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HOCKEY NOTEBOOK: Finally, the table turns for UND

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CINCINNATI — Through the years, UND has felt the heartbreak of watching other teams’ great goaltending performances steal games in the one-and-done national tournament.

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It happened in coach Dave Hakstol’s first year at the helm in the national championship game, when UND outshot Denver 45-24 only to lose.

Then, there was the agony of the 2011 NCAA Frozen Four game against Michigan, where a dominant UND team put together a dominant performance outshooting the Wolverines 40-20 only to end up losing.

Finally, Hakstol got to know what it’s like on the other side.

While Ferris State controlled most of Saturday night’s Midwest Regional final, it was his turn to have the hot goaltender steal a game.

Sophomore Zane Gothberg, a former Thief River Falls High School standout, turned in a remarkable performance in stopping 44 shots to hold off the Bulldogs and win the NCAA Midwest Regional final 2-1 in double overtime.

“Not enough can be said about Zane,” captain Dillon Simpson said.

“Zano has been the backbone of our team all year,” said junior Connor Gaarder, who scored the game-winning goal. “He’s been great.”

Ferris State dominated the third period, outshooting UND 12-2. It continued in the first overtime, where the Bulldogs had the 14-6 advantage in shots.

Ferris State forward Cory Kane, who scored a goal, racked up 11 shots on goal himself.

“We snuck one by him but as the game got longer, he started getting more confidence and playing a lot better,” Kane said. “It was tough and we kind of wish it went a different way.”

Ferris State coach Bob Daniels said goaltending was the story.

“Both goalies played really well,” Daniels said. “I thought Zane obviously had a great game. I thought C.J. Motte played really well, considering he played seven periods this weekend and only gave up two goals. It was a heck of a battle. That’s the story of the game – the goaltenders for both teams.”

Gothberg has been Reason No. 1 why UND has been able to turn a 4-7-2 start into a Frozen Four. Since Nov. 30, Gothberg is 18-4-1 with a 1.71 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage. UND has gone 21-6-1 in that frame.

“Growing up, you hear about North Dakota and North Dakota hockey,” Gothberg said. “It’s just tradition. It’s something we take pride in every single day, whether it’s practices or games. It starts with the coaching staff instilling that in us. It feels great that all of our hard work is going for a good cause. We’re a band of brothers.”

Gothberg stopped 66 of 70 shots on the weekend. And finally, on a late night in Cincinnati, UND fans were able to rejoice because one of their goaltenders stole a game in the NCAA tournament.

“It’s a lot better being on this side,” Hakstol said.

Four-seed Frozen

UND will be the only No. 4 seed to make it out of the regional and advance to the Frozen Four.

The other three No. 4 seeds were bounced in the first round in blowout fashion. Vermont lost to Union 5-2; Denver lost to Boston College 6-2; and Robert Morris lost to Minnesota 7-3.

Last year, two No. 4 seeds reached the Frozen Four – St. Cloud State and eventual national champion Yale.

Past fourth seeds to make include RIT in 2010, Miami and Bemidji State in 2009 and Notre Dame in 2008.

Notes and quotes

n Rocco Grimaldi was named most outstanding player at the Midwest Regional. Other all-tournament team members include UND’s Gaarder and Paul LaDue and Ferris State’s Motte, Cory Kane and Scott Czarnowczan.

  • UND won the faceoff battle 50-44. Grimaldi was 16-16. Connor Gaarder was 9-5.
  • Hakstol on Ferris State: “The level of respect we had for their team coming in here was extremely high. And obviously, a game like this is extremely hard-fought.”
  • Hakstol is 14-4 in NCAA regionals in his 10-year career. This is his sixth Frozen Four. It’s UND’s 20th Frozen Four.
  • UND president Robert O. Kelley and his wife, Marcia, were on hand for Saturday’s game.
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