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Michigan gets off to strong start, holds off pesky AIC, 5-3

Wolverines score 2 goals 39 seconds apart in the 1st period, never trail to advance to NCAA Division I men's hockey regional championship game in Allentown

Michigan vs. AIC 3 25 22.jpg
American International College right wing Justin Young (39) picks up the puck in front of Michigan sophomore center Matty Beniers during the NCAA Division I men' hockey regional in Allentown on Friday, March 25, 2022, at PPL Center.
Bob Shank / AIC

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — There were times when top-seeded Michigan looked like it was going to score goals in bunches and run away with an NCAA Division I men's hockey regional win over American International College on Friday at PPL Center.

But the Yellow Jackets had some answers and pulled within two goals and pulled its goalie with a little more than two minutes left. The Wolverines, however, held on for a 5-3 win to advance to the region championship game.

"We got off to a good start — things went into the net for us early," Wolverines head coach Mel Pearson said. "We were ready to play. This was our first NCAA experience for all of our guys but one player — (wing) Michael Pastujov.

"I liked our start in the first period, our start in the second period and the first 10 minutes in the third. There's a lot of areas in between where we need to get better."

Michigan (30-9-1) will get that chance and play the winner of the game in the other semifinals between Quinnipiac (31-6-3) and St. Cloud State (18-14-4) that is being played Friday night. The region championship game will be played at 5:30 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2).


The Wolverines are headed into that game after senior left wing Garrett Van Wyhe and freshman defenseman Ethan Edwards scored goals 39 seconds apart to give Michigan a 2-0 lead 4:16 into the game and AIC was never able to tie the game.

But graduate student right wing Brian Rigali scored off a scramble in front of the Wolverines net at 12:32 to cut Michigan's lead to 2-1.

"I think starting off the game, we gave them a little bit too much respect," AIC graduate student right wing Chris Dodero said. "As the game went on, we got a little better. But a couple bounces here and there and we're down two (more) goals."

Michigan AIC start.jpg
The University of Michigan (white) and American International College (yellow) men's hockey teams take the opening faceoff of an NCAA Division I regional hockey game on Friday, March 25, 2022, in Allentown, Pa.
Mick Hatten / The Rink Live

Michigan looked like it was taking command in the first three minutes of the second period. Brendan Brisson, a first round draft pick of the Vegas Golden Knights, scored on the power play 43 seconds into the period. Two minutes later, Matty Beniers, a first-round draft pick of the Seattle Kraken who played in the Olympics, scored to make it 4-1.

"I think when you fast forward the tape here — in five or seven years — you're going to see this thing play out and this was one of the best college hockey teams ever assembled," AIC coach Eric Lang said of the Wolverines, who have seven first round draft picks. "It certainly felt like that the first 5-7 minutes as our guys adjusted to the pace of the game.

"I thought got better as the game went along. We kept talking about staying in the fight."

AIC graduate right wing Justin Young scored at 6:15 of the second period to cut it to 4-2, but the Wolverines answered 28 seconds later on a goal by freshman left wing Dylan Duke, a fourth-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, to give the Wolverines a three-goal cushion that held going into the third period.

"Tonight, it felt like we could have had five (goals) in the first," Brisson said. "If the bounces don't go our way, we've got to keep going and play strong defensively."


There was not a lot of action in the first 10 minutes of the third period, but the Yellow Jackets made it interesting when they got a power-play goal by junior left wing Blake Bennett at 13:48 of the third period to cut the deficit to 5-3.

Lang pulled goalie Alec Cavaruso, who made 26 saves, with a little more than two minutes left. The Yellow Jackets had a few opportunities, but were not able to get any closer.

Sophomore goalie Erik Portillo, a third-round draft pick of the Bulffalo Sabres, made 29 saves to pick up the win.

Michigan 5, AIC 3

AIC 1-1-1—3
Michigan 2-3-0—5

First period scoring — 1. UM, Garrett Van Wyhe 5 (Luke Hughes 21, Nolan Moyle 7) 3:37; 2. UM, Ethan Edwards 3 (Brendan Brisson 19, Matty Beniers 23) 4:16; 3. AIC, Brian Rigali 14 (Blake Bennett 13, Zak Galambos 24) 12:32. Penalties — AIC, Brian Kramer (interference) 20:00.

Second period scoring — 4. UM, Brisson 20 (Owen Power 25, Kent Johnson 28) :43 (pp); 5. UM, Beniers 20 (Brisson 20, Johnson 29) 2:43; 6. AIC, Justin Young 12 (Chris Theodore 19) 6:15; 7. UM, Dylan Duke 10 (Power 26, Mackie Samoskevich 19) 6:43. Penalties — AIC, Kramer (slashing) 10:12; UM, Samoskevich (slashing) 11:23; UM, Garrett Van Wyhe (hooking) 13:03.

Third period scoring — 8. AIC, Bennett 18 (Elijah Barriga 15, Young 19) 13:48 (pp). Penalties — UM, Garrett Van Wyhe (holding) 13:17; UM, Nick Blankenburg (cross-checking) 19:29; AIC, Brian Rigali (roughing) 19:29.


Goalie saves — AIC, Alec Calvaruso 11-10-5—26 (5 GA). UM, Erik Portillo 6-11-11—28 (3 GA).

Penalties-minutes — AIC 2-4; UM 2-4.

Power-play goals/opportunities (shots) — AIC 1-3 (4 shots); UM 1-2 (3 shots).

Faceoffs — UM 40-30.

Referees — Cameron Lynch and Brad LeBlanc.

Linesemen — Patrick Dapuzzo and Steve Drain.

Three stars of the game — 1. Brisson (UM), 2. Beniers (UM), 3. Power (UM).

Follow the 2022 NCAA men's hockey tournament coverage on The Rink Live for previews, recaps, photos, information and more as the teams play for a national championship in Boston.

Mick Hatten is a reporter and editor for Forum News Service and helps manage TheRinkLive.com, a website dedicated to hockey. He began working for Forum Communications in November 2018 and has covered St. Cloud State University hockey since 2010. A graduate of St. Cloud State, he has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist and has been a youth hockey coach since 2014. mhatten@forumcomm.com

For more coverage of St. Cloud and the surrounding communities, check out St. Cloud Live.
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