ST. PAUL, Minn. — Don’t call it David versus Goliath. David wasn’t 5-foot-7.

It’s Shawn Hunwick versus the most potent offense in the nation.

North Dakota’s top two lines have combined for 121 goals — Michigan’s entire roster that skated at the NCAA West Regional in St. Louis has 121 goals.

Sure, the Wolverines have their backs against the wall, but they have a shutdown defense and one of the hottest goaltenders in the nation. Since losing twice to Miami (Ohio) in early February, Michigan has gone 11-1, allowing just two goals per game.

There’s a reason Michigan is one of the four teams remaining. The regular-season CCHA champion didn’t survive on just its offense — it rode its horses on the blue line.

And one of those horses, junior defenseman Brandon Burlon, will likely return this weekend after missing two weekends of hockey. Michigan coach Red Berenson will make a decision regarding Burlon tomorrow, but freshman Kevin Clare edging out Burlon for that last spot would be a shock.

At this point in the season, the Wolverines aren’t guaranteed anything more than a date with North Dakota — they relish that. And when the season comes down to a single game, don’t bet against these seniors.

Last Saturday at the team banquet, the seven seniors gave their final farewells to friends and family in Ann Arbor. And in their speeches, they all ended with the same message: it’s not over yet.

To some spectators, after taking one look at these Fighting Sioux, it looks very over.

The Wolverines can’t contend in a slugfest.

It’s going to take Scooter Vaughan, the converted defenseman, making a dash to the net to create a scoring chance that makes you wonder when he turned into an offensive dynamo.

It’s going to take Matt Rust battling against the boards and finding a teammate with a perfect feed.

And it’s going to take Shawn Hunwick performing the best of his career.

Then maybe, just maybe, the Wolverines will catch mighty North Dakota off guard.

The Fighting Sioux may not even know who they’re preparing for. Monday’s edition of the Student Dakota — the North Dakota student newspaper — referred to Michigan as the Spartans.

Around Ann Arbor, we know that’s a cardinal sin.

North Dakota, a team brimming with confidence, refused the apparel given to them for winning the WCHA and NCAA Midwest Regionals. They were too focused (read: pompous) in their run for a national championship.

The Wolverines, on the other hand, wouldn’t take off their caps. Before practice two days after defeating Colorado College to take the West Regional, freshman Luke Moffatt still had his gray championship hat on.

When is that one coming off?

“Not until we get that next one.”

Michigan’s shot at the “next one” begins Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center. In the end, Michigan is going to have several sets of hats to doff to wave goodbye to the Fighting Sioux.

Because in a one-game series, it comes down to moments, not stats.

“You know, somebody’s gotta win this weekend,” Hunwick said Monday with a grin. “It might as well be us.”

With Hunwick between the pipes, David slaying Goliath doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch. These Spartans … err … Wolverines are in good hands.

— Nesbitt is a twin by birth, but he doesn’t appreciate all the Twins apparel in the Twin Cities. He can be reached at

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