DETROIT — For the last four “Duel in the D” matchups, Michigan has been victorious every time against Michigan State.
The streak continued on Saturday night.
In the two teams’ 336th meeting, the Wolverines had the edge. After defeating the Spartans, 6-2, the night before, No. 4 Michigan (23-7-1 overall, 14-6-0 Big Ten) fought through a scrappy Michigan State (11-17-1, 5-14-0) side, winning 7-3.
Freshman forward Mackie Samoskevich started it off for the Wolverines. Driving in on his forehand, he went to his backhand and shoved the puck in. Minutes later Michigan earned its first power play and capitalized.
The puck bouncing in front of the net, freshman forward Dylan Duke got his stick on the end of it, scoring the Wolverine’s second goal.
Michigan’s next best chance was through senior forward Nolan Moyle. One on one with the Michigan State goaltender, he whiffed at the puck and failed to score the Wolverine’s third goal.
The game changed in the second period when freshman forward Mark Estapa earned a major penalty, Michigan’s ninth of the season.
“We can’t keep taking major penalties,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson said. “We’re not an overly physical team and we have the puck a lot. We’ve got to get better because that can bite you in the rear end down the road.”
Yet, the Wolverines looked to keep their momentum.
In the ninth minute, freshman defenseman Luke Hughes drove up the right wing and passed across to senior forward Jimmy Lambert for the tap in goal. Michigan had its first short handed goal.
“All I had to do was be ready for it and it would end up on my tape,” Lambert said. “That’s exactly what he did. A perfect saucer pass and I didn’t have to do much other than put it in the net.”
Next, sophomore forward Thomas Bordeleau scored the breakaway but less than a minute later Michigan State responded. Striking from the blue line, it earned the upper 90 finish. Seconds after the Spartans scored again, deflecting the puck off junior defenseman Keaton Pehrson.
Five minutes left in the period, Lambert aided his side again. Taking the puck from one post to another, he nudged it in for his team’s fifth.
“It’s a good feeling for yourself but the way we played the whole weekend is even better,” Lambert said. “We stuck to it without some of our best players. We had guys step up and take on bigger roles. That proves our depth.”
Michigan State responded after sophomore defenseman Jacob Truscott swatted the puck out to an opposing player. A back and forth affair in the second, junior forward Nick Granowicz — who’s been in and out of the lineup all year — knocked in the last of the period and furthered the lead 6-3.
“He was probably our most productive player per ice time last year,” Pearson said. “This year because of our depth he’s been in and out but we’re going to need those guys like we needed them tonight. Granowicz, that’s a big goal he scored.”
The Wolverines failed to score off its third power play in the final period but looked to maintain its three goal lead. Michigan played conservatively to ice out the win. But Michigan State’s ability to score two goals in 30 seconds in the second period made it anyone’s game.
The Wolverines sealed the victory through Hughes’ strike in the final 15 seconds, earning their fourth win over the Spartans this season.
“It’s always a close and physical game (against Michigan State),” Lambert said. “Whoever wants it the most that specific night wins and this weekend we wanted it more.”For the first time since 2020, the “Duel in the D” was back — and the trophy remained in Michigan’s cabinet.