In a battle of Florida Panthers prospects, Mike Benning’s Denver Pioneers defeated Mackie Samoskevich and the Michigan Wolverines 3-2 in overtime to advance to the NCAA Division I Hockey Championship game at the Frozen Four in Boston.
Benning came out with two assists while Samoskevich did not hit the scoresheet.
Florida’s 2020 fourth-round pick was one of Denver’s most dominant players in its Frozen Four win.
In what was a go-ahead goal for the Pioneers, Benning fired off a shot which was deflected by Cameron Wright to give the Pioneers a 2-1 lead with 14:24 to go in the third period.
Minutes later, Benning showed his physicality, boxing out 2021 second overall pick Matty Beniers down low and blocking a crucial shot to keep Denver ahead.
Michigan ended up tying the game four minutes later and eventually sending it to overtime.
With 5:07 remaining in overtime, Benning cycled the puck down the boards to Bobby Brink, who found Carter Savoie for the overtime winner to send one of the most talented teams in college hockey packing.
Benning was one of the most consistent players on the ice for Denver during its tournament win, quarterbacking the power play, making big defensive plays, making crisp passes, and showing off his shot on his first assist of the game.
The 5-9 defenseman had 34 points in 39 games during his sophomore season for the Pioneers and could potentially sign his entry-level deal at the season’s end.
Benning will try to help Denver win its ninth title in program history on Saturday at 8 p.m.
UP NEXT FOR THE FLORIDA PANTHERS
BUFFALO SABRES AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Friday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, SiriusXM
- 2021 regular season series: Did not play
- Season Series — Florida leads 3-0: @Florida 7, Sabres 4 (Dec. 2); Florida 6, @Buffalo 1(March 7); Florida 5, @Buffalo 3 (April 3)
- All-time regular season series: Buffalo leads 52-45-5, 4 ties