Backup goalie Hunwick will start playoff series
So there he was, playing the first meaningful minutes of his three-year Michigan career, stopping 14 shots in a 4-0 victory over Notre Dame Feb. 25, and junior Matt Hunwick didn't have a friend in the crowd. Friends and family will see him in action this weekend, however, as he starts in net in place of injured started Bryan Hogan …
"My mom and dad didn't even know we had a game on Thursday, which sounds pretty bad," Hunwick said. "It was exam week so I didn't communicate too well. They thought we played on Friday night.
"Thursday night, Chris Porter - Kevin's little brother is one of my best friends - sent out a massive text to everyone that I was in. I got a lot of texts after the game saying they caught the second and third period."
Hunwick had appeared in just two career games prior to his emergency fill-in, seeing a little less than three minutes during his sophomore season while playing most of the third period in an eventual 4-3 loss to RPI Dec. 29 this year.
He was called into service when Hogan, a 36-game starter this year with 73 career starting assignments, suffered a groin injury while making a save early in the first period against the Irish.
On Tuesday, head coach Red Berenson said he did not expect his starting netminder, who also missed a 5-3 loss to ND Feb. 27, to be healthy enough to play in this weekend's playoff series against Lake Superior State.
"I would say [the chances] are slim to none," Berenson said. "If Hogan walks into Yost [Wednesday] with absolutely no pain and he can practice pain-free and get his timing, I would think about it. But I don't see that happening. If he doesn't practice by Thursday … but as far as I'm concerned, I'm 90 percent sure Hunwick is playing."
"Four years ago, if you would have told me I'd be starting a playoff series for Michigan while I was watching my brother [Matt, 2004-07] play I would have said you were crazy," Hunwick said. "But I've definitely worked hard. My first year I was just here, part of the team and going along for the ride. My sophomore year and this year I've really worked hard so that if I did get this opportunity I could take advantage of it."
Many Michigan fans will look at the goalie situation as a huge deterrent in the Wolverines' playoff hopes -- the Maize and Blue have to win this series, a quarterfinal series, a CCHA semifinal and the finals to earn an NCAA Tournament bid - but the timing could have been worse.
"If you're going to have to play with your backup goalie you'd like to have him have some practice time and just to be thinking that he's the starting goalie," Berenson said.
"I definitely would have been a lot more nervous if Hogan got hurt in [Tuesday's] practice and I had no game experience going into this weekend in a do-or-die situation for Michigan hockey," Hunwick added. "Getting some games in was huge."
Michigan's first-round best-of-three opponent - Lake Superior State - has gone 1-8-1 in its last 10 contests so there is a strong likelihood that the Wolverines will move on. Hunwick is the wildcard, though.
"Of course there is a lot of pressure and we need him to step up but he just has to be himself and play like he's capable of playing," goalie coach Josh Blackburn said.