Adam Fantilli had the luxury of scoring his first goal against Lindenwood — twice.
With three minutes to go in the first period, the freshman center lined up on the right side and smacked home a one-timer for his first career goal. Slicing towards the student section, Fantilli slammed into the boards for what he hoped was the first of many for the No. 7 Michigan hockey team.
Or not. Just a few minutes later, the goal was credited to sophomore forward Dylan Duke after a tip-in on front of the net. The first goal would have to wait.
“I feel bad for taking Duker’s celly there,” Fantilli said. “He’s been working really hard. I’m glad he got that one. And, I’m happy I was able to put one in in the second. So, all’s well that ends well.”
Despite logging his second assist of the season, Fantilli had no intention of letting up.
In the ensuing period, the Wolverines entered a five on three power play situation. Receiving a drop pass from freshman forward Rutger McGroarty, Fantilli patiently circled the offensive zone before skating above the left hash-marks and ripping a five-hole shot that left no doubt.
So far, Fantilli’s offensive presence has come as advertised. The freshman’s potent skill set has driven Michigan’s first line. Logging two points and five shots, Fantilli was seemingly everywhere on the ice, contributing throughout the contest.
And as for Dylan Duke, he may not have got his stick on it a second time, but between after two games together, he’s seen enough.
“He’s obviously a great hockey player,” Duke said. “(He’s) got a lot of hockey sense. He just had a lane and took it for himself and made an unbelievable shot. … Super happy for him to get that goal. He’s playing unbelievable hockey.”
Yet, the most impressive part about Fantilli’s game might not be on the offensive side.
What may define the center more than the shots, or the stick-handling, is the 200-foot play. The centerman played continuously on the Wolverines’ special teams, contributing in an integral role in Michigan’s two killed penalties.
And that’s a role that isn’t changing soon, as Michigan coach Brandon Naurato emphasizes his players’ defensive mindset.
“I think it’s important to get your top guys on the ice and put them in those situations,” Naurato said. “Their up ice pressure on the penalty kill has been unreal. And they’re getting scoring chances from it, so it’s been good.”
That pressure continuously chipped away at the Lions’ composure as Fantili found himself participating in extracurricular activity each time he saw the ice. Lindenwood keyed in on the freshman, battling him throughout the night.
These battles had direct consequences. In the waning moments of the second period, after a whistle and a stopped puck, Fantilli found himself scrumming with Lions’ defenseman Joe Prouty. An exchange of words and some shoves later and the two sat opposite each other in the penalty box.
Fantilli’s motor has its upsides, but it can prove dangerous, too. Opposing teams are all too happy to let Fantilli sit in the sin bin. He can’t score goals if he can’t take the ice.
For Fantilli though, it’s a minor bump on a longer road.
“I think we did a good job of containing ourselves,” Fantilli said. “Mine in particular, (we) just stopped, kind of a bit of a cheap shot, and I didn’t like it too much, so I just went after him a little bit. But that was pretty much it.”
Nevertheless, with a goal, an assist and a roughing penalty, Fantilli’s night came as close to a Gordie Howe Hat Trick as a college player can. And for the Wolverines, that’s more than enough.
Fantilli’s 200-foot game defines his play. And although this is only the start, wherever the puck goes, Adam Fantilli will follow.