Michigan hockey team opens CCHA playoffs with 2-1, double overtime win against Notre Dame
Updated 12:17 a.m.
Every hockey game has a winning team and a losing team, but the only players whose statistics reflect those wins and losses are the goaltenders.
Every hockey game has a winning goaltender and, cruel though it sometimes may be, a losing one.
Michigan's Shawn Hunwick and Notre Dame's Steven Summerhays refused to be the latter on Saturday night. But after 83 minutes of hockey, something had to give.
It was Summerhays, beat on a Chris Brown goal 3:11 into the second overtime making Michigan 2-1 winners in the first game of a best-of-three CCHA tournament quarterfinal series.
Michigan will attempt to close out the series on Saturday night (7:35 p.m., Comcast 901)
As much as Summerhays may not have deserved to be the losing goaltender, Hunwick earned the right the be the winner. He’d finish the night with 37 saves. Though an Anders Lee goal halfway through the third denied Hunwick his 11th career shutout, the Irish couldn't blemish his perfect career record in the opening rounds of the CCHA tournament.
Hunwick is now 7-0 in games prior to the semifinals.
“He kind of stole that game, I would say, for us,” said Michigan captain Luke Glendening.
Hunwick was left to dry on many occasions, particularly in the second and third periods, when Notre Dame outshot the Wolverines 20-15.
Breakaways, two-on-ones, rebounds, kick saves, glove saves, covering the bottom of the goal with the splits only to make a glove save on a top shelf shot. Hunwick did it all on Friday.
"Let’s face it, Shawn Hunwick had to keep us in that game," Michigan coach Red Berenson said. "He’s a warrior and he’s done everything he can for this team and this program and there’s another example tonight."
It didn't appear goals would be so hard to come by early for Michigan, as Glendening scored on a rebound off of a Phil Di Giuseppe shot -- the Wolverines' first of the night -- just 1:08 into the first period.
It would take another 40 to beat Summerhays again.
It appeared a 3-on-1 rush would produce that much-needed second goal for the Wolverines in the second period and, for a moment, it appeared David Wohlberg did exactly that, going upstairs on Alex Guptill's pass, beating Summerhays and clanging off the post. Wohlberg thought it went in, but the play withstood an official's review and the score remained 1-0 after two periods of play.
Another shot off the post in the first overtime would withstand an official's review, with Wohlberg again pleading the Wolverines' case to no avail.
As demoralizing as Summerhays' saves were, the Michigan players knew Notre Dame was feeling the same way.
"It’s a lot of pressure when you’re not scoring on good chances, but I mean Shawn made huge saves for us," Glendening said.
After going relatively untested in the first period, Hunwick came up with some big saves early in the second period, stopping Jeff Costello on a breakaway in what looked like it would a guaranteed goal. Costello yelled at his stick in frustration after the play, as if it was the stick's fault the puck didn't go in the net.
If the stick could talk back, it would probably have told Costello to stop pointing toward the little guy stopping every shot in sight. It was a sign of things to come.
Hunwick continued to dazzle in the third period as Michigan's defense struggled to keep Lee from the puck. Lee ended the night with a game-high seven shots and finally put one past Hunwick at the 11:23 mark of the third period. Notre Dame appeared the more conditioned team in the last two periods, but Michigan looked revitalized in the overtime sessions.
Football coach Brady Hoke was in attendance for the whole game, garnering ovations from the crowd whenever he was flashed on the big screen. Hoke clapped as loudly as any of those in the seats below him. Hoke's attendance wasn't the only way the football team's presence was felt. It's at the football stadium that the hockey team does its annual conditioning sessions, up and down the stairs of the Big House.
Brown admitted he felt fatigued when coming to the ice for what proved to be his final shift, but said he believes Michigan's 5-0 record in games decided in overtime have been the result of those conditioning sessions.
"It’s that stadium run, it always gets to us we always remember that going into overtime," Brown said. "No other team does a stadium like we do. We can get through, that we can pretty much get through anything."
Michigan needs one more win in the best-of-three series to advance to next weekend's conference semifinals at Joe Louis Arena. The teams will play Sunday at 7:35 p.m. should a third and deciding game be necessary.