It was not only the largest crowd ever to see an ice hockey game, anywhere.
The Big Chill at the The Big House on Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor, Mich., was witnessed by 113,411 people, the largest crowd ever to see a sporting event in the state of Michigan and also the largest crowd ever to watch an NCAA event in any sport.
Yes, larger than any college football game. Ever.
It was Michigan 5, Michigan State 0 at Michigan Stadium. The game was played in 40 degree weather with eight mile per hour winds for a windchill of 36 degrees in the football stadium. There was no snow.
But there was a lot of hard-hitting action.
“It wasn’t bad was it?,” asked Michigan coach Red Berenson after the contest.
The win lifts Michigan, ranked No. 12 in the latest USA TODAY college poll, to 10-5-4 overall and 9-3-1 in Central Collegiate Hockey Association play. MSU falls to 6-9-3, 3-8-1.
Michigan jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one period and goalie Shawn Hunwick, a former walk-on, held on to post the first shutout for the Wolverines all season.
Hunwick was the unlikely hero for the Wolverines. Standing only 5-foot-7, Hunwick is the younger brother of Matt Hunwick a former Michigan captain, now playing for the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL.
Hunwick was not supposed to start Saturday’s game. He had a record of only 2-3-4 this season, mostly splitting time with senior Brian Hogan, who is 7-2-0. But Hogan suffered a groin injury in pregame warmups, just 30 minutes prior to the game.
Hogan needed to ride a golf cart to get to the lockerroom while Hunwick got the start.
“I was scared,” Hunwick said as he looked up at the record crowd for a hockey game.
“Obviously, he was ready,” said Berenson.
Hunwick made 34 saves to pick up the win. And it wasn’t the first time he was called on to save the Michigan hockey team.
Last year, the Wolverines got off to a sluggish start and late in the season needed to go on a winning streak to just qualify for the NCAA playoffs for a record 20thstraight year. Again, Hogan was injured and Hunwick came off the bench to go 8-2-0 and was named tournament MVP as Michigan won the CCHA championship.
Hunwick grew up in Sterling Heights, Mich., as a big Michigan football fan. He remembers watching Charles Woodson win the Heisman Trophy for the Wolverines in the late 1990s.
Michigan freshman Jon Merrill got Michigan off to a great start with two goals. Carl Hagelin added two goals for the winners and Matt Rust had three assists. David Wohlberg also scored for the winners.
After the game the three stars of the game were announced (Merrill was the first start) and Hunwick was not among the top three. Still, his Michigan teammates, shoved Hunwick toward center ice to take a bow.
“I don’t really like all the attention,” Hunwick said.
But he earned it Saturday on the biggest stage of all.
For more information: mgoblue, annarbor.com, Detroit News