After a slow first period, the Michigan Wolverines unleashed a historic offensive avalanche to overwhelm Colgate, 11-1, and advance to the NCAA Tournament Regional Final. Early in the game, however, it was clear the Raiders came to play spoiler.
Fresh off upset victories over Quinnipiac and Harvard in the ECAC Tournament, Colgate had no intentions of playing “just happy to be here” hockey. No, the Raiders wanted to win and ruin the Big Ten’s undefeated opening round in the NCAA Tournament.
The first period saw Michigan’s high-flying offense run into Colgate’s stifling neutral zone defense. The Wolverines continuously attempted to dump pucks and keep the pressure on the Raiders, but Colgate was up to the task as it cleared, played patient and waited for key opportunities to generate scoring-chances.
After sustaining offensive pressure on a few clearing attempts, Michigan finally broke through just before the halfway point in the first period. All-Universe defenseman Luke Hughes kept the puck in near the blue line, wrapped around the net and fed Grano (Nick Granowicz) on the doorstep to put Michigan up, 1-0.
The Wolverines out-shot Colgate 17-7 in the first period and played with a balance of aggression and discipline that carried over into the second period. About 7:30 into the second period, Michigan unleashed an avalanche scoring five goals in less than five minutes to blow this game open. FIVE GOALS IN LESS THAN FIVE MINUTES.
First, it was Eric Ciccolini batting home a rebound on a power play, and then it was Hobey Baker-front runner Adam Fantilli going coast-to-coast to make it 3-0. Frank Nazar got in on the action from a Jackson Hallum feed, and shortly after, a Luke Hughes blast found the stick of Mark Estapa for a redirect to make it 5-0. The final goal of the barrage — but not the period — came when Rutger McGroarty went top shelf from a Fantilli feed to make it 6-0.
After a few minutes of peace, Gavin Brindley scored with a blast from the slot, and Hughes found the back of the net on a shorthanded drive to the net to make it 8-0.
Michigan’s seven-goal period was the most goals scored in a single NCAA Tournament period since 1967, and tied for the third-most ever.
In the final period, the Wolverines had called off the dogs and Colgate finally scored to make it 8-1. Michigan was content to just skate this one out until a Colgate player shoved the butt-end of his stick into an unsuspecting Mackie Samoskevich, earning a five-minute major and an ejection.
Play stupid games, win stupid prizes; the Wolverines were back on the hunt.
On the major power play, Hughes scored his second of the night, Dylan Duke found a home for his top shelf blast, and a beautiful McGroarty backhand made it 11-1. The Wolverines glared at the Colgate bench as if to non-verbally ask if they wanted more.
It was like in Happy Gilmore when Bob Barker begins to walk away and says, “I think you’ve had enough.” But as Happy (Colgate) scrambles to get to his feet, Barker unleashes a punt-kick for the finish before retorting, “NOW, you’ve had enough.”
At 11-1, Colgate had finally had enough. Sixteen different Wolverines recorded a point and Michigan’s 11 goals were the most goals by a Michigan team in an NCAA Tournament game since 1961.
Up next, Penn State on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. with a trip to the Frozen Four on the line.
1-Luke Hughes (2 G, 2 A)
2-TJ Hughes (3 A, 10-of-14 on faceoffs)
3-Rutger McGroarty (2 G)