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Michigan Junior Lifts Team with Shutout in First Start
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
After taking it on the chin again Friday night, and his team at 5-9-2, Michigan coach Red Berenson had finally seen enough.
In days of yore for Michigan, it would recruit big time goalies and ride them for four years. Al Montoya left early, breaking the trend, but the Wolverines thought they were in good shape when they recruited blue chipper Jack Campbell. But Campbell decided to bail out of his commitment before the 2010-11 season.
That left the goaltending up to walk-on Shawn Hunwick, and he proved to be tremendous, taking the team to the Frozen Four that year. The next season, Michigan thought it had it lined up again, but another blue chipper, John Gibson, also bailed out. Hunwick came back as a fifth-year senior.
With Hunwick gone, Michigan brought in two new freshmen for this season, Steve Racine and Jared Rutledge. They didn't leave for major junior like Campbell and Gibson, but neither has really done the job yet, with Racine putting up some OK games and getting more of the playing time.
So that was the setup for this weekend, as Racine lost again on Friday, allowing three goals in a 4-2 loss (with empty netter). With Berenson left with nowhere to turn, he went to junior Adam Janecyk — in an attempt, so to speak, to find his next Shawn Hunwick.
And bingo, whaddya know, it worked again, at least for one game. Janecyk, who had played only mop-up minutes in his first two seasons, pitched a shutout of Western Michigan and lifted the team's spirits.
"I was planning on playing (Steve) Racine, and we talked about it and he is the unknown," Berenson said. "Janecyk has been the unknown; he has been the third goalie. We have two freshman goalies that have been given the chance to play every game. We thought it is time. Our team needs a boost and our goals against needs a boost.
"I didn't know what we would get with Janecyk, because he has not been any better in practice than the other two. He showed up tonight. Our team gave him a good game, and he kept the puck out."
This wasn't just any opponent either. It was a Western Michigan team that is the reigning CHN Team of the Week, a team that's right on the heels of Notre Dame and Miami for first place in the CCHA, and which was 11-3-2 entering Saturday's game. It was a Western Michigan team that does not have any goalie issues, with sophomore Frank Slubowski building on his breakout freshman campaign from a year ago, into perhaps the top goaltender in the league.
"(Saturday) morning, I walked in and saw my name written on the board," Janecyk said. "There was no real conversation, but my number was up there and I was ready to go. I was really excited. It's been awhile since I've been in there and it's a good feeling."
On shutout boosting team ... "They were great all night — the team was unbelievable. It's more of a team shutout than anything. I think we should take a lot of pride in that."
Janecyk comes from a hockey family, his dad Bob playing in the NHL in stints with Chicago and Los Angeles. But after a solid, if un-remarkable junior career, Janecyk, a Michigan native, came to the Wolverines just hoping to fit in. He got one start last year, but otherwise only relief appearances.
In the game, he started out much as Hunwick did, staying composed, not trying to do too much, making the regular saves, and then some.
He got help from his teammates, who seemed to rally behind him.
"I think this game was a rallying point," Berenson said. "Just a bounce back game number one. Our effort — our total team effort — I thought we were more committed on the puck, we won more battles, we won more races. This is definitely a game that we can remember; I wish we were not having the time off now. I think we were a little rusty and a little bit out of synch last night, and then tonight we get in synch, and now we are going to take two weeks off. Nevertheless, it is a good game to finish the first half."
The first two periods were scoreless, though, as Slubowski was making a series of tough saves. At times this year, Slubowski has merely needed to be a caretaker, facing under 20 shots in numerous games. But he made 22 saves in the first two periods.
Finally, early in the third, Brennan Serville got on the board for Michigan with his first of the season. Later, Jacob Trouba, who will miss the Great Lakes Invitational while he participates for Team USA at the World Junior Championships, scored a power-play goal to seal it.
"We didn't make the mistakes that we made (Friday) night," Berenson said. "I thought we did a better job on the penalty killing and on the power play we capitalized. We got a goal from an unexpected source, and that is kind of what happened to them last night; they got goals from unexpected sources. That is the difference in these games; the games are so close. I thought our team played with a lot more will and conviction than we played with last night. It was good; we didn't get scored on early. I thought our team came out to play harder, and they knew they were embarrassed last night. It was a good win."
The team has two weeks off before the GLI, where it will face Michigan Tech. The Wolverines could see Western Michigan again; the Broncos face Michigan State in the first round.
"We've been struggling a little bit here, and getting a win against a good Western Michigan team — we have two weeks to think about it and start getting back at it in practice to get ready for the GLI," Janecyk said.
Said Serville, "We've been struggling, and I think everybody's buying in right now. It was definitely a confidence booster. We'll be missing (Jacob) Trouba in the GLI, so we're going to have to play some tough defense like we did tonight and get some more Ws like we did here."