SOUTH BEND – Hockey team № 2 Michigan has repeatedly beaten all other teams in the top ten this season – except № 9 Notre Dame.
And in their fourth meeting of the regular season “Raamahi” (total 25-9-1, 16-8 “Big Ten”) once again failed to deal with the “Fighting Irish” (25-9, 17-7), losing, 2-1, and allows Notre Dame to sweep the season series.
The regular season finale was physical from the start, and Fighting Irish acted as aggressors from the start. Notre Dame combined their physicality with speed during the first period to create a quality look throughout, but second-year goalkeeper Eric Partilla – the starting point in every Wolverine game this season – held on tight.
Portillo made several key saves with his pads in the first period, and Michigan was able to cope with rebounds and deprive Fighting Irish of a rebound.
Whenever Michigan showed any signs of momentum in the attack, the devastating skaters of Fighting Irish got in his way. Repeatedly, “Raamahi” scored a puck on the ice, displacing the defense only to block a hard blow to the skater, who was recovering. Notre Dame blocked Michigan 7-0 in the first period and 20-4 in the game.
These blocks were especially evident in the Wolverines power games, which were demoralized by Fighting Irish penalty killers throughout the title. Notre Dame’s second best penalty shootout in the country was true, scoring two of three advantages over the men from Michigan.
In the second period of the power game for “Raamahi” the first-year forward Maki Samaskevich, who quickly went to the goal and made a shot, got the outfit. His attempt was blocked by forward Graham Sluggert’s stick, which broke in the process.
Then the unattractive Sluggert hit Samaskevich while he was tracking a weak puck. Due to the fact that Samaskevich could not control it, the second-year forward Thomas Bardella swung the puck and launched it into the net with impulse. His dangerous attempt was blocked by defender Adam Karaszyk, which led to a clear and demolished power play.
With Fighting Irish so dominant in the defense, Michigan needed his defensive squad to be flawless to have a chance.
But after eight minutes of the second period, the defense team “Raamahi” made a costly mistake in defense.
Notre Dame forward Jack Adams completed a pass through several Michigan defenders from his own defensive zone, revealing forward Justin Janice, who was walking on the blue line. Yannick attacked the crease before a pass to his right found forward Hunter Strand scoring a one-time goal.
The Wolverines demonstrated their lives in the third period when second-year forward Matthew Beniers ’goal for the moment downplayed Fighting Irish’s aggressive defense and equalized 13 minutes before the end.
But it was the Notre Dame corps that stole the show again. However, this time it was a matter of resentment.
There were only three minutes left and the defense of Fighting Irish rushed to Portillo. Defender Spencer Stustney’s shot shook the right area of Portillo, and forward Trevor Yannick crashed into the fold and crashed into the rebound for the winning goal.
The Wolverines needed a win to give themselves a chance to win the conference crown in the regular season.
And in the South Bend they failed.