- Salam Rida/Daily
BY MARK BURNS
Daily Sports Editor
Published January 24, 2011
Senior forward Carl Hagelin is still putting the finishing touches on his shot — he's made it a point of emphasis throughout the entire season.
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But while that may be the case, Hagelin’s overall performance with the No. 6 Michigan hockey team is far from unpolished — just look at his current nine-game point streak.
“It’s up there,” Hagelin said this past Saturday, when comparing his current play to his career-successes at Michigan. “I’m feeling confident. I’m doing a lot of good things with the puck, but there’s still room for improvement.”
Since The Big Chill at the Big House — in which Hagelin registered two goals — the Wolverine co-captain has tallied six goals and 13 assists. It’s no surprise he’s been a key contributor to the Wolverines’ recent five-game winning streak, in which they’ve catapulted into first place in the CCHA.
Over the past three conference weekends, Hagelin has played with senior Matt Rust and sophomore Chris Brown on the first line. The trio had two goals and six assists in last weekend's sweep of Alaska at Yost Ice Arena, continuing its recent hot play.
“This is a team sport. No one can do it by themselves,” Hagelin said. “When you play with guys that are doing well, you want to do well and you don’t want to let your linemates down.”
TWICE AS NICE: Playing against Notre Dame last season on Feb. 25, senior netminder Shawn Hunwick became the Wolverines’ biggest question mark following Bryan Hogan’s season-ending groin injury.
But now, almost a year since Hunwick led Michigan to its 20th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the Sterling Heights, Mich. native is becoming one of the Wolverines' most consistent performers.
“He's solid,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “He's trying to make the saves he can and he's not giving up any bad goals. That's the sign that a goalie is playing really well.”
With two shutouts in the past three weekend series, he continues to prove his critics wrong, and is receiving a great deal of support from his coaching staff and teammates too. On Saturday, Berenson called Hunwick's recent play “as good as it gets” followed by Hagelin labeling Hunwick as the “best player right now” for the Wolverines.
With seven wins and an overtime loss to Michigan State since the Great Lakes Invitational in late December, Hunwick has been Berenson’s best line of defense. And in the two games against the Nanooks this past weekend, Hunwick stopped 73-of-76 shots, earning him first-star honors in both contests.
Hunwick said that with Hogan unable to play after he suffered his second groin injury on Dec. 11, it’s been easier to prepare for weekend contests knowing that he’s going to backstop the Wolverines in both games — earlier in the season, Hunwick and Hogan used to alternate starting jobs, and until Hunwick became the No. 1 starter, he had a sub-.500 record.
Now, Hunwick has a 10-4-4 mark under his belt, and a .923 save percentage, good for first in the CCHA.
“This is probably the best hockey I’ve played so far at Michigan,” Hunwick said. “It’s a lot easier to play when you’re getting into a rhythm.”
NOTES: Freshman defenseman Jon Merrill scored twice this weekend against Alaska, giving him seven goals on the season. He's tied with junior Brandon Burlon for the defensive lead in scoring with 17 points. Merrill received CCHA Rookie of the Week honors on Monday … Hunwick has three shutouts this season, all of which have come in Ann Arbor — one at Michigan Stadium and two at Yost.