» Adam Fantilli notched another four-point game (two goals, two assists) to reach 60 points this season.
» Gavin Brindley And Rutger McGroarty each scored and added an assist.
» Defense Partners Luc Hughes And Keaton Pehrson each recorded a pair of assists in the victory.
ANN ARBOUR, Mich. – Three first-period goals lifted the second-seeded University of Michigan ice hockey team past the third-seeded Ohio State University Buckeyes 7-3 in of the Big Ten Knockout Semi-Final at Yost Ice Arena on Saturday night (March 11).
With the win, Michigan advances to next week’s Big Ten Championship Game for the second straight season and looks to defend its title. The Wolverines will face first-seeded Minnesota at the Golden Gophers home rink in Minneapolis.
Michigan (23-11-3) opened the scoring after just 23 seconds when Gavin Brindley picked up a pass from the Hobey Baker Award nominee Adam Fantilli and fired a shot into the top corner of the net to ignite Yost. Luc Hughes got the secondary pass for helping break out of the defensive zone and feeding Fantilli for the rush. By collecting the assist, Fantilli extended his domestic lead.
The Buckeyes (20-15-3) appeared to tie the game at 3:46 following a scramble in front of the net, but Michigan’s coaching staff quickly challenged the play for offside. After a brief review, officials confirmed the play was offside and Michigan held on to their challenge and the 1-0 lead.
A little over a minute later, Ethan Edwards picked up a loose puck in the defensive zone and sent a breakout pass to center ice for his defensive partner, Let’s talk about Casey. The freshman defender went the extra step after crossing the OSU blue line before ripping a low shot that snuck through the OSU goalie wickets to cross the goal line and double Michigan’s lead at 4:48.
After the halfway point of the first period, UM continued to buzz on the ice. As the Wolverines prepared for another even-strength offensive zone possession, the senior blue back Keaton Pehrson REMARK Mackie Samoskevich surging towards the net. From his spot at the right spot, Pehrson unleashed a shot pass to the left side of the crease where Samoskevich had his blade planted on the ice to redirect the puck past the goalie and give Michigan a three-10 lead: 27. Pehrson’s defensive partner, Hughes, earned the secondary assist for his second point of the period.
Eighteen seconds after Michigan was penalized for the first time, OSU blocked a backhand pass through Portillo’s five holes to make it 3-1 at 11:25 of the second.
Fantilli took to the roof of a sold-out Yost Ice Arena with a critical goal after crossing the blue line on the right wing on his own to make it 4-1 with 2:55 left in the second period. Rutger McGroarty and Brindley each had assists on Fantilli’s 26th goal of the season.
After two periods, Michigan’s lead was 4-1.
Thirty-five seconds into the third period, Michigan’s penalty killers were called to action when the Wolverines were assessed a minor penalty for tripping. Less than a minute later, Ohio State went 4-2 with their second power play goal of the night.
Back at even strength with a face-off in the Ohio State zone, Frank Nazar III beat the opposing center player to gain possession of the puck. Winger jackson hallum rushed into the circle to salvage the win from Nazar before sending a quick shot that found the top right corner of the net to extend Michigan’s lead to 5-2 at 6:20.
After firing goaltender Buckeye for an extra skater, Ohio State cut the deficit by scoring their third goal of the night with 4:26 left in regulation and making it 5-3.
The Buckeyes emptied their net again. This time, Pehrson took a puck out of the UM zone and made a pass past the Michigan bench to Fantilli in the neutral zone. With a quick touch, Fantilli sent the puck flying into the empty net for his second goal and third point of the night, making it 6-3 in favor of Michigan with 2:50 left in the game.
Facing a three-goal deficit, the Buckeyes continued to search for goals to close the gap and decided to retire their goaltender once again. This time it was Fantilli who won the race to a loose puck and sent a pass into the open ice for his teammate, McGroarty, to skate and secure the empty net goal and increase Michigan’s lead to 7- 3.
Fantilli’s four-point night took his national total for the season to 60 points on 27 goals and 33 assists. He also became the only third-best season holder for a Michigan freshman behind only Bruno Baseotto (76 in 1979-80) and Kyle Connor (71 in 2015-16).
junior goalkeeper Eric Portillo made 35 saves on 38 shots he faced from a powerful Buckeye offense to earn his 57th career win between the pipes for the Wolverines.
Next week’s Big Ten Championship game is scheduled for Saturday, March 18 at 7 p.m. CT / 8 p.m. ET and the contest will be broadcast live on Big Ten Network. As the highest remaining seed, top-seeded Minnesota will host the game in Minneapolis.