According to Shawn Hunwick, teammate Matt Rust looks like a lumberjack.
“He must be on Coach’s good side, because he’s had that beard for a little while now,” Hunwick joked after practice on Tuesday.
And while Rust may be getting away with a little more growth than normal at this point in the season, Michigan coach Red Berenson isn’t actually too fond of playoff beards or other team superstitions in the latter stages of the season — except maybe the hard hat.
After every playoff win for the Wolverines, a hard hat is dished out to a well-deserving Wolverine based on the recognition of the players, not Berenson or the coaching staff. It doesn’t have to be a player who tallied the most goals in a particular game or even the “hero,” as Hunwick said.
“It recognizes players that are unsung and are difference makers that night or that weekend,” Berenson said. “It’s usually an obvious choice, but hopefully it’s a tough choice. Hopefully, there’s more than one player who played a great game.”
Following Michigan’s 4-2 victory over Notre Dame last Saturday in the CCHA Tournament consolation game, Hunwick received the hard hat for his stellar performance. The Sterling Heights, Mich. native stopped a career-high 42 shots in regulation.
“We’ve had confidence in Shawn right from the get-go, particularly from the stretch where he had to go in at The Big Chill and he’s taken over our No. 1 goalie position,” Berenson said. “He’s been in a lot of close games, and he’s found a way to win them. We have rock-solid confidence in our goalie.”
Hunwick, who was left off both the All-CCHA First Team and Second Team two weeks ago, grabbed CCHA Goaltender of the Year honors last Thursday for having the best goals against average of any conference netminder.
The conference coaches who vote for the All-CCHA teams may not have given him the respect he perhaps deserves, but his teammates and coaches, specifically Berenson, know Hunwick’s worth for a team heading into its 21st straight NCAA Tournament.
“If you look at what he’s done, and if you’ve been around our program enough, then you can see he’s pretty legitimate,” Berenson said. “His numbers will match up against anyone in the country right now, so good for him.”
BURLON UPDATE:For much of practice on Tuesday, there was one Wolverine sitting by himself in the near end zone of Yost Ice Arena: Brandon Burlon.
Burlon — out of the lineup for both games this past weekend at Joe Louis Arena — has been plagued by an “inflamed esophagus,” according to Michigan coach Red Berenson.
The junior defenseman has been in and out of the hospital since last Monday when he came down with strep throat. He’s had trouble eating solid food and has lost about 15 pounds over the past week.
Berenson added that, as of Tuesday afternoon, Burlon isn’t slated to play in Michigan’s first round NCAA matchup against Nebraska-Omaha on Friday in St. Louis.
ONE MORE GO-AROUND: Hunwick was one of the last Wolverines to leave the ice on Tuesday after practice.
But it wasn’t because he needed some extra shots to prepare for NCAA’s this weekend. And it wasn’t because he was receiving a few tips from goaltending coach Josh Blackburn.
No, Shawn Hunwick is going through an alleged mid-life crisis.
“I see all these other guys, my classmates, graduating and they’re starting to peak on what they’re going to do after Michigan — jobs, playing, where you’re going to end up,” Hunwick said. “I’m thankful I have another year, but it still worries me. Some nights, I’m lying in bed wondering what I’m going to do when Michigan is over. It’s been a dream come true. I wished I never had to leave.”
Hunwick, who is slated to remain a Wolverine for a fifth year next season, is fortunate compared to the other seven seniors who won’t be returning and won’t have a shot at another national title.
For forwards like Matt Rust and Carl Hagelin, Friday could be the last time wearing the block ‘M.’ With a limited time left on the ice, Hagelin knows how important it is to get everyone else on the team into the same mindset.
“I think all the seniors know there’s only four games left max here at Michigan,” Hagelin said. “We want to make the best out of it … As a leader, it’s important to engrain that in all the other guys too.
“Even though (the underclassmen) have a few more years, you might not get this opportunity again.”