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December 15, 2012Three years ago a fledgling Wolverine squad rallied around undersized walk-on goalie Shawn Hunwick to capture the CCHA Tournament, and would later ride the unheralded netminder to three-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
History has a tendency of repeating itself and, for at least one night, Red Berenson's squad once again found a steadying force in the crease in an unexpected place during a 2-0 victory over No. 7 Western Michigan.
Junior goalie Adam Janecyk, who was listed third on the depth chart as recently as this morning, turned away 25 Western Michigan shots to offer his team at least one night of solace in what has become a turbulent season.
"It's too early to say," said head coach Red Berenson when asked if the emergence of Janecyk can become a true rallying point for his squad. "Is it another Hunwick story? We'll have to wait and see, but tonight was a good effort.
"Janecyk has been the unknown. We have two freshman that have been given the chance to play every game and we thought it was time."
Freshman Steve Racine and Jared Rutledge have split time in net this season, but both have experienced their fair share of troubles throughout the team's early-season skid.
"Our team needs a boost but I didn't know what we would get from Janecyk because he has not been any better in practice then the other two," Berenson said. "He showed up tonight, our team gave him a good game and he kept the puck out."
Although Janecyk will be credited with the shutout, the blanking of the Broncos was truly a blue-collar, team effort just a night removed from a sloppy and lethargic performance in a 4-1 loss to open the weekend series. The Wolverines' backline consistently swarmed WMU's offensive attack, and utilized turnovers to create a multitude of chances in transition that led to a 33-25 shot advantage.
"It was more of a team shutout than anything, and I think we should take a lot of pride in that," Janecyk added. "They know I haven't been in there and haven't been playing as much as the other guys. They want to do well for me and I want to do well for them."
Still, despite heavily dictating the pace of the game and collecting a majority of the scoring chances throughout the first two periods, Michigan found itself in a precarious 0-0 deadlock heading into the third stanza.
That changed when sophomore defenseman Brennan Serville corralled a bouncing puck in the slot and buried a wrist shot over the right shoulder of WMU sophomore goaltender Frank Slubowski 1:12 into the third period, and the win was all but sealed on a power-play rocket from the blue line by freshman defenseman Jacob Trouba with 7:31 remaining.
"I thought our team played with a lot more will and conviction than we did last night, and we didn't get scored on early," Berenson said. "I thought our team came out to play harder, and they knew they were embarrassed last night.
"We were stronger on our sticks, stronger on the puck, stronger on our feet. We weren't getting knocked down, we weren't getting bounced around."
At just 6-9-2 on the season, the Maize and Blue's 23rd-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance remains in doubt, but the Wolverines have a two week layoff in which to search for answers before a Dec. 29 tilt with Michigan Tech in the Great Lakes Invitational Tournament at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
"I think this game was a rallying point," Berenson said. "It was a bounce back game and a total team effort.
"We played more like men tonight, last night we played like boys."
"We've worked on it more than any part of our game, and we've seen it in bits and pieces but finally the puck went in for us," Berenson said. "I can't tell you that we were any better tonight, but the puck went in, and sometimes all it takes is getting shots at the net.
"We can practice all we want, but it is not the same as a game, and this was a good test for our power play."
"We got a goal from an unexpected source," Berenson said. "That is the difference in these games because they are so close."
"We did everything we could to generate good offense," Berenson said. "I thought we were skating well, we moved the puck well, we had some chances and their goalie made some good saves. Nevertheless, we got the goals we needed.
"He was playing really well the whole game," Serville added. "We were putting on the pressure and getting a lot of shots. I was fortunate enough to get the puck, shot it, and lucky enough that it went in."