CLEVELAND — At times during Sunday’s game, it looked like Shawn Hunwick forgot he was playing in an outdoor hockey game.

Besides the giant ice luge in the background and the below-freezing temperatures, the fifth-year senior goaltender looked right at home between the posts.

Hunwick had 31 saves in the Frozen Diamond Faceoff, as the Michigan hockey team completed its weekend sweep of Ohio State, 4 – 1. The Buckeyes’ lone goal was off a deflection and was one of few open looks on the night — Hunwick was at his best.

His performance on Sunday came after a gem of a game on Friday, where he saved a career-high 46 shots in a 4-0 victory over Ohio State. So, over the span of two games, Hunwick allowed only one goal on 77 shots.

“He gives our team a lot of confidence, and he is playing rock-solid right now,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “To come out of the weekend with only one (goal) against — you have to be playing well to do that against a team like Ohio.”

Even though he entered the game from the Cleveland Indians dugout and not from the locker room of the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Hunwick didn’t miss a beat from Friday’s game.

“I thought (Hunwick) played very well on Friday night, and I thought he carried that again tonight,” said Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki. “When he did have a couple opportunities, he was there, and he was rock solid. You know that in him. He’s a proven goaltender.”

It also helped that Hunwick played most of the game while the team was ahead, after junior forward Chris Brown took a rebound off a shot from sophomore defenseman Kevin Clare, spun 180 degrees to his left, and slid the puck past Buckeye netminder Cal Heeter.

Brown had a hand in the Wolverines’ next goal, too, assisting on freshman forward Alex Guptill’s team-leading 12th goal of the year. Michigan stayed in control for most of the first period, keeping the puck in Ohio State’s zone for most of the time.

The Wolverines’ only costly penalty of the night came at the end of the first period, but even then, they were two seconds away from killing it unscathed. Hunwick was caught out of position after a rebound — really, the only time he was in the wrong spot — and Buckeye forward Chris Crane whittled the advantage down to one just 50 seconds into the second period.

But after sophomore forward Derek DeBlois and senior captain David Wohlberg scored back-to-back in a 28-second stretch later in the period, the momentum, and the game, gave way to Michigan.

In the second period, Michigan’s outdoor experience showed. This was the third outdoor game for Michigan’s juniors and seniors, including the Camp Randall Classic in Wisconsin in 2010 and The Big Chill at the Big House last December.

Ohio State got flustered, but the Wolverines kept their cool and put the game away.

It wasn’t just Hunwick that gave Ohio State’s offense fits, though. Michigan’s defense suffocated the Buckeyes as soon as they crossed the red line, basically eliminating shots near the crease. Hunwick’s goaltending was superb, but the defense also did its job.

“The biggest thing is that everyone is taking pride in their job in the defensive zone,” said senior defenseman Greg Pateryn. “Everyone is rolling right now and doing what they are supposed to, and you can’t ask for much more — one goal-against over a weekend is pretty good.”

Osiecki added: “Lets give credit where credit is due — Michigan is really good. Their defensemen do a tremendous job, and having (sophomore defenseman) Jon Merrill back in the lineup is … in my opinion, he is the best defenseman in the country.”

Last time Hunwick played in an outdoor game — the Big Chill — he didn’t know he was going to play until after warm-ups, when then-starting-goalie Bryan Hogan went down with a groin injury.

This time around, Hunwick knew he was going to be playing, and it showed the whole weekend. The spectacle of the Frozen Diamond Faceoff didn’t seem to faze him at all, even as fireworks flew through the 27-degree night sky.

One goal on 77 shots — just another day at the office for Michigan’s backbone, leading his team in its nine-game unbeaten streak.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.