NCAA FROZEN FOUR SEMIFINAL: Michigan defeats UND in 2-0 heartbreakerThe season started 3,000 miles from St.Paul with the UND men’s hockey team winning a tournament in Anchorage, starting a theme that carried throughout the season.
By: Brad Elliott Schlossman, Grand Forks Herald
ST. PAUL — The season started 3,000 miles from here with the UND men’s hockey team winning a tournament in Anchorage, starting a theme that carried throughout the season.
The Sioux won the Subway Holiday Classic, the Hall of Fame Game, the MacNaughton Cup, the Broadmoor Trophy and the NCAA Midwest Regional. But their season ended on Thursday night in Xcel Energy Center without the big trophy that this team coveted the most.
Despite racking up 40 shots on goal, the Sioux lost to the University of Michigan 2-0 in a Frozen Four semifinal game that they largely controlled. The Sioux were seeking their eighth national title
It was an excruciating end for the Sioux, who were ranked No. 1 nationally and hadn’t lost a game in more than two months.
“This is real tough,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “This is real tough to take.”
The Sioux, who won the third-most games in program history this season, end with a 32-9-3 overall record. Alternate captain Derrick LaPoint said that despite all of the titles the Sioux won this season, he doesn’t look at it as a success.
“We failed what we were trying to do,” LaPoint said. “We were trying to win a national championship and we didn’t do it. We can look at what we’ve done and, yeah, it’s great. But this is the biggest stage and you want the biggest trophy. To not do it, it’s a failure, at least in my mind. We had an outstanding season and won those games and championships. But to not win a national championship, it’s a failure in my mind.”
Michigan, which got a first-period goal by Ben Winnett and an empty-netter from Scooter Vaughan, ad-
vances to Saturday’s national championship game against Minnesota-Duluth (6 p.m., ESPN).
The No. 1 star was Michigan goalie Shawn Hunwick, a senior who started his career as a walk-on but turned into a standout last season. His team got outshot 40-20, but he made all of the saves. The biggest were perhaps a pair on Evan Trupp from down low with about a minute left in regulation.
“I don’t think anybody in the locker room considered the option of losing down the stretch,” Hakstol said. “I’m very proud of the standards that our leaders had set, not just this year, but throughout their time within our program. For it to come to a close short of our goal, it’s pretty difficult.”
Michigan coach Red Berenson compared the game to 1997, when the Wolverines entered the Frozen Four as big favorites, but lost in the semifinals. UND went on to win the national championship.
“The best team doesn’t always win,” Berenson said.
Michigan scored the only goal it needed at 13:26 of the opening frame. Moments after the Wolverines hit the post, rookie defenseman Jon Merrill launched a point shot into traffic in the slot. The puck deflected off Luke Glendening’s skate and to Winnett, who skated to the side and beat Sioux goalie Aaron Dell.
UND started to take command of the game in the second period, outshooting Michigan 11-3. Matt Frattin, who saw a 15-game point streak snapped, set up Chay Genoway for a golden chance. Jason Gregoire blew by a Wolverine defender and took it hard to the net for another.
In the third period, the Sioux continued to pile up the shots. The best chances in the final 20 were when Brad Malone beat a defenseman and took it to the crease and when Trupp had back-to-back chances with the extra attacker.
“You can’t even put it into words,” LaPoint said. “You never want to lose your senior year, especially for the group of guys I’m graduating with. They are some of my best friends and for them not to win a national championship and not to end it the right way — the way we wanted to — is extremely difficult.
“It’s been a dream of mine to play for the Fighting Sioux. I really wanted to add to the tradition of the program. To not win a national championship, it’s heartbreaking. You don’t want to do it. It will definitely take a long time for me to take this jersey off. I wore this jersey with pride for my whole four years here. We’ve left it on the table all four years we’ve been here.”