Three straight goals in the Big Ten semifinals gave Michigan a berth to the conference championship game as the Wolverines defeated Michigan State 4-1 Friday evening in Detroit.
The Spartans faltered after scoring their lone goal in the second, hampered by seven penalties and allowing 49 Wolverine shots as Michigan outpaced their state rivals for their second win in the tournament.
Special teams contributed to the first two goals of the match, one each by the Wolverines and the Spartans. In the first period, Michael Downing gave Michigan the 1-0 lead in a frame with 21 Wolverine shots to the Spartans' eight. With tremendous pressure in the offensive zone on the power play, Downing's shot from the high slot deflected off Michigan State's John Draeger in front of netminder Jake Hildebrand. The puck went up and over the shoulder of the unsuspecting goaltender for the opening score at 12:59 of the period.
Michigan almost struck again with two minutes left in the first, but Andrew Copp hit iron instead of twine after having Hildebrand beat to the top left corner.
Matt Berry notched Michigan State's lone tally on the power play 8:41 into the second period, capitalizing on extended time in the offensive zone. With a scramble in front, Berry managed to sneak the puck around Wolverine goaltender Steve Racine's left pad in traffic for the 1-1 evening strike.
However, just under three minutes later, Michigan cashed in on a two-on-one breakaway to put them up 2-1 heading into the second intermission. Alex Kile sent a soft backhand pass to a streaking JT Compher down the center of the ice and the forward sniped the top right corner glove side on Hildebrand for his 12th goal of the season.
In the third, Cristoval Nieves continued the scoring for Michigan with 10:46 to play in the game, capping off a feed from Dexter Dancs behind the net for the 3-1 strike. With Hildebrand without a stick and out of position, Nieves finished off the play in front of an open net for his seventh tally of the season.
With 6:20 to go, Kile sent Michigan State packing on a goal off a rush. Streaking down the left wing, the forward let go a laser of a wrist shot at the circle over the high glove side of Hildebrand for the final 4-1 strike.
Michigan will meet the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Big Ten championship game Saturday evening with a bid for the NCAA tournament on the line.
- Downing's power play tally gives Michigan its third straight game with a power play goal.
- With one goal and one assist, Nieves registered his sixth multi-point game of the year.
- Michigan State gave up three or more goals for only the third time in the last 11 games for the Spartans.