There’s been a lot of talk in the early going this year about upstart teams like Lake Superior (7-1-0 and first place in the league), Bowling Green, Ferris State, etc. And more on those teams in just a moment. But first, somehow — and perhaps not surprisingly, given their coach — the Michigan Wolverines haven’t seemed to miss a beat despite losing one of the all-time great Michigan senior classes last year.
Yesterday, the CCHA honored Michigan senior Shawn Hunwick as the league’s goaltender of the month and freshman Phil Di Giuseppe as rookie of the month. In October alone, Hunwick posted a 6-0-1 record with one shutout, a 1.37 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage in those contests. He ranks second in the country in save percentage, third in goals-against average, tied for third in win percentage (.929), fourth in wins and tied for fifth in shutouts. Di Giuseppe, meanwhile, has posted nine points in his first eight career games with the Wolverines, including four multiple-point outings. He ranks second in the country among freshman in goals.
Hunwick certainly had competition for the Goaltender of the Month honor. After all, Bowling Green’s Andrew Hammond, Ferris State’s C.J. Motte, and Lake Superior’s Kevin Kapalka — not to mention, Notre Dame’s Mike Johnson, Ohio State’s Cal Heeter and Western Michigan’s Frank Slubowski — have all impressed early on. Hunwick outperformed Motte in a series this past weekend, and Michigan earned CHN’s Team of the Week honor as a result. This weekend, Michigan will face another tough test, this time on the road against Western Michigan.
Will the Wolverines be able to defeat another unbeaten team? Look for a pair of close games, and don’t be surprised if the Broncos earn a sweep. Watch out for the Broncos’ line of Shane Berschbach, Chase Balisy and Dane Walters — the trio had two goals and six points in this weekend’s sweep of Northern Michigan last weekend and has combined for 24 points in just eight games this season.
The other series from this past weekend worth discussing is, of course, Lake Superior’s sweep against Miami. The Lakers, with seven wins in eight games, are the top team in the CCHA and are off to their best start since 1989-90, when the began the year 10-1-0. They ended up winning 33 games before that season was over. And if they’re going to have anything close to that type of success this year, a lot of the weight will fall on the shoulders of netminder Kapalka. The sophomore isn’t flashy, but he’s remarkably consistent. It’s no surprise that he’s played every minute in net thus far for Jim Roque’s squad. The Lakers haven’t made the NCAA tournament since 1996.
Meanwhile… Miami. The RedHawks hadn’t been swept at home since February 2002 before this past weekend, and Enrico Blasi’s squad — 2-6-0 overall — hasn’t won a league game yet. A “road” trip this weekend to Alaska and a home series against Michigan next weekend means they’ll have to figure this out quickly. Most will point to the surprisingly sub-par goaltending of Cody Reichard and Connor Knapp (both have goals-against averages over 3.00), but the offense may look even worse. Reilly Smith, after a hat trick in his first game, hasn’t registered a point in four games now. And senior Alden Hirschfeld has only one goal on the year.
Ending this post on a positive note, check out what Alaska junior defenseman Kaare Odegard has been up to in Fairbanks — a great effort to generate awareness and money for patients with heart problems.