No. 3 Michigan Hockey falls in second place after an ugly loss to No. 11 Minnesota
There’s a new team in first place in the Big Ten.
No. 3 Michigan and No. 11 Minnesota were selected as the top two teams at the conference that season, entering the game on Friday at the Yost Ice Arena in first and second places, respectively.
But they flopped after the Golden Gophers struck a dominant 5-1 win at Ann Arbor.
Both teams are crammed with NHL talent. Minnesota (10-7, 6-3) has 15 draft picks on its list – most in the NCAA – while Michigan (12-5, 5-4) has the only college team in history with seven first-round selections is.
But it was the Gophers’ talent that really came into its own on Friday. Minnesota generated numerous Odd Man Russians in the first third alone and took advantage of an 8:33 goal from defender Brock Faber, a 2020 second-round pick, from an 8:33 game. Striker Chaz Lucius, number 18 overall in 2021, extended their lead with goals in the period and the team could probably have had a few more if Erik Portillo hadn’t parried in time.
Freshman striker Dylan Duke, a 2021 Tampa Bay Lightning four-round pick, appeared to get the Wolverines on the board at 11:34 a.m. of the second period, but Minnesota challenged offside and won the game 3-0.
“We have to manage the game better,” said Michigan’s head coach Mel Pearson. “By that I mean we have to make sure we don’t give them the odd number of rushes we did tonight. We were just sloppy in this area. We think too much offensive and that never works when you get into a game against a really good team. We have to have a more defensive mindset and then just take advantage of the opportunities that arise. “
The Golden Gophers fed on the flipped call and continued to generate scoring opportunities. They went 5-0 into the third round, which prompted Pearson to take a move he hasn’t taken all season. Portillo had played every minute for Michigan in the first 16 games, but Pearson put in Noah West, a transfer from Robert Morris, in the third period. He stopped all eight shots he was facing while the Wolverines ended the shutout offer for Jack LaFontaine of Minnesota, who started his career in Michigan, with a goal from Thomas Bordeleau 1:33.
“I thought he was excellent,” Pearson said of West. “They got some pretty good looks at him and he was standing upright. I liked the way he played the puck because he probably hadn’t played since March. Getting into such a situation against your team is difficult. I thought it was excellent and really good. I think that’s one of the few positive things you can take away from this game. “
Minnesota have won five of their last six games last season. The two teams will be on the ice at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
“They are a big, heavy and experienced team,” said West. “You didn’t make it easy for us tonight. At the end of the day we have to come back tomorrow, get better and show them how we actually play. “