Wolverines Lead Trio Of Michigan Teams Into Hockey Tournament

The state of Michigan is well-represented in the NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey tournament.

The University of Michigan, Western Michigan, and Michigan Tech are among the 16 hockey programs in this year’s postseason competition. The Wolverines are the overall No. 1 seed, and DraftKings has odds of +275 on them prevailing as NCAA champions. Michigan (29-9-1) will take on No. 4 seed American International (22-12-3) at the Allentown Regional on Friday.

Western Michigan is the No. 3 overall seed, and DraftKings has odds of +800 on the Broncos advancing through the tournament to claim the national title. Western Michigan (25-11-1) is the top seed at the Worcester Regional and will face No. 4 seed Northeastern (25-12-1) Friday.

Michigan Tech (21-12-3) is the No. 3 seed at the Loveland Regional and will meet No. 2 seed Minnesota Duluth (21-15-4) on Thursday afternoon. DraftKings has odds of +4000 on the Huskies winning the national title.

Regional winners advance to the Frozen Four, which takes place at T.D. Garden in Boston April 7-9.

Wolverines favorites to win it all

DraftKings has Michigan -125 as a 2.5-puck line favorite over American International. Caesars posts the over/under at 6.5 total goals. DraftKings’ moneyline has the Wolverines at -550 while Caesars has the Wolverines at -700.

NCAA: AIC Yellow Jackets vs Michigan Wolverines in men’s hockey Friday https://t.co/RGrtXmZ7wq

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The Wolverines, who won the Big Ten title outright, are loaded with offensive firepower on the nation’s third-best scoring attack. Forwards Matty Beniers, Brendan Brisson, Kent Johnson, and Thomas Bordeleau lead an offense that has scored 153 goals.

Beniers, the Big Ten scoring champion and an All-Big Ten first team performer, leads the way after scoring 19 goals and recording 22 assists. He registered a conference-best 10 power play goals. Brisson, a Big Ten second team selection, proved to be nearly as threatening on the ice, with 19 goals and 18 assists and a team-leading six game-winning goals.

Johnson (8 goals, 27 assists) and Bordeleau (10 goals, 23 assists) have also delivered routinely for a Michigan team built to win a national title. Owen Power has also been an integral part of the Wolverines’ prolific scoring attack, registering a team-leading 24 assists to go along with three goals.

Sophomore goalie Erik Portillo has been steady in net, recording three shutouts, and enters tournament play with a 29-9-1 record. He owns a .928 save percentage and his 1,022 saves rank fourth in the nation.

Michigan faces an American International squad that earned a spot in the tournament by winning the Atlantic Hockey Association Championship. Blake Bennett gives the Yellow Jackets a chance in every match. He’s scored a team-best 18 goals and added 14 assists for 32 points. Chris Dodero (13 goals, 16 assists) and Justin Young (11 goals, 18 assists) have helped to provide offensive balance for the Yellow Jackets.

Goalies Jake Kucharski (12-7-3) and Alec Calvaruso (10-4) have spent time sharing the net. Calvaruso owns a 2.38 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage.

Western Michigan in the hunt

DraftKings lists favored Western Michigan at -115 on the 1.5-puck line going up against Northeastern.

The over/under is 5.5 total goals, according to DraftKings. Caesars has the over/under at 5.0 total goals. DraftKings’ moneyline has the Broncos at -290 while Caesars has the Broncos at -260.

.@WMUHockey getting a workout in this morning preparing for @GoNUmhockey. Game is Friday at noon on @ESPNU in Worcester, MA pic.twitter.com/uLLXXJsAg8

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The Broncos lean on Drew Worrad (35 assists, 9 goals), Ethan Frank (26 goals, 12 assists), Ronnie Attard (13 goals, 23 assists), and Michael Joyaux (25 assists, 7 goals). Frank’s team-best 26 goals rank among the nation’s best, and he’s been a constant threat around the net all season.

Western Michigan goalie Brandon Bussi enters the matchup with Northeastern owning a 2.60 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.

Northeastern leads the all-time series with Western Michigan at 3-1-1. Northeastern’s Aidan McDonough ranks among the nation’s top goal scorers, topping the Huskies with a team-best 24 goals.

Michigan Tech a longshot

DraftKings has Michigan Tech as a +145 underdog using the 1.5-puck line facing Minnesota Duluth. DraftKings has the over/under for the match at 5 total goals while Caesars has the over/under at 5.5. DraftKings’ moneyline has the Huskies at +165 while Caesars has the Huskies at +180.

Brian Halonen paces Michigan Tech’s attack, accounting for 21 goals and 23 assists for 44 points, which ranks second in the country. Halonen and Trenton Bliss (28 assists, 12 goals) became 100-point scorers for their careers at Michigan Tech earlier this season. Bliss’ assist total ranks ninth best nationally.

Tommy Parrottino (17 assists, 11 goals) and Logan Pietila (13 goals, 10 assists) have also been dependable on the offensive end for the Huskies.

Huskies goalie Blake Pietila ranks fourth in the nation in shutouts, recording a single-season team record seven this winter.

Blake Biondi (17 goals, 11 assists) and Kobe Roth (14 goals, 11 assists) pace the Bulldogs.

The matchup also pits Michigan Tech senior defenseman Eric Gotz (6 assists, 4 goals) against his younger brother, Minnesota-Duluth sophomore defenseman Darian Gotz (8 assists, 1 goal).

Photo: Charles LeClaire/USA Today

Author: Bradley King