DETROIT- There will be a new first-time playoff champion this year.
Third seed Michigan jumped out to a three goal lead and never looked back against the defending Big Ten conference tournament champion Badgers. Freshman of the year Dylan Larkin had four points (1G-3A) and two goals from SB Nation Big Ten Media MVP Zach Hyman in a 5-1 win.
The loss ends a young Badger season. Wisconsin, which went from the fourth best team in college hockey to four wins in a span of a year, ended the year with only two wins against Big Ten teams in what was a frustrating year.
"You've got to be relaxed. You can't show that maybe you're down because they're looking to you to lead them. You can't come this the rink with a bad attitude," senior captain Chase Drake said about lessons from the season. "You've got to come to the rink ready to go, fired up. I felt we did a pretty good job of that all year. Team morale and camaraderie in the locker room was solid all year‐round, and we helped them out and kept everybody on course until the last period."
On the other side was Michigan, a young team that got more support from its forwards as the season went on. Hyman got the Wolverines on the board on a power play rebound goal 14:45 into the game.
Michigan then got second period goals on a pair of odd shots. Andrew Sinelli scored his first goal of the season when a shot deflected off Badger Ryan Wagner's stick and over Joel Rumpel before Hyman redirected a Cutler Martin shot through three players into the net. He didn't realize it was a goal until later. .
"It hit my stick. I was trying to screen the goalie. Tyler had a good shot on that and I just took my stick, and nobody really knew where it went. I heard it got the back of the net," he said. "I didn't know it went in until somebodypointed there."
Rumpel made 23 saves Thursday. His counterpart, Michigan goaltender Steve Racine made 28 and played well enough that Coach Berenson came close to naming him the starter for Friday.
"We're not through the weekend yet, but it's a good start for Steve and a good start for our team," he said. "It's only one game."
Jedd Soleway scored for Wisconsin with 10:46 remaining in the third period on a wraparound. The play was reviewed to see if the whistle was blown early, but eventually was called a good goal. The Badgers had 1:03 of 5-on-3 time in the third period, but were unable to do anything with it.
Between that failure and bounces not going its way on the Michigan goals, Thursday was the story of the Badgers' season.
"Well, I felt the fact that those goals went in and they were both kind of went off of us, there was a little, kind of a let‐down if you will," Eaves said. "So it was just a reminder, hey, stuff happens during the game. Now it's about how we respond to it. So it was a little bit of firm hand to the backside and, say let's get going, let's play the way we can."
Larkin made it 4-1 on a coast-to-coast goal with 5:37 remaining and Selman got his 11th for the final score.
Michigan will play second seed Michigan State Friday night at 8:00 p.m. ET at Joe Louis Arena.The Wolverines and Spartans split a series last weekend, which cost Michigan a chance at the Big Ten title.
"Yeah, I mean, just I guess that playing State and what happened with us last week, we still have that bitter taste in our mouth," sad Hyman. "We're going to be ready to play tomorrow.
"There's no bigger game than that. We're going to get up for that."
The winner of that game will face the winner of Minnesota-Ohio State for the Big Ten championship.