U-M Hockey: Wolverines head to Columbus for Big Ten semifinal showdown

 

The Michigan hockey team is heading to Columbus with a renewed sense of confidence as they skate into the Big Ten semifinals after an impressive 7-4 victory over the sixth-seeded Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday night at Yost.

But the Wolverines have been here before. They have taken the ride up the roller-coaster a few times this season only to slip and fall. In fact, the last time they headed south into Buckeye Country they brought with them a four-game winning streak after sweeping Minnesota and Penn State.

Ohio State won both games, including 4-0 in the opener.

But maybe, just maybe, the Wolverines have finally patched up the thin ice and are skating on terra firma. Since a loss to Wisconsin on Feb. 3, the Wolverines have been playing their best hockey of the season, sweeping Michigan State, Notre Dame and Arizona State before two wins over the Badgers, including Saturday night’s impressive offensive showing.

U-M tied its season-high with seven goals and 14 Wolverines reached the point sheet on the night led by Dexter Dancs with two goals. Joseph Cecconi, Tony Calderone, Josh Norris and Nick Pstujov all had two assists in the win.

The victory over Wisconsin should be enough to get the Maize and Blue into the NCAA Tournament. But another win will all but lock it up.

“I hope so,” said U-M Coach Mel Pearson of playing in the tournament. “But we have a goal of winning the Big Ten championship. I do know if we continue to win we will be in good shape.”

The seniors have been stepping up for the Wolverines at the right time of the season. Calderone had four goals in Michigan’s 6-5 win over Wisconsin on Friday and fellow senior Dancs found the net twice on Saturday.

“I’m really happy for the seniors,” said U-M Coach Mel Pearson. “They have had some struggles here but also some good moments. You need your seniors and juniors to be your leaders this time of year and I think they’ve stepped up. Good for them and good for us because we need them.”

Another key for Michigan’s latest run is getting contributions from everyone on the roster. “We have more guys contributing which we need,” Pearson said. “And that’s been part of the success here in the second half. We are getting more contributions from more players.”

Michigan plays OSU at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday (Big Ten Network). The winner plays in the finals on March 17.

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