Michigan Hockey No. 5 scores 4 unanswered points to edge past MSU in first Big Ten quarterfinal

ANN ARBOR — Michigan hockey’s dominance over Michigan State this season continued Friday night.

The fifth-seeded Wolverines scored four unanswered goals for a 4-1 victory in a best-of-three Big Ten quarter-final at Yost Ice Arena. They have won all five meetings against the Spartans this year, outscoring them 27-10.

Michigan (26-9-1) failed to wrap up a Big Ten regular season title and first-round bye to the conference tournament by being swept by Notre Dame last weekend, but it rebounded on Friday, overcoming a slow start.

MSU (12-22-1), which ended a 13-game losing streak with a win over Penn State in its regular-season finale, capitalized on an early power play as defenseman Dennis Cesana shot from the top of the circle seemed to catch goalkeeper Erik Portillo by surprise, beating him five holes.

But the Spartans’ momentum quickly evaporated as Adam Goodsir and Jagger Joshua took penalties 42 seconds apart. Michigan took advantage of the five-on-three power play, with second-year forward Matty Beniers, the Big Ten regular-season scoring champion, beating Drew DeRidder at 8:04 of the period.

The Wolverines spent significantly more time in the offensive zone in the second period and scored twice. First it was freshman defenseman Luke Hughes, the New Jersey Devils’ 4th overall pick in 2021, who made a sneaky move to the blue line and beat DeRidder with a shot from the point through traffic. .

Michigan’s four Olympians – Beniers, Kent Johnson, Owen Power and Brendan Brisson – were relatively quiet in their third game back from Beijing, but fifth-year senior Luke Morgan gave the team a jolt after he joins Beniers and Johnson for a change.

Morgan grabbed a rebound up front for his fourth goal of the season.

Freshman forward Mackie Samoskevich, the Florida Panthers’ No. 24 overall pick last July, gave the Wolverines some confidence in the third period, surging to the top of the board from a sharp angle.

Meanwhile, Portillo, one of 11 semi-finalists for the annual Mike Richter Award for the nation’s top goaltender, settled in after allowing an early goal, finishing with 23 saves. His best came late in the second period, sliding through the crease to prevent a backdoor pass that kept Michigan’s two-goal cushion.

The Wolverines can close the series at 7 p.m. Saturday in Yost.

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Catherine J. Martinez