In the first game, Michigan out-shot Notre Dame (35-29), dominated the faceoff circle (43-28), and was called for one less penalty. Knowing only that, you would have assumed the Wolverines cruised to victory. However, that was not the case on Friday.
The Irish did a great job of stifling Michigan’s offense, namely limiting Adam Fantilli’s chances to score or create for others. Despite the Wolverines’ shot advantage, most of the shots were low quality and had no chance at beating one of the nation’s top goaltenders in Ryan Bishcel.
Offensively, Notre Dame was excellent in the crease screening Erik Portillo — who continued to be “feast or famine” for the Wolverines in net — for the majority of the evening and created timely scoring chances for their below-average offense.
The game was a back and forth affair with each team having their moments. Michigan opened up the scoring in an electric four-goal first period when TJ Hughes went coast-to-coast for the rare unassisted power play goal.
Notre Dame responded with a pair of its own before the Wolverines answered with an equalizer courtesy of a Gavin Brindley rocket. The two teams drew even zeroes in the second and entered the third period deadlocked at two apiece.
Early in the final period, Notre Dame regained the lead and it looked like its defensive style was going to carry them to victory. But with 1:57 remaining, Fantilli finally broke through with the equalizer and forced OT.
The two teams stalemated in the extra frame and the Irish claimed the extra point in a dull shootout which saw one goal scored between the two teams’ six chances.
Michigan fell to 0-1-2 without Luke Hughes the last two years, but there was a silver lining in between games one and two.
After Ohio State fell for the second-straight night to Minnesota, and Wisconsin shocked Penn State on the road, Michigan officially clinched the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
The Wolverines will welcome the Wisconsin Badgers to Yost next Friday. But before Michigan prepared for the conference tournament, the Wolverines had their hands full with the Irish on senior night, and would also welcome back All-Universe defenseman Luke Hughes to the lineup.
Game two was extremely physical and reminiscent of the contests between these two teams in 2021. Adam Fantilli lost his cool late in the first period and his night was over.
The young freshman needs to learn the line between standing up for himself and playing undisciplined, because Notre Dame wrote a blueprint on how to defend and frustrate the young forward.
Through two periods, there were more major penalties than goals, and despite dominating possession and outshooting Notre Dame 22-13, Michigan had nothing to show for it.
Entering the third period tied at zero, Notre Dame broke the scoring drought by capitalizing on its sixth power play of the game at the 16:25 mark. But, just like the night before, a Seamus Casey feed found Rutger McGroarty in front of the net for the tying goal, with half the period remaining.
Although the Wolverines again dominated the the final 10 minutes of the period, they were unable to break the tie. They entered overtime out-shooting Notre Dame 49-19. Michigan’s 49 shots were the second-most the Wolverines have had on goal this season.
On a rush in overtime, Notre Dame was able to fire home a rebound past Portillo and claim a 2-1 victory.
Michigan has not beaten Notre Dame at Yost since 2018 and similarly to last year, the Wolverines will limp into the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 2 seed. Can they regain their mojo and again skate to a Big Ten Championship? We’ll soon find out, as their best-of-three first round matchup with Wisconsin begins March 3.