Michigan hockey beat Minnesota, 4-3, for second straight Big Ten hockey championship title
If the Big Ten returns the hockey tournament to a single site format, as it was at the start of the conference, Michigan Hockey You might have a suggestion: Mariucci’s 3M Arena in Minneapolis.
For the second straight season, the second seeded Wolverines went into the lair of number one seed Minnesota and came away with a 4-3 win to claim the Big Ten title and the conference’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. Last season, the Wolverines dominated with 58 minutes. Saturday’s game was tighter, as the teams traded the lead several times, but the Wolverines prevailed again.
Commodores Dylan Duke scored a backhand with 8:14 left in the third period to give Michigan its second straight Big Ten championship title and almost confirm the Wolverines (24-11-3) from No. Top seed in the NCAA Tournament. The 16-team stadium will be announced Sunday night on ESPNU. Minnesota is also expected to be #1. The top seed, with Quinnipiac, which lost to Michigan in the regional final last season, and Denver, which beat Michigan in the Frozen Four, are also likely to be the top seed.
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Matched evenly over two periods
Minnesota opened the scoring with a Brodie Lamb shot past Michigan goaltender Eric Portillo on the left side. Star freshman Logan Cooley, no. 3 overall pick in the NHL Draft last summer and one of two finalists for the Hobey Baker Award to play Mariucci on Saturday night, pulled into a loose puck in center ice and driven into the right-side offensive zone, blown by a pair of Michigan defensemen. After catching their attention, he tipped the ball to Lamb, who held it for half a second before unleashing a wrist shot for the score.
Michigan had to wait until the second half to get into the game. After just over three minutes had gone, debutant Gavin Brindley loaded the ball behind the net, then fired at a waiting Ethan Ericsson in the left circle. Erickson fired a one-time shot, but Minnesota goaltender Justin Close connected with it, blocking the shot but allowing the rebound up front. Flyer Rutger McGararty pounced and bunted the ball past Close on Michigan’s eighth shot.
Shot number 9 gave the Wolverines the lead of the game. About 30 seconds after McGararty’s goal, Michigan once again got the puck in Minnesota territory after Saturday’s finalist Hobey Baker, Adam Fantelli, beat the finalist. The puck was brought down by freshman defender Keaton Pearson, who unleashed a shot that went wide on the right side, hit the boards and bounced into the left side of the net where McGararty was waiting. Then the Winnipeg Jets 2022 first-round draft pick swept the ball into the net before Kloss could reach the reverse of the net, for a 2-1 lead with 16:14 left in the second.
But Michigan’s lead only lasted five minutes as Jimmy Snuggerud picked up a loose puck and headed into Michigan territory with Cooley on his left side for a two-to-none run. When Snuggerud tipped the ball to Cooley, a fellow American at World Juniors last winter, Portillo had to break up the pass. He missed, but Cooley didn’t, making it a 2-2 game with 10:49 left in the period.
The Golden Gophers nearly made it 3-2 after just 24 seconds. Matthew Kniss, who was driving towards the net, was tripped and shot at Portillo at the crease. Sliding back, Portillo opened the net just as the Gophers picked up the rebound and fired it inside. With Minnesota celebrating, the referees chipped away at the score and declared a penalty on Michigan’s star defenseman Luke Hughes. Michigan was then able to kill the punt to head into the third to tie the game.
Three for all
Rhett Pitlick forced his way through a pair of Michigan defenders, then hit the puck past Michigan goaltender Eric Portillo 1:57 into the third period to give the Golden Gophers a 3-2 lead. But the Wolverines are not finished. About three minutes later, freshman defender Seamus Casey hooked it up with a blast from near the blue line that forced its way through the crowd and lost McGararty’s stick. Minnesota challenged the goal on a missed call, but the officials deemed it a good goal.
Michigan and the rest of the Big Ten’s NCAA contenders — almost certain major picks Minnesota, Ohio and Penn State — will spot their paths to the Frozen Four (scheduled in Tampa, Fla., April 6-8) at 6:30 p.m. Sunday when the field is revealed. on ESPNU.
Michigan State has two more potential NCAA teams, with Michigan Tech (24-0-4) and Western Michigan (23-14-1) positioning themselves for big berths. The Attackers are led by senior goaltender Blake Petila, another of the Hobey Baker’s Ten Finalists, while the Broncos feature senior forward Jason Pullen, who leads the nation in goals (29) in reaching the Hobey Baker Finals.
This year’s four-team regional competition is in Fargo, North Dakota; Manchester, New Hampshire; Allentown, Pennsylvania; and Bridgeport, Connecticut. The Golden Gophers and Denver Pioneers (the national title holders) are both class-one contenders with Fargo regional appeal, while Quinnipiac is probably the standout number. 1 in Bridgeport. That leaves Manchester or Allentown to the Wolverines. Michigan was the top seed in Allentown last season and beat AIC and Quinnipiac to advance to 26th in the program.y Frozen Four – the most in NCAA history.
Disappointed in Mankato
Meanwhile, in Mankato, Minnesota, Northern Michigan fell short of the CCHA title. The Wildcats, who won six straight to make the Finals improbably, narrowly missed out on their first berth in the NCAA Tournament since 2010. The Wildcats took a 2-0 lead in the final two minutes, thanks to two goals from Alex Frye. But the Mavericks scored twice in 82 seconds to tie the game at 2-2. Finally, Zach Krajnick scored 1:08 into the extra period to put the Mavericks, who finished national runner-up in 2022, back into the NCAA Tournament.
This article originally appeared on the Detroit Free Press: Michigan hockey beat Minnesota, 4-3, for their second straight Big Ten title