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BRAD SCHLOSSMAN: Ranking the season that was

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From Connor Gaarder scoring in double overtime to send UND to the NCAA Frozen Four to the UND women pulling off a stunning win at Ridder Arena, ending the sport’s longest winning streak in history, there were a number of lasting memories from the 2013-14 men’s and women’s hockey seasons.

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Here are UND’s top 10:

10. Dufault sends UND to Final Faceoff

The UND women reached their fourth consecutive Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Faceoff thanks to an overtime game-winner by Meghan Dufault in Game 2 of the first-round series. It extended UND’s winning streak in first-round games to seven and the team’s unbeaten streak against Bemidji State to 14 games.

9. UND jumps into NCHC race with win at SCSU

UND lit up the scoreboard for five goals in the second period as it knocked off league-leading St. Cloud State in the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. Gaarder had two goals in that period as UND ate up rebounds left by goalie Ryan Faragher. The win put UND in the driver’s seat in the NCHC race, but SCSU ended up jumping back into the race with a Saturday night win.

8. UND sweeps Duluth in AmsOil Arena

Perhaps UND’s most impressive weekend of the year came in February when the team swept the Bulldogs in AmsOil Arena. It ended with a fantastic performance, where UND threw 22 shots on goal in the first period, then scored four goals in the span of 7:20 in the second period.

7. Illness doesn’t rattle UND

It started on a Sunday afternoon in Omaha. Several players got the flu. Dillon Simpson was vomiting between shifts until he could no longer play by the third. UND, rolling four defenseman, killed a 5-on-3 power play in the third as it hung on for a 3-2 win. Clarke Saunders came up huge in the win.

The following week, UND only had 12 players at practice on Tuesday because so many guys got the flu. Still reeling from the flu the next Friday, UND was outshot by Duluth 36-23, but Saunders once again came up huge as UND stole a 4-2 win.

6. UND women beat Wisconsin at Final Faceoff

UND reached the WCHA championship game for the second consecutive year by beating No. 2 Wisconsin in the Final Faceoff. Dufault scored in the second period and Shelby Amsley-Benzie posted a 35-save shutout. A year earlier, UND beat the Badgers 2-1 in the Final Faceoff to reach the championship.

5. UND wins first-ever NCHC game

In front of a national television audience on CBS Sports, UND won the first-ever NCHC game at then-No. 1 Miami. Michael Parks scored the first-ever NCHC goal. UND built a 3-0 lead and won a very entertaining game 4-2.

4. Oshie sets stage for UND blowout

The day started with T.J. Oshie taking center stage at the Olympics by repeatedly scoring shootout goals against Russia. Oshie eventually gave the U.S. a dramatic win that captivated a national audience. With Grand Forks buzzing over Oshie’s performance, UND took the ice and delivered a big-time drubbing of Miami, beating the RedHawks 9-2 to complete a sweep.

UND scored four goals in the first (and even had two disallowed), then tacked on four more in the second period. Just 33 minutes into the game, UND led 8-1. By then, UND was well on its way to a key home sweep.

3. UND gets into the NCAAs in dramatic fashion

On the day before the NCAA tournament field was announced, UND did its job and beat Western Michigan 5-0 to give itself a chance to make the NCAAs. Then, it sat back and watched a crazy night unfold. Knowing it needed the Badgers to beat Ohio State in the Big Ten championship to get in, things looked bleak as the Buckeyes led by two goals with seven minutes to go. But the Badgers rallied to tie, then won it in overtime.

UND watched it unfold at the team hotel in downtown Minneapolis. Ironically, UND ended up ending Wisconsin’s season a week later in the Midwest Regional.

2. UND ends ‘the streak’

Minnesota reeled off 62 consecutive wins, an NCAA record that may never be broken. But that came to an end on a Sunday afternoon in Ridder Arena. UND charged out to a 3-0 lead in the opening 12:39 on goals by Kayla Gardner, Gracen Hirschy and Susanna Tapani, then held off a hard-charging Gopher team for a 3-2 victory. It was Minnesota’s first loss since Feb. 17, 2012 — also at the hands of UND in Ridder Arena. Freshman goalie Lexie Shaw was in net for UND.

1. Connor Gaarder sends UND to Frozen Four

UND reached its sixth Frozen Four in 10 years in dramatic fashion with Gaarder scoring a double overtime, game-winning goal against Ferris State in Cincinnati. The game was a classic with UND getting a big-time performance from Zane Gothberg in goal.

On the winning goal, Gaarder collected a rebound of a Paul LaDue shot and slipped it between the pads of Hobey Baker Award finalist C.J. Motte.

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Brad Elliott Schlossman
Schlossman is in his 11th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2014, he was named one of the top three beat writers in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.
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