The No. 20 Gopher Hockey program’s effort to lock up an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament came up just short on Saturday as Minnesota fell to No. 7 Michigan 5-3 in the Big Ten Tournament championship game at Xcel Energy Center.
The Gophers rallied from a two-goal deficit with three-straight goals in the second period but couldn’t contain the Wolverines’ high-powered offense and power-play units.
Leon Bristedt, Jake Bischoff and Justin Kloos scored for the Maroon & Gold while Eric Schierhorn closed out his rookie campaign with a 30-save performance and 20 wins – a figure that leads the Big Ten as well as all NCAA freshmen.
Michigan jumped out to a two-goal lead with power-play goals from Tyler Motte in the first and JT Compher in the opening 91 seconds of the second period.
But the Gophers answered as Bristedt scored on Minnesota’s first shot of the second period at 6:35 – giving the sophomore his 20th goal of the year to tie Hudson Fasching for the team lead. Vinni Lettieri and Jack Glover set up the goal
Bischoff scored his sixth goal of the year on a backhanded wraparound at 10:21 off a feed from his defensive partner Michael Brodzinski and then Justin Kloos blasted home a one-timer on Minnesota’s first and only power play of the night at 16:50. Tommy Novak and Bischoff assisted on the goal.
However, Michigan tallied a three-goal period of its own in the third period with Kyle Connor picking up the equalizer before Zach Werenski added a third power-play goal for the eventual game winner. Motte added an empty-net goal to seal Michigan’s first Big Ten Tournament title.
The Gophers close out the 2015-16 season with a 20-17-0 record after tying an NCAA record with the program’s fifth-straight regular-season conference title and third-straight Big Ten regular-season title.