ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

UND HOCKEY: Lee Goren’s decision to return for senior year kick-started 2000 national title team

Lee Goren sat in the UND hockey coaching office after his junior year to discuss the contract offer he received from the Boston Bruins. Head coach Dean Blais had a piece of advice. "You're not ready to turn pro yet," Blais told Goren. "You're not...

2685090+UND Sports Square Hawks Logo.jpg

Lee Goren sat in the UND hockey coaching office after his junior year to discuss the contract offer he received from the Boston Bruins.

Head coach Dean Blais had a piece of advice.

“You’re not ready to turn pro yet,” Blais told Goren. “You’re not ready to go yet. You have stuff here left to do.”

After a lot of thinking, Goren decided that Blais was right. He was going to come back for his senior season.

That decision set off a domino of events that led Goren back to Grand Forks this weekend.

ADVERTISEMENT

Goren led UND in scoring as a senior, he helped the team to the 2000 Frozen Four, he scored two goals in the third period of the NCAA national championship game to help UND rally from a one-goal deficit and he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Frozen Four.

The 2000 NCAA title team was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame on Friday night, and Goren recalled making his key decision to stick around for his senior year rather than turn pro.

“Obviously, I made the right one,” Goren said. “Coming back and having success individually, and more important, as a team, was big. I learned so much from that year. I learned how to persevere when things aren’t going right. It was a decision well thought out.”

After disappointing finishes in 1998 and 1999 -- two of the best teams in school history were ousted in regional finals -- UND finished the job in 2000 for its second national title in four years.

Goren played a key role.

UND trailed Boston College 2-1 after two periods in the championship game. Goren got the attention of his teammates during intermission.

“I did a lot of screaming and yelling,” he said.

Just 2:43 into the third, Goren backed it up, burying a drop feed from Ryan Bayda to tie the game.

ADVERTISEMENT

With 5:38 left in the third, Jason Ulmer buried a rebound of a Goren shot to put UND ahead 3-2. And with 46 seconds left in the game, Goren scored an empty-netter to seal a 4-2 win and the program’s seventh national championship.

“It was exciting,” Goren said. “I remember a lot of things from that game. I could probably go play-by-play through that whole game. That’s one I’ll never forget.

“It was a big sigh of relief (to score the empty-netter). They were coming hard. To put that one in and give us a little more breathing room with 30, 40 seconds left, it was a big sigh of relief and it was exciting.

“When that one went in, you could see the excitement on the bench. You can’t even explain it.”

Sixteen years later, Goren’s path repeated itself.

A junior standout -- Drake Caggiula this time -- opted against signing a pro deal, returned for his senior year, scored two goals in the third period of the NCAA title game and was named Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player.

The entire 2000 team is now retired from their playing days, and the coach from that squad, Blais, retired from coaching last season.

“Dean is a great coach,” Goren said. “He taught us how to work hard, taught us how to be men, taught us how to be accountable. He taught me how to work hard. A big reason I got to play where I did is because of coach Blais. He pushed us to do things we didn’t think we could do. He made us successful. He may not have been the best X and O guy, but he made sure his team was going on all cylinders at all times.

ADVERTISEMENT

Season opener When: Oct. 6, 7 p.m.

Where: Engelstad Arena

Opponent: Manitoba (exhibition game)

TV/Radio: MidcoSN, 96.1

Last season: UND beat Manitoba 6-2

Related Topics: UND FIGHTING HAWKS HOCKEY
Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
What To Read Next
Featuring boys and girls hockey results, area men's and women's basketball scores, prep wrestling results, and much more!
Featuring prep basketball results from across the region, boys and girls hockey scores, men's and women's tennis results, and much more!
Featuring area prep sports cancellations and postponements, local boys and girls basketball results, N.D. girls wrestling second edition coaches' poll and much more!
Featuring the prep honor roll, area college basketball conference standings, N.D. Class A and B prep basketball polls, and much more!