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March 26, 2012 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-03-26

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2B - March 26, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Closing the book on the unlikeliest Michigan hero

S hawn Hunwick's entrance
was scripted.
When Shawn finally
heard his name called, he was
supposed to explode off the
bench, tear
across the ice -
pumping his
first and turn
sharply into
his crouch
when he
reached the
crease-
He was STEPHEN J.
supposed to NESBITT
re-enact the
famous scene
from the 1993 film Rudy. Shawn
Hunwick wouldbe Daniel "Rudy"
Ruettiger. The kickoff would be
a faceoff. Notre Dame Stadium
would be Yost Ice Arena.
Shawn turned to Chris Porter
and laughed at the idea.
It was the first time the 5-foot-
6 wisp of a goaltender had been
compared to Rudy. Chris, the
youngerbrother of Michigan's
second Hobey Baker winner
Kevin Porter, was on to some-
thing.
"Five fist pumps as you run out
there, just like Rudy," Chris said.
"No one's going to remember
you if you're only goingto play a
few plays anyway, so you've got to
do something funny."
But that wasn'thow Shawn
Hunwick would be remembered.
Seated in the open-air patio
outside BTB Cantina on South
University Avenue, with the sun
beating down on a warm summer
afternoon, Shawn called his shot.
Ittwas August 2007, and
Shawn, a third-string freshman
goaltender, declared that he
would be the Michigan hockey
team's starting goaltender before
it was all said and done.
That might normally fly. But
not for this last-resort goalie.
That's because his brother, senior
defenseman Matt Hunwick, was
seated beside him.
"Hey, even though you think
that, you can't say that stuff,"
Matt said, pulling Shawn aside.
"You're coming here to be a role
player, so you need to know your
role and accept that."
Shawn wasn't really serious.
Truth be told, he didn't even
belongthere. Just a few months.
earlier, he was preparing to join
the hockeyteam at Division-III
Adrian College, when he got a
chance phone call.
It was Kevin Porter and Chad
Kolarik, two of his brother's
teammates at Michigan. Steve
Jakiel didn't show up for spring
workouts.
"We need athird goalie. Do you
want us to talk to coach?" they
asked.
"Sure, I guess," Shawn said.
Small beginnings.
Later that week, he dressed
up fancy, shaved, made sure his
blonde hair was standing just

to be remembered by the people
inside the program.
"That's what I thought I was
going to be. No one's ever goingto
know my name. I'm not going to
get spotted on campus."
Shawn won't be remembered
for his three years holding a clip-
board. He'll be remembered for
being a HobeyBaker finalist.
He won't be remembered for
three consecutive season-ending
overtime losses. He'll be remem-
bered forbeing the No.1 goalie in
Michigan history in goals-against
average (2.05) and save percent-
age (.928), and seventh in wins
(54).
He won't be remembered for
failing to repay Berenson with a
national championship. He'll be
remembered forbeingthe closest
we'll come to Cinderella, to Rudy.
Shawn doesn't know what's
next. One NHL team followed
him during the season, but he's
hedging on a few offers he's had
from East Coast and European
teams. He'll figure it out in the
next week or so.
He'll give himself two or three
years in hockey. If nothing works
out, he'll turn to coaching or
front-office hockey administra-
tion.
"Obviously, it's a little nerve-
wracking when you don't know
where you're going to go," he said
with a nervous laugh.
For now, he's very much where
he was when he arrived at Michi-
gan - waiting for his chance.
"The last few years I've been
playing with house money. Pretty
much my whole time at Michi-
gan has been house money. I was
never expected tobe here, so
everything I did here was adding
on top of that."
Shawn Hunwick's entrance
was scripted. His legacy, though,
wasn't.
And that's how Shawn Hun-
wick willbe remembered.

ADAM GLANZMAN/Daily
Michigan fifth-year senior goalie Shawn Hunwick carried the Michigan hockey team to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, losing 3-2 each time.

right and marched into Michi-
gan coach Red Berenson's office.
When Shawn marched back out,
he was still missing something.
He forgot to ask one question,
so he called Michigan assistant
coach Billy Powers to clarify.
"I had to ask Billy if I actually
got a spot on the team, because
I didn't comprehend what they
were sayingto me," Shawn
remembers.
He had a spot. But that was it.
Shawn was the third-string
goaltender, firmly planted behind
junior Billy Sauer and freshman
Bryan Hogan.
"I remember reading on one
blog, where someone wrote,
'(Hunwick) is a waste of space.
I'm not sure why we're bring-
ing him in. He's going to stand at
the end of the bench with a clip-
board,"' Hunwick said.
"That's pretty much what I
was for the first three years I was
here. That's where I thought I was
going to be."
Shawn finally made his fresh-
man debut in a 10-1 rout of
Nebraska-Omaha on March 14,
2008. He didn't pump his fist as
he skated onto the ice, as he'd for-
gotten all aboutbeing Rudy.
"I think everyone (in the
crowd) was probably scared when
I first came in, thinking, 'Who's
the little midget in the net?"'
Shawn said.
He played two minutes and 52
seconds. He didn't see the ice the
next season. That was alright.
"Back then is when I wasn't
even sure if I could play, soI
wasn't too beat up about not play-
ing," Shawn said.
"I was just more safe and sound
on the bench."
But that wasn't how Shawn
Hunwick would be remembered.

Shawn carved up the crease
at the Xcel Energy Center in St.
Paul, Minn. It was a big day.
He had vaulted Michigan into
the National Championship game
against Minnesota-Duluth by
shutting out No.1 overall seed
and perennial powerhouse North
Dakota two nights earlier.
And it was Shawn's 24th birth-
day.
After a lingering groin injury
had sidelined Hogan for the sec-
ond half of the season, Hunwick
had taken over. He did the same
thinga year earlier, as a junior,_
when he filled in for Hogan in the
last light of the regular season
and carried Michigan to the brink
of a Frozen Four berth, before
Miami (Ohio) finally prevailed in
a double-overtime thriller.
But now he was in net for the
championship game. He was no
emergency fill-in - he was Beren-
son's starter. He was Michigan's
star.
He was Cinderella. He was
"Tiny Jesus." He was Rudy.
And the birthday boy was still
a walk-on. Michigan's star goal-
tender was still paying for college,
splitting a scholarship with junior
captain Luke Glendening.
It's a funny thought, all things
considered.
"It's what we signed up for. We
came in as a walk-ons. We could
have gone..."
He paused.
"Actually, neither of us could
have gone anywhere else."
Shawn laughed. He and Glen-
dening really didn't have other
options. If Michigan hadn't
called, Glendening would have
joined Shawn at the Division-III

level, playing football at Hope
College or Wheaton College.
Matt, a Colorado Avalanche
defenseman, had been helping
out, paying for his younger broth-
er's tuition at Michigan. Halfway
through his senior season, a few
months before the national title
game, Berenson told Hunwick
that he finally had a full scholar-
ship open. Shawn was coming
back for a fifth year.
Michigan lost to Minnesota-
Duluth in overtime. The Cinder-
ella story was on hold. Rudy had
come up short - on his birthday.
But that wasn't how Shawn
Hunwick would be remembered.

forgotten?
Shawn wrestled with the ques-
tion. He doesn't know exactly
what happens next. His journey
is over. Michigan lost in overtime
again, this time to Cornell.
Less than 48 hours after the
game, Shawn sank back into his
seat and gazed across Dewey
Street on a sunny Sunday after-
noon.
He hadn't expected it to end
this early. But, then again, he
didn't expect it to everbegin.
From the most inglorious roots
came a star that won't be forgot-
ten.
"When I got to Michigan, I

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didn't think I'd be remembered
*** at all," Shawn said. "It's not like
you're not remembered, but you
when fairytales probably won't be remembered by
- is the story the fans, you're definitely going

What happens
don't end happily

- Nesbitt can be reached
at stnesbit@umich.edu or on
Twitter: @stephenjnesbitt.

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