Herald Top 5 memories: UND's 2016 win over Denver snapped a Frozen Four drought

Nick Schmaltz scores the game-winning goal in the 2016 NCAA Frozen Four semifinals against Denver. Herald File Photo.

Editor's note: In this series, the Grand Forks Herald's veteran sports staff ranks its top five memorable games or moments. Herald sports reporter Tom Miller finishes his list with this No. 1 memorable event.

College hockey isn’t my typical beat. But when the local college football season ends and the UND hockey program is making a postseason push, I’ve been lucky enough to join colleague Brad Schlossman to cover the team during the playoffs.

That took me to NCAA Frozen Fours in Boston, Philadelphia, St. Paul and Tampa in a six-year span starting in 2011.

Writing columns about hockey when there was a deadline looming for the story to make the Herald’s print edition was always a challenge.

Many times, you need to start writing the column while the game is still going on in order to have the story finished by deadline.


That means you often need to follow your instincts and start writing in a certain direction, even if the game isn’t fully decided yet.

On April 7, 2016, UND was playing Denver in the Frozen Four semifinals in Tampa, and the game was pushing deadline.

After Denver scored twice in the third period to tie the game at 2, I started writing.

I wrote how the UND hockey program was delivering another gut punch to the fanbase.

I wrote about the 2014 Frozen Four in Philadelphia and how this compared to the bitter ending where Minnesota’s Justin Holl scored with 0.6 seconds left to stun UND.

I wrote about how similar this would be to UND’s 2011 Frozen Four disappointment against Michigan on a snake-bit night in St. Paul.

But with 57 seconds left between UND and Denver, UND’s Nick Schmaltz scored.


2444855+GO AHEAD GOAL.jpg
UND's Drake Caggiula, Nick Schmaltz, Tucker Poolman and Brock Boeser celebrate Schmaltz's go-ahead goal in the third period to beat Denver. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

I’ll never forget that moment, as it was years and years of Frozen Four disappointment released in a single scoring chance.

The media raced down to the locker room to get a few quotes from players. When I returned to my computer, there wasn’t enough time remaining to deadline to completely scrap all the words I had written while the game looked like Denver was going to win.

I kept the words about past disappointments and how this looked like UND was coming up short at another national title.

But I remember adding in these two important qualifying paragraphs:

“Not this time.

“This time, the rowdy green crowd had something to cheer about.”

Herald Top 5 Lists

Wayne Nelson


5. It was an entertaining night at the Old Ralph for a Virgil Hill fight

4. UND’s win at Northern Iowa set the stage for the move to FCS

3. After four years of frustration, UND’s 2000 win over SDSU was satisfying

2. UND’s win over Weber State lifted the Hawks to the NCAA big stage

1. This UND women's basketball win over North Dakota State turned the tables in the decade of dominance

Tom Miller

5. Stunning fourth quarter made 2011 UND-South Dakota football game unforgettable

4. A halfcourt buzzer-beater to get Badger-Greenbush-Middle River to state is tough to top


3. The time a UND quarterback threw for more yards than any left-hander in NCAA history in his first complete college game

2. UND finishes perfect Big Sky mark in 2016 with 28 unanswered against Northern Arizona

1. UND's 2016 win over Denver snapped a Frozen Four drought

Brad Schlossman

5. The night Jocelyne Lamoureux wasn't supposed to play

4. World Juniors brought a stunning collection of talent to Grand Forks

3. The 'Timeout Game' was a comeback for the ages

2. A Saturday night in Tampa


1. TBA

Greg DeVillers

5. Red River's Liza Wischer dominated like few, if any, have

4. Neither flood nor foes could stop '97 Central soccer team

3. It was a tough way for a dominating pitcher to take a loss

2. A crazy finish gives Red River its first state track title in 1983

1. TBA

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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