Scott Sandelin got his wish.
The University of Minnesota-Duluth head coach, following his team's 5-4 overtime win Friday over Minnesota State at the Xcel Energy Center, said "I kind of hope it's Minnesota again."
Minnesota (18-2-3, 7-0-1-0 Big Ten) did its part by defeating St. Cloud 4-1 in the nightcap. The two teams face off for the North Star College Cup championship at 7:10 p.m. CT.
Fox Sports North will broadcast the inaugural championship, which was formed in March 2013 after realignment saw the five Minnesota schools (Bemidji State is sitting out this year's edition) move from all being in one conference to three different ones.
The Bulldogs (10-9-2, 5-6-1-1 NCHC) overcame both an early Minnesota State goal and 4-3 deficit in the third period - the Mavericks and UMD traded shorthanded goals - to win the game on an Alex Iafallo power play goal with 26.5 seconds left in overtime.
"You hate to give up a goal like that, especially when you've been buzzing like we were the first ten minutes," Minnesota-Duluth goalie Aaron Crandall said about the early goal, which came from behind the UMD net. "I've always tried to tell myself an early one or a bad one isn't worth two."
Minnesota, meanwhile, had its hands full against the fifth-ranked Huskies. St. Cloud State showed its speed and offensive power at times. However, the Gophers' defense was physical at times and able to match SCSU in St. Paul.
"Throughout the first half of the game we were trying to find our game," said Gophers goaltender Adam Wilcox, who made 37 saves Friday. "Towards the end of the game we were blocking shots, getting sticks on puck and covering guys in front of the net. Our team did a really good job of that."
It also helped that Minnesota got help from a couple players on offense. The top-ranked Gophers went 2 for 2 on the power play with Travis Boyd and Hudson Fasching, who hadn't recorded a goal in 11 games, each scoring with the man advantage.
While neither coach was 100% happy with his team's play, resilience and special teams have Minnesota and UMD facing off for the third time this season. The duo split a series earlier and Bulldogs were the last team to defeat Minnesota with a 6-2 win on November 24 at Mariucci Arena - a span of 11 games for the Gophers. That's something on the team's mind f the tournament title and bragging rights weren't enough.
"You can't get too cute against good teams. They're going to ram it back down your throat," said Minnesota head coach Don Lucia, who also thought the Bulldogs were better than its record indicated. "So we did enough to win (Friday), but again we have to be better tomorrow."
With Minnesota looking for a little more offense, what is old is new again.
The biggest addition for the Gophers from Friday is the return of defenseman Jake Parenteau. The senior has been out since December 6 with a broken leg. He is in the lineup in place of freshman Michael Brodzinski.
Feels good to be back in the line up. Been over 7 weeks! Let's get the win tonight and hold up some hardware! #gopherhockey— Jake Parenteau (@jacobjames6) January 25, 2014
The next biggest adjustment is Lucia reuniting his top-six for most of the first half. Sam Warning is playing on the right wing with Kyle Rau and Hudson Fasching after a couple weeks on the second line. Taylor Cammarata, meanwhile, is reunited with Nate Condon and Justin Kloos.
Other changes for the Gophers include redshirt freshman Connor Reilly in for A.J. Michaelson and Gabe Guertler in for Vinni Lettieri. Both changes occur on the fourth line.
Minnesota-Duluth, meanwhile, is making no changes from last night.
Crandall is listed as the Bulldogs' starter while Adam Wilcox is in net for the Gophers.
University of Minnesota Golden Gophers
Sam Warning (#11) - Kyle Rau (#7) - Hudson Fasching (#24)
Nate Condon (#16) - Justin Kloos (#25) - Taylor Cammarata (#13)
Tom Serratore (#14) - Travis Boyd (#22) - Seth Ambroz (#17)
Connor Reilly (#21) - Gabe Guertler (#27) - Christian Isackson (#26)
Brady Skjei (#2) - Justin Holl (#12)
Mike Reilly (#5) - Jake Parenteau (#6)
Jake Bischoff (#28) - Ben Marshall (#10)
Adam Wilcox (#32)
Michael Shibrowski (#1)
University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs
Kyle Osterberg (#8) - Tony Cameranesi (#13) - Justin Crandall (#25)
Austin Farley (#11) - Caleb Herbert (#21) - Joe Basaraba (#18)
Alex Iafallo (#14) - Dominic Toninato (#17) - Adam Krause (#26)
Max Tardy (#19) - Cal Decowski (#27) - Sammy Spurrell (#28)
Carson Soucy (#4) - Andy Welinski (#7)
Derik Johnson (#6) - Willie Raskob (#15)
Willie Corin (#5) - Dan Molenaar (#3)
Aaron Crandall (#1)
Matt McNeely (#36)
Follow Nate Wells (@gopherstate), Chris Dilks (@chrisdilks) and Matt Christians (@matt_christians) for live updates from the Xcel Energy Center.
Tonight's game starts at 7:10 p.m. CT (8:10 p.m. ET) and airs on Fox Sports North. It can also be streamed online at BTN2Go.com.