BOSTAN – It did not turn into a shootout that many expected. For three periods it failed to resolve.
But Michigan hockey’s chance to play in the next national championship ended where Wolverine won last, 24 years ago.
Carter Savoy regained the rebound of his strike, which was initially saved by UM goalkeeper Eric Partila with a score of 5:07 left in overtime, and gave Denver a 3-2 victory on Thursday night at Frozen Four at TD Garden.
“I just told them that one game doesn’t define who they are hockey players or people,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson said. “There were a lot of expectations from this group and they exceeded those expectations and then coped so well with all that pressure.”
Wolverines at number 1 under the total seed (31-10-1) wanted to break their record with the 10th NCAA title – they have not won a title since winning in Boston in 1998. Instead, they will watch Saturday night as the Pioneers (30-9-1) face the winner of the second semifinal on Thursday night between Minnesota and Minnesota for the title. Meeting at 8pm at TD Center (ESPN).
It was a tough end for the team from Michigan, which reached No. 1 in the USCHO poll earlier in the season and spent most of the season among the top 5. Raamahi had seven NHL draft pickings in the first round, none of which scored on Thursday.
“This is my 40th year in Division I hockey. I can no longer be proud of the young people I was able to coach this year,” Pearson said. “It’s the most interesting thing I’ve had, and I owe it all to them … Just because you’re called, you’re a high draft pick, no one sprinkles you with magic dust, and you become this great player. You have to earn These guys kept working and they were driven away. Just a fantastic group of young people nearby. “
HISTORY LESSON:Michigan, motivated by lessons from Wolverines ’late 90s trips to Frozen Four
FROZEN ENEMY:Michigan returns to Frozen Four with a familiar enemy waiting: Denver
REGIONAL FINAL:Michigan headed to the Frozen Four for the first time since 2018 with a 7-4 win over Quinnipiac
UM spent most of the game in defense as Denver controlled the pace for three periods. But “Raamahi” came out early in overtime, creating a few moments with a high percentage, the goalkeeper of the “Pioneers” Magnus Chrona continued to interfere, including rebounding the chance to break into the trumpet to his right in the middle of 20-minute overtime and 2-on-1 save Luke Hughes of Michigan, just over six minutes left.
Shortly before the final goal, it seemed, “Raamahi” came off. However, Michigan footballers scored a puck in the Denver area; he eventually found his way to Savoy in the fold for an unhindered rebound from his initial attempt.
Denver coach David Carl said Raamaha’s misfortune – “It definitely creates a place”, – he added, – helped the Pioneers set up the winner of the game from a pass from Hobby Baker’s top finalist Bobby Brink, the country’s top scorer (1, 44 points per game), which UM has so far held without points.
“It was a very good hockey match,” Carl said. “I thought both teams checked very well. … I thought (Raamahi) tuned in well throughout the game, made us harder. But I give our players a lot of credit for sticking to it and winning another one-hockey game. “
Portillo finished with 30 saves, and Chrona stopped 19 for Denver.
Although the country’s two best teams met in the national semifinals, the pioneers and wolverines dodged the attack during three difficult periods of defense in old-fashioned hockey. Denver came out as an aggressor in the first period, playing both physically and skillfully from the start. The Pioneers created several quality scoring opportunities in close and between rounds in the first 10 minutes when either Portillo stopped or his defenders managed to pinch and prevent a chance to prompt, or the Denver players missed the goal.
That changed to 11:22 in the period when the Pioneers opened the scoring. The puck splashed out of the ice fight to Denver defender Justin Lee, who made a low, hissing shot across the clearing from the left. Portillo struck with his pads, and center rival Cole Gutman approached the rebound, but giggled as UM’s Matthew Beniers approached him. The puck continued to slide along the fold intact until Pioneer’s second charge, and Brett Stepley buried his 17th goal of the season when Partila and Benier clashed, trying to back away.
Denver took a 6-0 lead after Steppe’s goal, and Wolverine’s best chance at the time came when forward Maki Samaskevich slipped through the fold. But Lee broke and knocked the puck. Throughout the period, the “Pioneers” did strong checks, and UM had difficulty finding any offensive flow, and went offside to stop a few of the benefits of amazing people.
“I think in any hockey game we get ups and downs,” said senior left-hander Gareth Van Wye. “Just staying equal was probably the most important thing for us. When it comes down to it, I think we kind of started late. Mel insisted on us all week that, ‘All about the beginning, about the beginning.’ the beginning. ‘ So in that aspect, I think we have to take responsibility. ”
By the end of the first “Raamahi” made only four shots and went into the locker room, scoring a goal, but they came out in the second period, increasing their intensity and turning it into the best scoring opportunities. This included two shots from the blue line that stopped Chron, and another that he caught when Johnny Beecher of Michigan sent a backhand straight into central Denver goalkeeper.
This attacking mentality paid off with a score of 4:03 in the second match when Wolverine tied the game 1-1. Nolan Moyle’s right flank slipped to the left, but lost the puck in front of Chrona. But Moyle continued to work behind the net along the shield and tilted it ahead of center Jimmy Lambert, who passed on the top shelf past Chrono, scoring his sixth goal of the season. His score on his team’s fourth throw early in the second doubled UM’s throws from the first period.
But Denver recovered, and both teams exchanged possessions until the end of the period, handing out tough checks. Portillo kept nine Pioneer shots out this period, while Denver’s defense shrank and allowed only one UM strike to go – and none in the 8:45 final – to advance into the third period with a knot. . 1-1.
“He’s an incredible goalkeeper and an incredible guy who can be on the team,” senior captain and defender Nick Blankenburg said of Portillo. “He’s a great competitor. He’ll do anything to win.”
Michigan entered the Cold Four with the third best attack in the country – 4.02 goals per game, and Denver took first place among 60 teams in Division I with a score of 4.28. Wolverines took ninth place in the defense with 2.22 allowed goals, and “Pioneers” – 13th – 2.31.
“Our fishing, the pressure on the puck was very good,” Carl said. “And when people were beaten, there was another layer that helped many times. And our regiments were great. And when that person was beaten, Magnus was there to save. So it’s not easy to hold back (Michigan).”
The Pioneers continued to attack early in the third when Portillo pounced on one free puck in a crease surrounded by bodies after the initial rescue. But shortly thereafter, Denver took a 2-1 lead when right-winger Cameron Wright broke into the fold and repulsed defender Mike Benning’s shot over Portillo’s right shoulder. Wright’s hint is to somehow avoid his teammate Carter Mazur, a native of Jackson, who managed to escape from the road while watching Portillo’s 5:36 vision during this period.
But Michigan was not over. Mark Estapa’s left flank dived ahead and blocked Denver’s shot, senior right winger Michael Pastuzhov chased the puck and buttoned the right wing. Pastuzhov noticed how Thomas Bordello cut the left side, and passed to the central sophomore, who shuffled skates and sticks in the traffic jam and struck the top right corner, making the score 2-2 with 10:51 left in third. .
The Pioneers managed a few more quality moments before the end of the main match, but Partillo stopped them all to turn the game into overtime. Denver nearly doubled Wolverine in throws after three periods, 26-14, and spent most of the game in the UM defensive zone. But Wolverine managed to make enough of their own luck on both ends to keep their chance to advance – even if it ended up returning home to handle another missed opportunity for another national title.
“It’s hard to put into words not thinking about wearing this T-shirt again,” Blankenburg said. “But I’m very grateful for the time I’ve spent here and I’ll remember it forever.”
Contact Chris Solari: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari.