Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth gave fans everything they could ask for for 65 minutes in a game that at least for one night, brought back the feel of the old WCHA. In the end, the game goes down in the books as a hard-fought 4-4 tie, but Minnesota skated away with the North Star College Cup trophy after a shootout that couldn't help but feel a little anti-climatic.
The two teams traded goals back and forth all night long, including a spurt of three goals in a span of 39 seconds midway through the first period. The Gophers appeared as though they would get the last goal when Travis Boyd gave Minnesota a 4-3 lead late in the third period, but Joe Basaraba's wrist shot with 2:09 remaining in regulation sent the game to overtime.
Officiating was questionable throughout the latter half of the game, with special teams dominating the latter half of the game.
10:47 Kyle Rau unassisted 1-0 Minnesota
After a good scoring chance by Minnesota-Duluth, the Gophers counterattacked and Rau found his way to the front of the net to bang home a rebound.
11:05 Caleb Herbert unassisted 1-1 tie
Herbert picked up a loose puck in the slot and fired a hard wrist shot that beat Wilcox cleanly for the goal.
11:26 Austin Farley from Caleb Herbert 2-1 UMD
Herbert drove the puck into the right corner in the Minnesota zone and flung a pass across the crease to Farley, who made a nice shot over the shoulder of a sprawling Wilcox for the goal.
15:51 Nate Condon from Seth Ambroz and Ben Marshall (power play) 2-2 tie
Condon was battling for position in front of the Minnesota-Duluth, and on a third effort, was able to jam a rebound past Crandall.
Fasching was camped out in front of the Duluth net, and got his stick on a rebound for the power play goal.
2:24 Austin Farley from Tony Cameranesi and Willie Raskob (power play) 3-3 tie
Farley took a shot from the left point on the power play that beat Wilcox to the short side off the post.
11:41 Travis Boyd from Mike Reilly and Taylor Cammarata (power play) 4-3 Minnesota
Boyd got the puck at the top of the left circle. He took two strides in and fired a wrist shot over the shoulder of Crandall.
17:51- Joe Basaraba from Willie Raskob 4-4 tie
Basaraba took two strides into the Minnesota zone and unleashed a nasty wrist shot that found the top corner of the net over Wilcox's glove.
-How could this game end with a shootout? This was a great hockey game. Lots of emotion on both sides and a lot of fun to watch a back-and-forth battle. Being that this was a tournament, there was the option to play 20-minute overtime periods until we decided a winner, and I wouldn't have minded watching these two teams play all night. Instead, the game was decided by four shooters in a shootout. We'll have more later in the week, but going to a shootout was a huge misstep for the fledgling tournament.
-Officiating was ugly in this game. A lot was let go in the first half of the game, but after Ben Marshall's questionable ejection, it seemed like everything was being called a penalty, and players caught on to that, and were doing their best to embellish infractions--including this absolute gem from Derik Johnson. That hurt the quality of play quite a bit, though did succeed in bringing the crowd into the game more, and creating a better atmosphere.
-Talk about a wild stretch of play midway through the first period with three goals being scored within 39 seconds. Minnesota-Duluth had the better jump out of the gate and were controlling play, but it was Minnesota that got on the board first when Kyle Rau scored on a rebound that Minnesota-Duluth goalie Aaron Crandall probably should have controlled.
That goal could have been deflating for Minnesota-Duluth, but they responded back beautifully with Caleb Herbert scoring 18 seconds later, and then setting up another goal just 21 seconds after that. Just a great response by a team at a difficult moment.
-Minnesota's power play was incredible all weekend, and they did so in a manner that you normally wouldn't expect from Minnesota. There weren't many pretty plays, just a lot grinding, hard work in front of the net to win battles and knock rebounds into the net. Hudson Fasching was unstoppable all weekend working down low. Even on the last goal by Boyd, Fasching didn't really factor into the play, but was such a presence in front of the net that the UMD defenseman was afraid to leave him, and that created a lane for Boyd to walk in and get a clear shot on Crandall.
-It's tough for officials to get calls right when they only get one view in real time. Austin Farley didn't make the job any easier for officials by milking his hit from Ben Marshall for all it was worth, rolling around on the ice and clutching his head. He couldn't have been hurt too badly, however, as he came back at the start of the next period to score a goal on the power play that he created with his acting. There's not much that can be done in a situation like that, but it is frustrating to see.
-Last night, I said Minnesota-Duluth was a team that was a goalie away from being a great team. They proved that again tonight, skating up and down with the best team in the nation. Both of Minnesota's first two goals were rebound goals that he probably could have controlled. He was good enough tonight though, and now, Minnesota-Duluth is creeping back into the NCAA tournament picture.
-It didn't seem like much at the time, but when Seth Ambroz took a (very weak) penalty with 1:29 left in regulation, he went absolutely nuts on the official, screaming and pointing his finger in the referee's face. Normally, that would draw a 10-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Here, it didn't. That came back to be important as Ambroz scored the winning goal in a shootout that he would not have been eligible for had he been given that misconduct.