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<< Sports >>

NCAA College Hockey News

Sunday, 22 March, 2015 10:49 PM

Minnesota Beats Michigan for 2015 Big Ten Hockey Final at Joe Louis Arena

Photo credit: Rolco Sports Network

The six-team conference was formed prior to the 2013-14 season and includes Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin, which will all participate in the single game elimination-style tournament.

 

 

by Raymond Rolak
AmericaJR.com Web Team

 

 

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DETROIT -- Minnesota got by Michigan in the 2015 Big Ten Ice Hockey playoffs at Joe Louis Arena, 4-2. The winner got the automatic NCAA bid for the regional playoffs. The Golden Gophers will advance to the Northeast Regional and face in-state rival Minnesota-Duluth in the opener. Yale and Boston University are also in this very tough bracket. Boston will host the “Frozen Four” this year at the historic Matthews Arena (built in 1910).

“We’re excited to once again be competing for a national championship, and I’m proud of the way our guys stepped up to earn a bid this year,” Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said. “We certainly have a great history and rivalry with Minnesota Duluth, and I’m sure we’ll see some exciting hockey this weekend.”

Lucia went on about the Big Ten Championship, “I’m just very proud of our guys, to come in higher, first time we’ve been in this facility (Joe Louis Arena) and to come through and win the championship is something special, something that we haven’t done for a while and certainly this group of seniors had not done it yet. We knew it was going to be a man’s game. Michigan is an outstanding team. Only disappointing thing for me tonight is that they are not going to be in the NCAA Tournament, because they are certainly worthy, and it’s too bad we couldn't have got two teams in this year, so that's the only disappointing thing for me.”

Graciously Coach Lucia added, “I have great respect for their team, their program and their coaches. Over the years they have been one of my favorite teams to play as a coach because we play a similar way. We want to get up and down and we want make plays, and there's a lot of great plays made out there tonight. Both goaltenders played well and fortunately for us, we made the play in the third period to win it. Obviously, we had an advantage, only having to play two games versus their three over the course of the weekend and that might have been the difference.”

Junior goalie was spectacular for Minnesota. He had 24 saves and Travis Boyd had two goals for the winners.

Postgame Michigan’s Red Berenson said, “From our perspective, it was a great college hockey game. It was an end to end game. Minnesota jumped us I thought in the first period and (goalie) Steve (Racine) had to play really well and we got going in the second and we ended up with a 2 1 lead and lost that and gave up a power play goal to decide the game. There wasn't much to choose.”

Berenson added, “I was proud of our team. I thought they played hard and that they played well, just not well enough. Minnesota is a good team and they deserved to win.”

Friday’s semifinals opened with top-seeded Minnesota beating Ohio State, 3-0. Junior goalie Adam Wilcox stopped 39 shots for the shutout. It was his 13th career shutout. Said Golden Gopher head coach Don Lucia, “This was the first time for us in this building. Wilcox was in a zone tonight. When you get great goaltending everything takes care of itself. At this time of year it doesn’t matter who you play, it matters how you play.”

In the nightcap, junior Steve Racine played solid in the nets for Michigan as the Wolverines knocked out special rival Michigan State, 4-1. It was the sixth time the teams have met this season with U. of M. winning four. All six Big Ten teams participated in the Big Ten Playoffs.

After the win, Michigan coach Red Berenson said, “ Well, Minnesota will be-- they play a real good brand of Division-I college hockey. Their defense jumps up, they move the puck really well. Their forwards are as skilled as ours, and so are their D. Their D might be the best D corps in the Big Ten, and their goalie Wilcox was Player-of-the-Year last year, so he’s as good as anybody. He didn’t start off good this year, but he finished up really good. So you saw him against Ohio State today, and he can win a game by himself. They’ve got the advantage. They’ve only played one game, and we played two and so on, but we’ve got some emotion, some momentum, and we like Joe Louis.”

In the opening games at the tourney on Thursday, Ohio State bested fourth-seeded Penn State, 3-1. In a rare happenstance, there were no penalties called in the game. Third-seeded Michigan overwhelmed Wisconsin 5-1, in front of a sparse crowd. The Wolverines finished third in the conference standings with 36 points and a record of 12-8-0-0.

Penn State head coach Guy Godowsky was selected as the 2015 Coach-of-the-Year and Michigan freshman, defenseman, Zach Werenski, was named to the First Team All-Big Ten. Werenski, of Grosse Pointe, leads Big Ten defensemen with nine goals and is tops among U-M blueliners with 24 points (9G, 15A) this season. He also is team high with 55 blocked shots.

Michigan State’s goalie, Jake Hildebrand was named Big Ten Player and Goaltender of the Year.

Hildebrand has been the Spartans’ strength this season, having started all 34 games and allowing two or fewer goals in 20 of those contests. He is the Big Ten leader in both goals-against average (2.12) and save percentage (.930). He also had six shutouts this season.

2015 BIG TEN MEN’S ICE HOCKEY TOURNAMENT
JOE LOUIS ARENA, DETROIT

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
GOALIE: Adam Wilcox, Minnesota
DEFENSEMAN: Michael Downing, Michigan
DEFENSEMAN: Mike Reilly, Minnesota
FORWARD: Zach Hyman, Michigan
FORWARD: Travis Boyd, Minnesota
FORWARD: Kyle Rau, Minnesota
MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER: Adam Wilcox, Minnesota

For more information about the Big Ten Tournament, visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.

Related Stories: Union Wins First NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Title; Hobey Baker Winner Celebrated in Philly; College Hockey: Notre Dame Wins Last CCHA Title; Celebrating Hockey Day in Michigan: Saturday, Feb. 16 at Westland Public Library

 

 

Graphic credit: Big Ten

Big Ten Tournament logo

 

 

 

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