With the second period coming to a close and the Michigan hockey team up by one, freshman defenseman Luke Hughes retrieved the puck from senior defenseman Jack Summers. Gliding up the left of his defenseman zone, Hughes swayed towards the center and faced an Ohio State defenseman.
What Hughes did next dropped every jaw inside Yost Ice Arena.
Faking with his left shoulder, he made his defender swing in the opposite direction. Now all he had to do was conquer the goaltender — and he did with style.
Taking the puck from left to right, Hughes was a step ahead and the goaltender, Jakub Dobes, couldn’t react in time. Tapping the puck in behind him on an empty gap, he scored his team’s second goal and his sixteenth this season.
“He just has so much speed and control in his edges,” sophomore forward Philippe Lapointe said, praising Hughes. “He makes it look so easy. It was effortless. He undressed the goalie and it was a spectacular goal.”
The Buckeyes didn’t expect the goal and by the time they responded, Hughes was already celebrating with his teammates. But it’s clear this isn’t the first time Hughes’s teammates have seen him go end to end and finish as he did tonight.
“We see it coming a little more,” Lapointe said. “Ohio State was surprised by it. They were caught flat footed. He does it all the time in practice and he tries to wheel as much as he can.”
Hughes’s confidence and creativity was seen in every aspect of the play. As Hughes passed his defender, two other Ohio State skaters encroached on him. Hughes knew what he wanted to do and they couldn’t catch him.
Hughes had high expectations entering his first season in Ann Arbor. Not only has he done his job defensively, but he’s paired his 16 goals with 16 assists. Hughes will likely not play nearly as many games as the seniors on the roster, but his impact on this team will stand.
“He’s a game changer,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson said. “He’s grown so much. He has tremendous speed, creativity and the wherewithal to make a play like that. His confidence is through the roof.”
Hughes’s bloodline at Michigan runs back to his older brother Quinn Hughes, the 7th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. He’s been coming to games since his brother started playing for the Wolverines in 2017. The two are different but the same. Hughes shares his brother’s confidence. It starts with his skating and ability to read plays before they happen. He’s proven to be a deadly finisher, earning three times as many goals as his brother when he was a freshman.
But it’s clear the hype doesn’t faze him, and when asked about the highlight reel goal, he answered humbly.
“I caught a pass and had a speed coming in,” Hughes said. “I made a cut and the defenseman was flat footed … I made a nice fake and it went into the back net.”
And when asked about if he would brag about it to his brothers, in similar behavior he turned it back to them and their accolades.
“They probably saw it and we’ll text a little bit,” Hughes said. “But I don’t know, they’ve had some pretty cool ones too.”