But the real story was all about Mann — he was the man of the hour.
A shutout is no easy feat. After earning his fifth the day before, he tied for second in the nation for most shutouts. One day later, he did it again. Sixty minutes. One hour. That’s how long he had to laser in in-game, but his match started much earlier.
Rather than feeling confident, Pearson understood the nature of a three-goal lead and thereby, deficit. Especially in hockey, where one play can spark a snowball effect, it’s essential to maintain focus for a full 60 minutes. But when you believe you’re safe, when you let down your guard, take your foot off the pedal, kinks in a seemingly-insurmountable lead start to show.
In wake of the Big Ten Tournament, the Michigan Daily hockey beat sat down and discussed their thoughts on how the tournament would play out.
With a field of Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Michigan State and Wisconsin, respectively ordered in how they placed in the Big Ten standings, anything could happen in the well-balanced conference battles.
Did he know that he had just scored the game winner, the one that would clinch Michigan home ice in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament after it held on to beat Minnesota, 2-1? Or that he had revived the Wolverines’ hopes for a deep postseason run? Maybe not, but every player on the ice knew the magnitude of that shot.
He bailed them out when he had to face 39 shots in the second and third periods. He bailed them out when they took penalty after penalty. He bailed them out when Minnesota turned a man-disadvantage into two Grade-A shorthanded shots.
Whenever the team would slip up, he was there to catch their faults. When the game went to a shootout, he was there to make the saves.
Yet against Notre Dame, Michigan could muster only a single goal over the course of two games — and it was scored by an extra attacker on an empty-net situation. The Fighting Irish stymied the Wolverines’ hot hands, sweeping them over two games at Yost.
For all of Saturday’s game, Michigan and Notre Dame had struggled to score.
Both teams went two full periods unable to produce a single goal. The scarcity of goals wasn’t the fault of poor offense, but rather exceptional defense. Both sides have stout goaltending. They play the passing lanes. They pack the crease. And they recognized that the highly-coveted first goal would be the deciding factor.
Jake Slaker finished his lap around the ice with a deadpan look on his face. The senior forward had scored the opening goal Friday at Munn Ice Arena, and made it a point to turn to the Michigan State student section.
Until that point, the arena had been moderately loud. The Michigan hockey team likes to joke Munn is a library in terms of atmosphere, but the jeers and chants rained from all around, contrary to its defamation.