelin and Matt Rust were being announced — all of who were donning the maize and blue — the Michigan faithful and a handful of Wolverines on the bench urged Hunwick to receive some recognition for his stellar play. And after a slight pause, Hunwick skated over to the center-ice circle as the Michigan fans showered him with applause.
“I don’t really like that kind of stuff if you don’t notice,” Hunwick joked in the post-game press conference. “I don’t really like being out there in the spotlight. The guys were pushing me out there so I thought, ‘What the heck’."