They played overtime. And other. And other. And other. And other. The game that started on Saturday ended on Sunday. It was 142: 13, more than any game in the 74-year history of the NCAA men’s hockey tournament.
That’s what made the ending unbearable for a UND team that was ranked number one in the country for much of the season.
At 12:42 a.m. Sunday morning, after 6 hours and 12 minutes of play, Minnesota Duluth forward Luke Mylmok fired a shot in a run that beat UND goalie Adam Scheel in five holes at the start. of fifth overtime to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 in the Fargo Regional Final at Scheels Arena.
The goal came moments after UND defender Jake Sanderson fired a shot off the post, UND’s third shot in the five overtime sessions.
“It will probably be one of the most memorable games, even though we lost the game in overtime,” UND coach Brad Berry said. “That’s what sports are. I told the guys after the game, ‘This is life. This is what life is. It’s not fair.’ At the end of the day, we could have argued all day who should have won the game … we felt we had a very good chance. We had a lot of chances to win the game. We felt it was not fair that we did not win the game. But again, that is sport, that is life. Keep going “.
The Bulldogs stormed the ice to celebrate a fourth straight trip to the NCAA Frozen Four, the first team to accomplish that feat since 2005-08 UND. They will go to Pittsburgh in two weeks, two wins away from becoming the first college hockey team to win three consecutive titles since Michigan in the 1950s.
UND (22-6-1) stayed on the ice for several minutes trying to digest the end of their season, which featured a Penrose Cup as champions of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and the show’s first NCHC Frozen Faceoff title, but it will not end. with the school’s ninth NCAA national championship.
“We had a very good team this year together,” Berry said. “I’ve been here a long time as a player, as an assistant coach and as a head coach, and I don’t know if we had a more united group or cared more about each other than this group. We always talk about controlling the things that you can control. There are three things. The ones we always talk about: your work ethic, your attitude and the decisions you make every day. These guys did it perfectly, at an elite level. “
Captain Jordan Kawaguchi, who tied the game with an extra-attacking goal in the final minutes, hugged all the UND players as they came off the ice.
“Those are my brothers,” Kawaguchi said. “That is my family.”
The Bulldogs, who have won the last two NCAA national titles, continued their magic in overtime.
Minnesota Duluth won overtime games in the NCAA in 2016 (Providence), two in 2017 (Ohio State, Boston University), one in 2018 (Minnesota State-Mankato), one in 2019 (Bowling Green), and another Saturday / Sunday. Three of those overtime victories came at the Scheels Arena in Fargo.
UND, meanwhile, lost another heartthrob in overtime at the NCAA tournament.
In 2017, in the same building, UND lost a double overtime game to Boston University. The Fighting Hawks went 25 minutes without allowing a shot on goal, including the first full overtime, but were unable to finish it off.
Saturday’s game wasn’t all that uneven – final shots were 65-54 UND – but the chances of winning it were plentiful.
Gavin Hain hit the crossbar in the first overtime. Shane Pinto hit the crossbar in the third overtime. Just as the third overtime ended, Jasper Weatherby entered the zone on a run, fired a puck that hit Minnesota Duluth goalkeeper Zach Stejskal, fluttered in the air behind him and landed on top of the net. Sanderson hit the post again in the fifth overtime.
“When you look at the (puck on) the top of the net … you look at Jake Sanderson – I think he hit two posts, double-posted and came out – you have to wonder a little bit that the hockey gods aren’t shining on you.” Berry said. “Again, that’s here or there. It’s one of those things where we needed one more rebound, we needed one more play to score, and we didn’t.
“I can’t blame any of our players for tonight’s loss. They gave it their all. It’s everything we’ve asked of them all year. They did it again tonight.”
After the NCAA tournament was eliminated a year ago due to the coronavirus pandemic, UND and Minnesota Duluth did their best to make up for it, playing an all-time game that surpassed the previous NCAA tournament’s record of 123. : 53 established by St Lawrence and Boston University in 2000. The Saints won it in the fourth overtime.
UND not only played the longest game in the program’s history – the previous record was on December 21, 1968, when UND beat Minnesota 5-4 in a game that lasted 102:09 – it also played one less player. UND senior forward Grant Igualh, who averaged one point per game this season, suffered a leg injury in the second period. He tried to take a turn in the third, but couldn’t go.
By the second overtime, the UND players had expended so much energy that Berry began playing extra forward Carson Albrecht, trying to spread minutes and draw energy from guys who hadn’t played as much.
“At the last intermission, some of us had IVs,” Kawaguchi said. “We were drinking Coke just to get sugar into our system, give us some energy … pretty much anything that makes you feel so much better, we were doing it.”
UND, who was 19-0 when he scored the first goal of the game this season, had to play from behind in the regional final.
Minnesota Duluth scored consecutive goals in the 1:20 span early in the third period to jump to a 2-0 lead.
At 3:21, Bulldog defender Hunter Lellig fired a shot from the spot that hit Bulldog forward Jackson Cates, leapt into the air and landed behind Scheel. Just a couple of at-bats later, UND defender Ethan Frisch tried a break from the spot, but his stick broke and Cole Koepke took it on a clean break, beating Scheel on the stickside.
However, UND managed an impressive rally at the end of the third.
Senior forward Collin Adams placed one in front of Stejskal from behind the baseline with 1:41 to go to reduce Bulldog’s lead to one. Then after the Bulldogs missed a shot at the empty net, UND tied it up. Pinto attempted a shot from the left circle, but it drifted into the right circle, where Kawaguchi buried it with 57 seconds left.
“I thought we played well,” Kawaguchi said. “They are a good team. We are a good team. They are two great teams that do it. Obviously the scoreboard reflected it, the whole game reflected it. Either team could have won tonight. It just so happened that they did.”
The winning goal came from Mylmok, a freshman with just one goal earlier this season.
Scheel finished the game with 51 saves, the most by a UND goalkeeper since 1994.
Kawaguchi, a senior, led UND in scoring for the third year in a row, becoming the first player to do so since Greg Johnson (1990-93). Although the NCAA has ruled that this season does not count against a player’s eligibility, meaning that all seniors could return, some may choose to move on.
“Emotions are everywhere,” Kawaguchi said. “It’s hard to put a lot of things into words right now.”