Michigan and Michigan St began a 2 game weekend series Friday night at Yost.
UofM/MSU is college hockey’s most played rivalry and has lines drawn across the mitten, sometimes across family lines. As Michigan’s Luke Hughes said postgame, it’s a team “they can’t beat enough.” Tonight was another episode of that show.
The Wolverines are without Matty Beniers, Brendon Brisson, Owen Power, and Kent Johnson as they are competing in China for the next couple weeks. Power and Johnson are currently with team Canada and Beniers and Brisson are with team USA. All four players are number 1 picks in the NHL Draft.
So, the question is who steps up is their absence to close out the rest of the regular season? The four Olympians are the team’s top 4 scorers, making up 124 pts of total offense. The Big Ten regular season championship is still up for grabs, Michigan still trails Ohio St in the conference standings, with a 2 game series in A2 looming next weekend. The Wolverines close the regular season at the end of February with two games in South Bend.
It starts between the pipes. Sophomore Erik Portillo has a record of 21-7-1, with 2.20 GAA coming into the weekend. Portillo has played consistently all year long behind a high scoring offense.
A huge save in the middle of the second period, completely changed the momentum of the game. For the rest of the period, Michigan St didn’t muster any offense and Michigan starting running up the scoreboard.
Dominate. After splitting time with Strauss Mann last year, who is starting for the US Olympic team tonight against Canada, Portillo became the true #1 this season.
First player that sticks out is Luke Hughes. Can’t say enough. He is an offensive defensemen with great speed and skating ability. One of those players that when he has the puck, everyone else on the ice looks like they’re standing still. Hughes came into the game with 23 points on the season, 10 goals (as I’m typing, wrist shot from near the blue line, and scores) and 13 assists.
With now 4 goals in the last 3 games, Luke Hughes is a leader on this team and even as a freshman, is a superstar.
Drafted by the Devils, wonder how long he’ll stay at Michigan.
Wolverines Take Game 1
In game 1 of the weekend series, Michigan rolled. In this limited work, Portillo was solid, left the game with about 5 minutes left in the third posting the shutout. He only faced 15 shots, and turned them all away. The “diaper dandies” definitely dominated (thank you alliteration); with Freshman Luke Hughes (2 goals, 1 assist) and Mackie Samoskevich (1 goal, 2 assists) and Sophomore Jacob Truscott (1 goal, 2 assists) tallied 3 points each.
Michigan had overwhelming offensive pressure for most of the game, especially in the second period. Reacting to this, Michigan St ended up in the box and the Wolverines Power Play took full advantage, scoring 3 goals with the man advantage.
Michigan St closed the game with 2 power play goals of their own with Portillo out of the bench, making the final 6-2 in favor of the Wolverines.
These teams will meet again tomorrow night at Little Caesars Arena playing in the “Duel In The D.” A rivalry trophy that is currently held by Michigan.