Louie Caporusso, Shawn Hunwick, Carl Hagelin. These names have been spoken over and over again as the Michigan Wolverines continue to upset everyone in their path on their quest to compete in the Frozen Four in Detroit.
They have each had great personal success, but when you ask them about the goals they score, the saves they made and the plays they set up, all of them defer the question and route back to the same thing: the team.
Caporusso, a junior forward, struggled at the beginning of the season. His performance seemed to reflect the general play of the Wolverines as they faced the threat of missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in 19 years. With this stress weighing on their shoulders, the Wolverines could have just skated to skate and ended their uncharacteristic season, but instead they came out with a new fire and swept their way through the CCHA playoffs.
“I’ve said all along that Louie is a Hobey candidate on our team,” senior Steve Kampfer says. “Obviously his play has carried our team. He didn’t get off to the start he wanted but he’s worked hard and he’s earned everything he’s got and when the playoffs came around, he took off.”
During the cleaning process, Caporusso recorded 11 points (seven goals, four assists). Don’t forget to add a game-winning goal in Saturday’s 5-1 win over Bemidji State in the Midwest Regional semifinals, also noting that he scored both of Michigan’s goals to win the CCHA championship last week in Detroit.
He seems to be scoring at pivotal moments. But when asked about his goals and the way his season has progressed, he’ll gush about his linemates, the defense and the kid between the pipes.
“Louie is a tremendous player,” Hunwick says. “He had a rough start at the beginning of the year but he’s on fire now and it seems like everything he shoots goes in. So hopefully he keeps shooting.”
Hunwick, an unexpected star, is just the same. You’d think a junior goaltender getting his start in late February when starting goalie Bryan Hogan gets injured would start to get some swagger. When Hunwick settled in between the pipes against Notre Dame, the Wolverines weren’t expected to make it through the CCHA playoffs, let alone the championship game. One hundred and seventy-nine saves later, they’re heading into the Midwest Regional final with a backup goaltender stealing the show.
“One play, he stopped the puck and one of Bemidji’s players had a wide open net and he slide across the crease and stopped him again,” Hagelin said. “Those are the kinds of plays that keep you in the game, that win you the game. He’s been phenomenal since he’s been in net and I can’t say enough about him.”
When asked about these saves he just shrugs it off, complimenting the 18 guys in front of him that are blocking shots, clearing pucks and scoring the goals. He even compliments the opposing goaltender.
Hagelin has a six-game scoring streak. He has tallied a point in 17 of the last 18 games, a huge asset to any roster. With two goals Saturday, including a shorthander, and an assist, Hagelin adds an element to bring the Wolverines to another level. In nearly three complete seasons, he has registered 161 points, 11 in the playoffs alone. Ask him about his goals and he’ll tell you about who passed him the puck before he’ll ever mention his hand in it.
“Everyone has been playing great,” teammate Scooter Vaughn says. “A lot of guys go unnoticed. Steve Kampfer, Shawn Hunwick, Louie Caporusso, Carl Hagelin, they’re all getting it done, getting on the score sheet. But our penalty kill has been good. Defensively, all the forwards are coming back, backchecking and doing what they need to do to get wins.”