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March 11, 2012 E-MAIL PRINT Bookmark and Share

Hunwick Writing Final Chapter of Magic Tale

by Zach Helfand/CHN Reporter

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — After the sweep — after the two overtimes, the 62 saves, the (perhaps optimistic) chants of "Hobey Baker" — Michigan goaltender Shawn Hunwick lingered. The rest of his teammates filed off the ice, but not Hunwick.

He waited as long as he could.

As he made his way toward the tunnel, he stopped. He turned and for a moment, the tiny goaltender stood alone on the ice as he looked back at Yost Ice Arena. Then he turned and walked through the tunnel and into the locker room for the final time in his improbable career.

Hunwick, of course, has a flair for the dramatic, and fittingly, his last series at Yost, a two-game sweep of Notre Dame in the CCHA quarterfinals, was a memorable one. Michigan won the first game of the series on Friday in double-overtime before cruising to a 3-1 clincher on Saturday.

Hunwick, as usual, was the impetus.

"Let's face it, Shawn Hunwick had to keep us in that game," said Michigan coach Red Berenson after Friday's game. "There were some glorious chances, particularly in the second period and a couple in the third that made the difference in that game."

After Michigan scored one minute into the opening frame on Friday, the game evolved into a drawn-out staring match between Hunwick and Notre Dame goaltender Steven Summerhays. Hunwick stopped 37 shots, Summerhays came up with 40, and each bailed out his team on several occasions.

Michigan led for much of the contest before surrendering a goal in a third period dominated by Notre Dame. After recovering during the intermission, the Wolverines regained control of the play in the first overtime period.

Three minutes into the second period, junior forward Chris Brown snuck onto the ice on a line change, unnoticed by the Notre Dame defense.

A loose puck slid to sophomore forward Mac Bennett, who moved it to Brown. Brown buried a wrister for the game-winning goal, then jumped against the boards before collapsing in exhaustion.

"(I was) really tired coming off the bench going out for our next shift," said Brown. "I just tried to put it on net, make sure we could end the game and I could just go to bed."

Following the game — which improved Michigan's record in games decided in overtime to 5-0 — Brown went immediately from the ice to the ice tub to treat his aching muscles. Berenson can relate.

"I know what it's like," Berenson said. "If you've had a good game, and you've given everything you've got, when you get into the locker room, you just want to fall asleep."

The game was Michigan's longest CCHA playoff game since a three-overtime loss in 1989 against Bowling Green in the quarterfinals. Michigan has made the semifinals of the CCHA playoffs every year since that defeat, a streak that now runs 23 years.

Saturday's affair wasn't nearly as dramatic. Michigan took a commanding three-goal lead midway through the second period, powered by two goals by senior forward David Wohlberg.

Notre Dame answered quickly, but couldn't muster a goal in the third frame, and Michigan held on for the sweep.

In a victorious Michigan locker room after the game, Berenson praised his defense and his diminutive goaltender.

"You give up two goals in the weekend, that's a good team effort," Berenson told his team. "You're going to win games."

Hunwick's rise to the starting role has been as electrifying as it has been unlikely. The 5-foot-6 former walk-on was plugged into the net in 2010 when then-starting goaltender Bryan Hogan sustained an injury.

Behind Hunwick, Michigan ran the table in the CCHA playoffs to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament to extend Michigan's Tournament streak to 20 years.

Last year, Hunwick was supposed to be replaced by blue-chip recruit Jack Campbell, but he bailed at the last minute for junior hockey. Hunwick led the Wolverines to the National Championship game with a 40-save shutout against No. 1 North Dakota in the Frozen Four semifinals. This year, Hunwick was again going to be challenged by a blue-chip prospect, until John Gibson also bailed. Hunwick kept winning.

"He's a warrior," Berenson said on Friday. "He's done everything he can for this team and this program, and there's another example tonight. We wouldn't have been in overtime if it wasn't for Shawn Hunwick."

The fifth-year goalie joked that as he stood on the ice for the last time following Saturday's game, he thought about trying to apply for a sixth year of eligibility.

"It's sad," Hunwick said. "It's sad that I thought I was going to play one minute or one game hopefully on senior night when I came here."
 

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