Michigan hockey is entering a potentially painful summer after NCAA losses

BOSTON – Erik Portillo spread out in the fold and looked back as the puck jumped out of the net behind the Michigan goalkeeper. Defender Luke Hughes slammed his stick down on the crossbar, breaking it in the middle on another turn across the tube.

Just like that, Wolverines’ season, filled with national championship dreams thanks to one of the most talented lists in program history, came to an abrupt and overwhelming end. The top-seeded team in the NCAA Tournament could not survive Denver’s dominance in a 3-2 overtime loss that eliminated UM and extended its title drought to 24 years.

With the loss comes big questions, including whether Wolverines’ first seven rounds of NHL draft picks will return and how the program plans to replace a number of key seniors. But no one is greater than whether coach Mel Pearson returns for a sixth season – and if he should, after a season full of controversy ended with a 10th national title and a hollow sense of underachievement after wasting so much talent.

Michigan head coach Mel Pearson watches a game against Denver in the third period of the Frozen Four semifinals at TD Garden in Boston on Thursday, April 7, 2022.

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According to the Michigan Daily, the five-year contract that Pearson signed when he was hired to replace Red Berenson in 2017 expires on April 30. The student newspaper reported that talks on an extension had been put on hold until after the Frozen Four.

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