In the opening round of the Big Ten tournament, Michigan earned a 4-1 victory over Michigan State, taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. Although the shots on goal indicate a close matchup at 28-24 in favor of the Wolverines, Michigan's high-end talent kept the game well out of MSU's reach.
Senior defenseman Dennis Cesana was the lone goal-scorer for the Spartans, converting on an early power play in the first period.
Michigan's win was a continuation of its regular-season dominance over Michigan State. The Wolverines went 4-0 against MSU prior to the tournament, winning by a combined score of 23-9.
Despite the one-sided results of the prior series, Michigan State came out of the gate strong.
Both squads struggled to find their footing in the opening minutes, failing to complete passes and cleanly enter the offensive zone. Fewer than five minutes into the first, Michigan took its first penalty of the game with too many men on the ice.
The Spartans took advantage almost immediately. Cesana crept forward from the blue line, taking advantage of some soft defense, and let it rip from the right face-off circle. Following the tally, the Spartans seemed to gain a bit of momentum, tilting the ice towards Michigan's defensive zone.
However, MSU's early momentum came to a screeching halt just two minutes later after a hooking call on senior forward Adam Goodsir. To make matters worse, the refs caught a crosscheck from junior forward Jagger Joshua less than a minute later, sending another Spartan to the penalty box and giving the Wolverines a five-on-three opportunity. Sophomore forward Matty Beniers made MSU pay, knotting up the game 1-1.
After a slow start, Michigan came out of the first intermission firing. After multiple shifts with great offensive pressure, freshman defenseman Luke Hughes finally converted for the Wolverines with a snipe from just ahead of the blue line.
Michigan kept the goals coming. Six minutes after the Hughes goal, senior goaltender Drew DeRidder failed to corral a rebound near the front of the net and graduate forward Luke Morgan flipped the puck in.
A break between periods couldn't slow down the Wolverines. Just a few minutes into the third, freshman forward Mackie Samoskevich collected a turnover from Cesana, raced down the ice and ripped a top-shelf shot past DeRidder — 4-1 Michigan.
Michigan buckled down defensively to finish out the period, content to muck up the game and keep the pace of play choppy. The game finished without much offense from either team.
Game two of the best-of-three series is set for 7 p.m. tomorrow night. The game will be televised via Bally Sports Detroit. A Michigan win would complete the sweep and effectively end Michigan State's season.
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