Dec. 29, 2015
» Senior goaltender Steve Racine (35 saves) made his first start since Nov. 28, earning the win in net.
» Defenseman Cutler Martin notched his first goal of the season.
Site: Detroit, Mich. (Joe Louis Arena)
Event: 51st Annual Great Lakes Invitational (Semifinals)
Score: #10 Michigan 3, Northern Michigan 2
Records: U-M (10-3-3), NMU (6-7-6)
Next U-M Event: Wednesday, Dec. 30 -- vs. Michigan Tech (Detroit, Mich.), 7 p.m.
DETROIT, Mich. -- Freshman forward Kyle Connor scored the game-winning goal at 4:05 of the third period to break a 2-2 tie and lift the 10th-ranked University of Michigan ice hockey team to a 3-2 win against Northern Michigan in a 51st Great Lakes Invitational semifinal contest at Joe Louis Arena.
Senior goaltender Steve Racine made a season-high 35 saves to earn the win in net in his return after missing one month of action due to a lower-body injury.
Senior forward Justin Selman and sophomore defenseman Cutler Martin also notched goals for the Wolverines, who will play for their 17th Great Lakes Invitational title tomorrow night at 7 p.m. against Michigan Tech, which beat Michigan State, 3-2, in the early game.
With the game tied 2-2 heading into the third period, Connor showed off his skating ability, wheeling around the net from left to right, skating into the slot, and beating Northern Michigan goaltender Atte Tolvanen (31 saves) with a high wrist shot to give Michigan the lead.
The Wolverines had to kill off a five-minute major penalty to junior forward Alex Kile late in the period, as Kile was sent off for contact to the head elbowing at 13:00. The Wolverines were outstanding on the extended kill, blocking several shots -- Michigan had 25 blocked shots on the night -- and holding off the Wildcats in the final moments of the game to salt away the win.
Michigan finished a perfect 3-for-3 on the night on the PK while going 1-for-4 on the power play.
The Wolverines had the momentum early on in the game, as one of five defensemen dressed for the night helped U-M take a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. Martin took a pass from Connor at the left point and fired a shot that deflected off the stick of a Northern Michigan defender and over the shoulder of Tolvanen at 11:42 to put Michigan ahead 1-0.
Racine was sharp after the long layoff, stopping all 13 shots against in the first period. He made a good forearm stop on Dominik Shine's wrist shot in front at the 7:25 mark and stood his ground on a net-front flurry at the 15:00 mark before Michigan cleared the puck out of the defensive zone.
Northern Michigan responded in the second period with two goals in the opening 12:00 of the frame to take the lead.
A late-developing 2-on-1 for the Wildcats saw Ryan Trenz feed Gerard Hanson at the goal mouth. Hanson shoveled a shot over Racine at 2:39 to tie the game. Later on in the period, with Michigan's fourth line stuck on the ice, Shine poked in a rebound off a point shot by Barrett Kalb to put the Wildcats ahead.
However, Michigan went on the power play just after Northern's go-ahead goal and tied the game on a great play by Selman. Sophomore defenseman Sam Piazza fired a shot from straight away that Selman deflected low past Tolvanen at 12:35.
Michigan had a chance to pull ahead late in the second period when NMU's Hanson was sent off for a five-minute major contact to the head penalty after a hit on Joseph Cecconi at 13:37. The Wolverines did not score on the major penalty, and Cecconi did not return for the remainder of the contest, leaving the Wolverines with four defensemen.
-- Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) December 30, 2015
But Michigan skated away with the win and will play for a Great Lakes Invitational title for the 30th time.
Communications Contact: Jeffrey Weinstein