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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Michigan takes third in CCHA Tournament

Wolverines draw North Dakota in regionals

After suffering a 4-1 defeat Friday night to Michigan State, Michigan still had something to play for Saturday night and beat Northern Michigan, 3-2, for third place in the CCHA Tournament.

Defenseman Matt Hunwick scored his second goal of the game midway through the third period and T.J. Hensick added a pair for the Wolverines.

"I was coming down the left side and Andrew Ebbett had the puck," explained Hunwick. "I was trying to do something similar to my first goal, coming in the back door and looking for a pass. I realized I wasn't going to be able to get to the puck, so I kind of spun back and gave it a turnaround slap shot. I didn't even see where it went, but it went in."

Hensick said the help on the back end is to be expected from U-M.

"It's huge," Hensick said. "It is almost what we expect from those guys back there. They have been helping us out all year, especially in big-time situations."

Noah Ruden made 30 saves in net and also assisted on Hunwick's first goal.

Matt Ciancio and Darin Olver scored for the Wildcats while Bill Zaniboni stopped 39 shots.

"I had to give the team a chance to win, do everything I could do," said Zaniboni. "Our guys played hard, our forwards came back, we cleared rebounds out, and we played hard against the wall and won some battles."

Hunwick was named to the All-Tournament Team at the conclusion of the championship final.

Then today, Michigan learned they had qualified for the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed and will open this Friday in North Dakota against the No. 2 seed Fighting Sioux in the West Regional. The Michigan-North Dakota winner will advance to play at 9 p.m. Saturday against the winner of No. 1 seed and No. 1-ranked Minnesota and No. 4 seed Holy Cross.

"Well, first of all, from day one, I've said we're fortunate to be in the tournament, no matter who we play or where we play," Michigan head coach Red Berenson said. "The way that the bracketing came down, this is probably the toughest challenge out of all the brackets, but we can't expect any less."

Hunwick-Hensick press conference photo by Matt Mackinder

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