SOUTH BEND — Thursday night against Notre Dame, junior goaltender Shawn Hunwick was a hero for the Michigan hockey team.
Saturday against the Fighting Irish, Hunwick was, well, junior goaltender Shawn Hunwick: a backup goaltender, making his first career start.
With Michigan clawing back into the game in the third period to make it a one-goal contest, Notre Dame came into the zone two-on-two. Senior defenseman Steve Kampfer forced a cut across the middle and a quick shot. The puck slid on the ice and between Hunwick’s legs with five minutes remaining for the final punch that knocked Michigan down. All Hunwick could do was look up at the lighting right above the netting.
But early in the game Saturday against the same team Hunwick shut out two days before, for a short period of time, the hero costume was showing up through the uniform again.
It was the same costume Hunwick wore Thursday when he made a spectacular glove save with the Wolverines down five-on-three. It was the first shot he saw after he came in for the injured starter, junior Bryan Hogan, midway through the first period Thursday.
On Saturday, already up 1-0 in the first period, a stretch pass beat the Wolverine defensemen and left Hunwick all alone. Hunwick read the fake left and stretched to his right to make the stop. Sophomore David Wohlberg scored on Michigan’s trip down the ice the other way.
“He made a couple of good saves in the game and then the goals were goals that normally wouldn’t go in,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “That can happen to anybody, but that happened to him. It’s a tough spot to put him in, first game he’s had to start, on the road, he had never played here obviously but we gave him a lead and we just couldn’t hang on to it.”
Obviously, the act wore off. After Michigan had taken a 2-1 lead, the Fighting Irish came in on an odd-man rush shorthanded. Hunwick was reading the pass and slid across the net to make the backdoor stop, but Notre Dame’s Brett Blatchford slid a wrist shot on net, right in the place Hunwick had just vacated.
The Fighting Irish added two more and after two periods, and started the period as a 2-0 lead for the Wolverines ended in a 4-2 deficit, on 13 shots. The 13 shots were a result of Michigan taking eight penalties in the period and were extraordinarily high compared to the 12 combined in the other two periods that were given up.
Playing a more defensive game wasn’t explicitly part of the game plan coming in, but the players took it upon themselves to help Hunwick in just his fourth career game.
“It’s a new goalie, guys want to play hard,” Wohlberg said. “Obviously we want to play hard for Hogan, but maybe because he hasn’t played as much, we’re trying to make up for that.”
Hunwick ended the game with 20 saves and five goals against, a drastic change from his 14-save shutout performance Thursday.
With the timetable unknown for Hogan’s return, Hunwick is likely to be in net for Michigan in its first-round series with Lake Superior State.