Heading into overtime Thursday, Colorado College defenseman Peter Stoykewych held onto one thought: Anything can happen. With one mighty shot from the right point, he created an improbable ending to his team’s Final Five quarterfinal against No. 6 North Dakota.
Stoykewych’s shot deflected off North Dakota defenseman Nick Mattson and into the net, giving the Tigers a 4-3 victory over the three-time defending Final Five champion. North Dakota (21-12-7) outshot the Tigers 32-23 through the first 60 minutes and tied the score on Drake Caggiula’s second goal of the game at 12 minutes, 45 seconds of the third period. But the Tigers (17-18-5) got the only three shots in overtime and scored at 4:52 to earn a matchup against the top-ranked Gophers in Friday’s semifinals.
The victory disappointed those who hoped for a North Dakota-Gophers semifinal in the last WCHA Final Five for both teams. It gave another jolt of confidence to the Tigers, who suddenly are bursting with it.
“If you would have said on the fifth of January, after we got swept at [Nebraska Omaha], that we would be playing and winning games on Thursday night in St. Paul over North Dakota, I’d have said you were crazy,’’ Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “We’ve been on a good run here. We persevered.’’
Owens lauded senior goaltender Joe Howe, who has been a catalyst to the Tigers’ 8-4-3 mark in the past 15 games. Howe made 29 saves Thursday, while the Tigers’ penalty kill extinguished all six of North Dakota’s power-play chances.
The Tigers scored first on a power-play goal by Rylan Schwartz at 3:06 of the first period. After Caggiula’s first goal, Danny Kristo gave North Dakota a 2-1 lead when he scored with 10 seconds remaining before the intermission.
Goals by Alexander Krushelnyski and Hunter Fejes put the Tigers ahead 3-2 with 16:18 left in the third period before Caggiula tied it on a rebound goal.