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2016 Frozen Four: CBS line shines, as does North Dakota's depth en route to a national championship

North Dakota's top line shined throughout the NCAA Tournament, with the Fighting Hawks going on to win the program's eighth men's hockey national championship Saturday in a 5-1 win over Quinnipiac.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

TAMPA, FL- Brock Boeser had a feeling he could do something Saturday that he never accomplished in a lifetime of hockey games.

The North Dakota freshman forward, known for his offense, made a defensive stop killing a penalty. He's done that plenty of times, though.

This time Boeser blocked a pass by goaltender Michael Garteig after the Quinnipiac goaltender was at his most vulnerable, skating out 20 feet from his cage.

"I just saw that he was going to shoot it somewhere near me so I just tried to get part of my body near it," said Boeser.

He took the puck, settled it down and put it in the back of the net to give the Fighting Hawks a 2-0 first period lead against the top ranked Bobcats.

And Boeser did all that for the first time in the national championship game.

That seemed to be par for the course for this year's Fighting Hawks, culminating Saturday at Amalie Arena as North Dakota never looked back after Boeser's goal to win the school's 8th national championship in a 5-1 victory.

"It's pretty surreal. I can't really describe (the feeling) right now. I'm just proud of all our guys," Nick Schmaltz said. "Just a great way to go out. From the staff to coaching staff to our team, I couldn't be more proud of this group."

Drake Caggiula scored twice once again in Tampa, just missing a hat trick on a pair of breakaways. Boeser, meanwhile, contributed on the first four goals.

Their line, the "CBS" line with Caggiula-Boeser- Schmaltz, proved it was more than "media reports" on ESPN2. If there was any question who the top line in a year of excellent line nicknames, Saturday night against Quinnipiac's Garteig and the Frozen Four answered them all.

"We watched some film on (Garteig) and know that he had an amazing glove. He mixed a lot of glove saves," said Caggiula, named the Frozen Four's Most Outstanding Player. "We tried to stay away from his glove and get pucks off his pads to create some rebounds and at his feet and stuff like that. We did a good job."

North Dakota's top line finished with six goals and thirteen points in two games. That's beyond impressive for a trio made up of different players. There are 2 first round picks and an undrafted free agent. The Network crew features three different years in a senior, sophomore and freshman.

"I think we all mesh together really great," said Boeser. Schmaltz agreed.

At the same time, the same could be argued for North Dakota.

One line teams do not win national championships and North Dakota is not exactly a one line team. For all the deserving accolades adorned to the CBS line, several more are in order for the team's depth meshing well together.

That's how head coach Brad Berry and his team see their team at least.

To them it goes to freshman Shane Gersich contributing from his energy line role, tapping in a rebound to give the Fighting Hawks a 1-0 lead. It goes to first-year starter Cam Johnson making 35 saves and finishing with a .935 save percentage. It goes to a penalty kill that allowed one goal (on a two-man advantage) in eight chances. It goes to the team working through an injury ravaged year where seemingly any person could have been picked up off the street and given a Fighting Hawk sweater.

"It starts with our coaches and our leadership. Everyone was so welcoming right away, but the big thing was just how close we were as a team (off the ice)," said Gersich.

Getting over the hump in Berry's first year - oddly proving the people calling for his predecessor's consistent and natty title-less head right in a weird, perverted sense - meant getting a group of different players and age sets to mesh together. To try something new. Playing his final game win or lose, Caggiula had been in the losing situation before.

What changed according to the senior was the number of guys that you could say that, starting with the flashiest player to the captain to Tucker Poolman blocking shots and doing little things few would notice in real time.

They certainly did Saturday night, taking one play and turning it into five goals and the first men's hockey national championship in Grand Forks since 2000.

"Our team plays with a ton of heart of soul. People might talk about our line because maybe we put up some points or whatever it is, but the little things are what win you games," Caggiula said.