MINEPOLPOLIS – When sophomore goalkeeper Eric Partilla got up to leave the podium after answering questions after the No. 4 hockey team’s victory in the Big Ten championship over Michigan’s No. 2 over Minnesota’s No. 2, Michigan coach Mel Pearson and next in line to answer questions – also got to his feet.
“I’m going to hug my big boy,” Pearson said, his clothes soaked with solemnity after the game, hugging Portillo.
These were hugs that had been prepared all season.
Starting every game for Wolverine and steadily performing throughout the season, Michigan needed a goalkeeper to boost his game in the Big Ten tournament and in anticipation of the NCAA regional competition to begin next week. During the first three games of the conference tournament, Portillo scored only two goals in that period.
But just over thirty seconds after the start of the championship in conferences, Portillo looked as if unable to emulate his past performances in the biggest game of the season.
After forward Jackson Nelson won in a ragged goal to open the case, he closed the game. Portillo built a series of stellar post-season shows to acrobatically move from rack to rack, establishing a no-go zone in the crease and allowing Wolverine skaters to build a three-goal advantage before the second period.
His performance not only lifted Michigan to his first since 2016 championship in the top ten tournaments, but also brought Portillo the most outstanding player and awards in all tournaments.
“We’ve seen it all year,” Pearson said of Portillo’s latest gem. “… He was the MVP of our team. … We gave him too many throws, too many opportunities, and Eric kept us in the game when we needed to. ”
Apart from two goals in the last minute, scored by a combination of penalties and an outstretched goalkeeper, which gives the “Golden Gopher” an advantage over several men in the last minutes of the game – Partila justified his score for the team’s MVP.
After the initial attempt to break away from the game was defeated, during the first period from Minnesota at a speed came the freaks. And unlike the first opportunity, the Party had the answer.
Everyone. Single. Time.
Whether it was a few saves from splits or the management of physical forces around the net, Portillo’s performance after the first goal thwarted a strong attack by the Golden Gophers, buying time for Wolverine’s attack to bury Minnesota’s early leadership.
“He’s no wonder the best goalkeeper in student hockey,” freshman forward Dylan Duke said. “And he showed that tonight, he was incredible.”
Once Portillo found his groove after an early series of dangerous breaks, it could not be stopped. All he could do was stop the puck.
In the middle of the second period and when Michigan led 4-1 behind Portillo, Giambatron at the 3M Arena in Mariuch demonstrated hope amid a shortage of Golden Gophers. He played a montage of return scenes from sports films, bringing the crowd to synchronized and rhythmic bursts with video music, and ended with the coach saying, “It’s not over yet, until I say so.”
Portillo, however, decided that the game – in fact – is over, expanding its barrage of saves that define the game, at the end of the competition.
“I think he was supposed to be the goalkeeper of the year in the top ten,” Pearson said. “… We see him every day, we see him every game… he has to be in conversation with Richter.”
By the third period it became clear that the Golden Gophers had no answer to Portillo’s prowess. Foretells the game shamballic In the end, the skater from Minnesota pushed senior defender Nick Blankenburg to Portillo after the rescue, which led to a fight in front of the net when the Golden Gophers were desperately looking for a spark.
When that spark finally came to Minnesota through late penalties, it was too little, too late.
The late goals of the Golden Gophers became a distant memory, replaced by memories of the 25 rescues of the Portillo. The night ended with Portillo lifting the Big Ten Championship trophy into the air, riding to a contingent of Michigan fans near the boards, and teammates enthusiastically surrounded him.