PHILADELPHIA -- Minnesota senior defenseman Justin Holl picked a good time for his first goal of the season. The Chicago Blackhawks draft pick scored a shorthanded buzzer beater with 0.6 seconds to play for a 2-1 win over rival North Dakota in the Frozen Four semifinal.
Minnesota was on the penalty kill due to a late holding penalty taken by Connor Reilly with 1:39 to play in regulation. The Gophers gained possession of the puck after a faceoff with nine seconds left and started transitioning up ice.
Kyle Rau won the faceoff and got the puck to Brady Skjei. Rau got the puck back and fanned on a shot right inside the blue line, but Holl was there to fire one last shot on net.
The 282nd matchup, including the fifth in the NCAA Tournament, between the two rivals lived up the billing. The two teams were scoreless after two periods in a game high with intensity and physical play.
Terrific goaltending on both sides was a major story of the entire game, but especially in the first two periods. North Dakota's Zane Gothberg stopped 26 shots while Minnesota's Hobey Baker Hat Trick Finalist Adam Wilcox made 36 saves.
Gophers forward Sam Warning broke the deadlock at 10:51 of the final period on a broken play. Rau was circling in front of the net, but the puck bounced off his stick right to Warning who took one stride before firing the puck into the net.
It took less than a minute for North Dakota to reply on a bank-shot goal by Midwest Regional hero Connor Gaarder. The junior's initial shot was stopped, but he batted the rebound from midair off Minnesota goaltender Adam Wilcox's back and into the net.
The Gophers advance to Saturday's NCAA Championship Game against Union College looking for the program's sixth national championship.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.