ANN ARBOR, Mich. — With the talk focusing on the 11 new freshmen on No. 8 Michigan’s roster, it was one veteran junior defenseman Matt Hunwick who stole the show Saturday night at Yost Ice Arena. Hunwick’s five-point night, including a hat trick, led Michigan to a 5-3 victory over Quinnipiac, completing a two-game home sweep for the Wolverines, who moved to 4-0-0 versus the Bobcats all-time.
“We have so many freshmen, but at the same time our upperclassmen are our leaders,” Hunwick said. “We have to set an example and pace for the game, and I think the freshmen will follow our lead.”
Hunwick got the Wolverines on the board 7:48 into the first period when, on the power play, he picked up the rebound off rookie Jack Johnson’s blue-line shot and snapped it past goaltender Wes Russell. He added another tally in the second when the teams were playing four-on-four before capping the hat trick in the third. On a five-on-three, Hunwick stepped inside the faceoff circle and unleashed a rocket past Russell at 13:12 of the closing frame.
The last Wolverine to have a five-point outing was Mike Comrie on Nov. 5, 1999, in a 6-1 home win over Ohio State.
“Our veterans have to be the difference makers on our team and our freshmen have to find roles that they can do well in,” Michigan head coach Red Berenson said. “Hunwick was obviously a big factor in this weekend. Just the way he playedit wasn’t just offensively, if you check the stats I’m sure he looked good, but it was all the little things defensively like the races for the puck.”
Hunwick was in on every goal for Michigan, and was also part of the offensive push from the backend as well. Freshman defenseman Jack Johnson also added a goal and two assists for the Wolverines.
“It’s obviously a bonus to chip in offensively,” Johnson said. “Our first job is to keep pucks out of the net, and we’re still working on that. We gave up a couple of goals tonight that were unacceptable. But chipping in offensively that’s just a bonus for us, and we had a fortunate night.”
In his second start, freshman netminder Billy Sauer stopped 24 shots for Michigan. Sauer held off a Quinnipiac flurry late in the first period to send the teams to the locker room deadlocked at one.
“The big test for him tonight was to play a back-to-back game,” Berenson said. “He came off a good game last night, now can he come back and re-prepare and get focused? You know the other team’s going to be a little bit better, you’re going to get tougher shots, and I thought Billy Sauer held his own tonight. I don’t like the idea that we give up that many goals against, but that’s something we have to work on as a team; it’s not just a goalie thing.”
Michigan took over in the second period when Hunwick, Andrew Ebbett and Johnson scored three unanswered goals in three minutes to give the Wolverines a 4-1 edge. Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold called a timeout after Johnson’s goal to calm his team, but the three-goal deficit was too much to overcome for the Bobcats.
“We learned a lot this weekend,” Pecknold said. “When you play a team of this caliber, you’re forced to play defense. It’s one thing to coach defense, it’s another thing to go out and play it against a team like this. I think that helped us a lot. Just the experience of playing in Yost and playing a national power was good for our program and our hockey players.”
Brian Leitch, Matt Sorteberg and Dan Hennigson scored for the Bobcats, who dropped to 0-2-0 on the season.