The Michigan hockey team had a golden opportunity in front of it this weekend in Duluth. Consider it seized.
With a 3-2 victory over No. 1 Minnesota State Saturday afternoon, the third-ranked Wolverines (4-0) claimed the Duluth Ice Breaker Tournament championship. The win over the Mavericks followed a 5-1 rout of No. 5 Minnesota Duluth Friday night.
After a scoreless first period in which Minnesota State outshot Michigan 8-3, the Wolverines jumped on the board first. The Mavericks’ Sam Morton took a penalty and just 15 seconds into the power play, senior defenseman Nick Blankenburg blasted one past All-American goaltender Dryden McKay. The goal was the first point of the season for the Wolverine captain.
Nick Blankenburg a rocket from the point from Luke Hughes and Michael Pastujov and Michigan takes the 1-0 lead on Minnesota State pic.twitter.com/HYRRfbMio5— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) October 16, 2021
But Michigan soon found itself on its heels. The Wolverines were sent to the penalty box three times in the second period, and while they killed off five minutes and 40 seconds while a man down, Minnesota State’s Ryan Sandelin scored off a rebound late in the Mavericks’ third power play.
Sandelin’s power play goal came five minutes after Julian Napravnik found the net to open things up for Minnesota State, which took a 2-1 lead and all the momentum into the second intermission.
The Wolverines fired back four minutes into the third period when Thomas Bordeleau tipped home a Jacob Truscott shot to tie it at two apiece.
Thomas Bordeleau redirects a drive by Jacob Truscott and we are tied at 2-2 4:20/3rd pic.twitter.com/xZl9ZIs2Ie— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) October 16, 2021
McKay showed why he’s an all-time college hockey great with a sprawling save on Kent Johnson to keep the score tied at 2-2 midway through the third period.
There has been a robbery! pic.twitter.com/0ZaKmLtfg5— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) October 16, 2021
But he couldn’t keep out Brendan Brisson’s shot from the right faceoff circle on a fast break with just over four minutes left, which gave Michigan the lead for good.
Brendan Brisson with the go-ahead goal from Thomas Bordeleau, Michigan 3, Minnesota State 2 pic.twitter.com/7vkV5Rv8mv— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) October 16, 2021
Plenty of credit on the play should go to Michael Pastujov, who did well to take up space in the middle of the ice and occupy one of two Maverick defenders, leaving Brisson all alone to receive Thomas Bordeleau’s pass.
The Wolverines had to kill off a Blankenburg penalty in the game’s final minutes, and Minnesota State made it a 6-on-4 by pulling McKay. But Erik Portillo (27 saves) stopped four shots late, Matty Beniers and Luke Hughes blocked shots and Michigan held on for the final.
Michigan, which received 16 votes atop the USCHO’s Top 20 poll last week and has a terrific case for the No. 1 spot when the next poll is released on Monday, will welcome Western Michigan to Ann Arbor for a two-game set Oct. 22-23.