A thrilling first round match ended in victory for the Michigan Wolverines Friday night. They took control of the overtime period where Chicago Blackhawks prospect Tyler Motte scored the game winner against Notre Dame to beat them 3-2 at US Bank Arena in Cincinnati.
The two schools got back at it after a week when the Fighting Irish knocked out the Wolverines in the first round of the men’s basketball tournament. This was the first time in eight years that the team’s met one another and for Michigan, they’ll try to prevent another loss to them in the Midwest regional. Notre Dame earned a 3-1 victory in the CCHA title game in 2013 holding a huge one over their heads.
Michigan made their record 36th appearance and the first since 2012. They currently have two freshmen as Hobey Baker Finalists with Motte and Colorado Avalanche prospect JT Compher. With their talents and the history that the two schools have overall, getting to the regional final will be one for the books.
The Wolverines got fired up early in the period looking to make a stance in the first opening minutes. The Fighting Irish defense did work in their end with goaltender Cal Petersen making big saves on some of Michigan’s top scorers. After nine minutes of play Michigan had heat on in the Notre Dame end making any opportunity count while they had possession.
Things struck for the Wolverines on the faceoff in the Notre Dame zone. Michigan moved out the puck with Alex Kile and Florida prospect Michael Downing creating a pass play around the faceoff circle. They found teammate Justin Selman open for a shot on the high slot giving Michigan the early lead.
Notre Dame responded four minutes later when Anders Bjork went in all alone getting the edge on the Michigan defense before snapping the puck off and in the back of the net tying the game. It was his actions that helped the Irish get back into it leading after 20 minutes with 13 shots on goal while Michigan managed 11.
Notre Dame was hot off the mark with Thomas Dipauli making his way into the Michigan zone until he found Bjork available to take a shot from the slot scoring 24 seconds in to gain the lead for the first time. They got a power play through the midpoint of the period taking two shots on Michigan netminder Steve Racine.
He continued to eye the offense from Notre Dame as they gained puck possession turning over the puck with ease. With such a powerful force of performance in the period outshooting Michigan 9-6. Notre Dame sat on the chance of upsetting the Wolverines with the hold of score after 40 minutes.
The third was a much more leveled game as the teams fought hard with Michigan seeking a tying goal and Notre Dame staying out front. Michigan was pushing time and again in the Irish zone where the lines were all out looking to level the game at two all. By the midpoint of the period, they made it happen with sophomore and Blue Jackets draftee Zach Werenski scoring on a one timer from the high slot. The puck got the top of the net behind Petersen that sent Michigan fans crazy.
With the energy level back on the bench and in the stands, the final minutes of regulation became most intense with either teaming seeing their season go on or come to an end. Michigan nearly had the game winner on a loose puck that slid slowly behind Petersen but Dipauli stopped the puck from crossing the net putting it back in the pads of his goalie. It was the last major shot Michigan took on net as they took control of the period nailing down 11 while the Irish only got five.
The Wolverines came out on fire in the overtime period almost ending things with a shot at Petersen. They had things under control on offense keeping possession deep in the Notre Dame zone through the first five minutes. Michigan continued to dictate things through 8 minutes of play where a bad bounce for the Irish in the neutral zone ended up in the hands of Kyle Connor.
Connor took a shot on the puck but watched as the rebound got to teammate JT Compher who made a backhand pass to Motte scoring the game winner to send the Wolverines onto the regional finals. They’ll celebrate the win before they take in the North Dakota Fighting Sioux in the regional finals.