Always Next Year: Goalie Comment Count

Brian June 3rd, 2010 at 12:49 PM

Previewing Michigan's 2010-11 hockey team. Previously: The Forwards and Defense.


041008MichiganNotreDameMP341 Athletics, Matt Trevor

After the defection of Jack Campbell and failure to acquire any other goalie target, no one is entering or leaving. We can skip right to the main event, then: Hogan or Hunwick? That question wasn't even feasible when Hunwick was a 5'6"-ish walk-on with zero meaningful game experience even when Hogan was languishing around the 30th percentile in save percentage during a disappointing junior year. Ten games later, Hunwick is a real option after going 8-2 and posting a .918 save percentage.

I still have the nagging fear that Hunwick's tendency to leave fat, glistening rebounds in the slot several times a period will come back to hurt him badly when Michigan attempts to platoon him next year, but late in his playoff push he went from a terrifying goal waiting to happen to an incredibly quick little bastard whose ability to go post-to-post in no time flat allowed him to make a wide array of Grade A stops.

On the other hand, I still get creeped out whenever he has to jump at a puck that might be on net, and there is a great raging debate about the validity of save percentage as a metric even amongst professional goalies logging 2000 save seasons—the sample size on Hunwick's .918 is so far from statistical significance that not even David Berri would pretend it has meaning.

Hogan has been an enigma. As a sophomore he posted a .914 save percentage en route to a 1.97 GAA, the second-best in Michigan history. Last year, however, his save percentage plummeted to .901. Since this is a save percentage that does not look like much, but the standard deviation in save percentage last year was .0125: Hogan lost essentially one SD in the most relevant goalie stat tracked in college. Until his injury forced Hunwick into the lineup, he had played every minute of Michigan's season—his numbers are as meaningful as any college goalie's can be.

The end result: Hogan finished 53rd of 76 qualifying goalies in save percentage last year. Hunwick did not qualify due to a lack of appearances, but if he had he would have finished tied for 12th with Air Force goalie Andrew Volkening, who you may still wake up shivering about late at night, ahead of Michigan State's fine Drew Palmisano.

So what's going to happen? Early in the year it will be a repeat of the 2008 season in which the established veteran has established that he's not good enough to be given the job free and clear, no questions, and the new face (relatively new, in Hunwick's case) is given the opportunity to win the job free and clear. Last time Hogan and Billy Sauer played about even, but Sauer had this incredible ability to suck the mojo out of Wolverine forwards and ended up on the wrong end of a number of 2-1 decisions. Meanwhile, Hogan got fantastic goal support and won a bunch of games; with Sauer's two vast tournament failures fresh in the minds of all, he was shelved and things went very well until the aforementioned Volkening showed up.

The parallel last year is eerie: Michigan was a sloppy team last year until the instant Hunwick drew into the lineup, at which point the team started backchecking furiously and plunging into their own slot to clear out the plentiful rebounds that gathered there. Does this have anything to do with the guy in net? Not really. Has it been proven as a factor the coaches consider? Absolutely. Is it real? Probably right away, sure, but the probability Must… Protect… HUNWICK is a feeling that lasts through an offseason and a period of what should be persistent success next year is low. At some point the guy stops being an adorable walk-on and is just your starting goalie.

I have no idea what will happen here. Hunwick could backslide as his rebound control betrays him, and Hogan could bounce back to his junior-year form. If you put a gun to my head I would say Hunwick claims the starting job around midseason, but that is a prediction with nothing but good memories from the playoff run behind it. I don't think anyone has a clue here, including the coaches.



June 3rd, 2010 at 1:55 PM ^

is at the Goalies World mag website They have rankings based on their own formula, of wich Save % is only a part. It takes total starts into account as well as avg shots per game.


June 4th, 2010 at 8:11 AM ^

Hunwick played the third period and let in one goal, for which the people behind me, not realizing Hunwick had been in net since the period began, continued cursing Hogan. 

According to the box score, Hunwick played 18:02 of the third period and the rest was an empty net.


June 3rd, 2010 at 2:29 PM ^

I think the point where Hunwick was just the starting goalie rather than the adorable walk-on pretty much already happened by the NCAA tournament.  Both games in that tournament we didn't exactly have the greatest defensive effort in front of him and Hunwick was still very good.  In my mind the job is his until he falters.


June 7th, 2010 at 9:33 AM ^

Woody said it best.. along with Brian's succinct points.

Hunwick was being protected, as was his deficiencies: fat rebounds and over-aggressive angle pursuit. But he was darn good in the playoffs which grew the respect and admiration of the entire team. You just couldn't blame his effort especially against Miami in the regionals- Miami's goaltending was one shot better, thanks to an untimely whistle.  Hunwick also stays within himself mentally which is also a great trait, unlike our past netminders.

Still.. a new cast and a new season. The expectations will be ratcheted up for Hunwick and certainly the competition with Hogan will create pressure. In the end, it may work out best for both guys- as long as the players in front of them do their jobs as well. They can take a cue from their two way play late in the season. Seemed to work well for team confidence.


June 3rd, 2010 at 2:58 PM ^

Michigan's white hockey jerseys on the right are kick ass.  Why doesn't Michigan replicate that same classic form for their blue hockey jerseys (blue with maize numerals?)

And secondly, where can I order one of those white hockey jerseys with custom name on the back?



June 3rd, 2010 at 3:04 PM ^

I wrote long-winded near-essays for the defense and forwards posts.  I would love to do the same here, but it would be even less insightful than either of the two previous posts, as it would likely have nothing to do with hockey. 

Hopefully the rest of the team is good enough that the goalie doesn't really matter, but is good enough and both goalies win lots of games.  I think this is very possible.  Having said that, my gut says that while Hunwick doesn't regress, Hogan returns more to form, they split most of the year, then when it comes down to it, Hogan is the starter for the end of the season and the post-season and Hunwick, unlike last year where he came in as a last-resort "you can't possibly do worse" (RPI) and an injury sub, comes in at the first sign of trouble.  Reasons?  I have none.  I might be biased be the fact that everyone else is giving the slight edge to Hunwick and I don't feel like agreeing.  I don't think either of them is going to be lights-out and I think both of them will be good enough for the team to win, so it doesn't really matter to me as long as they are winning.  And they will

Blue Balls

June 3rd, 2010 at 3:30 PM ^

with Hunwick in the net, the tempo of the game changed.   Over the years, I've noticed the same thing with pitchers and baseball.   Infielders and hitters  seem to step up their game when certain guys get on the mound.


June 3rd, 2010 at 6:40 PM ^

I know it probably doesn't mean much, but we are actually getting a walk-on this year. His name is Adam Janeck, I went to grade school with him for a couple years. I'm not expecting much, but you never know what can happen when a walk-on walks in for an injured starter...


June 3rd, 2010 at 9:11 PM ^

that he is a goalie?  If so, do you know if Patrick Summers is going to be on the team again next year?  I guess with the lack of goalies after this season you take what you can get when you can get it and I guess he doesn't have to dress, but that's a lot of goalies.

Good for him!  Hopefully he'll have a blast and win a National Championship ;-)