Late goal lifts Duluth past UND 4-3 in NCHC title game
MINNEAPOLIS -- The fifth time wasn't the charm.
Bulldog forward Joey Anderson scored a five-on-three power-play goal with 50.3 seconds left to give Minnesota Duluth a 4-3 win in a wild, penalty-filled National Collegiate Hockey Conference championship game Saturday night in the Target Center.
Anderson banked a shot off of UND defenseman Hayden Shaw and between the legs of Cam Johnson to seal the playoff title for the Bulldogs.
It's the fifth time that UND has lost to the Bulldogs this season.
The Fighting Hawks (21-15-3) got swept in Duluth in October and once again in Grand Forks in January. The latest loss prevented UND from winning the NCHC Frozen Faceoff for the first time in program history.
But the good news for UND is that its season didn't depend on winning the game.
The Fighting Hawks secured a spot in the NCAA tournament by beating No. 1 Denver on Friday night and UND will be a No. 3 seed in the NCAA West Regional in Fargo's Scheels Arena next weekend.
The full bracket will be revealed at 11 a.m. today on ESPNU.
"I thought our team showed exceptionally well on this stage as a young team with a lot of great teams here," UND coach Brad Berry said. "I'm very proud of the effort we put forward and we'll be ready for next weekend.
"We didn't win this championship game, but it made our group a lot stronger. We're going to reset. We were in this predicament last year. We reset and you all know what the ending to that was. We feel very confident in our group with what we accomplished this weekend. We had a goal. We needed to win one game to get into the NCAA tournament this weekend. We did that. Guess what? We're going to reset and be even stronger next weekend."
While it was Joey Anderson who scored the winning goal, it was referees Todd Anderson and Geno Binda who were at center stage in the title game.
There were 57 penalty minutes, 27 minor penalties, 16 power plays and four five-on-threes.
All three of UND's goals by Brock Boeser, Tyson Jost and Trevor Olson came on the power play. A pair of Duluth's power plays, including the eventual winner.
A total of 23 minutes, 34 seconds of the game were played on the power play one way or the other. Only about half of the game was played five-on-five.
UND had 10 power plays and scored on three. Duluth had six and scored on two.
Berry didn't specifically comment on the nature of the game, but said: "It was a heated battle out there with two rivals going at it. I feel very strongly that our team plays the right way."
UND lost star defenseman Tucker Poolman in the first period to an apparent upper-body injury after he collided with Bulldog defenseman Brenden Kotyk in the corner.
Poolman slowly skated to the bench and went straight to the locker room. He didn't return.
"He's one of the toughest guys we have in the NCHC," Berry said. "Expect him to be back playing in the regional next weekend."
UND, which was looking for its first conference playoff title since 2012, when it won the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five in St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center, got off to a great start.
UND dominated the opening period, outshooting Duluth 16-4 -- shot attempts were 42-6 UND -- and jumping out to a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Boeser.
But things came unraveled early in the second period.
Minnesota Duluth scored three times in the span of 1:08 to take the lead.
Dominic Toninato scored on a rebound at 1:30, Riley Tufte scored on a snap shot at 1:47 and Adam Johnson buried a snap shot on a power play at 2:28.
UND cut the lead to 3-2 when Jost buried an Olson cross-crease feed for a five-on-three power-play goal at 9:00 of the second.
UND tied it late in the third period on another five-on-three power play as Olson blasted a one-timer past Bulldog freshman goalie Hunter Miska (32 saves) with just 2:46 to go.
But UND took back-to-back penalties and Anderson won it on his bank shot.
"There were ups and downs the whole game," Olson said. "There were penalties on both sides. Obviously, losing those two men late, it's a kill we need to have. But we're not going to hold it against our guys."