BOSTON, Mass. — Michigan’s hockey season ended with a 3-2 overtime loss to Denver on Thursday night in the Frozen Four.
After 15 minutes of extra time which the Wolverines largely mastered, an error in the defensive zone led to an offensive opportunity for the Pioneers. Carter Savoie scored on his own rebound to send Denver to the NCAA Tournament Championship Game.
It was a disappointing end to an entertaining season for Michigan. A roster packed with NHL talent meant the Wolverines had Frozen Four expectations since last summer. They achieved that goal but failed to end the program’s championship drought.
After the game, Mel Pearson met with members of the media to reflect on the game, the season and his future at Michigan. Here’s what the coach had to say:
COACH MEL PEARSON: Opening Speech
First, I just want to congratulate Denver. It was a tough match. It’s one hell of a hockey team. I want to wish them the best. They did a good job. Second, I couldn’t be — this is my 40th year in Division I hockey — I couldn’t be more proud of the young men I’ve been able to coach this year. It’s the most fun I’ve had. And I owe them everything. And I just told them at the end that this game is not going to define who they are as hockey players or people. There are a lot of expectations on this band, and they exceeded those expectations and handled all that pressure so well. So I want to thank them publicly.
Q. Can you explain to the X’s and the why it was difficult tonight? Denver has good players. What did they do well?
COACH PEARSON: You know, the first period, they had a third guy back all the time. And we tried to carry the puck through that. They created too many turnovers especially in what we call the danger zones, the blue line, the top of the circles.
As the game progressed we got a little better with our puck possession, started making a few plays, got a little more comfortable. But they played desperate. And with the layers and the blocking of shots, they took a lot away from us. And we would drop it in the corner and reload and grind. They are just structurally very good defensively. Everyone thought it might be a high score game. But both teams played solidly defensively. And the keeper was great too. They check. It’s their MO. And it all starts with their defense offensively and they worked hard tonight. They really made it difficult for us, as you mentioned.
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