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Weekend gives backup goalie Janecyk critical playing time

By Liz Vukelich, Daily Sports Writer
Published October 25, 2011

Meet Adam Janecyk, the sophomore backup goalie for the Michigan hockey team.

Prior to last weekend, you hadn't seen much of him during games. Janecyk had only played twice this year, for a grand total of 19 minutes. Both times, fifth-year senior goalie Shawn Hunwick had already ensured Michigan victories — 5-0 against Niagara and 10-3 against St. Lawrence.

Finishing the final minutes of the third period in front of supportive fans is one thing — but getting thrown into a highly contested road game after the starting goalie is ejected is quite another. Ten minutes into the second period of Friday’s game against Northern Michigan, Hunwick’s punch to a Wildcat player got him kicked off the ice for the remainder of the game.

Enter Janecyk.

“You never know when you’re going to play,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “He didn’t expect it, (but) I thought he came in and looked like he was ready.”

Janecyk tallied 10 saves during his 28 minutes in front of Northern Michigan’s hostile student section. And for the first 10 minutes, he was able to hold his own and keep the score at 0-0.

But then a shot was deflected past him on a Wildcat power play. And the Wolverines couldn’t crawl back after Northern Michigan scored four more goals, including one on an empty net.

“I really haven’t had that much experience yet, so there are going to be some nerves,” Janecyk said. “Especially in an environment like that, it’s hard when the fans are loud.

“Obviously I went right into the storm there. In a way, the hardest is over with.”

It’s not easy being thrust into a game unexpectedly — Janecyk didn’t even have time to warm up. His job wasn’t made easier by the vicious Wildcat fans who exploded each time another puck slid past his glove.

Still, Janecyk impressed his teammates and his coaches. In fact, Berenson laughed when he said Janecyk’s performance on Friday was light years better than Hunwick’s Michigan debut. If this weekend indicated anything, it’s that Janecyk just needs to get more comfortable in the crease.

But it’s hard for Janecyk to gain the experience he needs when he hardly sees any action. He doesn’t have much game film he can review — all he has to work with is 47 minutes of playing time.

Berenson said Janecyk just has to work on his positioning.

“Every shot, you need to be in position,” Berenson said. “The last shot (Northern Michigan) scored, he was out of position. You can close your eyes and stop that if you’re in position.”

Janecyk has countless people supporting him on his journey to become a better goalie. Josh Blackburn — Michigan’s goaltending coach and former four-year starting goalie for the Wolverines — works with all of Michigan’s netminders each week to improve technique.

But there is perhaps no better mentor for Janecyk than Hunwick, who knows the struggles of a backup goalie all too well.

“(Hunwick) knows what it’s like (as a backup),” Janecyk said. “He always gives me tips on ways to get by and do well here.”

When Hunwick is in the net, he gives the Wolverines tremendous confidence on the ice. Now, Janecyk is working to instill that same faith when he is in the goal.

“We can get down the road where points get tight and we get in playoffs,” Janecyk said. “If Shawn got hurt or kicked out, my number will be called on. (This weekend) was a good experience for me, and (I’ll) be ready for next time.”