That Michigan’s Shawn Hunwick, our choice for 2012 Inside College Hockey Goaltender of the Year, was one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award but wasn’t named to either of the American Hockey Coaches Association West All-American teams or the All-CCHA first team is fitting. The former walk-on is a rarity; a player who can be invaluable and undervalued at the same time.
It’s also fitting that in spite of his unconventional goaltending style—the lunging, the flailing, the diving, the cartwheeling, the desperation—Hunwick became Michigan’s primary asset. A guy who played like an invertebrate was the Wolverines’ backbone.
There were goalies who had better numbers and, let’s be honest, just about every netminder in the nation looked the part better than Hunwick who, at 5-foot-7, was an amalgam of Dominik Hasek’s acrobatics, Billy Smith’s fieriness, and Darren Pang’s build. But what made Hunwick so intriguing (it wasn’t his Horatio Alger-like rise to starter) was how his success and that of his team were so inexplicably intertwined. The Sterling Heights, Mich., native likely doesn’t make as big an impact on any other team; likewise, the Wolverines probably don’t win as many games if someone other than Hunwick is in goal.
And Hunwick won—a lot. In 40 starts, he was 24-12-3 with a 2.00 goals against average and a .932 save percentage. During the last two thirds of the season as the Wolverines pushed their way toward the top of the CCHA standings, earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament along the way, Hunwick was even better, going 17-5-1 with a 1.60 GAA and a .945 save percentage.
“As a coach, it just shows you—we don’t know everything,” Michigan coach Red Berenson told the Michigan Daily in October. “You don’t know everything about your players, you don’t know what’s inside a kid, and you don’t know what the possibilities are.”
His Runner-Up: Troy Grosenick, Union
• INCH’s year-end awards are decided upon with input from the editorial staff of InsideCollegeHockey.com and in consultation with coaches and other college hockey followers from across the country.