The Michigan Wolverines (29-9-1) are your 2021-22 Big Ten Tournament champions for the second time in program history and the first time since 2016. Michigan defeated Minnesota for the third time this season, 4-3, but the game was far more one-sided than the final score would indicate.
However, it was far from an ideal start for Michigan when Minnesota forward Jaxson Nelson took a beautiful stretch pass and put the Gophers ahead 1-0 just 32 seconds into the contest.
Michigan quickly answered when Brendan Brisson went five-hole on a great feed from linemate Matty Beniers to even the score less than a minute later. Brisson is now riding a two-game goal scoring stretch after going scoreless in his first three games back from the Olympics.
Late in the first period, freshman Mackie Samsokevich had a pass —intended for Dylan Duke— deflect off a Gopher defender to put the Wolverines ahead 2-1 entering the first intermission.
Just 2:06 into the second stanza, Samsokevich was finally able to connect with Duke. Duke settled a pass and quickly buried a backdoor feed to put Michigan ahead 3-1.
Later in the second, the lethal Michigan power play struck gold as Kent Johnson rocketed a one-timer past Minnesota goalie Justen Close. Johnson’s goal was Michigan’s fourth unanswered and would prove the difference late in this one.
Due to penalties and a pulled goalie, Minnesota scored twice in the final minute of the third period while holding six on three and six on four man-advantages to close the game. But, too little to late for the Gophers and the Wolverines secured victory 4-3.
Sophomore center Thomas Bordeleau notched two helpers and continued to swing momentum at key times with his work in the face-off circle.
The Big Ten All-Tournament team’s six places consisted of five Wolverines: Brisson, Beneirs, Samsokevich, and freshman defenseman sensation Luke Hughes were named to the All-Tournament team alongside their Super Swede in net who took home the tournament’s highest honor.
Goaltender Erik Portillo earned Most Outstanding Player of the Big Ten Tournament while enjoying one of the hottest streaks of his career. Portillo anchored the Wolverines during their four tournament games, stopping 90 of the 95 shots he faced.
From one of the biggest question marks to begin the season to Most Outstanding Player, Portillo has answered every question he faced this season.
The NCAA Tournament selection show will take place tonight at 6:30 p.m. and play will begin later this week.