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Posted on Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 1:08 a.m.

Michigan goalie Shawn Hunwick blanks North Dakota, puts Wolverines in national title game

By Freelance Journalist


Michigan goalie Shawn Hunwick makes one of his 40 saves during the Wolverines' 2-0 win over top-ranked North Dakota at Thursday night's Frozen Four national semifinal.

Getty Images


ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A little more than a year ago, this would have seemed totally unrealistic. Red Berenson went as far as to say there would be “no chance” of this story being reality.

Shawn Hunwick leading the Michigan hockey team to the national championship game? The guy who was the Wolverines' third goalie for nearly three years and never started a Division I game in two and a half seasons?

But that’s exactly what has happened. With Hunwick stopping 40 shots Thursday night, Michigan defeated Frozen Four favorite North Dakota 2-0 and advanced to the championship game for the first time since 1998.

On Saturday, the Wolverines will face Minnesota-Duluth, a 4-3 winner over Notre Dame in the first semifinal.

That Michigan has an opportunity to win its 10th national hockey title in school history is something of an upset. This wasn’t just any team that the Hunwick and the Wolverines shut down in what was essentially a home game for North Dakota at Xcel Energy Center.


The Fighting Sioux’s top line entered the game with 69 goals on the season. North Dakota scored a combined 12 goals in tournament victories over Rensselaer and Denver. And Dave Hakstol’s team plays a relentless style of hockey, attacking the net in waves.

It didn’t matter. Not with the way Hunwick played.

“I’m not surprised, this is what he’s doing,” Berenson said. “It’s one week after another. He practiced for three years as our third goalie and never complained once. The players loved him. He got his chance to play (last season) and the players rallied around him.”

Even so, Hunwick still nearly wasn’t Michigan’s starter.

“It looked like (Bryan) Hogan was going to take over the starting job,” Berenson said. “Hogan got hurt again in the warmup of the Big Chill and Hunwick came in, got a shutout and has played every game since. Here we are.”

Hunwick, a senior from Sterling Heights, was like a lot of goalies after the biggest win of his career. He was quick to praise his defense, he talked about seeing the puck well and he felt comfortable on the ice.

“When I showed up to the rink, I was feeling good,” Hunwick said. “In warmups, I was seeing the puck pretty well. In the first period, if I make a few good saves, I start to gain confidence. In the second period, I was really confident and the puck started hitting me.

“It was a lot of straight-on shots, a lot of shots in the front of the net I was able to see.”

Scooter Vaughan said that while the defense was solid, Hunwick deserves much credit.

“You can’t praise him highly enough,” said Vaughan, who clinched the victory with an empty net goal. “He was on top of his game , he was very, very, very good. They’re one helluva team and without our guy back there between the pipes, we don’t win that game.”

With the way Hunwick was playing, Michigan didn’t need that much offense. On a night when the unlikely goaltender led the Wolverines to the national title game, it was fitting that the most important goal came from an equally unlikely source.

Senior Ben Winnett entered the Frozen Four having scored only three goals on the season and none since December 30. But he picked a good time to record his first goal in 2011.

Winnett slapped the rebound of a Jon Merrill shot toward the net. While North Dakota goalie Aaron Dell made a save, the rebound bounced right back to Winnett, who spun and shot the puck into the net. The goal at 13:26 gave Michigan a 1-0 lead and turned out to be the game-winner.

“Luke Glendening drove the net hard and basically took two guys out of the play,” Winnett said. “I just had a wide-open net and was able to put it in.”

Despite playing with the lead for most of the game, this wasn’t an easy victory. Not with the way North Dakota kept attacking.

“Our team had to play more in our own zone tonight than we have all year,” Berenson said. “That was a great team in North Dakota and they proved it. They just couldn’t score.”

Michigan, which managed only 10 shots on goal over the final 40 minutes, packed in their defense, blocked shots and gave North Dakota very few truly great scoring chances.

When the Sioux did get chances, Hunwick was there. He made a pair of crucial saves midway through the second period. With 10 minutes left in the third period, Hunwick stopped North Dakota’s Matt Frattin on a good chance.

But no saves were as big as the two Hunwick made on Evan Trupp in the final minute. Trupp got two good shots on net after the Sioux pulled Dell for an extra skater.

North Dakota had one last chance, but Danny Kristo’s shot was blocked before it reached Hunwick. That block from Carl Hagelin allowed the Wolverines to advance the puck up ice for the empty-net clincher.

And, now, the Wolverines will play for a national championship.

“We’ve had CCHA regular season (championships) and postseasons and we’re not happy with that,” Hunwick said. “We want to win a national championship.”


Terry Star21

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 8 p.m.

Great game against a really fine offensive team. Michigan's defense produced their best effort all season. Looking forward to the finals. MgoBlue - National Champions !


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 5:07 p.m.

Great Game, great team defense,and Superman Shawn was lights out ! I could hardly stand Barry Melrose he was so bias it was amazing ! He is still mad at Detroit and Tampa I guess.. Red put on a coaching clinic , great JOB! hopefully Blue gets its 10th NC in hockey... TiM GO BLUE..


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 4 p.m.

Since the article didn't mention it and the link to the information in the box is broken: *********************************************** *********************************************** CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: SATURDAY, APRIL 9 AT 6PM ON ESPN *********************************************** ***********************************************


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 4:18 p.m.

The game's on at 7PM, EST, Ponycar.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 2:09 p.m.

The Big Chill in December and now the National Title game. What a great year for Michigan Hockey! May the sun, the moon, the planets the pucks and the ice be in perfect alignment one more time on Saturday! Go Blue!


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 1:05 p.m.

Awesome. I guess it doesn't matter how good your forechecking is if the other team has lined the goal with bricks lined by lead. It was a great team effort and a terrific individual performance by Hunwick. Go Blue!


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 1 p.m.

A truly outstanding performance by Hunwick and by the entire U-M squad. Nobody has mentioned the penalty kill, which was incredible all night. There were some PK's that didn't require much work at all by the diminutive netminder. UND was rightfully stunned. They have the better team, and I'd put my money on UND to prevail in a 7-game series. But it's one-and-done and on to the championship! I can't wait. Does anybody have the scoop on Minnesota-Duluth?


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 3:21 p.m.

a2roots, I'm not sure Michigan has played an over rated WCHA team yet. They snuck by the 3rd place WCHA team in the first round, UNO. They got past CC in a tightly played game in the regional final. They were totally outplayed offensively by a very very good UND team last night. I don't think any of the WCHA teams have proven they are over-rated one bit. UND last night just ran into a Michigan goalie and defense that wasn't going to let the puck go in. It wasn't that UND was over rated last night it was Hunwick and the D were a touch better last night. I feel pretty confident in saying if the semi's were a 2 out of 3, UND would win the next two and move on. Michigan had it last night and moved on against a very good team. UMD certainly isn't at the same level as UND because nobody was this season. Yale may have been the top seed, but for most of the year UND was the top ranked team. UMD was hanging similar to Michigan in the top 10.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

Here is what I know regarding the Bulldogs of UMD. They are a from the same conference that Michigan's 3 other NCAA Tourney foes have been from, the WCHA. Michigan already beat the WCHA champion, UND last night. They beat 3rd place UNO in the regional and Colorado College in the regional final. UMD was 4th in the conference, 2 points out of second place, and a point behind UNO. They are ranked #11 nationally, the lowest team to make the Frozen Four. In all the pairwise criteria, Michigan was slightly ahead. On the ice UMD is a slightly less offensive team than UND was. They score an average of 3.41 goals per game, compared with UND's 4.05. On the defensive end of the ice they are less adept at stopping the puck, as they give up 2.59 per game, compared with UND's 2.14. Individually they are a pretty experienced group lead by Jr. Mike Connolly who was among the nations scoring leaders. The goalie is a 4 year player who is usually solid in net. In his 30 games played this season he has allowed 4 or more goals only twice, once in the opener to LSSU (6) and once in a loss to UNO (5). Most of his games this season have been 2 or 3 goals allowed. The biggest key for Michigan is stopping Connolly and putting this team away when they are down. One thing not on the stats that UMD is very good at is clawing back from behind. They have apparently had a habit of getting behind early in games and fighting back. They were down 1-0 49 seconds in yesterday and came back to lead 3-2 after 1 period. The final thing is the crowd should be very pro UMD in this facility. UMD doesn't get a lot of chances to play on the big stage in college sports (they are DII in all other college sports) so they likely will have a very nice following in St. Paul which is about 2 and a half hours from Duluth.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 2:42 p.m.

they have a good power play, but won't outmatch michigan on paper like North Dakota did.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

UM-D is another overrated wcha team.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 12:57 p.m.

Great game fellas. Keep it going. By the way where are you @joe.blows??? You did some pretty hefty woofing about the sioux. ToooBaaaaadddd. Based on fan photos the whole state of n.d. will be in mourning for months to come. Go Blue!!!!!!


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

This is Michigan for God's sake!


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

Go Blue. I find it interesting that the Michigan Hockey team is going for a national championship and the story is the third one listed in the sports section behind the Tiger's home opener and somebody's job keeping Micheal Phelps from drowning. When the basketball team was just named to the tournament it was a major headline. Come on folks this is a story worthy of some attention especially since Michigan was given no chance to beat North Dakota last night.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 12:31 p.m.

Great game last night. Hunwick was simply amazing. And that was a VERY GOOD North Dakota team. Red must have had a great strategy, because it worked. Time to take the National Championship guys! Go Blue1


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 12:11 p.m.

When is the championship game? I'm looking forward to watching it!


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 2:40 p.m.

sorry for the incorrect info. the espn website said espnu

Rich Rezler

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.

It is ESPN.

David Vande Bunte

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

Are you sure its on ESPNU? According to Comcast, its on ESPN...


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

saturday night on espnu at 7pm.

Blu n Tpa

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 11:51 a.m.

After the game, the Michigan goalie, Shawn Hunwick, was seen briefly getting out of his Michigan uniform. There, did you see it? The shirt under is pads, the big "S". Mild manner, walk-on hockey player, third string backup, is really SuperWolverine. Glove faster than a screaming slap shot, body able to stop bullet-fast pucks, eyes able to see through defensemen, and the ability to keep the other teams score low enough for a pre-schooler to count. But even that's not enough. Michigan hockey fans everywhere want him to do it again. Tomorrow. Watch the game, it promises to be Super! TiM Go Blue!


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 9:25 a.m.

Wow, wow and wow. On paper, Michigan was over-matched. But that's why they play the games. 4 keys to tonight's win. 1) The coaching of Red, Mel, and Billy. 2) Coachable players. 3) Shawn Hunwick 4) Shawn Hunwick One of my favorite wins of all time. Not over yet, but I like what I see. LET'S GO BLUE!

The Black Stallion3

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 8:57 a.m.

Go Blue !!!!!! You can do it!!!!!

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 7:19 a.m.

Hunwick was nothing short of amazing. Go Blue! Good Night and Good Luck