Six Wolverines netted goals as No. 2 seed Michigan cruised past No. 3 seed Ohio State 7-3 in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals Saturday night.
The Wolverines (23-11-3) attacked the Buckeyes (20-14-3) early and often, scoring three goals in the opening and final 20 minutes to put Ohio State in a deficit it couldn’t overcome
Just 23 seconds into the game, freshman forward Gavin Brindley started the scoring by taking assists from freshman forward Adam Fantilli and sophomore defenseman Luke Hughes to net a puck past sophomore goalie Jakub Dobeš and give the Wolverines the 1-0 lead.
Ohio State thought it tied the game at 3:46 when junior forward Joe Dunlap rifled a puck past junior goalie Erik Portillo, but a challenge by Michigan deemed Dunlap was offsides. The goal was taken off the board.
A pair of defensemen doubled the Wolverines’ lead one minute later when freshman Seamus Casey took a feed from sophomore Ethan Edwards to make it 2-0.
Michigan wasn’t done, as sophomore forward Mackie Samoskevich scored his 19th goal to make it 3-0 at 10:27 with assists from defensemen senior Keaton Pehrson and Hughes to finish the electric opening period for the Wolverines.
The teams played a clean opening period, with neither side whistled for a penalty. Shots were 14-11 in favor of the Wolverines.
In the second period, Hughes was called for cross-checking to give the Buckeyes their first power play opportunity of the night.
Ohio State cashed in, getting on the board at 11:43 via fifth-year forward and captain Jake Wise’s ninth power play goal, tying him for tops in the Big Ten with Fantilli. Junior forward Travis Treloar and sophomore defenseman Cole McWard assisted on the score.
However, the Wolverines would answer. After a Buckeye turnover off a faceoff, Fantilli took feeds from Brindley and freshman forward Rutger McGroarty to make it 4-1 Michigan at 17:05.
Michigan maintained control of the offensive zone in the middle period, outshooting Ohio State again 14-9. Both teams committed two penalties in the 20-minute session.
The final 20 minutes saw more offensive fireworks, with five combined goals scored. Treloar cut into Michigan’s lead at 1:32 via the power play off a dish from sophomore defenseman Mason Lohrei to make it 4-2.
Freshman forward Jackson Hallum shut down the Buckeyes’ rally again, winning a faceoff and instantly netting his sixth goal of the campaign past Dobeš to make it 5-2 Michigan.
In a last-ditch effort, Ohio State emptied its net with around five minutes remaining to have a six-on-five advantage needing three goals. The move worked initially, with sophomore forward Cam Thiesing taking assists from Wise and freshman forward Stephen Halliday to cut the deficit to 5-3 with 4:26 remaining.
Michigan, however, was not fazed, scoring two empty-netters from Fantilli and McGroarty to seal the 7-3 victory. Fantilli’s four-point night added to his nation-leading total at 60.
Ohio State was excellent on special teams, going 2-3 on the powerplay and killing all three Michigan opportunities. Both teams ended the night with three penalties.
In the battle of goalies, Portillo was victorious, with three goals surrendered and 35 saves tallied. Dobeš and the Buckeye defense couldn’t hold off the Wolverines’ attack, allowing seven goals and 38 saves tallied.
Shots totaled 45-38 in favor of Michigan.
Ohio State awaits its fate for a potential at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. The bracket will be unveiled on March 19.
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