DURHAM, N.H. — Senior goaltender Shawn Hunwick is used to saving goals for the Michigan hockey team. But just over a minute into overtime against New Hampshire, Hunwick had to save something else — the game.
Saturday, the Wolverines were deadlocked at three with then-No. 9 New Hampshire after three periods. In the extra period, junior forward David Wohlberg skated across the Wildcat goalmouth and shoved a backhand on net. After a stop and a quick outlet pass, New Hampshire’s Dalton Speelman had a step on Michigan’s defense. Junior defenseman Greg Pateryn got back into the play enough to disrupt Speelman, but the Wildcat cut hard to the left and fired the shot. Hunwick kicked out his right pad to make the stop and preserve the tie.
“At that point, you’re not really thinking,” Hunwick said. “Breakaway in OT, you’re just trying to react. Greg did a good job forcing him to his backhand, and I just tried to take away as much net as I could.”
The stop was one of Hunwick’s eight in overtime. His counterpart, New Hampshire’s Matt DiGiorlamo, had to make just one stop in overtime.
After coming in late last season due to an injury, replacing starter Bryan Hogan, Hunwick was charged with making the routine saves to keep the Wolverines in the game. Saturday, while locked in a battle for the starting goalie spot, Hunwick made the spectacular stops to carry the team. Michigan (2-0-0 CCHA, 2-0-2 overall) was outshot by 18, but Hunwick responded by making a career-high 45 saves. All in his first true road test.
Before playing in the Whittemore Center Arena, Hunwick had only played one other away game on a campus site — last year at Notre Dame. But Notre Dame didn’t have the rabid student section singing, “Won’t you be my sieve?” directly behind Hunwick for two periods that New Hampshire (1-1-1) did.
“We’re lucky we had Hunwick out there today — he really saved us — I don’t know how many stops he had, but it was enough to keep us in the game,” senior captain Carl Hagelin said.
Despite the game-saving breakaway stop in overtime, Hunwick made his biggest contribution in the second period. Facing back-to-back five-on-threes, Hunwick jumped into a higher echelon of goaltenders. He was a goalie who could steal a point on the road.
Midway through the two straight minutes of the then-third-ranked Wolverines being down two men, the Wildcats stick handled around a defenseman out of the corner and tried to stuff a backhand through Hunwick’s five-hole. But Hunwick got his stick down to make the stop. A half-minute later Hunwick was forced to make a point-blank save from the top of the circles after a New Hampshire defenseman walked around a diving senior forward Scooter Vaughan.
Hunwick made nine stops on Michigan’s four shorthanded stretches in the second, leading the Wolverines into the locker room up by a goal.
“That’s when you really rely on your goalie, and he was as good as it gets,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said.
As the goaltending battle continues later into the season, performances like this leads to a higher chance of Hunwick having more opportunities to save games.