» Michigan captured its third Big Ten Tournament title in program history, as well as its second straight. All three B1G Tournament titles for U-M have come against Minnesota (’16, ’22, ’23).
» Dylan Duke scored the game-winning goal with 8:14 left to play, putting Michigan up 4-3.
» Rutger McGroarty scored Michigan’s first two goals and added an assist for a three-point night.
» Adam Fantilli added one assist to set a new Big Ten Tournament scoring record with 11 points. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — An inspired effort from every part of the roster helped the second-seeded University of Michigan ice hockey team overcome a third-period deficit to defeat top-seeded Minnesota by a 4-3 score to win the 2023 Big Ten Tournament Championship on Saturday (March 18) inside 3M Arena at Mariucci.
The 4-3 win at Mariucci matches last year’s Big Ten Championship outcome, as the Wolverines have now won back-to-back trophies at the home of the Golden Gophers. All three of Michigan’s modern Big Ten championships have come against Minnesota and in the state of hockey; the 2016 title game took place at Saint Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.
Junior goaltender Erik Portillo started between the pipes for Michigan and backstopped the Wolverines to a one-goal win for the second-straight year. Portillo turned aside 22 of the 25 shots that he faced from the highly-potent Minnesota attack to keep U-M in the game and allow the team’s offensive star power to win the game at the other end of the ice.
No. 1-ranked Minnesota (26-9-1) opened the scoring at 6:52 after a blocked shot in its own zone led to an odd-man rush for the Gophers. The home team buried the two-on-one chance to take a 1-0 lead.
Rutger McGroarty scored twice in 34 seconds to put Michigan ahead 2-1 in the second period. With the Wolverines setting up shop in the Minnesota zone, Gavin Brindley carried the puck behind the net for the Wolverines before popping a pass out to Ethan Edwards, who stepped into a shot from the high slot. Edwards’ initial blast was pushed aside, but McGroarty was perfectly-positioned to finish off the rebound and tie the game, 1-1, at 3:12 of the middle frame.
Off of the ensuing faceoff, U-M entered the Gophers’ end with the puck on Adam Fantilli‘s stick and got back to work. Senior blue liner and native Minnesotan Keaton Pehrson sent a long shot on goal from the point that ricocheted off the end wall and out to the other side of the net. McGroarty was right there once again to finish off the rebound and celebrate with an elated bunch of Wolverines as Michigan took a 2-1 lead just 34 seconds after they had first scored.
Just after the game’s midpoint, Michigan set up in the offensive zone before a pass was deflected by a Gopher stick out into the neutral zone to set up a two-on-zero chance for a pair of Gopher forwards. The duo took advantage of the chance to tie the game with 9:11 left in the period.
The fourth-ranked Wolverines (24-11-3) came out of the gate for the third period with energy, threatening the Gophers with a flurry of shots on goal before an outstanding individual effort for a Minnesota forward resulted in a rush deep into the U-M end before beating Portillo to reclaim a one-goal lead at 1:57 and making it a 3-2 game.
At 5:29, Michigan found another equalizer to tie the game at three. Yet again, it was a freshman netting a critical goal in the title game. This time, Seamus Casey ripped a shot from the point that found the back of the net through traffic to make it 3-3 with 14:31 left to play in regulation. Brindley and McGroarty assisted on Casey’s seventh marker of the season.
Michigan took a 4-3 lead with 8:14 left when Dylan Duke buried his 17th goal of the season with a flexible effort from the top of the blue paint. Assists went to T.J. Hughes, for getting the puck to Duke near the front of the net, and also to Brindley — his third helper of the game.
Searching for a game-tying goal with time ticking down, Minnesota pulled its goaltender for an extra attacker. The Gophers tried to keep the puck in Michigan’s zone, but the U-M defense remained stout and held strong to put the finishing touches on a one-goal win and repeat as Big Ten Tournament champions.
Following the game, the Big Ten Tournament’s championship trophy was once again presented to an exhilarated group of maize-and-blue-clad Wolverines. When the All-Tournament team was named, a trio of freshmen in forwards Adam Fantilli and McGroarty along with blue liner Casey joined sophomore Luke Hughes in making the cut along with one Gopher forward and Minnesota’s netminder, Justen Close.
In addition, the nation’s leading scorer, Adam Fantilli, was honored as the Big Ten Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player for his record-setting 11-point performance throughout the tournament.
Tomorrow evening, the fourth-ranked Wolverines will join the rest of the hockey world as the team tunes in to the NCAA Selection Show on ESPN2 at 6:30 p.m. to learn the particulars (including opponent, location, and game time) for the team’s record 40th trip to the NCAA tournament.