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March 9, 2011

Hunwick snubbed by CCHA coaches

The Michigan hockey team was on the ice practicing Wednesday when the CCHA unveiled its all-conference teams. Redshirt junior goalie Shawn Hunwick was one of the first Wolverines off the ice and he was expecting good news. Instead the league's winningest goaltender learned he had been snubbed by the CCHA's coaches …

Senior forward Carl Hagelin (first team), freshman defenseman Jon Merrill (second team) and junior defender Brandon Burlon (honorable mention) did receive all-conference laurels Wednesday and were most deserving of their honors, but that was hardly the story after practice. Hunwick's complete and utter absence from recognition proved shocking to the Maize and Blue.

[To see the All-CCHA teams, click here]

"Really? That's really surprising," said junior defenseman Greg Pateryn, when he heard the news. "He deserved first team. I can't even name two other goalies that might have been better than him."

Hunwick went 14-6-1 in 21 CCHA games - the coaches are only supposed to consider conference statistics - ranking second in winning percentage (.690) to Notre Dame's Mike Johnson (.714). His 14 victories were the most in the league. Hunwick also ranked second in save percentage (.931) and second in goals against average (1.95). He was the lone netminder in the CCHA to rank in the top two in winning percentage, save percentage and goals against.

"I thought he was the best goalie in the league and if it wasn't for him we wouldn't have gotten first place," Merrill said. "He was our MVP this season. That's a big shock."

It's an even bigger shock considering who did earn first- (Ferris State's Pat Nagle) and second-team (Alaska's Scott Greenham) honors.

Nagle went 12-12-4 for the Bulldogs, ranking seventh in winning percentage (.500) while his .920 save percentage also ranked seventh among conference netminders and his 2.11 goals against average left him fifth.

Greenham didn't even finish .500, going 10-13-5 in 28 CCHA games. True, he kept his team in a lot of contests it otherwise might have been blown out in, but he ranked sixth in save percentage (.921) and seventh in goals against average (2.19).

Insulting Hunwick even further, he didn't receive honorable mention honors, drawing just 11 total points and no first-place votes - Nagle, by comparison, somehow landed eight first-place votes and 43 points - while finishing fifth overall among goalies in points, as Miami's Cody Reichard (13 points) and Lake Superior State's Kevin Kapalka (12 points) also drew a better response from the league's coaches.

"Shawn is a great goalie," senior classmate Matt Rust said. "His statistics speak for themselves. Obviously the players aren't the ones voting. The coaches in the league … I don't think the goalie they chose is necessarily the wrong choice but as a teammate of Shawn I wanted him to win."

Hunwick played the diplomatic card after receiving the bad news, giving credit to Nagle and Greenham, but he was clearly bothered by the slight. Still, he quickly refocused on the bigger picture.

"It doesn't bother me too much; we finished first in the standings," he said. "It doesn't really matter who wins the individual awards if you're winning the team awards."

Head coach Red Berenson usually dismisses any hint of controversy quickly and he did so again Wednesday, but he also suggested a ballot in which votes are made public.

"There is always someone that gets overlooked and obviously it was him," Berenson said. "The way the thing works is we nominate players that we think should be all-conference or all-rookie or best this or best that, but you can't vote for your players.

"You're supposed to have your votes in the Sunday of the last weekend so you haven't seen some players for months. If you really sit down and look at their numbers and do your homework you should come up with the right answers. Sometimes … I don't know what happened.

"They used to show us who voted for whom so coaches couldn't really prejudice their votes for or against another team or another player, but now they don't.

"Yeah, it's a disappointment but it's ammunition for Hunwick."






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