The Michigan Wolverines (24-11-3) are back-to-back Big Ten Tournament champions! Following a 4-3 victory on the road against Minnesota, the Wolverines are once again riding a wave of momentum into the NCAA Tournament.
Similar to last year’s championship game, Minnesota was quickly out to a 1-0 lead, but Michigan was not as quick to respond this year. Finally, in the second period, the Wolverines broke through; more specifically, Rutger McGroarty broke through.
Within a span of 34 seconds, the young freshman scored two goals to put Michigan ahead 2-1 before the Gophers could blink. First, it was a put-back goal after a Gavin Brindley shot was deflected, and then it was a Keaton Pehrson shot that careened off the boards to the weak-side of the net that landed gingerly on McGroarty’s stick.
However, Minnesota collected and responded before the end of the period, it was knotted at two goals apiece entering the final frame.
In the third, Minnesota made quick work of a one-on-one opportunity and took a 3-2 lead. The Wolverines would battle back within the next five minutes on the strength of a Seamus Casey blast from the point for the equalizer.
With 8:14 remaining, Michigan struck again. Freshman TJ Hughes kept the puck in Minnesota’s zone on a clearing attempt, found the omnipresent net-front presence of Dylan Duke, who scored what would become the game-winning goal.
For the first time in Michigan’s three games at Mariucci, the Wolverines did not blow a third-period lead and closed out the Gophers to claim their second consecutive Big Ten Tournament crown.
Michigan was brilliant last night; the Wolverines out-shot the Gophers 32-25 and only committed two penalties the entire contest. Winners of four in a row, Michigan is one of the hottest teams in the country and could be selected as high as the third No. 1 seed — and as low as the fourth No. 1 seed — for the NCAA Tournament.
The team will find out officially today on Selection Sunday, but the Wolverines are guaranteed an opportunity. Michigan is once again four wins away from the National Championship and riding a tsunami of hope and momentum into the final tournament of the season.
It’s great...to be... a Michigan Wolverine! (Remove the interim tag, Warde)
1- Rutger McGroarty: 2 goals, 1 assist
2- Gavin Brindley: 3 assists
3-Erik Portillo: Stopped 22-of-25 shots, but the numbers do not do his performance justice.