NAHL grad Shawn Hunwick signs with NHL's Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason took a puck to the mask during practice Wednesday morning, forcing the team to sign University of Michigan and former NAHL goaltender Shawn Hunwick to an amateur tryout contract.
The 5-foot-7 Hunwick, who will back up Allen York against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night, saw his collegiate career come to an end Friday when his Wolverines were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by Cornell.
"We had to get somebody in tonight," Columbus GM Scott Howson told reporters. "(Hunwick) was available, but we would consider signing him for rest of year, too."
An amateur tryout contract is a one-day contract that cannot be signed by any player with professional experience and does not count against the salary cap. It's typically the deal given to players when a team loses a goaltender to injury on the day of a game.
During his final two seasons at Michigan, Hunwick went 46-21-7 with a 2.12 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. He is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, an amazing accomplishment for a player who joined the Wolverines as a walk-on in 2007-08 and was red-shirted the following season.
Hunwick took over the starting job at the end of the 2009-10 season and reached the NCAA championship game in 2011, losing to Minnesota-Duluth 3-2 in overtime.
"He's had to fight for everything he's gotten and had to overcome a lot of things," Howson said.
Hunwick, who is the younger brother of Colorado Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick, is driving to Columbus from Ann Arbor, Mich., today. Wolverines teammate Lee Moffie (@ljmoffie) offered some words of encouragement via Twitter: "I wouldn't get too excited about @shawn_hunwick dressing in Columbus tonight, the chances of his '86 Ranger making it there are slim to none."
The team said Mason will be evaluated, and his health will determine if the Blue Jackets sign Hunwick or another goalie for the rest of the season.
Prior to attending the University of Michigan, Hunwick spent a year developing and playing in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) during the 2006-07 season for the Alpena IceDiggers. He appeared in 31 games for Alpena during the 2006-07 season, posting a 17-9-2 record.