If the Big Ten ever returns its hockey tournament to a single-site format, as was the case for the conference’s inception, michigan hockey Might have a suggestion: 3M Arena at Mariucci’s in Minneapolis.
For the second consecutive season, the second-seeded Wolverines went into the den of top-seeded Minnesota and came out with a 4–3 victory to claim the Big Ten title and the conference’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines dominated 58 minutes last season. Saturday’s matchup was tight, with the teams trading the lead several times, but the Wolverines won again.
Sophomore Dylan Duke scored off his backhand with 8:14 remaining in the third period to give Michigan its second straight Big Ten Tournament title and assure the Wolverines (24-11-3) of the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The 16-team field will be announced Sunday night on ESPNU. Minnesota is also expected to be the No. 1 seed, with Quinnipiac, which lost to Michigan in the regional final last season, and Denver, which defeated Michigan in the Frozen Four, also potential top seeds.
Bracket:Michigan hockey making second consecutive title game
Meet Wolverine:3 players to learn
evenly matched through the two periods
Minnesota opened the scoring with a snip from Brodie Lamb past Michigan goaltender Eric Portillo on the left side. Star freshman Logan Culley, the No. 3 overall pick in last summer’s NHL draft and one of two Hobey Baker Award finalists playing at Mariucci’s on Saturday night, pounced on a loose puck at center ice and in the right offensive zone I went , flanked by a pair of Michigan defensemen. After getting their attention, he slid the puck to Lamb, who held it for half a second before firing a wrist shot for the score.
Michigan had to wait until the second period for the match. Just over three minutes in, freshman Gavin Brindley took the puck to the back of the net, then fired past Ethan Eriksson waiting in the left circle. Eriksson fired a one-timer, but Minnesota goaltender Justen Klose was on it, blocking the shot but allowing a rebound in front. Freshman Rutger McGarty swooped in and hit the close past on Michigan’s eighth shot.
Shot No. 9 put the Wolverines in command of the game. About 30 seconds after McGarty’s goal, Michigan was again caught in Minnesota’s zone after a faceoff win by Adam Fantilie, the other Hobe Baker finalist playing on Saturday. The freshman dropped the puck to defenseman Keaton Pehrson, who fired a shot that went wide to the right, hit the boards and bounced to the left side of the net where McGarty was waiting. The Winnipeg Jets’ 2022 first-round pick put the puck into the net before Close could even find the opposite of the net, taking a 2–1 lead with 16:14 remaining in the second.
But Michigan’s lead lasted just under five minutes when Jimmy Snugrud picked up a loose puck and drove into Michigan territory with Cooley to his left for a two-on-none. As Snugerud dropped the puck to Cooley, his US teammate at the World Juniors last winter, Portillo tried to break up the pass. He missed, but Cooley didn’t, making it a 2–2 game with 10:49 remaining in the period.
The Golden Gophers almost made it 3–2 only 24 seconds later. Matthew Nees, driving into the net, tripped and collided with Portillo in the crease. Portillo slid back, opening the net just as a Gopher picked up the rebound and fired it in. As Minnesota celebrated, the referee waved the score and called a tripping penalty on Michigan’s star defenseman Luke Hughes. Michigan was then able to kick a penalty in the third with a tie.
three for all
Rhett Pitlick edged his way through a pair of Michigan defenders, then snipped Michigan goaltender Eric Portillo with 1:57 left in the third period to give the Golden Gophers a 3–2 lead. But Wolverine was not done; About three minutes later, freshman defenseman Seamus Casey tied it up with a blast from near the blue line that worked its way through the crowd and missed McGarty’s stick. Minnesota challenged the goal on a missed offside call, but the officials ruled it a fair goal.
Michigan and the rest of the Big Ten’s NCAA contenders — near-certain at-large picks Minnesota, Ohio State and Penn State — will find their way to the Frozen Four (scheduled for April 6-8 in Tampa, Florida). :30 p.m. Sunday when the field is revealed on ESPNU.
Michigan State has the potential for two additional NCAA squads, with Michigan Tech (24-0-4) and Western Michigan (23-14-1) positioning themselves for at-large berths. The Huskies are led by senior goalie Blake Pietila, one of 10 Hobey Baker finalists, while the Broncos feature senior forward Jason Poulin, who leads the nation in goals (29) to make the final cut for Hobey Baker.
This year’s four-team regionals are in Fargo, North Dakota; Manchester, New Hampshire; Allentown, Pennsylvania; and Bridgeport, Connecticut. The Golden Gophers and Denver Pioneers (the defending national champions) are both 1-seed contenders with appeals to the Fargo Regional, while Quinnipiac in Bridgeport is the likely No. 1. He leaves Manchester or Allentown for Wolverine. Michigan was the first seed in Allentown last season and defeated AIC and Quinnipiac to advance to the program’s 26.th Frozen Four – Most in NCAA history.
Disappointment in Mankato
Meanwhile, Mankato, Minnesota, fell short of a surprise run to the CCHA title at Northern Michigan; The Wildcats, who had improbably reeled off six straight wins to make the finals, narrowly missed out on their first NCAA tournament berth since 2010. The Wildcats took a 2–0 lead in the final two minutes, thanks to a pair of goals from Alex Fry. But the Mavericks scored twice in 82 seconds to make it 2–2. Ultimately, Zach Krajnik scored with 1:08 remaining in the extra period to propel the Mavericks back to the NCAA Tournament in 2022 as the national runner-up.
This article was originally published on the Detroit Free Press: Michigan hockey defeats Minnesota 4-3 to win second straight Big Ten title