Michigan hockey grabs 27th Frozen Four with 2-1 OT win over Penn State in NCAA tournament

Throughout the 2022-23 season, there seemingly wasn’t a goalie that Michigan hockey couldn’t solve. Over 39 games, just one netminder blanked the Wolverines, and that was back in early November.

On Sunday, in Michigan's 40th game, that goalie loomed large again: Penn State’s Liam Souliere, an undrafted junior from Ontario, stopped 40 Michigan shots in regulation before finally surrendering the game-winner just 52 seconds into overtime in the Wolverines’ 2-1 victory in the NCAA tournament’s Allentown regional final at the PPL Center.

Mackie Samoskevich, a former first-round NHL draft pick, snapped off a shot from the slot to beat Souliere on the blocker side, sending the Wolverines to their 27th Frozen Four. Michigan (26-11-3) will face Quinnipiac, Sunday’s other winner, at 8:30 p.m. April 6, in Tampa, Florida. Boston University and Minnesota will play each other in the night's first game, at 5 p.m.

Michigan's Adam Fantilli skates against Colgate during a men's NCAA tournament first-round game at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Friday, March 24, 2023.
Michigan's Adam Fantilli skates against Colgate during a men's NCAA tournament first-round game at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Friday, March 24, 2023.

THE FIRST ROUND:Michigan hockey pastes Colgate, 11-1, in NCAA tournament first round

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TECH-NICAL KNOCKOUT:Michigan Tech, star goalie Blake Pietila pounded by Penn State, 8-0, in NCAA tournament

Michigan averaged 4.3 goals a game this season, tops in the nation, and was coming off an 11-1 shellacking of Colgate in the first round. But against Souliere, the Wolverines were stymied time and time again, managing just one goal in regulation.

But Samoskevich’s strike ensured the Wolverines would get a chance to avenge their loss in last season’s national semifinals. Its a chance for revenge for Quinnipiac, too; the Wolverines ended the Bobcats' season in the regional final last season in Allentown.

A fab freshman delivers

After a holding penalty on Carter Schade with 8:54 remaining gave the Wolverines their fourth power play of the game, Michigan finally worked out its special teams kinks. The Wolverines shuffled the puck around until Samoskevich unloaded a blast from the high slot. The shot, like so many others, was blocked by a Nittany Lion, but Adam Fantilli, U-M’s freshman Hobey Baker Award finalist, drove toward the crease and smacked the puck once, and then a second time, finally getting it past Penn State goalie Liam Souliere to tie the game at 1-all with 7:52 left in regulation.

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The Nittany Lions went more than 98 minutes in Allentown without a power play before Michigan’s Jackson Hallum was whistled for hooking with 1:28 remaining. Just 26 seconds after that, Penn State had a 1-0 lead. Christian Berger blasted a one-timer slapshot that Michigan goalie Erik Portillo was able to knock down outside the crease. But the rebound went right to Connor MacEachern, waiting down low, and the senior forward fired a wrist shot into the net past a sprawling Portillo.

It was a stunning moment for a Wolverines squad that had mostly controlled the action in the second period, getting 11 shots on net and sending numerous others just off the net or into a waiting Nittany Lion.

Penn State goaltender Liam Souliere (31) falls into the net while keeping his eye on the puck against Michigan State Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023.
Penn State goaltender Liam Souliere (31) falls into the net while keeping his eye on the puck against Michigan State Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023.

Under review

The matchup between teams that ranked Nos. 1 (PSU) and 3 (U-M) in shots didn’t disappoint in the first period, with a quick tempo leading to the Nittany Lions and Wolverines taking 14 shots apiece in a scoreless frame. The Wolverines had more scoring chances, though, including one tinged with a brief controversy as the period was winding down.

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With 3:35 left in the first, sophomore defenseman Ethan Edwards snapped a shot that got past Liam Souliere. As he began to celebrate what he believed was a goal, officials signaled for play to continue. About a minute later, the replay revealed why; the puck ricocheted off the left post, then slid across the crease before tapping off Souliere’s leg and sliding outside the right post.

QU who?

The Big Ten will only have two squads in Tampa for the Frozen Four, as its fourth hopeful, Ohio State, lost to top-seeded Quinnipiac, 4-1, in the Bridgeport, Connecticut, regional on Sunday afternoon. (Big Ten regular-season champ Minnesota locked up a semifinal berth on Saturday night with its 4-1 win over St. Cloud State in Fargo, North Dakota.)

The Buckeyes scored first, on their second shot just 91 seconds in, but couldn’t solve Bobcats goalie Yaniv Perets. The sophomore Hobey Baker Award finalist stopped the final 33 shots he faced, and Quinnipiac scored the final four goals, including a highlight-reel score from Cristophe Tellier with 4:30 remaining.

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Tellier’s goal, originally waved off, came after he flipped the puck over OSU goalie Jakub Dobes from the left side, then batted it in out of mid-air from the right side of the crease. Dobes actually got his glove on it to bat it away, but a replay showed the puck was fully over the line by the time he reached it. Soon after, the party was on for Quinnipiac, which qualified for its third Frozen Four after losing to the Wolverines in the regional final last season.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan hockey in Frozen Four with 2-1 OT win in NCAA tournament