Friday, Minnesota 3 - Michigan 2 OT
Going into Friday night, the Gophers were sitting in first place in the B1G with a 5-point cushion. Any combination of 2 points (whether they got 'em, or Wisconsin dropped 2) would clinch the inaugural B1G conference's regular season title. They left Yost with those 2 points and said title.
Things started badly for Michigan at the 9:20 mark of the 1st period when Minnesota's Brady Skjei put the Gophers up 1-0. Skejei gloved the puck out of the air at the blue line and took his shot from there, and clearly caught Zach Nagelvoort off-guard.
Evan Allen evened things up with his third score of the season on an awkward angle score from the corner and behind the goal line. When's the last time you saw a goal from behind the line? Yeah, I thought so. Andrew Copp lit the lamp for the 14th time this season (and for the first time in seven games) as he charged hard for the net with Minnesota's Taylor Cammarata racing with him for dear life. The puck went in and the net came off its moorings, but the Wolverines had just gone up 2-1.
Michigan out shot the Gophers 11 to 9 in the first period, but Minnesota would turn the tables and take 11 shots to Michigan's 7 in the second frame. Only one of Minnesota's 11 shots made it to the back of the net, this time off the stick of Justin Kloos with 2:08 to go in the period and a PING off the crossbar. The shot was elegantly described as a "wicked wrister" by ESPN's John Buccigross. The teams would go into the second intermission knotted at 2-all.
After a scoreless third period that saw a combined 10 shots between the two teams (with some fantastic missed opportunities), there came the dreaded overtime session. Michigan had numerous chances to take the lead, but were once again stymied by the goaltending of Adam Wilcox. At least this time around there weren't any frustrations that turned into major penalties for the Wolverines.
Going into the extra frame, Minnesota brought an 0-0-6 OT record, while the Wolverines brought a 3-1-4 record. Of course, you could feel that Michigan was going to drop this one, and once the officials blew the whistle on Derek DeBlois for hooking, the game was over. It was a penalty that had to be made, though, as Mike Reilly was charging at Nagelvoort all alone. If DeBlois didn't do something at that point, the game probably would have ended at that moment. Instead, he put his team down a man, but still gave them a chance to try and pull out the victory.
The effort by DeBlois was for naught, as Kyle Rau scored the OT power play winner, giving the Gophers the first-ever B1G regular season title.
Saturday, Michigan 6 - Minnesota 2
Since the Gophers already had the regular season championship locked up, Minnesota head coach Don Lucia started senior netminder Michael Shibrowski in place of star goalie Adam Wilcox. That change was blood in the water for Michigan on Senior Night.
Although the Gophers out shot Michigan 11 to 5 and won 10 of 17 face-offs in the first period, Michigan held the 1-0 lead going into the first intermission.
It was the second period that saw the Michigan offense go into a full-on feeding frenzy.
Luke Moffat scored his first of two goals in the period when a shot by Michael Downing ricocheted off the glass behind Shibrowski, allowing Moffat to swat at the puck in mid-air to find the back of the net for the 2-0 lead. It was Moffat again on the give-and-go from JT Compher on the power play which put the Wolverines up 3-0 at the 14:50 mark of the second frame. With 6:39 to go in the second period, Zach Hyman got ahead of the Minnesota defender and took his shot from the face-off dot, increasing the lead to 4-0 Michigan.
But wait, my friends, Phil DiGiuseppe also got into the second period action and took a shot from just inside the blue line to continue the rout at 5-0. Zach Nagelvoort was hot as hot could be in the shutout until Brady Skjei ripped the puck past him for Minnesota's first score of the match.
As with the quick start to the second period, the Wolverines were able to score just 30 seconds into the third period. Tyler Motte poked the puck away from Minnesota's Hudson Fasching, which left the puck loose down the ice and ready for Andrew Copp to take the backhand shot through Shibrowski's 5-hole. 6-1 Michigan.
Minnesota would add one more score before the end, but the result of the game was never really in question. Sure, we could debate whether Minnesota really had anything to play for, but you gotta play to win, right? Maybe they were, maybe they weren't. Either way, Michigan walked away with a rout of the number one team in the country, at home, and on Senior Night.
Michigan will now look for some redemption in the B1G Tournament. They are, of course, matched up with Penn State. Yes, the same Penn State team whose only two wins came at the expense of our Wolverines. Another failure against the Nittany Lions certainly means a second year of no Frozen Four. Although a win doesn't necessarily guarantee a spot, it isn't going to hurt, either. The game will be at either 3:00 ET or 8:00 ET on March 20th in St. Paul and will be televised on BTN. Go Blue!