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Michigan prevails after wild third period, beats Quinnipiac to reach Frozen Four

Wolverines give up 4 goals in the third period, but score two empty-net goals and beat Bobcats 7-4 to advance to NCAA record 26th Frozen Four

Michigan Quinnipiac 3 27 22.jpg
Players from the University of Michigan (white jerseys) and Quinnipiac (blue) men's hockey teams battle for the opening faceoff in the NCAA Division I regional championship game on March 27, 2022, at PPL Center in Allentown, Pa.
Mick Hatten / The Rink Live

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — It is something that a coach cannot replicate in a practice, but Michigan coach Mel Pearson is going to look for a way to address it going into the Frozen Four.

For the third straight playoff game, the Wolveriness let an opponent outshoot them and get back into a game that looked like it was headed for a blowout win.

But Michigan scored two empty-net goals and held off a resilient Quinnipiac team to win 7-4 in the NCAA Division I men's hockey regional championship Sunday at PPL Center. The Bobcats outshot the Wolverines 14-7 in the third period and got within 4-3 after a goal by Desi Burgart at 11:02.

"Our third periods have not been good (lately)," said Pearson, whose team has been outshot 38-20 and outscored 7-3 in the third period of its last three games. "I think that's part of being a young team (average age 21.6, eighth-youngest nationally), learning how to finish games.

"You can't recreate that in practice. That's the hardest thing. We're going to have to talk and see if we can come up with something about that because we can't have that happen again. We were reeling tonight."

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The Wolverines will have almost two weeks to figure it out before playing in the Frozen Four.

Michigan (31-9-1) will be looking to win its 10th national championship — and first since 1998 — when it heads to its NCAA record 26th Frozen Four.

The top overall seed, the Wolverines will play Denver (29-9-1) on April 7 at the TD Garden in Boston. The other semifinal will have Minnesota (26-12-0) facing Minnesota State University-Mankato (37-5-0). The Gophers beat Western Michigan 3-0 on Sunday in Worcester, Mass., to advance to the Frozen Four.

The Wolverines led 4-0 going into the third period Sunday, but Quinnipiac scored three straight goals to make the game intriguing. Junior defenseman Jayden Lee (4:12), senior center Wyatt Bongiovanni (9:01) and senior center Desi Bungart (11:02) each scored even-strength goals in the third period for the Bobcats (32-7-3) to cut the deficit to 4-3.

Quinnipiac pulled goalie Dylan St. Cyr with a little less than 4 minutes left in the third period, but the Wolverines got empty-net goals by Michael Pastujov (16:23) and Nolan Moyle (18:37) to put the game out of reach.

"It's a pretty normal decision with how I operate," said Rand Pecknold, who is in his 28th season as Bobcats head coach. "In the last 13-14 years, we've done that pretty regularly, getting the goalie out early. We had an 'O' zone draw, getting the extra guy ... it works a lot more than it doesn't for us. We've had a lot of success with it. The guys know it, they want it. The goal that made it 5-3, we just made a bad decision."

Michigan had a two-goal lead going into the second period and then got a power-play goal by Thomas Bordeleau, a second-round draft pick of the San Jose Sharks, at 6:06 and a short-handed goal by senior left wing Garrett Van Wyhe at 18:54 to make it 4-0 going into the third period.

"I could tell when we got to the locker room that we were way too high," Pearson said of the atmosphere after the second period.

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But the goal by Lee began to turn the momentum around for Quinnipiac.

"Before that first goal, we were going out to play for the logo and play for pride," Bobcats senior forward Ethan de Jong said. "We just had to go out there and play hard and play our way and good things would happen."

Burgart's goal made it a one-goal deficit with 8:58 left in the game. Then Pecknold pulled the goalie for an extra attacker and Pastujov scored into the empty net with 3:37 left to make it 5-3.

"They had all the momentum and there was four minutes left in the game," Pearson said of the Bobcats. "I'm not going to question any coach (decision), but I just thought it was interesting. But he knows his team, knows what's going on and Rand's been around a long time. I've got a ton of respect for him and he's won a ton of hockey games (581), a lot more than I have (217).

"But I just found it interesting, maybe because they were pushing. They didn't need to pull the goalie. They were all over us. That's just my thought."

This will be the first Frozen Four for all of the Michigan players except Pastujov, a fifth-year senior who played for the Wolverines in their last Frozen Four in 2018.

In the press conference room, Michigan was playing the song "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" so loudly that it could be clearly heards through the wall.

"I heard it before the game and it was in my head and I was thinking, 'I shouldn't probably be saying this right now because we haven't made it there yet' — we were just singing the song," said Wolverines sophomore right wing Brendan Brisson, a 20-year-old first round draft pick of the Vegas Golden Knights.

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"It wasn't on cue (after the game), but it's a great song. That's behind us and we're looking forward to Boston."

Michigan 7, Quinnipiac 4

Quinnipiac 0-0-4—4
Michigan 2-2-3—7

First period scoring — 1. M, Nolan Moyle 6 (Owen Power 27, Jimmy Lambert 8) :33; 2. M, Lambert 5 (Luke Hughes 22) 14:36. Penalties — None.

Second period scoring — 3. M, Thomas Bordeleau 11 (Brendan Brisson 21, Power 28) 6:06 (pp); 4. M, Garrett Van Wyhe 6 (Nick Blankenburg (15) 18:54 (sh). Penalties — Q, Michael Lombardi (hooking) 5:37; M, Erik Portillo (interference) 14:16; M, Brisson (tripping) 18:41.

Third period scoring — 5. Q, Jayden Lee 6 (Skyler Brind'Amour 17, Guus van Nes 11) 4:12; 6. Q, Wyatt Bongiovanni 16 (Ethan de Jong 21) 9:01; 7. Q, Desi Burgart 8 (Ty Smilanic 10, Jacob Quillan 6) 11:02; 8. M, Michael Pastujov 11 (Bordeleau 24, Mark Estapa 8) 16:23 (en); 9. M, Moyle 7 (Power 28) 18:37 (en); 10. M, Brisson 21 (Bordeleau 25, Power 29) 19:25 (pp); 11. Q, Zach Metsa 10 (Quillan 7, Ethan Leyh 7) 19:38. Penalties — M, Lambert (hooking) 12:17; Q, Brind'Amour (slashing) 18:37.

Goalie saves — Q, Yaniv Perets 12-7-x—19 (4 GA), Dylan St. Cyr x-x-4—4 (1 GA). M, Erik Portillo 14-6-10—30 (4 GA).

Penalties-minutes — Q 2-4; M 3-6.

Power-play goals/opportunities (shots) — Q 0-3 (3 shots); M 2-2 (3 shots).

Faceoffs — Q 35-29.

Referees — Geoff Miller, Steve Rouillard.

Linesemen — Jeff McCorkle, Kyle Richetelle.

Three stars of the game — 1. Power (M), 2. Moyle (M), 3. Bordeleau (M).

Attendance — 3,256.

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
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