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Hunwick ulitilizes experience to lead Wolverines to Frozen Four

Jake Fromm/Daily
Goaltender Shawn Hunwick (31) shakes the hand of Colorado College coach Scott Owens after a game in the NCAA Western Conference Championship at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO on Saturday, March 26. Michigan won the game 2-1. Buy this photo

BY CASANDRA PAGNI
Daily Sports Writer
Published March 27, 2011

ST. LOUIS — During the NCAA West Regional Final press conference on Saturday, Colorado College coach Scott Owens called Michigan an “old” team.

It wasn’t a snub, or an offensive remark, but simply a synonym for the veteran experience that showed up in St. Louis and led the sixth-ranked Wolverines to a 2-1 victory over the Tigers.

Being “old” is a good thing when it translates to victories.

And no one showed their age quite like senior netminder Shawn Hunwick against Colorado College.

“He doesn’t have a letter on his jersey, but he sure does lead this team,” senior forward Louie Caporusso said following the win.

Added Michigan coach Red Berenson: “That’s why were sitting here, is because of our seniors. And Shawn really is a senior. These guys have been the glue on our team and the leaders on our team right from day one.”

Playing a lead-by-example role Saturday, Hunwick stepped up at crucial moments in the game to keep the surprisingly-quiet Colorado College offense at bay and set the tone for Michigan to have a strong defensive game. The Tigers came off of an 8-4 victory over No. 1 seed Boston College on Friday, but Hunwick stopped seven shots in each period on Saturday and only allowed one goal in the game.

Colorado College’s lone goal came on their prolific power play — one that Hunwick and the defense shut down six other times in the game. Colorado College scored four power play goals against Wolverines in the Great Lakes Invitational championship game back in late December, but Hunwick showed his age — and experience — Saturday night at the Scottrade Center.

“I think they did have a few pretty good shots early on,” Hunwick said. “But this is an opportunity to play for the Frozen Four. I think I made a couple good saves. It’s pretty easy to stay in the game when you’re playing to go to the Frozen Four. They didn’t really get anything going too much until they got into the power play. Once they got into the power play, I really had to be sharp.”

From surrendering a 3-2 double-overtime loss to Miami-Ohio in last year’s NCAA Tournament regional final to coming out on top in St. Louis, Hunwick has consistently exceeded expectations along the way.

En route to Michigan’s 24th Frozen Four appearance, Hunwick notched 21 victories this season — and has the opportunity to snag two more in St. Paul in two weeks.

He holds a 9-3 record in one-goal games this season, including Saturday’s game against the Tigers.

Hunwick was voted the CCHA Best Goaltender prior to the conference tournament and Most Outstanding Player on the NCAA West Regional All-Tournament team on Saturday.

“It’s just great to see guys like that stepping up,” senior forward Carl Hagelin said. “He’s a great guy, he’s fun to be around. He’s worked hard for this. Freshman year he stayed out on the ice every day so all the other guys could shoot, same with sophomore year. Then, he got the chance junior year to prove himself, and he did. Since the Big Chill, he’s been playing really good for us.”

Hunwick showed poise after No. 14 Nebraska-Omaha scored two unanswered goals in the first game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

He played with confidence after his team rebounded to score two early goals on Saturday against the Tigers.

And if he was “old” in St. Louis, he’ll be even wiser in St. Paul.