After a four-hour cross country flight that caused him to miss Tuesday’s morning skate, newly acquired Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick
had just enough time to catch his breath and grab a meal before meeting his new teammates.
Then, it was off to work.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound blueliner was acquired by the Avs Monday from the Boston Bruins in exchange for defensive prospect Colby Cohen. From that point until the time he laced up the skates for his new team, all that was on his mind was getting to the Mile High City and playing his first game as the newest member of Colorado’s youthful lineup.
“It’s exciting to be here. It’s a very young team and it’s exciting to be part of that young core,” said Hunwick.
Known as a mobile, puck-moving defenseman, Hunwick’s strengths should mesh nicely with an Avalanche team regarded within the hockey community as one of the NHL’s fastest teams.
“I’m looking forward to playing a little bit more up-tempo,” said Hunwick. “From everything I’ve seen, there’s a lot more energy and a lot more skating (in the Western Conference) and that suits my game. I’m looking forward to being a part of that.”
Hunwick played 16:52 in his Avalanche debut, a 3-2 overtime loss to the Atlanta Thrashers, while paired primarily with Ryan Wilson
during even-strength situations. He also tied for the team lead with five hits, blocked one shot and fired two shots on goal
The Warren, Mich., native also saw time at one of the points on the Avalanche’s second power-play unit and played 3:05 on the penalty kill, skating across from Kyle Quincey in both situations.
One player thrilled to see Hunwick in an Avalanche sweater is forward Kevin Porter
. The pair previously crossed paths at the University of Michigan, where they played together for three seasons (2004-07) and helped the Wolverines earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament each year.
“He’s one of my good friends,” Porter said of Hunwick. “He’s a great player and a great skater, so it’s going to be a good addition to our team.”
Since leaving the confines of Yost Ice Arena, Hunwick and Porter have kept in touch and remain great friends. In fact, they not only work out together in Ann Arbor over the summer, but are also business partners. The pair jointly runs a management company that owns houses in the Ann Arbor area and rents them out to college students.
Needless to say, Porter was ecstatic when the news leaked of Hunwick’s impending arrival in Denver.
“I knew he was going to be pretty busy with phone calls and trying to get everything organized and set up, so I gave him a little time and called him a couple hours after I had heard about the trade,” said Porter. “It’s going to be great. When I was in Phoenix and San Antonio I was teammates with Chad Kolarik, another one of my good friends, and it’s great to have someone you’re close with on the team, someone you’ve known for eight years.”Game Notes
The Avalanche’s other defensive pairings against the Thrashers were Kyle Quincey/Kevin Shattenkirk and John-Michael Liles/Ryan O’Byrne…David Koci played his first game of the season after missing the Avalanche’s sitting out the Avalanche’s first 23 contests – the first 16 due to a jaw injury suffered during a preseason fight against the Los Angeles Kings and the past seven as a healthy scratch…Greg Mauldin
, who had four points (2g/2a) in Colorado’s last game against the Minnesota Wild, spent most of the night skating on a line with David Jones
and Matt Duchene
’ power-play goal in the third period was his 11th of the season, tying him with the injured Chris Stewart for the team lead.