- Sep 9, 2015
- Reaction score
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Michigan hockey team got revenge on Notre Dame, avenging two regular-season sweeps with a 2-1 victory over the Fighting Irish on Saturday night in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals. With the victory, the Wolverines advance to the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game against Minnesota.
In front of a packed and raucous Yost Ice Arena crowd, Brendan Brisson scored the go-ahead goal at 16:01 of the third period, and Erik Portillo made 19 saves to seal the result. The netminder was mobbed by his teammates as the final horn sounded.
Brisson’s winner came after Jacob Truscott was able to win the puck in the attacking zone. He dished to Matty Beniers, who found Brisson in the right circle, and the sophomore didn’t miss with his wrister.
Michigan got on the board at 3:46 of the second period on a beautiful attack from the team’s second line. Kent Johnson carried the puck into the attacking zone and dropped a pass to Matty Beniers. The center fired a pass Brendan Brisson and crashed the back post on the give-and-go, where Beniers finished the sequence of sharp transition hockey.
Notre Dame equalized eight minutes later, taking advantage of a lucky break — a Michigan clearance blocked inadvertently by a referee. The sustained pressure resulted in a scrum in front of Erik Portillo, and Detroit Red Wings prospect Jack Adams poked it in.
The first period was an even one in which neither team generated many opportunities until the closing minutes, when Michigan had a lengthy 5-on-3 power play. But the Wolverines were sloppy with the two-man advantage — at one point, botching a line change and playing with just four skaters — and didn’t capitalize on the opportunity.
But Michigan got just enough from its offense, particularly in the third period, when the Wolverines dominated. Portillo was excellent when called upon; his diving save of Max Ellis at 6:59 of the second period was one highlight of many for the Wolverines, who got their long-awaited win over Notre Dame.
What it means
In the long run, the game means little. Michigan is a virtual lock to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and Saturday’s result doesn’t change that. The Irish will also make the tournament and play the type of hockey that can lead to a deep run in the single-elimination format.
But don't tell the sold-out Yost crowd that the result wasn't massive. The Wolverines will now play for a trophy, and finally beating Notre Dame is a sign the team can take down anyone come tournament time. Michigan played a clean game and put together possibly its best 60 minutes — a great sign at this point in the season. In addition, every win is helpful when it comes to seeding, the Wolverines are still in contention for the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
What comes next
Michigan will play at Minnesota next weekend in the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game.
The NCAA Tournament bracket will be announced on Sunday, March 20. Should Michigan reach it, the Frozen Four will be held at TD Garden in Boston from April 7-9