Championship Game Recap
Congratulations to the Michigan Wolverines on winning the 2016 B1G Hockey Tournament and claiming the Big Ten's auto-bid to the NCAA Tournament. Minnesota's season ends in heartbreaking fashion and the big ten is once again a 1-bid league. Michigan will be a 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and will find out their regional and opponent at 1pm et/noon ct Sunday.
(2) Michigan Wolverines @ (1) Minnesota Golden Gophers
The teams played a pretty even first period with Michigan scoring the lone goal on a power play. Ryan Reilly was called for boarding and Tyler Motte scored on the ensuing power play. Motte got down inside the Gopher D and was able to stuf the rebound from his stuff attempt past Eric Schierhorn. Both teams had chances in the period. Michigan outshot the Gophers 10-6 but the chances were fairly even. Kyle Connor and Zach Werenski picked up the assists on the goal. Minnesota did a good job winning draws and prevented odd man rushes.
Minnesota iced the puck to start the second period. Michigan clanged the pipe off the ensuing draw and drew a hooking penalty. Michigan made it 2-0 when JT Compher jammed a puck past Schierhorn. Compher mishandled a pace that would have given him an easy goal, but stuck with it and still scored. Assists went to Werenski and Connor. Minnesota started push back and got on the board at the 6:35 mark when Vinni Lettieri drove down the left boards, cut to the middle and fed Leon Bristedt for a one-timer goal. Jack Glover got the secondary assist. Minnesota tied the game up at 10:21 when Steve Racine lost his footing trying to recover on a play behind the net. Jake Bischoff cooly wrapped the puck around the left post for the tying goal. Michael Brodzinski and Justin Kloos got the assists. Minnesota took a penalty for hooking on the very next shift, but a great penalty kill preserved the tie. Minnesota earned their first power play after Michigan's Cooper Marody was called for slashing. Minnesota had likely their best power play of the season, getting four shots on goal. Great passing and a couple hard fought puck battle wind lead to a tic-tac-toe goal after a Michigan player lost his stick. Justin Kloss buried a one timer after passes from Tommy Novak and Jake Bischoff. Minnesota carried the play until it looked like Michigan tied the game. The played had been ruled dead for offsides prior to the shot and was waved off on the ice. The Gophers held on over the final minute to take a 3-2 lead into the second intermission.
Michigan cam out fast in the third, getting a goal from Kyle Connor at the 3:28 mark. the Gopher D somehow left him all alone and he deked Schierhorn out of his skates and stuffed it home. Compher and Werenski had the assists. The Gopher miss a few stellar chances throughout the period but were undone when Jack Glover took a bad holding penalty in his own zone. Michigan's power play connected for the third time when Zach Werenski blasted a shot in from the middle slot. Compher and Motte had the assists. Minnesota couldn't score with the extra attacker and Tyler Motte iced the game with an empty net goal. Michigan scored the final three goals, taking the game and B!G Tournament crown 5-3.
Minnnesota was the better team especially at even strength. Michigan happened to have the 4 best players on the ice and they accounted for all 5 goals and 9 of the 10 Wolverine assists. The Gophers season ends just short, fitting as that's how many games ended this season. Minnesota's streak of 4 straight NCAA tournament appearances is broken and for the second straight year, the B1G will only send 1 team to the NCAA tournament. Minnesota now has the unwanted distinction of winning the conference regular season and missing the NCAAs. They join Michigan Tech, and RMU in accomplishing that this year. That shows just how sorry the B1G is as a conference. The last time the old WCHA had this happen was in 1994 when Colorado College pulled it off. Fun fact, Don Lucia (Minny's coach) was the coach of that CC team. Michigan avenges their loss to Minnesota in last year's B1G Tournament and ends their 3 year NCAA Tournament drought.